We've selected our favourite toys to keep your newborn engaged, entertained and occupied as they explore the world of playtime
Baby toys are often the last thing new parents will think about when preparing to welcome their new bundle. This is hardly surprising given the list of essentials that soon-to-be parents will be busy shopping for – from nappies, wipes, bibs and muslin cloths to Moses baskets, clothing and plenty more.
While newborn babies do little more than eat, poop, sleep and repeat in those first few weeks — all while struggling to see further than a few centimetres from the tip of their tiny nose — research suggests that playtime forms a significant part of their development in the early weeks and months. As such, cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of your baby can all be assisted through play.
Below, we’ll guide you through the fundamentals of how to choose the best toys for your newborn to help them play, learn and relax. Look a little further down the page and you’ll find our pick of the best baby toys we’ve tried and tested.
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Best baby toys: At a glance
- Best for sensory play: My First Baby Multi Textured Sensory Soft Balls | £8
- Best for teething: Sophie La Girafe | £12
- Best for soothing: Ewan Baa Baa Blankie | £15
- Best for bedtime: Tommee Tippee Ollie the Owl | £40
How to choose the best toys for your newborn baby
What kind of toys should I buy for my baby?
When shopping for toys for a baby, people often choose items that look attractive, may have been marketed well, or because they’ve seen other parents with the same toy. However, it’s crucial you buy a toy that suits the developmental needs of your child.
Toys for babies between the ages of zero and one focus on stimulating the senses, whether that’s by developing head/eye movement, touch, hearing or sight. There are even toys available that are designed to help babies sleep, meaning you can attempt to catch some much-needed shut-eye without feeling guilty. You’ll find lots of crinkly, shiny, noisy (sorry!) toys on our list, plus play mats for adding a bit of fun to the all-important tummy time.
Are there any safety considerations?
For peace of mind, check that any product you buy conforms to EU regulations and safety standards. Check for the CE symbol that confirms that the toy is intended to be sold within the EU, and meets its manufacturing standards — not to be confused with the CE symbol that indicates only that the product was exported from China. You can find out more about this here.
For extra confidence, look for BS EN71 certification — a British standard that declares that any toy (or other items) intended for under-14s won’t choke, poison or otherwise harm your child through careless design.
Most importantly, though, use common sense. Steer clear of toys that might obviously pose a choking hazard or toys with sharp parts or long cords.
How much should I spend?
Toys that will be fun for your newborn while also assisting in their development vary in price from a few pounds to eye-watering amounts. The toys listed here range from about £10 to nearly £100, and they’re listed in order of ascending price with the priciest picks at the bottom of the page.
However, you don’t need to spend huge sums to get some wonderful toys for your little one. Generally, toys commanding a higher price will likely be more complex in nature. As such, consider what it is that you need from it; are you looking for a cute 10-minute distraction, or a battery-powered play mat that will keep your baby entertained for hours?
How we test baby toys
Our reviewers test each of the baby toys in our roundup at home with their own babies to deliver the most complete information about a product. From sensory toys that aid development, to teething rings, comforters for sleeping, and stackable cards, we test a broad selection of toys in order to come to a decision about our favourites.
As well as making an assessment about their quality, we take note of how well a baby engages and responds to a particular toy, and whether or not it offers good value for money. We’ve even included options that you can pack in your suitcase and take on holiday. Note that every toy in this roundup conforms to EU regulations and safety standards to ensure peace of mind.
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The best baby toys to buy in 2023
1. My First Baby Multi Textured Sensory Soft Balls: The best baby toy for sensory play
Price when reviewed: £8 | Check price at Amazon
While newborn babies have little in the way of grip and will struggle to hold sensory balls such as these, the bright colours and different textures are brilliant for their ongoing development. This box contains six sensory balls that will be perfect for introducing colours and shapes to your baby, while also seeing them start to explore how things feel.
The balls are lightweight and easy to hold once your baby begins to reach for items and develops a grip – and they’re suitable from birth onwards. They also make good teething toys, since the various ridges and texture will provide some much-needed relief once those teeth start to cut through.
Key specs – Size: 29 x 23 x 23cm (LWD); Weight: 320g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: None
2. Sophie La Girafe – Giraffe So Pure Teething Ring: The best baby toy for soothing sore gums
Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at Early Learning Centre
Perhaps the most famous of all teething toys, the Sophie La Girafe teething ring is a soothing sensory toy that can be used from birth. As your baby grows and those tiny teeth start poking through their gums, usually accompanied by lots of drooling and discomfort for them, this adorable teether will help to provide some much-needed relief.
The toy is easy to grab and offers two teething rings with different textures to ease sore gums. Made from 100% natural rubber, Sophie La Girafe is also decorated with food-grade paint to ensure your baby’s safety, and that of the planet.
Key specs – Size: 1.52 x 7.11 x 25.91cm (LWD); Weight: 99.79g; Ages: From birth to 24 months; Power supply: None
3. Sensory Flashcard Collection – Baby Development Cards: The best baby toy for stimulating vision
Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Priya and Peanut
Studies show that for the first six months a baby’s vision is blurry, their field of vision is limited, and that high-contrast black and white graphics work best to grab attention – and with that in mind, these flashcards are great for stimulating your baby’s eyes and their brain. They will capture your baby’s full attention and help to mature their sight until they are able to process colours post-six months.
Presenting a range of animals, patterns and objects, these cards help increase the baby’s fixation and attention span. To use, hold a card 8–12 inches away from your baby’s face for around 10–20 seconds; then keep switching the cards for around 3–5 minutes at a time.
Key specs – Size: A6; Ages: From birth to 6 months; Power supply: None
4. Sweet Dreamers, Ewan Baa Baa Blankie: The best baby toy for soothing
Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Amazon
From the “Ewan the dream sheep” collection, the Baa Baa Blankie is perfect for your baby to cuddle and snuggle at bedtime or nap times during the day. Sporting a light grey colour, it’s made of soft fleece with a silk edge, and features Ewan’s friendly face.
The perfect companion for any baby to cuddle when they begin to feel dozy, this blankie is likely to stay with them as they grow, too. It’s machine washable and you can even put it in the tumble dryer, which means your tot won’t have to be separated from it for long.
Key specs – Size: 38 x 30 x 5cm (LWD); Weight: 90g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: None
5. Foot Finders & Wrist Rattles: The best baby toy for hand-eye coordination
Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Amazon
These adorable rattles are worn on baby’s hands or feet to not only entertain, but also to help develop your little one’s hand-eye coordination. Each toy is adorned with a colourful bug and will encourage your little one to touch, grab and look at them.
The cute wrist rattles gently wrap around your baby’s wrist and fasten easily, while the socks slip onto their feet. They can be used at home for sensory play or to entertain your baby while in the car or pram.
Key specs – Size: 18.3 x 13.3 x 4.6cm (LWD); Weight: 60g; Ages: From birth to 12 months; Power supply: None
6. Tummy Time Water Mat: The best baby toy for strengthening neck muscles
Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Amazon
Tummy time is really important for strengthening babies’ neck muscles. It’s recommended that your baby spends 10 minutes or so each day on their tummy since it can strengthen their legs and arms, and help when they’re a little older and preparing to crawl.
This water play mat makes that experience more interesting for your baby, enhancing their hand-eye coordination. Featuring an array of colourful and moving sea creatures, it will engage your tot without them getting wet. And if you’re worried about accidents, then don’t be – it’s made from BPA-free and non-toxic, heavy-duty PVC that won’t leak.
Key specs – Size: 20.2 x 18 x 6.8cm (LWD); Weight: 580g; Ages: 3 months+; Power supply: None
7. Janod Forest Stacker: The best stacking toy with an eco-friendly twist
Price when reviewed: £20 | Check price at Kidly
It’s never too early to start teaching children about the environment, and this Janod Forest Stacker is a beautiful first introduction. In an effort to create more environmentally friendly toys, Janod has created this 10-piece stacker in collaboration with WWF®, and the FSC®-certified solid wood from which it’s made is harvested from sustainably managed forests.
With biodiversity the inspiration of this toy, the design of this stacker encompasses a beehive, bee and flower for the bee to pollinate. Our baby loved the gorgeous colours and shapes of the toy, while our toddler was very keen to talk about bees and pollination, making the stacker a hit with the whole family. Even when it isn’t being played with, its design makes it a lovely addition to a nursery or shelf.
Key specs – Size: 25cm x 7cm x 13.5cm; Ages: 12 months+; Power supply: None
8. Galt Toys Farm, Sit Me Up Baby Seat: The best baby toy for self-contained play
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Amazon
Some newborn babies demand to be held for most of the day, with some parents happy to hold them for as long as needed. However, for those who would like to put their baby down for a little while, the Sit Me Up Baby Seat combines a soft resting area with a self-contained play environment.
Around the play nest are eight sensory features that will help develop your baby’s sense of touch, sight and sound. There is a bonus for the parents, too: this play nest is machine washable – which means that any baby spit-ups and milk spills can be cleaned up quickly and easily.
Key specs – Size: 37 x 7.49 x 28.19cm (LWD); Weight: 710g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: None
9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity caterpillar: The best baby toy for colour stimulation
Price when reviewed: £24 | Check price at Amazon
Based on the popular and much-loved children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, this toy features lots of activities to entertain your little one with rattles, crinkles and squeaks. It also plays the much-loved nursery rhyme, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, which is sure to elicit lots of smiles.
Comprising many different materials and textures, teething toys and a small mirror to keep your tot entertained, this is a great baby toy for sensory development, helping your baby to discover the world around them. It’s suitable from birth onwards.
Key specs – Size: 40 x 6 x 5cm (LWD); Weight: N/A; Ages: From birth to 12 months; Power supply: None
10. Baby Einstein Cal’s Smart Sounds Symphony: The best musical baby toy
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon
Music is an excellent way to stimulate your baby during play time, and this cute toy from Baby Einstein even encourages your little one to make beautiful melodies on their own. Made for ages six months and over, even littler ones may enjoy bashing its buttons and hearing the sounds.
The wobbly base of this toy is ideal for tummy time, where baby can discover musical instruments, colours and animals with every tap, touch and gleeful bash. Music can be listened to in Spanish, French or English, plus you can switch between instrumental, animal or freestyle themes.
Key specs – Size: 33 x 33 x 19cm; Ages: 6 months+; Power supply: Batteries
11. Kissy the Penguin: The best baby toy for encouraging smiles
Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon
Kissy the Penguin is possibly the most adorable toy on our shortlist. In fact, we challenge any parent to not fall in love with him. Made from a super-plush fabric that’s lovely for your baby to cuddle, a squeeze of its feet will see Kissy sing “Frere Jacques” and blow kisses — it’s very cute. Older babies can interact by learning to blow kisses back, or simply enjoy the performance.
Super soft and free from hazards, Kissy the Penguin is suitable for babies from birth onwards. Just make sure you don’t leave the toy in your baby’s cot or pram while they sleep.
Key specs – Size: 30cm tall; Ages: From birth; Power supply: 3 x AAA batteries (included)
12. Tommee Tippee Ollie the Owl: The best baby toy for bedtime
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Boots
In those early weeks and months, one of the main things on the minds of parents is sleep — chiefly getting enough of it and developing a healthy bedtime routine. Babies, of course, have other ideas, and in the first few weeks of their lives need comfort and attention during the night to reassure them that everything is okay.
Ollie the Owl is the perfect toy to help. It has four different built-in sounds, a nightlight and a cry sensor that automatically turns on a sound when it hears your baby wake. It’s soft and huggable, which means you needn’t worry about your baby coming into contact with a plastic toy during the night, plus its hanging loop means you can keep it away from harm’s way – as per the advice from the Lullaby Trust on safe sleeping.
If you’re not a fan of owls, you can opt for Pip the Panda or Bennie the Bear instead.
Key specs – Size: 14 x 25 x 21cm; Weight: 238g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: 4x AA batteries
13. Disney Baby Mr Ray Ocean Lights Activity Gym & Play Mat: The best baby toy for all-round development
Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at Amazon
Play and activity mats are a great way to keep little ones entertained while you grab a cuppa, but they also have features that will aid their development. Offering music, bright colours and different textures, the Disney Baby Finding Nemo Mr Ray Ocean Lights Activity Gym Is sure to make learning a joy.
It features six toys that detach for playing and easy cleaning. Dory doubles up as a finger puppet, which is great for storytelling, while the clamshell mirror allows your baby to see its reflection and learn more about the world. And since the toys hang down from above, they encourage plenty of hand-eye coordination (and a lot of kicking) when baby is laying down on their back.#
Key specs – Size: 81 x 91 x 46cm (LWD); Weight: N/A; Ages: From birth; Power supply: 3 x AA batteries
14. Bugsy Rocking Horse: The best toy for older babies
Price when reviewed: £75 | Check price at Mamas & Papas
The Bugsy Rocking Horse is a contemporary update on a classic nursery toy. With a solid wooden base, wonderfully soft faux-fur, and lots of hidden details – such as a bell in one ear and a rattle in the other – to discover, Bugsy is an ideal next-step toy for little ones of around 12 months.
Most welcome about this rocking horse is that it inspired lots of pretend play and interaction – plus its soft fur finish is a lovely alternative to plastic. Just make sure you supervise your child on the horse at all times, since it does require quite a bit of balance.
Key specs – Size: 55 x 60 x 30cm; Ages: 12 months+; Power supply: None; Adult assembly required
15. Lovevery The Senser Play Kit: The best baby toy for reaching developmental milestones
Price when reviewed: £80 per play kit | Check price at Lovevery
When babies are very small, it can be hard to know how best to play with them. Lovevery’s play kits help to bridge that gap by creating fun experiences for your baby that are specifically suited to their developmental age.
We tested the brand’s Senser Play Kit, suitable for babies between five and six months. In the box you’ll find a range of rainbow-coloured wooden toys that are thoughtful and well made. You get a magic tissue box, play socks and a spinning rainbow. Also included is a guide on how to play with your baby, backed by all of Lovevery’s research, which makes for an interesting read when baby is having a nap.
Our baby enjoyed all the toys in the kit, which we put down to the range being suitable for their specific age. While the price is high, the toys do feel like they’re built to last.
Key specs – Ages: 5-6 months; Power supply: None