Find the best toys and gift ideas for baby this Christmas with our month by month breakdown and developmental stage.
Baby’s first Christmas is one holiday every parent wants to cherish for a lifetime. It’s one of the most magical times of the year, so of course we want our little one to share in that experience…even if they are just babies.
After we commemorate the season with a heartfelt keepsake ornament perfect for baby, we often move on to the fun toys and gift ideas. But choosing the best toys for little ones (quality-wise) can sometimes get confused with buying each and every little toy we spot.
Best Toys for Baby
The shopping process certainly isn’t easy. It can be full of stress or joy, depending on how we go about it. We may feel the need to buy our kids every toy we never had as children and go a little overboard which can cause a bit of a frenzy and stress.
You know what I’m talking about…we all do it. Time after time, I’ve fallen into the trend of searching for those hot toys and Black Friday deals to grab everything at unbeatable prices. Not in the stores of course…but even online shopping can bring on so much more unnecessary holiday stress. Don’t do it! A better alternative is to shop early, join programs like Amazon Prime (they have a 30-day free trial) with 2-day shipping and just opt for 1 or 2 quality toys your kids will enjoy. It’ll make the gifts that much more special.
How to Choose the Right Gifts for a Baby
When you’re ready to buy baby a few gifts, think about what stage they are in.
- Do you have an infant who just needs to sleep and interact with simple movements?
- Do you have a teething baby looking for different textures to gnaw on?
- Or do you have a baby on the move that craves activity?
Knowing your baby’s developmental stage will help you buy the best toys appropriate for their age, and ones they are likely to play with.
Below are some of my favorite toys for babies 1 and under. These are toys my kids have owned over the years and they gravitated towards upon reaching certain milestones.
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Gift Ideas for Newborn Babies
Most parents assume that newborn babies don’t actually play and therefore don’t need toys. I agree with that to a certain extent.
You see, while newborn babies don’t play in the traditional sense, they are taking in everything around them which is in a way, a form of play. Anything that provides an array of sensory stimulation is a wonderful gift idea.
If you’re looking for Christmas toys to buy a new baby, think soft, comfort items like taggie toys, a lovey or crinkly toys that clip to the carrier so babies can gaze up at as they grow. Below are toys for newborns that are actually pretty useful including this pacifier lovey that is AMAZING when it comes to keeping that paci close to baby so YOU don’t have to keep adjusting!
During the second month of life your baby will begin showing a bit more activity. Sleeping most of the day may still be the norm, but they’ll start to engage more and may smile and grasp at your finger. Soft rattles and toys they can clasp are a good gift idea. The Manhattan Toy was one my kids loved from the very beginning – it kept their wiggly little hands entertained and was one of their favorite toys to mouth. It reminded me of some kind of giant rubix cube for babies!!
By the third month, your little one may be kicking up a storm and more of an active observer – gazing carefully at everything in the new world around them. Surrounding baby with toys that meet his or her development stage is key.
My kids seriously LOVED this piano gym set. We used it beginning at that 3 month mark when the jerk or kick reflex was prevalent. It was so cute seeing baby’s reaction *surprise* every time he accidentally played a note with his feet! Note: It seems to be out-of-stock on Amazon at the moment, but a similar one on that’s more affordable is this brand.
Another toy I loved seeing them play with was this musical inchworm that actually has inch marks you can use to measure baby. The worm makes different noises and textures throughout it’s body. Perfect for snuggling!
Gift Ideas for Babies 3-6 months
For many the 3-4 month mark brings on early teething signs, with excessive drooling and gnawing. This is when teething toys make a perfect gift! However, with tons of options out there it can be quite exhausting buying teethers only to find your little one has no interest.
In my experience, I’ve found that most teethers work well, but their success is closely tied to how far along baby is in the teething process (first teeth vs. molars). One teether that I found to stand the test of time throughout most phases is that famous giraffe teether — but not the typical Sophie. I found my kids liked this little one best because it was just the right size for those tiny hands and less of a gagging hazard than the larger version. The handle helped make gripping easy and the rubber texture provided the right relief.
Of course teethers aren’t the only gift option at this stage; in fact there are a number of fun toys baby will begin showing an interest in. Once baby starts developing more of a routine (sleeping mostly at night, and staying awake mostly during the day), toys that provide a rich array of sensory stimulation that keep them engaged during the day is key. Some great toys from 5-6 months include:
- Plush, musical toys like the Baby Einstein Octoplush
- Stacking Cups
- Sensory Balls
- Squeeze and Stack Blocks
- Wobbly Balls
Gift Ideas for Babies 6-9 months
As your baby grows and becomes much more active and mobile, you’re better off getting toys that can keep up with their energy. Toys that go, music and activity tables make awesome options.
Have a baby on the move? These balls are great for crawlers or scooters.
Is your child furniture surfing and pushing up to stand? An activity table is a MUST.
Does your baby like to dance? This adorable robot was a major hit when our little one went through his music phase.
Gift Ideas for Babies 9-12 months
As baby becomes even more mobile, crawling, scooting or even walking, you’ll find them taking on more risks and adventures.
Ride-on toys topped the list for our kids! A few favorite ride-ons we’ve owned or played with include:
- Little Tikes Rollin Giraffe Ride-on
- Little Tikes Push and Ride Racer
- Fisher-Price Ride on Lion
- Step-2 Whisper Ride on
Little ones at this age will also love building. Their spatial awareness and problem-solving abilities will ramp up, so age-appropriate blocks, puzzles or sorting toys make really great gift learning gift ideas.
With a plethora of toy options available for babies, you’re certain to find something they’ll enjoy as long as you remember to keep it simple and follow their developmental stage and interests. Babies are simple creatures and can pretty much play with anything and everything around them if you just look at it from their perspective. Have fun shopping for baby’s first Christmas this holiday season!
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.