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41 gifts your bundle of joy will love

The best baby gifts stimulate their senses — and can withstand a good layer of drool.
Three different images of babies playing with toys
TODAY Illustration / Target / Nordstrom / Monti Kids
/ Source: TODAY

The best gifts for babies stimulate their senses. Babies might not look like they’re doing much besides eating and sleeping, but the first year of life is full of seismic shifts in development. And even before they can hold a toy, babies are ready to play.

The best baby toys engage them, focusing on the contrast they are able to see or the sounds and movements they can make themselves.

“Infants are really learning about their place in the world, so the best toys give them some sense of feedback,” said Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive.” She cited the classic baby rattle as a good example. “'I hit this and it moves is the beginning of having a sense of their place in the world.”

Babies also explore with their mouth, so look for toys that aren’t choking hazards (obviously) and might be interesting to a tiny tongue. And keep it simple.

“We tend to shy away from toys that are technological or lighting up and flashing, just because of the overstimulation that they provide,” said Marie Conti, head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.

These are the best gifts for baby boys and girls, according to child development experts. To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 41.

Best sensory toys for babies

Oball Rollin' Rainstick Rattle

The holes in this rattle make it easy for tiny hands to grab.

Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Stroller Toy

Crinkly textures and teething spots on this toy were made for tiny gums.

Manhattan Toy Classic Baby Beads

Colorful beads can be twisted, turned and gummed for extra interest.

Edushape Sensory Balls

These are easy to grab and come in bright colors and spiky shapes that feel great on the hands or tongue.

PlanToys Sensory Blocks

These wooden blocks use nontoxic paint and stimulate all of the baby's senses.

The Learning Lovey

Babies and toddlers love to feel different textures, so “taggies” toys or blankets with tags sewn around them are perfect, Conti said. These beribboned sensory blankets have different textures and crinkle sounds, and a portion of proceeds go to Starlight Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit for seriously ill children.

Best teething toys for babies

BPA-Free Calmies Teether for Babies

Babies put just about everything in their mouth, but you won't mind when they chew on this. The teething toy is made from sustainable, natural rubber without BPA.

Fat Brain Toys Ringlets

These gummy rings are delicious for little teethers and can link other toys to items — like a high chair — to keep them from falling.

Sophie La Giraffe Teething Toy

Sophie is pliant, she squeaks and she’s easy to wash. She’s also universally delicious to babies.

Best activity toys for infants

Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle

This rattle is easy to hold, responds to a baby’s movements and uses the primary colors they see best.

Baby Einstein Take-Along Musical Toy

Give baby their own boom box with this little musical toy that can travel with them.

Hape Wobbling Melody Penguin

This cute lil' wobbler is musical and shakes and waddles when babies swipe at it.

Lovevery Montessori Rolling Rattle

This rattle comes from an expert-designed toy line, developed to improve coordination while exploring different senses.

Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby

Infant eyes are best at seeing contrast. They love symmetry (like the human face), so black and white patterns are great for stimulating their senses.

Hape Elephant Wooden Pull Toy

As baby starts to crawl and then walk, a pull toy encourages mobility and interaction. The hollow center allows little fingers to easily grasp it.

SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle

This rattle responds to a baby’s movements by lighting up in three different colors.

Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Babies can make all the sounds of a symphony by hitting just a few buttons on this toy.

Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo

These stacking toys work whether they are in the “right” order or not.

Green Toys Shape Sorter Dump Truck

This dump truck and shape-sorter is great for older infants and all kinds of play for years to come.

Granpa Penn Rainbow Stackers

Bright colors are great for babies' eyes, and easy stacking toys like this one help develop motor skills as they grow.

Unique baby gifts for boys and girls

Moon and Back Baby Romper

Never underestimate how frequently babies need to be changed. These Hannah Andersson rompers for Amazon come in many colors.

Rockets of Awesome Mini Bomber

Rockets of Awesome is bringing its cool kid style to babies, with items available as a subscription box that grows with your baby or an a la carte mini version of their signature bomber jacket.

RyAndCoKids Gender Neutral Baby Gift Set Box

Gift them a little bit of everything with this specially curated gift set for babies. It comes with sneakers for ages 0–6, a swaddle blanket and a snap-closure bib. You'll even get to include a handwritten message up to 350 characters to make it feel extra personalized.

Cuddle + Kind Avery The Lamb

Every child needs a friend to snuggle, and the adorable hand-knit Cuddle + Kind dolls also give back by providing 10 meals to children in need with every purchase.

Artifact Uprising Baby Book

This photo baby book gives parents spots to write down small milestones, precious memories and other firsts.

Monti Kids Montessori Newborn Kit

This beautifully crafted kit includes toys that stimulate baby's senses and educational guides for parents.

Best play gyms, mats and tables for babies

Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano

Put your baby down on the mat for tummy time and let them tickle the musical buttons with their toes.

Skip Hop Explore & More Activity Table

With squeaky, spinning and rolling elements, this activity table provides two stages of play (for babies and toddlers) and starts out on the floor before the legs pull out to raise it up for when baby begins to stand.

Skip Hop Reversible Play Mat

The colorful side of this play mat is perfect for tummy time and reverses to a more decor-friendly "adult" pattern when not in use.

Lovevery Play Gym

This Montessori-guided play gym includes grow-with-baby activities that help them focus, make sounds, explore touch and color and hide and find objects.

Best books for babies

"Indestructibles: Baby Faces," by Amy Pixton and Kate Merritt

Babies love looking at faces, and the material of these books allows them to withstand chewing, ripping and whatever other havoc only a baby could create.

"Curls," by Ruth Forman and Geneva Bowers

This sweet board book celebrates all kinds of curls and Black hair.

"Woodland Dance," by Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton flips her classic "Barnyard Dance" on its head for a more sleepy, rhyming bedtime story about the creatures outside the barn. (They're more into classical than square dance.)

"Global Baby Bedtimes," by Maya Ajmera

“Babies love looking at faces of other babies,” said Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, adding that it’s particularly important to look for diverse faces because kids learn bias from a very young age. “It’s really important for all children to see children like themselves and different from themselves in books on a regular basis.”

"You're My Little Baby," by Eric Carle

This touch-and-feel book from the author of countless classics ends with a mirror — a baby's favorite.

"Families Can," by Dan Saks and Brooke Smart

Families come in all different flavors. This board book shows different kinds of families, all of them beautiful.

"You Are Light," by Aaron Becker

With beautiful die-cuts and spare text, Becker's board book is a tribute to illumination and the light within children.

"In My Mosque," by M. O. Yuskel and Hatem Aly

All are welcome in this mosque, reflecting the diversity of the religion it celebrates.

"All of Us," by Kathryn Erskine and Alexandra Boiger

This lyrical trip around the world shows how "me" can become "we," no matter how far-flung or different we may be. Beautiful illustrations give the spare text a classic feel.

"What Would You Do in a Book About You?" by Jean Reidy and Joey Chou

This book invites little listeners to think of their lives as a story to tell. They're just getting started in telling it.

Literati Gift Box

The subscription book box lets you sign up for a monthly subscription, a gift certificate or a themed box like this one, perfect for the new baby in your life.

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every kid on your list including 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds.