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
- Best teething toys for babies
- Best activity toys for infants
- Unique baby gifts for boys and girls
- Best play gyms, mats and tables for babies
- Best books for babies
Best sensory toys for babies
The holes in this rattle make it easy for tiny hands to grab.
Crinkly textures and teething spots on this toy were made for tiny gums.
Colorful beads can be twisted, turned and gummed for extra interest.
These are easy to grab and come in bright colors and spiky shapes that feel great on the hands or tongue.
These wooden blocks use nontoxic paint and stimulate all of the baby's senses.
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
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.
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 is pliant, she squeaks and she’s easy to wash. She’s also universally delicious to babies.
Best activity toys for infants
This rattle is easy to hold, responds to a baby’s movements and uses the primary colors they see best.
Give baby their own boom box with this little musical toy that can travel with them.
This cute lil' wobbler is musical and shakes and waddles when babies swipe at it.
This rattle comes from an expert-designed toy line, developed to improve coordination while exploring different senses.
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.
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.
This rattle responds to a baby’s movements by lighting up in three different colors.
Babies can make all the sounds of a symphony by hitting just a few buttons on this toy.
These stacking toys work whether they are in the “right” order or not.
This dump truck and shape-sorter is great for older infants and all kinds of play for years to come.
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
Never underestimate how frequently babies need to be changed. These Hannah Andersson rompers for Amazon come in many colors.
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.
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.
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.
This photo baby book gives parents spots to write down small milestones, precious memories and other firsts.
This beautifully crafted kit includes toys that stimulate baby's senses and educational guides for parents.
Best play gyms, mats and tables for babies
Put your baby down on the mat for tummy time and let them tickle the musical buttons with their toes.
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.
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.
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
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.
This sweet board book celebrates all kinds of curls and Black hair.
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.)
“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.”
This touch-and-feel book from the author of countless classics ends with a mirror — a baby's favorite.
Families come in all different flavors. This board book shows different kinds of families, all of them beautiful.
With beautiful die-cuts and spare text, Becker's board book is a tribute to illumination and the light within children.
All are welcome in this mosque, reflecting the diversity of the religion it celebrates.
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.
This book invites little listeners to think of their lives as a story to tell. They're just getting started in telling it.
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.