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50 best baby gifts your bundle of joy will love

The best presents stimulate their senses — and can withstand a good layer of drool.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ 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 50.

Best gifts for babies

Caden Lane Personalized Nickname Bodysuit

Capture all the nicknames you call your baby with this personalized onesie.

Camp Bedtime Essentials Gift Set

This gift set includes a blanket, rattle, footed pajamas and a hat, all wrapped in an adorable, reusable felt basket.

AU Baby The Popcorn Blanket

This merino wool blanket — the brainchild of a mom who worked in the fashion industry — is gentle on sensitive and eczema-prone skin, according to the brand. With all products made at a woman-owned factory in Los Angeles, the company also donates a portion of each purchase to benefit Black maternal health.

Lovevery The Looker Play Kit

Lovevery ships new toy kits as your kiddo grows and develops, starting with the “looker” kit that offers high-contrast images that babies can see, a mobile to hang overhead, and black-and-white sensory mittens to create body awareness.

Mori Wooden Rainbow Mobile

This beautiful mobile will give little ones something colorful to investigate while in the crib or on the changing table.

Best rattles and sensory toys for babies

Melissa & Doug Multi-Sensory Pineapple Soft Stacker

A classic stacking toy gets a friendly and tropical new look, with different textures to explore and sounds that react to their touch as they grab, shake and stack.

Genuine Fred Buff Baby Dumbbell Baby Rattle

Baby can hit the gym (sort of) with this cute rattle. This "dumbbell" is made from BPA- and phthalate-free materials and only weighs about two ounces.

carter's Developmental Giraffe Plush

This huggable, adorable plush is multi-purposeful with a teething toy, bright stimulating colors, and a mirror.

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.

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 they 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

Follies The Baby Bauhaus Set

These soft blocks are great for stacking, throwing and falling since they're made from soft materials, without any sharp edges. The set also includes a mirror that’s especially great for improving recognition skills during tummy time.

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.

PlanToys Sensory Blocks

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

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.

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

Aden + Anais Play and Discovery Gym

Baby can grab on to rings and toys and watch themself in the mirror hanging above. (There’s nothing cuter to see!)

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.

Best books for babies

“Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

The bedtime story that has lulled generations to sleep gets a new slipcase hardcover edition, featuring a keepsake art print and an afterword by Clement Hurd's son.

“Strut, Baby, Strut,” by Amika Kroll and Ebony Glenn

Baby might not be strutting just yet, but this illustrated read celebrates every shimmy and wobble they’ll make on their way.

“Nom Nom Nom,” by Jeffrey Burton and Sarah Hwang

This "lift the flap" book lets kids help hungry critters decide what to eat, while introducing different foods and animals. Exclaiming “Nom Nom Nom” is just a bonus.

“You’re Loved,” by Liz Climo

"So simple yet so powerful," said one Amazon reviewer about Climo's funny yet heartfelt read. "I bought this book for a friend who just had a baby, and from now on I’ll be ordering it for every new parent I know. [The story] definitely pulls on those heart strings. I wish this book existed when my son was born because it’s so touching."

"Dear Baby: A Love Letter to Little Ones," by Paris Rosenthal and Holly Hatam

This love letter to a baby encourages little ones to be curious, brave and empathetic.

“I Am!: A Book of Reminders” by Juana Medina

A series of affirmations help make sure those early days of self discovery are full of positivity and love.

“I’m Up,” by Antoinette Portis

The sun is up and so is the baby in this book. (Unfortunately, for tired moms and dads, they're also up when the moon appears in the companion book, “I’m Still Up.”)

“Babies Love Outer Space,” by Susanne König

This accordion-style book is designed especially for tummy time, according to the brand, with high contrast black-and-white images that engage a developing brain.

“Baby Hippo: Finger Puppet Book,” by Yu-Hsuan Huang

Part of the series "Baby Animal Finger Puppets," this novelty book is a fun, interactive way to introduce young ones to new concepts and play puppeteering.

“Tickle Tickle, Little Tum,” by Ashlyn Anstee

The world is full of tummies ripe for tickling, whether they’re furry or smooth, like baby’s. This book invites them to get in on the fun.

"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.

"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.”

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.