Baby toys tend to be the last thing new parents think of when they’re preparing to welcome a little bundle of joy into their lives. It’s hardly surprising: newborn babies need a huge amount of stuff, from nappies, wipes, bibs and muslins to Moses baskets and clothing.
While it is very true that 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 is a significant part of their development in the early weeks and months.
The cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of your baby can all be assisted through play, and the best thing is that there’s no age limit, so adults can join in the fun and benefit, too.
Below, we’ll take you through the fundamentals of choosing the best toys for your newborn. Further down, you’ll find our pick of the best baby toys we’ve tested.
How to choose the best toys for your newborn baby
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.
We’ve listed options that range from roughly £10 to £60: while you can spend much more than that on a single toy, you shouldn’t need to. Generally, the more you spend, the more complex the toy will be, so keep in mind what you need; are you looking for a cute ten-minute distraction or a battery-powered play mat that’ll keep your baby entertained for hours?
What kind of toys should I buy my baby?
It’s easy to buy something simply because it looks appealing; because it has been marketed well; or because you’ve seen other parents with the same toy. But 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 are focused on stimulating the senses, whether that’s by developing head/eye movement, touch, hearing or sight. There are also toys that purport to help with 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 enhancing the all-important tummy time.
Are there any safety considerations?
If you want peace of mind, check that the product you plan to 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 EN-71 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.
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The best baby toys to buy
1. Ollie the Owl: The best baby toy for sleeping
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
In those early weeks and months, one of the main things on the minds of parents is sleep – getting it, keeping it and repeating it most nights in a routine. Babies, of course, have other ideas, and in the first few weeks of their lives need comfort and some shushing during the night to reassure them that everything is okay. Ollie the Owl is the perfect toy to help with this as 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 is also very soft and huggable, so you don’t need to worry about your baby coming into contact with a plastic toy during the night.
Another great feature is its hanging loop, which means you can keep the baby’s basket or cot empty – as per the advice from the Lullaby Trust on safe sleeping. Plus, if you don’t like owls, then you can opt for Pip the Panda or Bennie the Bear.
Key specs – Size: 14 x 25 x 21cm; Weight: 238g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: 4x AA batteries
£29.54 Buy now
2. Sweet Dreamers, Ewan Baa Baa Blankie: The best baby toy for soothing
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
From the ‘Ewan the dream sheep’ collection, the Baa Baa blankie is perfect for cuddling and snuggling at bedtime or naptime. The blankie is light grey, made of soft fleece with a silk edge, and features Ewan’s face. This soft comfort blanket will be the perfect companion for any baby to cuddle whenever and wherever they feel sleepy.
Key specs – Size: 38 x 30 x 5 cm(LWD); Weight: 90g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: None
£13.99 Buy now