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When Do Babies Start Playing with Toys?

As a new parent, you’re probably hearing a lot about the importance of playing with your baby. And if you're new to this whole baby thing, you might also be asking when do you start playing with your little one and what toys are right for these early adventures into play? And most importantly, how do you even play with a baby?

But take a breath because the truth is, babies learn from everything; voices, lighting, car trips, visits to stores, and, of course, toys. Play is the most amazing learning tool our children have at their disposal. Through play they learn about the world around them and how to navigate it, even when they are just a few months old.

A developing baby grasps objects and brings them to their mouth to explore texture. Once sitting up, they knock over the tower of blocks you’ve built, or roll the ball away to explore cause and effect. Will they bring the ball back or build a new tower? They’re studying and learning every moment!

However, understanding the developmental milestones of the first year is important in knowing when to share which toy and how a baby’s play changes as they develop key milestones like the pincer grasp or rolling over. So we’ve compiled a guide to some of the key milestones and developmental steps that babies reach and what are the best toys that fit each of your baby's amazing stages.

Baby's Developmental Milestones


Newborns initially focus with their ears and eyes. In the beginning, focus is best at about 8 inches, but this increases over time to several feet by the time the baby is 6 months old. Newborns are attracted to both vibrant and high contrast colors such as red, yellow, black and white. Babies of this age are mostly exploring their own body and have a reflexive grasp that allows them to briefly touch objects.

3 Month Olds

By three months, they begin to swipe or reach towards dangling objects. Any object that is grasped will likely end up in the baby's mouth and be handled in sudden, unpredictable motions. As such, lightweight, soft, easy-to-hold objects with rounded corners are best. Toys that produce a clear effect, such as a gentle sound, are very appropriate for this age. Mobiles or images with highly contracting colors are also appealing as well as mirrors securely attached to the side of a crib.

4 Through 7 Months

By four months, distance vision is more mature. Children now actively engage with their environments in systematic ways. Distance vision is more mature, and these children can track moving objects with smooth, efficient eye movements. Bright colors, high contrasts, and complex patterns continue to be appealing. These children learn to differentiate among objects, as evidenced by their ability to group visual stimuli into categories.

By 5 months of age, children can roll onto their backs and push up onto their hands and knees, so mobiles and suspended crib gyms are no longer appropriate at this age. They have mastered the ability to grasp and manipulate a dangling object by 6 months, and begin to engage in more active play by reaching, grasping, tugging, pushing, patting, shaking, and squeezing objects.

At 6 to 7 months, children are sitting independently, which provides them with greater visual capacities for grasping objects or bringing objects to midline for exploration. They can manipulate objects more readily, though their fine-motor coordination is still rudimentary. Objects are grasped using a claw-like grip or raking motion rather than a pincer grasp (i.e., using the thumb and index finger). They can transfer an object from hand to hand, and begin to use both hands independently; for example, one hand may hold an object while the other hand manipulates it. These children continue to mouth objects, so suitable toys are washable.

Near the end of this period, infants develop the ability to recognize oft-repeated words, and some are beginning to crawl and stand with support. At this time, they are also beginning to understand object permanence—that an object that is hidden or partially hidden did not actually disappear, but still exists somewhere.

Soft, lightweight, rounded, and textured toys that make gentle sounds are appropriate. Hand-held objects, like simple musical toys, should be sized so these children can easily grasp and manipulate them. Books and images with bright pictures and high-contrast images are appealing, as are mirrors.

Here are some of our favorite toys for your baby, and why we love them:

Grasping and Teething Toys

These toys are great options for the early months when your baby is working on picking up and holding objects, exploring how they move, taste, and feel!

Stuffed Dolls and Animals

Soft and durable materials are perfect for baby’s first cuddly friend. Your baby is likely to give their dolls and stuffed animals a taste now and then, so consider options that have embroidered features instead of plastic parts that could come loose. We love these small, lightweight options to start out.

Car Seat Toys and Stroller Toys

These dangling, on-the go travel toys are the perfect toys to entertain babies from their earliest days throughout the baby months. At first they draw their eyes and offer visual cognition and later they allow for babies to grasp and explore. Many of these toys have soft sounds and various textures to encourage sensory learning.

Early Music Makers and Rattles

No one said having a baby was going to be quiet! Noise making toys help boost cognitive skills and sensory development. From rattles to squeakers, these are sure to delight baby’s desire to make a bit of noise!

Blocks and Building Blocks

Blocks are a classic early childhood toy for a reason. They aid in development in a myriad of ways including fine motor and spatial skills. Babies under 1 aren’t quite ready to build impressive structures, but they will enjoy banging two blocks together, manipulating them in their hands, and knocking over small towers a grown up or sibling has built for them.

However you choose to play with your baby, enjoy each milestone and know that all you need is a little bit of love, laughter, and time spent engaging, to play in exactly the right way! 


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