36 Development-Boosting Toys That Help Your Baby Thrive

Baby playing with a giant rainbow stacking toy

Though it may not seem like your little one is up to much while lying on their playmat, gazing at a mobile toy or grasping a rattle, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes. The best infant toys encourage all types of physical and cognitive development, helping your baby achieve important milestones from holding up their head to recognizing objects.

Whether you prefer getting involved or basking in a few moments of relaxation while watching your little one play, rest assured that these stimulating (and affordable!) infant toys will help promote developmental growth throughout your child’s first year.

Looking for skill-building toys for pre-schoolers? Check out our 24 best sensory toys.

In this guide
1. Best ball toys
$ 59.97

VTech Pop-a-Balls Pop & Count Ball Pit

Featuring 30 squeezable multi-coloured balls that are easy to hold and toss, this pit also includes a ball popper, a sliding bird and a twisting butterfly—all of which promote hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

Recommended age: Nine months and up

$ 29.97

VTech Soft and Smart Sensory Cube

This soft activity cube is one of the best baby toys for development. The three textured balls along with the ribbons and crinkly butterfly wings will help promote sense of touch, while the motion sensor, the interactive puppy and the buttons that play music and sounds helps with fine motor skills.

Recommended age: Three to 24 months

$ 16.97

VTech Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball

This developmental toy for infants promotes fine motor skills with its six bead tracks that twist and turn. Plus, chunky buttons introduce colours, numbers, animals and vocabulary by playing sounds or songs. This is a great toy for promoting auditory growth while encouraging your baby to play.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

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2. Best baby bath toys
$ 14.99

Alex Brands People Block Squirters

Many of the best developmental toys are ones that encourage movement and play, and that’s what these squirters are all about! Along with building hand-eye coordination, these bath toys will help baby develop their fine motor and cause-and-effect skills.

Recommended age: Six months and up

$ 39.99

Yookidoo Flow ‘n’ Fill Spout

Babies can enjoy endless bath time fun with this water flow spout. It includes three interchangeable bath cups, each with a different water straining, spouting and spraying effect. The swiveling arm can easily hold cups, making this toy perfect for playing, stacking, storage while encouraging cause-and-effect skills.

Recommended age: Nine to 36 months

$ 14.97

Spark Create Imagine 17-Piece Bathtime Playset

For tots who can’t get enough of bath time, this 17-piece developmental playset is a great infant bath toy for them. They can connect the pieces together or use their imagination to create different patterns and sets. Plus, it comes with a net storage bag to keep all toys together after use.

Recommended age: Two years and up

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3. Best playmats
$ 19.97

Spark Create Imagine Alphabet Foam Mat

A classic mat for infants, this alphabet set has 26 pieces of interlocking tiles that will promote letter recognition and hand eye coordination for little ones. Bonus: the soft tiles come with a storage bag for easy clean up.

Recommended age: Three years and up

$ 109.97

Rhythm of the Reef Play Gym Mat

With this playmat, your little one will be transported to the sea. It comes with four additional toys like the baby-safe mirror, starfish toy, flash cards and an octopus bead chaser. The soft material, dancing lights and music are excellent for helping babies develop gross motor skills and encouraging play.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

$ 59.97

Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick Play Piano Gym

A smorgasbord of developmental goodness, this playmat helps baby grow their ability to identify colours, shapes and numbers. As they transition from tummy time to sitting, built-in Smart Stages technology allows you to adjust learning content to suit their needs.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

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4. Best crib mobiles
$ 34.97

VTech Soothing Songbirds Travel Mobile

A mix of soothing nature sounds and relaxing music will delight your baby’s auditory senses while adorable songbirds will stimulate visual focus. Fun fact: This mobile’s built-in voice sensor automatically responds to your baby’s cry with soothing melodies. Brilliant!

Recommended age: Newborn and up

$ 49.98

Tiny Love Meadow Days Take Along Mobile

Baby’s eye contact, curiosity and focus will be engaged with this colourful mobile featuring 30 minutes of soothing melodies. The best part: It’s portable and easy to attach to strollers, bassinets and more.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

$ 49.97

Fisher-Price Butterfly Dreams 3-in-1 Projection Mobile

This crib mobile will not only help soothe your little one, but it promotes important developmental skills. Visual skills are stimulated with the cute spinning butterfly bears, and the 30 minutes of calming music combined with soft lighting helps promote listening skills while providing baby a sense of comfort.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

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5. Best rattles and teethers
$ 11.97

VTech Rattle & Sing Puppy

An easy-to-grasp rattle that will surely have your little one dancing and learning at the same time? Yes, please. The puppy’s crinkly ears promote visual and tactile simulation while its light up cheeks introduces cause-and-effect skills. With over 20 sounds and melodies, this adorable puppy will help build motor skills making it a great sensory toy for babies.

Recommended age: Three months and up

$ 10.97

Infantino Wrist Rattles

Not only do these wrist rattles help with developing motor skills, but they happen to be teethers as well. They’re adjustable to fit baby’s wrist or ankles. Plus, they’re BPA-free!

Recommended age: Newborn and up

$ 14.97

Teether Llama

This is a great toy for building fine motor skills and help stimulate your wee one’s senses. Fun fact: the natural rubber mimics the feel of your skin so baby will feel an extra sense of comfort.

Recommended age: Newborn to 18 months

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6. Best plush toys
$ 34.90

VTech Bright Lights Soccer Ball

This infant-friendly soft soccer ball that plays sounds and music, plus teaches numbers, is one of the best developmental toys on our list. Babies activate the motion sensor by kicking, passing or shaking the ball, promoting sensory and fine motor skills.

Recommended age: Six to 36 months

$ 29.97

LeapFrog My Pal Scout

This adorable puppy named Scout will surely be your little one’s new bestie. Not only is it cuddly, but it’s interactive and compatible with your smartphone, tablet or computer to personalize the experience, such as making Scout learn your child’s name! This fun and innovative toy will help teach your child words, feeling, counting and colours.

Recommended age: Six to 36 months

$ 24.97

Mary Meyer Baby Lovey Blanket

More than a soothing snuggle blanket, this 10-by-10-inch version includes an adorable plush bunny head and is knotted in three corners, with each knot offering your little one a healthy dose of tactile stimulation.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

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7. Best stroller and car seat toys
$ 14.98

Mary Meyer Baby Taggies Crinkle Me Soothing Sensory Toy

Textures and sounds are powerful sensory stimulators in the first few months of your little one’s life, and this toy offers a variety of both. Babies will also build their fine motor skills as they touch and tug on each loop.

Recommended age: Newborn and up

$ 23.94

Manhattan Toy Whoozit Baby Stroller and Travel Activity Toy

The perfect toy to easily attach to your baby’s stroller, this travel activity encourages grasping and multi-sensory learning. It vibrates, offers tactile stimulation and features a mirror that helps develop your child’s vision and self-awareness.

Recommended age: Newborn to three months

$ 22.97

VTech Sunny Days Activity Spiral

Consider this spiral as baby’s go-to entertainment while strolling or in their car seat. Not only does it help develop hand-eye coordination—little ones grasp dangling toys and are rewarded with over 45 sounds and songs—but its multiple textures, colours and patterns will help baby develop their senses of sight and touch, too.

Recommended age: Newborn to 24 months

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8. Best activity centres
$ 39.97

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learn & Discover Table

This two-in-one activity table has six different stations where your child can make a pretend phone call, play the piano, read a book and more. It starts on the floor and as your baby grows, you can add the four legs to make it a table where developmental skills like sensory and motor abilities, plus shapescolours and counting are taught.

Recommended age: Six months to three years

$ 219.58

Summer Infant Pop ‘n’ Jumper

Perfect for a day outdoors, this easy-to-assemble unit includes a discovery mirror book, spinner ball, teething toy and rattle, all of which stimulate your baby’s cognitive development.

Recommended age: Six months and up

$ 324.75

Baby Einstein - Neptune's Ocean Discovery Jumper

This fun ocean-themed jumper comes full of engaging activities that introduces baby to numbers and colours in English, Spanish and French (perfect for cognitive development), and encourages them to jump and dance to the music to help strengthen their leg muscles (ideal for building gross motor skills). 

Recommended age: Six months and up

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9. Best push toys
$ 59.97

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn 3-in-1 On-the-Go Camper

With this three-in-one interactive toy, little ones can build up their sensory and motor skills as they get older. You can switch up the learning with the three smart stages, including Explore where fun songs and phrases introduce the alphabet and counting, Encourage where your child can use their imagination to “cook” food, and Pretend where songs and phrases motivate them to keep being adventurous.

Recommended age: Nine to 36 months

$ 44.97

VTech Stroll Discover Activity Walker

From floor play to first steps, this is a great toy to help baby walk. Five light-up piano keys introduce colours and numbers, while spinning gears and a removable cell phone help develop fine motor skills. With this walker, your tiny tot will also improve balance and coordination.

Recommended age: Nine months and up

$ 24.41

Fisher-Price Little People Music Parade Ride-On

Hands down, this ride-on bus is one of the best infant toys for budding walkers. In addition to enhancing your baby’s balance and gross motor skills, this push/sit toy’s songs will have little ones bopping while they stroll.

Recommended age: 12 months and up

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10. Best stacking toys
$ 26.97

Fisher-Price Giant Rock-a-Stack Multi

At over 14 inches tall, this oversized version of the classic stacking toy will build your baby’s hand-eye coordination, improve gross and fine motor skills and engage their problem-solving abilities.

Recommended age: 12 months and up

$ 12.97

Spark Create Imagine Alphabet Blocks

While your baby will likely adore stacking and identifying block colours, letters and shapes from approximately 18 months onward, little ones under a year can improve dexterity by building—and knocking down—mini towers. Your child might also love these baby and toddler must-haves.

Recommended age: 18 months and up

$ 19.98

Lamaze Rainbow Rings Toy

This rainbow-stacking toy features four colourful and crinkly rings that makes sounds when your baby grabs it. The different colours, textures and sounds make this a great baby learning toy for developing dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Recommended age: Six months and up

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11. Best baby books
$ 15.98

Goodnight Moon

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of this iconic and classic bedtime book, this special edition includes 24 Goodnight Moon milestone cards. It’s a fantastic book to document baby’s first 12 months, first time rolling over, first words and first recognition of objects.

Recommended age: Newborn up

$ 14.98

See Touch Feel: 123

This is an excellent book that helps introduce numbers to toddlers in a fun and simple way. Your baby is sure to adore the raised textures that encourage creative play to help develop motor skills, plus word and picture recognition.

Recommended age: Three months and up

$ 27.97

Mary Meyer Baby Touch Feel Soft Cloth Book

This baby book is a textured wonder with its fabric cover, Velcro closure and sewn-in crinkle paper and squeaker. Your child will love the tactile stimulation the materials offer. Plus, the bright colours will help promote cognitive development.

Recommended age: Six months and up

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12. Wooden baby toys
$ 36.78

Melissa & Doug Paw Patrol Wooden ABC Block Truck

“No job is too big, no pup is too small” with this wooden block truck! Your little one will surely adore playing with the three wooden Paw Patrol figures and 28 wooden blocks. They can build, stack and learn while developing their social, emotional, teamwork and sensory motor skills.

Recommended age: Three years and up

$ 59.99

Baby Einstein Magic Touch Wooden Drum Musical Toy

With ultra-cool features like Melody and Drum Mode that allow your baby to switch between playing along with classical songs and creative their own beats, this drum kit will help your little one improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Recommended age: Six months and up

$ 54.97

Melissa and Doug Bead Maze

Brimming with physical and cognitive benefits, this brightly shaded, oldie-but-goodie maze will improve your little one’s attention span as they push beads along the wire track.

Recommended age: 12 months and up

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Liz Bruckner is a seasoned writer and editor who has been writing about all things lifestyle for more than 15 years. She’s contributed to Today’s Parent, Canadian Living, House & Home, The Toronto Star, The National Post and more. She lives in Central Ontario with her husband and three rambunctious boys and may or may not be known for her deep love for baked goods.

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