While infants aren’t exactly able to tell you what they want, it’s a joy to watch their eyes light up at the sight of these simple baby toys designed to stimulate the senses. In addition to toys for babies, we’ve included a few other accessories that parents love for their little ones, including sweet little moccasins and quite possibly the coziest play mat ever. These are the best holiday gifts for infants.
1. Skip Hop Egg Shakers
Even before they’re able to hold tight to these adorable egg-shaped shakers, babies will delight at the sounds and motions when you rattle the Skip Hop Egg Shakers for them. The hedgehog, fox and howl shaker come as a trio, and each makes its own unique sound. Raised textures on the animal’s surface make them easy for babies to grasp, and the toy’s bright colors appeal to developing brains.
2. PopYum Baby Bottle
Okay, so this is more of a gift for an infant’s parents. But when baby is happy, everyone is happy, right? Every parent knows that when baby is hungry, it means now. And when you’re fumbling to measure out formula from a can and juggling water to add to mix, things can escalate quickly. The PopYum Baby Bottles mean you’re ready to go in an instant. Just push a bottom to release the formula into the water, shake and serve.
3. Sophie the Giraffe
Every baby needs a Sophie the Giraffe to squeeze. The French teething sensation (known simply as la girafe in France) has been around since 1961, but has truly gone global in recent years. Even before babies start to teethe, you can amuse them with the fun squeaking sound and super-soft, all-natural-rubber (BPA-free) exterior of Sophie’s spotted skin. Alternatively, you can purchase a Sophie the Giraffe gift set with board book.
4. Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack
Sometimes the simplest toys are the most satisfying for little minds. After all, who doesn’t know a kid who’s picked the packaging over the toy? And the classic Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack has been a long-running favorite first toy for babies. The five color-pop rings are easy and perfectly pliable for baby to grab, and the challenge comes later, when they learn to stack one on top of the other. This particular version has a fun rocker base that babies have fun batting at, too.
5. Hape Baby Animal Toy Rattles
A good baby rattle is always a welcome gift. And as pretty as a monogrammed, keepsake rattle is, these more practical, wooden versions by Hape are the go-anywhere rattles that babies and parents need. The German toy manufacturer created a winner with this trio of music-making aquatic animals perched atop suction cups. They can be stuck to a car window and used on an in-flight meal tray or restaurant table. The result is quite possibly hours of in-place entertainment.
6. HABA Kringelring
With popular baby toy brands like HABA and Hape, Germany is the birthplace of some of the best baby toys out on the market. For the infant in your life, the HABA Kringelring is like catnip for a kitty. Water-based, solvent-free colors are used for the colorful beechwood beads, so the toy is perfectly safe for teething infants to mouth. They’ll stay amused shaking the toy, pulling on the attached BPA-free plastic rings, and passing the toy from tiny hand to tiny hand.
7. Mary Meyer Bestever Baby Mat
Tummy time gets a fun and uber-soft spin when you introduce your baby to the plush Mary Meyer Bestever Baby Mat, perfect for spreading out on the floor at home or rolling up to tote along wherever you travel. The owl, lamb and adorable elephant Bestever Baby Mats are among the favorites from Vermont-based Mary Meyer brand. And with soft-stitched eyes (no hard buttons) and wide plush tummies, they’re the most adorable base for your baby to stretch out and snuggle.
8. Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins
Is there anything cuter than tiny little tootsies kicking around in fringed booties? (Spoiler: no). And that’s why gifting the baby in your life with these adorable leather baby moccasins from Freshly Picked is a pleaser for everyone involved. Choose from various colors, patterns and styles. The entire shoe is made of genuine leather and the sole is flexible and soft, all the better for encouraging natural foot movement from your future Olympians.
9. Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center
Keeping an infant entertained in transit is essential to everyone’s sanity, so a colorful toy that’s easy to carry along and makes for plenty of in-flight or in-car distraction is a must. Your baby’s hand-eye coordination gets tapped when he or she tries to bat and grab on to the colorful spinning centerpiece of the Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center. You can hold it up for your baby or make use of the convenient suction cup base—perfect for attaching to airplane tray tables, restaurant tables and any other convenient surface.
10. Fisher Price Go Baby Go Poppity Pop Musical Dino
Set this music-making, ball-popping dinosaur toy on the floor—it’s about the same size as a cafeteria tray—and let the stimulation for baby begin. You fill the dino’s belly with plastic balls, then watch as they pop around and appear on the tail or in his mouth. Squeals of delight ensue and you’ll be equally delighted at just how long the Fisher Price Go Baby Go Poppity Pop Musical Dino will captivate baby’s attention. As a bonus, older babies who can grasp and reach for the balls are working on their fine motor skills while they play.
11. Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles
For a bath toy that’s easy to toss into the diaper bag and travel with, too, these floaty bath bubbles are a ton of fun for babies. The Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles come in a set of four and have a cute penguin, turtle and other bits and bobs that jangle around inside to keep baby occupied while you’re lathering up those locks. And since the bubbles float, the only way they’ll get lost in the fun is if you fill the bath tub with real bubbles, too (of course, that will only make things even more fun, so we say go for it).
12. Jellycat Stuffed Bunny
Soft as clouds and cute as buttons, Jellycat stuffed animals come in a variety of quirky animal varieties that range from chickens and bees to reindeer. But there’s something we just can’t resist about a floppy-eared bunny—and chances are the baby in your life won’t be able to resist it, either. It’s the perfect-sized lovey for little ones—small enough not to worry about it being a smothering hazard, while plenty large to love on, too. (The bunny measures just under 11 inches from top to tail). Easy to keep clean, Jellycats hold up to machine wash cycles so you can expect them to last for years to come.
13. Fat Brain Toys MiniSpinny
Brains are never too young to start fattening up with stimulating toys and games. And kids under two years old, in particular, find endless fascination with this toy they can flip over and over to make colorful propellers scroll down the smooth, corkscrew rod. A perfect airplane toy to keep them occupied in your lap, the Fat Brain Toys MiniSpinny does double duty as a developmental device, too, helping to hone their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
14. Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster
Sure, you could always feed your baby in his or her stroller or from atop your lap when you travel and no restaurant high chair is available. But things get more comfortable and easier to clean up, too, when you tote along the Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster. Lightweight and portable, the frame folds and unfolds in a second, making it as easy to install as throwing out a picnic blanket. Place the chair right on the ground and use the tray for your baby’s food. Or make use of the included chair safety straps to use it as a booster seat back home or in a vacation rental.
15. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
The ambient engine roar of an airplane means this musical toy isn’t likely to bother neighbors. The Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy is, however, likely to keep babies entertained for good stretches of time in transit while they busy themselves playing with the oversized rattle beads and ogling the flashing lights. The toy has large, smooth parts that make it easy for babies to find a good grasp. And there’s a volume control on the toy, too, so you can tone things down when you don’t have engine or airport noise as a backdrop.
Longtime travel writer and adventurer Terry Ward lives in Florida with her husband and young son and daughter. She’s constantly on the lookout for the next Scandinavia Airlines Kids Fly Free deal to save money on flights to Norway, her favorite place to visit both in the winter (Northern Lights!) and summer (Midnight Sun!). A travel writer since 2001 (read: long before the kids came along), she’s written for such publications as Endless Vacation Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Scuba Diving Magazine, among many others. Find Terry on her website, Terry-Ward.com.