When you do your pre baby shopping you’ll likely be focussed on clothes, endless cute outfits that they’ll probably only wear once but are too lovely to resist, and equipment, prams, cots, breast pumps, bottles etc. In the first months your baby won’t need any toys but as they start to grow into a bigger baby, they’ll need some entertainment. When you’ve had enough of peekabu and round and round the garden, it might be time to invest in some toys. While there are hundreds of toys you could buy your baby, I always found that there were only a few mine really used. Based on that, here is my list of minimalist baby toys, the 6 essential toys for babies.
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The First Essential Toy for Babies: A Play Mat
While your baby will likely be amused by staring at the ceiling fan in the early days, it never feels quite right to put them directly on to the floor. A play mat can start as something soft to put your baby down on and, as they grow older, can be a source of entertainment for them. There are a few options to consider when choosing a play mat.
High contract colours like this one* are a good choice because they are easier for baby to see so will Hold their attention longer.
Another option is to choose a play mat with sides*. These can be great for tummy time as looking at the sides can encourage babies to lift their heads.
If you want something a bit different then you could consider a water play mat*. You fill the mat with water and then baby can lay on their tummy to see the shapes move in the water. Great for encouraging tummy time if you’re baby isn’t keen!
A Sensory Toy
Babies loves to explore things with their hands and mouths so a good sensory toy is essential. Look for something with lots of different textures and colours but make sure it’s designed for your baby’s age, so it will be safe when they inevitably put it in their mouths.
Lamaze make a great range of sensory toys that babies love. There are loads to choose from and they’re all great but this Firefly* is the classic.
A lot of babies are really found of clothing tags. If your baby is one of them, then you can find sensory toys that incorporate tags*, like this ball.
This sensory cube* is also a lovely choice for a sensory toy. It has lots of different features and babies will love the clear, high contrast faces on the sides.
The Classic Essential Toy For Babies: A Rattle
This is a classic toy that all babies need. One of the first skills your baby will learn is to grip something. A rattle with a nice long stem will allow them to practise that and they will love the reward of the making a sound when they move it. I had lots of different rattles but both of my babies had a clear favourite so I really didn’t need more than one.
This rattle* is a lovely combination of rattle and sensory toy. With the option of holding it by the stem or by the ring on the base.
Rattles don’t have to be straight, this loop rattle* is also a lovely option. It can be harder for babies to get hold of these when they’re first learning to grasp but are also easier to hold on to once they have them.
If you like your toys in classic wood, these rattles* might be your favourite. A simple design with beautiful colours.
A Teething Toy
Of all the toys your baby needs, this is the one that will help you the most! As your baby gets older the dreaded teething will begin. While they will likely put all of their toys in their mouth to relieve the pressure, a specially designed one is likely to be the most effective, allowing them to hold it easily and get it where it helps them.
Sophie the Giraffe (or Sophie le Girafe* to be more accurate) is the classic baby teething toy. This one isn’t the original but a newer version with handles that allow baby to keep hold of it better.
This strange looking object isn’t just jewellery but also a teething toy*. Baby can get hold of the rings to chew or use the other shapes to get to the hard to reach spots.
We all know babies love to play with your keys, so toys based on them are usually popular. This teether from Nuby* can be put in the freezer to give it a numbing effect when baby chews it.
A Shape Sorter
Once they have got to grips with gripping, it’s time for a shape sorter. They help them learn to manipulate items into different positions as well as providing a sense of achievement when they get it through the hole. As they get older they can also help them learn about colour and shape.
This classic Melissa and Doug* (who are known for their high quality wooden toys) shape sorter is a simple design with bright clear colours.
I love toys that have more than one use and shape sorter is just one of the features of this multi activity cube*. It also folds out to lay flat for more play options.
Vehicles are always popular with little ones and so this shape sorter bus* will be a hit with babies even before they are ready to try and get the shapes in the spaces.
A Baby Walker
Once your baby is starting to cruise, a walker of some kind is a great addition to your toy collection. You can choose either a walker designed to help babies learn to walk or consider a push along cart type that they may get longer term use from.
This VTech Walker* has been around for years, and for good reason. It’s really sturdy so babies can pull themselves up on it and then use it to cruise across the room. The front panel contains lots of activities and is also removable if you want to play with it elsewhere.
If you want something that will look nice in the house then you could go for a wooden walker. I love this one.
If you want a walker that will still be used after your baby has become a toddler then a push along walker* filled with building blocks is a great choice.
So there you have what I think are the 6 baby toys even a toy minimalist needs. These are the things that, when my children were babies, they got use from everyday so I felt they were worth the money, and space they took up. If your baby is getting older, you might also want to check out my 6 essential toddler toys
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