Best baby toys 2022: The best toys for your newborn baby

Expert Reviews Staff Catherine Hufton
23 May 2022

We've selected our favourite toys to keep your newborn engaged, entertained and occupied as they explore the world of playtime

Baby toys are often 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 require a vast amount of supplies, from nappies, wipes, bibs and muslins to Moses baskets and clothing.

While 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 forms 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 how to choose the best toys for your newborn to help them play, learn and relax. Look a little further down the page and 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. The toys listed here range from roughly £10 to nearly £100 and they’re listed in order of ascending price with the priciest picks at the bottom of the page.

Bear in mind, though, that you don’t need to spend huge sums to get some wonderful toys for your little ones. 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 are designed to help babies 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 adding a bit of fun to 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 in 2022

1. My First Baby Multi Textured Sensory Soft Balls: The best baby toy for sensory play

Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon

While newborn babies have little in the way of grip and will struggle to hold a sensory ball like these, the bright colours and different textures are brilliant for their ongoing development. This box of different sensory balls will be useful for most of your baby’s first year as they learn that things around them are different colours and shapes, and start to explore how things feel.

Key specs – Size: 29 x 23 x 23 cm (LWD); Weight: 320g; Ages: From birth; Power supply: None

2. Sophie La Girafe - Giraffe So Pure Teething Ring: The best baby toy for soothing sore gums

Price: £12 | Buy now from Early Learning Centre

When used from birth, this Sophie La Girafe teething ring is a soothing sensory toy. As your baby gets older and those tiny teeth start poking through their gums, leading to lots of drooling and pain for them, this adorable teether will help provide some much-needed relief. It is made from 100% natural rubber and is decorated with food-grade paint – so you can do your bit for the environment and your teething baby.

Key specs – Size: 1.52 x 7.11 x 25.91 cm (LWD); Weight: 99.79g; Ages: 0-24 months; Power supply: None

Buy now from Early Learning Centre

3. Sensory Flashcard Collection - Baby Development Cards: The best baby toy for stimulating vision

Price: £13 | Buy now from Priya and Peanut

Studies have shown that, for the first six months, a baby’s vision is blurry, their field of vision small and that black and white are the strongest recognised colours. These flashcards are great at stimulating your baby’s retina and their brain. They will capture your baby’s full attention and help to mature their sight until they can process colours post six months.

Key specs – Size: A6; Ages: Suitable from birth to six months; Power supply: None

Buy now from Priya and Peanut

4. 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

5. Foot Finders & Wrist Rattles: The best baby toy for hand-eye coordination

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

These adorable rattles can be worn on the hands or feet and help to develop hand-eye coordination. Each one is adorned with a colourful bug and will encourage your little one to touch, grab and look at them. The cute wrist rattles gently wrap around your baby’s wrist and fasten easily, while the socks slip onto their feet. They can be used at home for sensory play or to entertain your baby while in the car or pram.

Key specs – Size: 18.3 x 13.3 x 4.6 cm (LWD); Weight: 60g; Ages: From birth to 12 months; Power supply: None

Buy now from Amazon

6. Tummy Time Water Mat: The best baby toy for strengthening neck muscles

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

Tummy time is really important for strengthening babies’ neck muscles. It’s recommended that your baby spends 10 minutes or so each day on their tummy as it also helps strengthen their legs and arms, and helps when they’re a little older and preparing to crawl. This water play mat makes that experience more interesting for your baby, enhancing their hand-eye coordination.

Key specs – Size: 20.2 x 18 x 6.8 cm (LWD); Weight: 580g; Ages: 3 months and up; Power supply: None

7. Janod Forest Stacker: A cute stacking toy with an eco-friendly twist

Price: £20 | Buy now from KidlyIt’s never too early to start teaching children about the environment and this Janod Forest Stacker is a beautiful first introduction. In an effort to create more environmentally friendly toys, Janod have created this 10-piece stacker in collaboration with WWF®. It’s made from FSC®-certified solid wood, which means it’s harvested from sustainably managed forests.

The theme behind the design is also inspired by biodiversity so it creates a beehive, bee and flower for it to pollinate. While our baby loved the gorgeous colours and shapes, our toddler was very keen to talk about the bees and pollination, so it was a hit with the whole family. It also makes a lovely addition to a nursery or shelf even when it’s not being played with.

Key specs – Size: 25cm x 7cm x 13.5 cm; Ages: 12 months+; Power supply: None

Buy now from Kidly

8. Farm, Sit Me Up Baby Seat: The best baby toy for self-contained play

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Some newborn babies demand to be held for most of the day, and some parents love to relax and hold them for as long as needed. However, for those that would like to put their baby down for a little while, the Sit Me Up Baby Seat is a great thing to have as it combines a soft resting area with a self-contained play environment. Around the playnest are eight sensory features that help develop your baby’s sense of touch, sight and sound. There is a bonus for the parents, too: this playnest is machine washable which means you can keep it fresh from the baby spit-ups and milk spills.

Key specs – Size: 37 x 7.49 x 28.19 cm (LWD); Weight: 710g; Ages: 0 and up; Power supply: None

9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity caterpillar: The best baby toy for colour stimulation

Price: £26 | Buy now from JoJo Maman Bebe

This toy is based on the popular book Very Hungry Caterpillar and features lots of activities to entertain your little one, with rattles, crinkles and squeaks. It also plays ‘You are my sunshine’, a lovely tune to keep your baby smiling. This is great for developing your little one’s senses and helping them discover the world around them.

Key specs – Size: 40 x 6 x 5cm (LWD); Weight: N/A; Ages: From birth to 12 months; Power supply: None

Buy now from JoJo Maman Bebe

10. Baby Einstein Cal’s Smart Sounds Symphony: The best musical baby toy

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Music is a lovely way to stimulate your baby during play time, and this cute toy from Baby Einstein is a great way to encourage your little one to make beautiful melodies on their own.

The wobbly base of this toy is ideal for tummy time and encourages baby to discover musical instruments, colours and animals with every tap, touch and gleeful bash. You can also choose to listen to the music in Spanish, French or English and switch between instrumental, animal or freestyle themes.

Key specs – Size: 33 x 33 x 19cm; Ages: 6 months+; Power supply: Batteries

11. Kissy the Penguin: The best baby toy for encouraging smiles

Price: £30 | Buy now from Smyths Toys

Kissy the Penguin is possibly the most adorable toy on our shortlist. In fact, we challenge any parent to not fall in love with him.

The toy is made from a super plush fabric that is lovely for your baby to cuddle, and with a squeeze of its feet Kissy sings “Frere Jacques” and blows kisses - it’s very cute. Older babies can interact and learn to blow kisses back or simply enjoy the performance.

Kissy the Penguin is completely soft and free from hazards, so he’s suitable for babies from birth onwards. Just make sure you don’t leave the toy in your baby’s cot or pram while they sleep.

Key specs – Size: 30cm tall; Ages: Newborn and up; Power supply: 3 x AAA batteries (included)

Buy now from Smyths Toys

12. Ollie the Owl: The best baby toy for bedtime

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

In those early weeks and months, one of the main things on the minds of parents is sleep – getting it and developing a healthy bedtime routine. Babies, of course, have other ideas, and in the first few weeks of their lives need comfort and attention 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. 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

13. Disney Baby Mr Ray Ocean Lights Activity Gym & Play Mat: The best baby toy for all-round development

Price: £56 | Buy now from Smyths Toys

Play and activity mats are a great way to keep little ones entertained while you grab a hot drink, but also have features that will aid their development as many have music, bright colours and different textures. The Disney Baby Finding Nemo Mr Ray Ocean Lights Activity Gym comes with 6 toys that detach for playing and easy cleaning. Dory doubles up as a finger puppet, which is great for storytelling, while the clamshell mirror allows your baby to see its reflection and learn more about the world.

Key specs – Size: 81 x 91 x 46cm (LWD); Weight: N/A; Ages: From birth; Power supply: 3 x AA batteries

Buy now from Smyths Toys

14. Bugsy Rocking Horse: Best toy for older babies

Price: £69 | Buy now Mamas & Papas

The Bugsy Rocking Horse is a contemporary update on a classic nursery toy. With a solid wooden base, wonderfully soft faux-fur and has lots of hidden details such as a bell in one ear and a rattle in the other, Bugsy is an ideal next-step toy for little ones of around 12 months.

What we liked best about this rocking horse is how it inspired lots of pretend play and interaction – plus, we think it makes a lovely alternative to plastic. Just make sure you supervise your child on the horse at all times, as it does require quite a bit of balance.

Key specs – Size: 55 x 60 x 30cm; Ages: 12 months+; Power supply: None; Adult assembly required

Buy now Mamas & Papas

15. Lovevery The Senser Play Kit: The best baby toy for reaching developmental milestones

Price: £80 per play kit | Buy now from Lovevery

When babies are very small, it can be hard to know how best to play with them. Lovevery’s play kits help to bridge that gap by creating fun experiences for your baby which are specifically suited to their developmental age.

We tested the brand’s Senser Play Kit. This is suitable for babies between five and six months of age and is filled with a range of rainbow-coloured wooden toys that are thoughtful and well made.

You get a magic tissue box, play socks and a spinning rainbow. There’s also a guide full of ideas of how to play with your baby, backed by all of Lovevery’s research which makes for an interesting read at nap time.

Our baby enjoyed all the toys within the play kit, and we put this down to the toys being suitable for their specific age – which can sometimes be hard to get right. Each toy is also sturdy and well-designed, and while the price is very high, the toys do feel like they’re built to last.

Key specs – Ages: Suitable for 5-6 months; Power supply: None

Buy now from Lovevery

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