Let’s face it, the only thing newborns really need is loving parents. For the first month or so, it seems that they’re pretty much baby blobs, doing nothing but eating, sleeping and messing nappies (oh, and keeping you up nights!).
There’s a lot going on in that tiny newborn brain, however. The brain develops faster in the first 12 months than it does at any other time of life, and there are lots of things that you can do to help your baby develop essential skills.
Read on for our suggestions on the best toys for newborns.
Black & White for Newborns
Newborn babies are learning to focus their vision, and they are naturally attracted to faces. You’ll find that you instinctively put your face close to your baby’s, as a newborn has a vision range that is only about 20 to 30 cms. Everything else for a tiny baby is just a blur, or a shadow.
While your newborn is working on that fuzzy vision, high contrast colours are great, as they are easy to see. Black and white for newborns is great, as are brightly coloured objects.
We love the Mesmerised Books for Newborns! This lovely range of black & white books for newborns are a great way to help develop baby’s eyesight, and it’s never too early to start baby on books.
You can use flashcards with baby sat on your knee, or you can stick them up next to the change table to keep baby entertained while you’re changing nappies.
Books for Newborns
There are many benefits of reading to your baby, even if she doesn’t understand what you’re saying. The sound of your voice and the closeness as you read together will make the experience enjoyable for your baby.
The best books for newborns have bright, high contrast colours. Black and white books for newborns, as previously mentioned, are a great idea. But anything with big, simple pictures will work. We love the Petit Collage Day & Night baby book, and the Mesmerised Baby Face book.
Baby board books are ideal for when baby starts to grab and chew whatever she can reach, as they’re sturdy and durable.
Baby Mirror Toy
Babies are fascinated by faces, and that includes their own. A safe baby mirror toy is perfect for developing a sense of self. Although your baby won’t know it’s her own face she’s looking at, she will be drawn to it. You may even find her laughing and smiling at it.
Just be sure to use a baby mirror that is safe and won’t break easily. The Manhattan Toy Wimmer Ferguson double feature mirror has black and white high contrast images on one side, and a baby safe mirror on the other.
Baby Sensory Toys
Sensory toys help baby to learn about the world around them through the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and hearing. Your baby will learn by actively engaging with their environment, by playing with different objects, textures and materials.
Auditory skills are when baby reacts to a sound, for example, if you shake the rattle baby should turn her head in the direction of the sound. As baby’s auditory skills develop, she will turn her head to the sound of your voice.She’ll combine these skills to work out that when she grabs for a toy, she’ll get to hear the sound. Move toys to within her line of vision, so that she can focus on them. Although she might not be able to get them yet, you’ll find that she bats at the toys she likes.
A baby rattle looks simple, but it’s an important developmental toy for newborns. Shake the rattle, and baby will learn to follow the sound. As baby learns to reach and grasp, she’ll also learn cause and effect – if she shakes the rattle, she’ll hear a noise. Choose a gentle rattling sound, not something too noisy. You don’t want baby jumping out of her skin!
The Manhattan Skwish is a gorgeous wooden baby rattle that’s made up of wooden beads and rods joined together by an elastic string. The beads rattle and roll around, making gentle sounds, and it all squishes down when baby pushes on it.
When you’re choosing a baby rattle, make sure to choose something that’s not too hard on baby gums. You also need to look for safe finishes, and non toxic materials, like the Plan Toys Baby Key Rattle.
Sensory Toys – Textures for Baby
Soft sensory toys with different sounds, such as a squeaker and crackly fabric, are great too, as they’ll not only develop baby’s auditory skills but also their sense of cause and effect. Your baby will explore different textures with her hands and her mouth. Again, choosing baby safe materials and non toxic products is incredibly important.
The Caaocho rainbow sensory ball is made from soft natural rubber, and it’s divided into sections with different textures on each section. It gives a gentle squeak when squeezed.
The Tikiri Hippo is a natural rubber teether and squeezy toy that makes a gentle squeak when squashed. The rubber feels smooth and warm, and the knobbly bits are great for extra texture.
We also love the Petit Collage Soft Chime Ball Bear. It’s a plush toy, a baby ball, and a baby rattle all in one. The ears make crinkly sounds and are fun for baby to chew on. It’s squishy and soft against baby’s skin, and there are other interesting textures like the nose and eyes to explore.
I’m Toy Frisky Froggy is another great baby sensory toy. There’s a baby safe bell, with a wooden rattle. The googly eyes and stretchy arms and legs are fun to play with, and each hand and foot has a different texure and sound. The wooden rattle in froggy’s tummy comes out, so the fabric parts are washable, too.
Wooden Baby Play Gyms
A baby gym makes a great newborn toy. There are so many things that baby will learn from it. At first, the hanging toys will help develop baby’s vision as she lies underneath it. As she grows, baby will learn to reach for and bat at the toys, helping her hand eye co-ordination. We’ve got a whole article about the benefits of baby gyms. One thing it’s worth noting is that we prefer wooden baby gyms, instead of ones with lights and sounds, as they can overstimulate baby.
Here are some of our favourite baby play gyms:
We love the Hess Spielzeug wooden baby gym, with it’s simple design and brightly coloured hanging toys. There are beads on the side of the gym, too, which mean that there’s extra places for baby to reach to. The height is adjustable, and it’s sturdy enough that baby can use it to steady herself when she’s pulling up and learning to walk.
The Hape portable baby gym is great for getting out and about with your new baby, or if you have limited space at home. This fabric and wood baby gym folds up and becomes a tote bag. Very handy!
Pram Garlands and Pram Toys
Pram toys for newborns are a great way to keep baby entertained and stimulated when you’re out and about. A pram garland will give baby something to reach for and bat at while she’s in the pram or the car seat. They can help with hand eye co-ordination, and cause and effect skills.
This beautiful Hess Spielzeug wooden pram garland clips on to the fabric of the pram or the car seat. There are wooden beads to twirl, and a lovely, gently jingly bell that will make sounds when baby hits it. Beautifully made with non toxic finishes, so it’s safe for baby to mouth on.
Another lovely pram garland is the Everearth Wooden Pram Toy in the leaf design. It’s a similar design, baby safe jingly bells and wooden beads.
Wee Gallery have a lovely range of pram toys and car toys for baby, and one of our favourites is the Flower Stroller Toy.
It’s in high contrast black and white, with a fabric strap that goes easily around any part of the pram. The flower is squashy, the leaves make nice crinkly noises and the whole thing is washable for when it (inevitably) gets dirty.
Baby Play Mats
It’s a good idea to have a baby play mat so that baby can get some tummy time. You can also pop a baby gym above her while she’s lying on the play mat, too.
We like the Skip Hop EVA foam mats. The EVA that Skip Hop uses is formamide free, so they’re safe for baby. Foam mats are soft, and they’re easy to wipe clean, so they’re a good choice, but only if you choose safe EVA.
Wee Gallery have a range of organic cotton baby play mats that are just beautiful. In high contrast colours, they’re reversible and come in a handy drawstring bag for storage. They’re also machine washable.
Baby Comforters & Blankies
Some babies find it very comforting to have a fabric toy, aptly called a baby comforter! Parents can wear a fabric comforter next to their skin, then pop it next to baby in the cot so that baby has a familiar smell with them.
As baby gets a little older, the comforter can also become a teether and you may find that baby loves to suck and chew the ends of the fabric. It’s a good idea to choose organic for these, so that you know there is nothing nasty going into little mouths.
We love the Apple Park baby blankies with their cute designs and organic cotton bodies with corn fibre filling. Just divine!
Soft toys for babies can also be comforting, as they will start to smell familiar. They’re warm and soft for baby to cuddle up to.
Baby Teething Toys
It won’t be long before baby starts to grab objects and put them in her mouth. Babies learn a lot through putting things in their mouth, so again, the best toys for newborns are ones that are safe for them to taste and chew.
Babies start teething at around 4 to 7 months, and those first baby teeth can be sharp! Choose durable, safe toys that baby can bite. One of our favourites is the Hevea Panda natural rubber teeether. It’s tough, so baby can’t bite chunks out of it, but it feels soft and warm.
Wooden teething toys are always a great idea, and we love the simplicity of these natural wooden teethers in a ring. They’re made from sustainable wood, with vegetable dye finishes. Perfect for baby to grasp and chomp down on.
Newborn Toy Safety
As baby learns to grab for things, she’ll start shaking them, rattling them, and of course, putting them in her mouth. While it’s important that baby has lots of different textures, shapes and sounds to stimulate her senses, it’s also important that anything she puts in her mouth is safe for her to chew.
Try to choose toys made of natural materials, with non-toxic finishes. If you’re choosing a plastic toy, make sure that it’s free from BPA, phthalates and PVC. We’ve got more information on how to choose safe toys for newborns in this article.
Whether you’re buying for your baby, or you’re looking for ideas for gifts for newborns, we hope that this has given you some inspiration. Don’t forget to check out Hello Charlie’s great range of eco toys for newborns, too!
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