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Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021

Welcome to our guide, Great Gift Ideas For Babies 2021!

Play is the best way for children to learn. In fact, by the time your child is age 5, their brain will have gone through more development and growth than it will for the remainder of their lives. While some play is natural and organic, such as being outside on the playground or collecting seashells and rocks at the beach, toys are a way we can enhance play and extend our baby’s learning. 

Almost all toys will delight and engage a child for some length, but when it comes to buying toys for your baby, you want to keep in mind their age and what developmental stage they are at. As with anything related to your baby, safety is key, so please check out our safety recommendations at the end of the guide.

Below you’ll find a selection of the best gift ideas for babies 2021. We’ve categorized them according to age. We hope this is helpful!

Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021 | Best Baby Toys for Children Up to 3 Months

Just as much, if not more so than any other age group, babies need stimulation and engagement to learn and grow. Within their first 5 weeks of life, they have already begun to develop all five senses, communication, and the understanding that food is a necessity. By the time your baby turns three-years-old, 80% of their brain will be developed, and by five, 90%. All of this development starts in infancy.

Here’s our tops picks for babies aged 0-3 months:

Winner: Lamaze Captain Calamari Plush Stroller Toy

Sometimes when your baby is playing on the floor, in the stroller, in their car seat, or at the restaurant table, they need some entertainment and interaction. Captain Calamari from Lamaze, one of the most trusted baby toy companies, is here to help! You can secure her to a car seat bar, stroller, a play floor mat, or a high chair with the attachable clip. Her crinkly and patterned tentacles are sure to attract your child. Young infants simply love different patterns and textures, and the Captain’s legs provide loads of variety to help your baby with visual acuity and sensory development.

Captain Calamari also makes a great handheld toy; she is soft, comfortable to hold, and she comes with little rings function as teethers. Parents love this toy so much it is rated #1 on Amazon in Baby Car Toys and Stroller Toys.

Another Favorite: Melissa & Doug Flip Fish

Everyone is always looking for the perfect soft toy for the baby in their life, and the Melissa & Doug Flip Fish is an excellent choice. It is a sensory bonanza for your little one with colors and textures galore! The various textures will provide your baby with needed sensory exploration and development. 

The flip fish is soft and safe for teething babies to put in their mouths; additionally, part of the tail is a bumpy teething piece to provide relief to your little one and their gums. There are no loose objects or sharp pieces.

Each scale flips over to reveal more texture and exploratory delights, and babies are guaranteed to love the mirror scale as they watch how their reflection changes with movement. As a bonus surprise, the tail has a squeaker inside, so once your baby gets ahold of that, the repetitive squeezing will help to strengthen those important hand and finger muscles needed for fine motor development.

Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021 | Best Baby Toys for Children 3-6 Months Old

Children start developing and growing very quickly. The 4-6 month period is characterized by tummy time, crawling and developing their independence. The toys below are created to do just that!

Check out our choices for some of the best toys to engage your older infant in tummy time and sensory development:

Winner: Infinno Inflatable Tummy Time Mat

Tummy-time is something many babies struggle with, but moms and dads know it is a necessary activity to promote core, arm, and neck strength and eventually get your baby up and crawling. There are many toys out there that parents can use to promote tummy time, and we know lying on the floor with our baby is ideal, but babies also need to learn independence, and sometimes you need that 5-minute coffee break!

Rated the #2 Bestseller in Baby Gyms and Playmats, the Infinno Inflatable Tummy Time Mat is guaranteed to bring delight to your little one. The friendly-looking animals move around the mat as the baby applies pressure, and their little brain logs each touch as sensory input.  

The bright and beautiful colors will hold your baby’s attention, and as objects move around the mat, their eyes will begin to work on tracking skills and hand-eye coordination. 

The Infinno Inflatable Tummy Time Water Mat is an all-in-one toy that is perfect for promoting muscle development and cognitive skills for your soon-to-be crawler!

Another Favorite: Manhattan Toys Winkle Rattle

Every kid loves to play with balls, especially babies! One of the first skills a baby develops is their fine motor grasping skills. Manhattan Toys Winkle Rattle provides plenty of textures and places for your baby to practice their grip. Once they learn how to hold onto something, they love to throw it! Since the sensory ball is soft, you don’t need to worry about it wreaking havoc on your home when tossed about. 

Since 4-6 months is the time to get baby crawling, placing this enticing toy just our of their reach will persuade your baby to move. The variety of textures, colors, patterns, and rattling sounds provide sensory stimulation from all directions and heighten your baby’s sense of touch, sight, sound, and even taste!

Manhattan Toys Winkle Rattle is #19 on Amazon among Baby & Toddler toys and at under $10, it is an affordable toy to add to your collection. 

The best thing about the Winkle Rattle is that it promotes hands-on, active learning without the use of electronics, batteries, or annoying loud sounds. Hands-on play is the best way for children and babies to learn, and when using the Winkle Rattle, babies are introduced to hand-eye coordination, fine and gross-motor skills, and sensory and cognitive development.

Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021 | Best Baby Toys for Children 6-9 Months Old

In this stage of their development, children start to imitate what others do around them. Many babies are now crawling and may begin to pull themselves up to begin walking. As they grow, babies begin to discover cause and effect relationships between the things they do and what happens due to their actions. This is also the age at which object permanence begins to develop, making peek-a-boo and seek-and-find activities much more fun!

Here are our best picks to enhance those growing cognitive skills:

Winner: Fisher Price – Linkimals Smooth Move Sloth

This popular toy continues to grow in popularity, and it was awarded the TOYT, Toy of the Year award for 2020, which has parents paying attention. In addition, it is rated #6 on Amazon in both the Baby Musical Toys and Toddler Musical Toys categories and #7 in Toddler Music & Sound Toys.

Why is Linkimals Smooth Move Sloth by Fisher Price so popular? Well for starters, it’s adorable, dances along to the music, and is highly appealing to babies. But there’s more so than that: it promotes letter, number, musical and color knowledge. Your baby will start to learn about cause and effect as they push the different buttons to achieve the desired result.  

The Linkimals Smooth Move Sloth by Fisher Price is a toy that allows your baby to play independently and will keep them engaged. Parents comment that their children want to play with this toy repeatedly, further demonstrating it’s appeal to little ones.

If you have other Linkimals, you can sync them all together so they can play as a group! This toy can do it all: music, numbers, colors, shapes, and it bops its head as the music plays. Your baby will clap along and dance with this fabulous interactive toy.

Another Favorite: Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles

Cars are a favorite must have for all little learners and who better to purchase them from than Melissa & Doug, one of the most beloved and renowned toy makers. These cars are so loved that out of nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon, over 90% gave them 5-Star ratings. Additionally, they are ranked #8 in Toddler Pull & Push Toys.

The Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles are soft and easy for little ones to grab onto. They can be used to promote crawling as mom and dad pull them back and let them roll across the floor. With their soft and easy to hold design, babies and toddlers can begin rolling them around themselves as well. 

The cars promote hands on imaginative play that is essential to your baby’s cognitive, fine and gross motor development. You can sit back and watch as your child’s imagination creates new and inventive ways to incorporate the cars into their play. 

Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021 | Best Baby Toys for Children 9-18 Months Old

By the time your child has reached this age they want to move and do “all the things!” Toys that engage their developing fine motor and cognitive skills are a must. Additionally, this is when your baby will begin to speak, so parents should be participating in activities and using toys to help promote language development.

Check out the toys below for our top choices for 9-18 months old:

Winner: Playkidz Super Durable Pound A Ball

Parents with children of all ages are looking for ways to incorporate STEM into their child’s play and learning. The Playkidz Super Durable Pound A Ball is great way to introduce STEM to your toddler! The bright colors will entice them, and the action of the balls rolling gives them an introduction to cause and effect, velocity, and gravity!

Continuing with the STEM theme, children will learn about tools and simple machines as they use the hammer to pound the balls onto the ramps. As your toddler learns how to master the hammer, their hand-eye coordination will increase along with their fine motor skills.  

This toy is so well reviewed that it is #3 on Amazon’s list of Hammering & Pounding Toys. Its sturdy construction and perfect-sized hammer for little hands make the Playkidz Super Durable Pound A Ball one that’s guaranteed to be around your house for quite some time!

Another Favorite: Peekaboo Cookie Monster

This toy is a brand new toy that is receiving acclaim from kids and parents alike! Released August of 2020, is has already become a must-have favorite. While it has only received 12+ reviews at the time of publication, every single one of those reviews has been 5-Stars. It has only been on the market two months and has already jumped to the 61st spot for Plush Interactive Toys.

 This adorable cookie monster doll plays pee-a-book with your child using a giant cookie. The toy is lightweight and soft, which means your child can carry their new best friend wherever they go! Now that object permanence is a skill your child has mastered, they will take delight in playing their favorite game with this lovable Sesame Street Friend. 

Cookie Monster speaks a few key phrases in his famous monster voice, which will keep your child giggling and playing for hours.

Some Advice Before Buying Baby Toys

Children are known to put whatever object that falls into their hands in their mouths. This is something you should watch out for, particularly with small toys. Many parents overlook this crucial aspect, and in doing so inadvertently jeopardize their child’s safety. Choking on small toys is not uncommon for babies and toddlers. Also, be careful that the toy is not easy to dismantle. Many toys are big enough, but they have small parts that can easily be removed. These can be as dangerous as any other small toy. Manufacturers are aware of this and try to avoid including these parts. However, for the toys that do include them, there is usually a sign indicating the appropriate age group. Some additional tips to take into account include: 

  • Pay close attention to all the information that is written on the box and in the instructions. 
  • The materials a toy is constructed from are usually mentioned on the box label or the instructions. If your child still puts toys in their mouth, make sure the toy does not have any toxic paint. 
  • Avoid products that are made for older children. That label is there for a reason!
  • Small Legos or toys with magnets are particularly dangerous for babies. Make sure to avoid them until your child is old enough to know not to put things in their mouth.

Raising awareness about toy safety to your family and friends is important. Even if you follow these tips, some of them may not. If a friend or relative gives your child a toy that’s not appropriate for them, it’s often difficult to take that toy away from the child without initiating a tantrum. It’s much better to just avoid the situation altogether by letting your loved ones know about your concerns and decision-making process when it comes to toy safety. 

So if you’re giving a gift, please be careful of this! If you choose from these great gift ideas for babies 2021, you should be fine!

That's All Folks!

Toys can play an essential role in your child’s development and learning through play. The greatest benefits come when your child is exposed to toys aimed at their developmental level. Luckily, all of the toys we placed in our Great Gift Ideas for Babies 2021 guide do just that! When children have the opportunity to engage in hands-on exploration, their play transforms into learning.

Thanks for reading! We hope you find this guide useful as the holidays approach. Join our mailing list below to receive regular updates when we post new toy reviews.

Still not sure what to get?

No? Don’t worry, we’ll find you something! There’s loads more ideas here, you’re bound to find the perfect gift!

If you’re still lost, why not go back to basics with our Definitive Guide to the Best Toys for Babies. Here, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to get those creative juices flowing and help you find the perfect baby toy.