Best Christmas Gifts & Toys for Babies 2020

Best Christmas Gifts & Toys for Babies 2020

For new parents, waking up with your new baby on Christmas morning is magical. Even before they totally understand what is going on, your little one will light up the first time they see a pile of presents underneath the tree.

Of course, Christmas isn’t just about the big reveal. As a parent, you should make sure to use Christmas as an opportunity to fill your house with toys that are not only fun but also help your baby learn and develop new skills.

Christmas Gifts Ideas for Babies

Babies can be hard to buy for! Because they are still several years away from being able to put together their own Christmas lists, you’re on your own when it comes to picking out the perfect gift. We recommend picking a variety of toys and gifts that will help your baby learn through play and develop new interests. Here are some of the most popular kinds of baby toys.

Stacking Toys

Toys that stack on top of each other help babies develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Our favorite stacking baby toy for 2020 is The First Years Stack Up Cup Toy.

Walking Toys

These are toys that are made to support your baby’s weight as they use it to lean or walk. Walking toys help babies develop the coordination and core strength that is required for them to eventually sit up or walk on their own. The VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is our top choice for walking toys.

Musical Toys

Toys that play music are not only engaging, but they also help babies develop the basics of rhythm and other musical skills. These toys can be noisy, so they aren’t appropriate for bedtime or naptime. Our favorite musical baby toy for 2020 is the VTech KidiBeats Drum Set.

Stuffed Toy

Most of us have fond memories of our favorite stuffed animals growing up. A plush toy can provide comfort and companionship for your baby. Parents looking for an interactive plush toy that their baby will love should look at the Flappy the Elephant Stuffed Animal Plush.

Picking The Best Baby Toys

With so many great baby toys on the market, picking our favorites is no easy task. Here are the criteria we used when deciding which toys made our list and some things you should consider before deciding which gifts to buy your baby.

Age Range

It’s important to buy toys that fit your child’s age range and abilities. If you buy a toy that is too simple for them, it’s likely to be discarded quickly. Likewise, if the toy is too complex, it can lead to frustration or even safety hazards.

Skills Learned

For the first several years of their life, your baby will learn best through play. For each entry on our list, we will give you an idea of how using that toy will benefit your baby’s development.

Fun Factor

It does not matter how educational a toy is if your baby refuses to play with it. To make our list, a toy needs to have the right combination of appeal and interactivity to keep your baby enthralled.

Batteries Required

Nothing is more disappointing than receiving the perfect Christmas gift only to learn that you don’t have the right batteries and all the stores are closed. Make sure you buy any required batteries before the big day.

To help make this year’s shopping easier, we put together a list of our favorite Christmas gifts and toys for babies in 2020. Keep reading to find the perfect gift.

Top 20 Best Christmas Gifts & Toys for Babies 2020

1. Best Overall Baby Christmas Gift: Playskool Explore N' Grow Busy Ball Popper

Playskool Explore N' Grow Busy Ball Popper

Why we like it: This action-packed baby toy challenges children to gather the brightly colored balls that pop out from the top. The balls are perfectly sized for little hands.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 9 months+
  • Batteries Required? Yes (4 D-sized, not included)

What is it? Playskool’s Explore N’ Grow Busy Ball Popper is a standalone toy that brings all the fun of a ball pit into your home in a compact package. With the press of a large baby-friendly button, five colorful plastic balls are blown out of the top by a battery-powered fan, challenging your toddler to find and pick them up. The toy also plays 8 fun songs to keep toddlers engaged. After gathering the balls, babies can then place them back into the funnel and watch each ball slide down the track into the clear chute to start the fun all over again.

What will they learn? Along with developing fine and gross motor skills as well as eye-tracking, Playskool’s Busy Ball Popper is an enjoyable way for your child to explore cause and effect. The clear chute allows babies to see what’s happening inside of their toy, and the tactile feel of the air from the fan inspires curiosity.

Fun Factor: Babies will love pushing the large button and the unpredictability of where the balls end up. Placing the balls back into the popper is especially fun because babies can watch them roll down the track, and the 8 songs add to the excitement of collecting them from around the room.

Parents can expect to see their little ones carrying the popper balls around the house because they’re perfectly designed to be held by small hands. Because the popper sends the balls in unpredictable directions, it is easy to lose the balls underneath the couch or other furniture.

Value: We think the Playskool Explore N’ Grow Busy Ball Popper is reasonably priced, especially because it’s one toy that your toddler will reach for time and time again. Unfortunately, paying to replace the batteries in this toy can get expensive quickly.

Pros

  • Teaches cause and effect
  • Has an easy-to-use volume switch
  • Simple assembly
  • Babies can operate it independently of adults

Cons

  • Balls are easy to lose
  • Batteries run out quickly

2. Best Premium Baby Christmas Gift: VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

Why we like it: Featuring lots of fun and interactive electronics, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker encourages your baby to learn how to crawl and eventually take their first steps.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 9 months – 3 years
  • Batteries Required? Yes (2 AA – included)

What is it? An excellent transitional toy/activity station, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker grows with your child from 9 months to 3 years. Featuring 5 musical keys, multiple gears, spinners, a play-phone, and buttons that light-up, babies will love sitting and playing with the detachable activity panel. As your child grows, the panel easily snaps into the included walker that toddlers can use for stability and push around the house as they learn to walk.

What will they learn? The various buttons, sounds, and keys help with sensory development and teach the beginnings of colors, shapes, animals, numbers, and music. Once snapped into the walker, babies improve their muscles and gross motor skills, eventually becoming more steady on their feet. The walker itself also has locking mechanisms on the wheels which provide resistance for your growing toddler.

Fun Factor: The Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker features over 70 fun songs that keep babies engaged, and the variety ensures parents don’t get annoyed by the same repetitive sounds. Babies and toddlers love being able to push things around in their environment. Because this toy was designed as a fun walker, yours will enjoy being able to maneuver it independently.

With so many buttons and moving gears, this toy keeps little ones busy. The phone is particularly popular amongst infants, but because it is detachable, it is prone to getting lost. With so many activities included, this toy can be overstimulating, especially when you are trying to get your little one to calm down.

Value: Transitional toys can often be expensive, but the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is reasonably priced, especially for a toy that has so many different ways to engage little ones.

Pros

  • Grows with your child
  • Lights up
  • Wheels lock and don’t scuff floors
  • 70+ songs and sounds
  • Comes in 4 different colors

Cons

  • Can be overstimulating
  • Phone toy detaches and is easy to lose

3. Best Budget Baby Christmas Gift: VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube

VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube

Why we like it: The VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube has enough buttons and switches to keep little ones engaged for hours

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months – 3 years
  • Batteries Required? Yes (2 AAA – included for demo use)

What is it? The Busy Learners Activity Cube by VTech is a fun busy toy designed just for babies and toddlers. The Activity Cube measures 6” x 6”, and is a BPA-free block toy that sits on the floor or a tabletop. It has five sides filled with interactive buttons, switches, and spinners that keep little ones engaged and entertained. When turned on, it has motion activity detection that lights up and plays songs when your baby is near. Parents especially will appreciate the volume controls. VTech also offers the Busy Learners Activity Cube in bright purple.

What will they learn? Motion sensors cause the cube to light up and play music when your baby is nearby. This encourages your baby to scoot or crawl, improving their level of mobility. The various switches and buttons boost fine motor skills, and the light-up animal and shape buttons teach language and inspire imaginative play.

Fun Factor: Babies love toys with lots of moving parts. With its flashy lights and sounds, the Busy Learners Activity Cube is sure to keep them engrossed and keep their minds active. Because the sounds and lights are motion-activated, babies are naturally drawn to it and will keep going back to it time and time again. The lights and sounds can be overwhelming and too stimulating, especially near bedtime or naptime, or if there are animals in the house.

Value: VTech’s Activity Cube has five different sides filled with activities that babies are sure to love. At under $20, we think this activity cube is a bargain.

Pros

  • 5 sides of play/buttons/switches
  • Features motion detection
  • Plays 25 different songs

Cons

  • Can be overstimulating, especially near bedtime
  • Motion detection can get annoying

4. Best Stocking Stuffer: Blige SMTF Cute Animal Soft Baby Socks

Blige SMTF Cute Animal Soft Baby Socks

Why we like it: Combing the comfort of plush socks with the fun of a puppet, the Blige SMTF Cute Animal Soft Baby Socks are a great choice for your baby’s Christmas stocking.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 0 – 6 months
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? Blige’s Baby Socks take all the entertainment of a sock or finger puppet and repackage it into a fun and unique baby toy. The set comes with two socks and two wrist straps, each with a cute ladybug or butterfly rattle attached. When worn, babies can play with the animals and listen for the rattle sounds.

What will they learn? Playing with the Blige Animal Socks encourages babies to reach and grasp. Feeling the different textures in the socks helps with sensory development. Because the socks require babies to stretch in order to reach them, they also promote the development of gross motor skills and strengthen core and neck muscles.

Fun Factor: The Blige Sock Set turns your baby into a toy for themselves, all while promoting vital development and exploring how their body moves. The vivid colors, the feel of the plush animals, and the satisfying rattle sounds in each one are sure to keep your little ones occupied and intrigued. We recommend parents remove the tag on the inside of the socks, as it could irritate your baby’s skin.

Value: For under $10, the Blige SMTF Cute Animal Soft Baby Socks set is a unique baby gift or stocking stuffer that your baby will love finding on Christmas morning. The socks are machine washable, but we worry that the delicate fabric could wear out in a machine over time.

Pros

  • Encourages sensory development
  • Develops muscle strength and motor skills
  • Machine washable
  • Unique baby gift

Cons

  • Tag in socks can be irritating to sensitive skin
  • May not be durable

5. Best Travel Toy for Babies: The First Years Stack Up Cup

The First Years Stack Up Cup

Why we like it: Stacking toys help babies learn coordination as well as cause and effect. The First Years Stack Up Cup set is an inexpensive set of colorful stacking cups.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The First Years Stack Up Cup is a set of eight bright plastic cups designed for easy carrying and holding in little hands. Each cup is made to stack one on top of the next for a foot-tall tower when fully stacked. Stacking cups are the perfect packable toy because they tuck into each other so you can take and play with them anywhere. This makes them ideal for the bathtub, trips, even the beach. Made of BPA-free non-toxic plastic, they’re safe for teething and won’t leach out chemicals. They’re lightweight, so it won’t hurt when the tower topples, but they are also heavy-duty enough to be cleaned in the dishwasher.

What will they learn? When playing with this set of stacking cups, your baby has a safe environment to explore consequences and cause and effect. They will especially enjoy the part where they get to knock down their tower. Putting the cups back together within each other and figuring out where each one fits teaches spacial awareness and helps with fine motor skills. Babies will also learn colors from the brightly colored cups, though we would have liked to see a few different colors included.

Fun Factor: Stacking things up into tall towers is naturally fun, and babies and toddlers love knocking over their creations. But because the tower only measures a little under 1 foot when fully built, there won’t be any damage when destroyed. This is a great simple toy for parents to enjoy with their children.

Value: The First Years Stacking Cup Toys is affordable, simple, fun, and can be used in many ways. We especially love that they are waterproof and dry off quickly, making them perfect for bathtime or a day at the beach. They’re also durable and make a great travel toy. Stacking cups are a perfect baby stocking stuffer and make a cute addition to any baby shower gift basket.

Pros

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Good stocking stuffer
  • Can be used as a bath toy
  • Fits together in a small package for easy travel
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The tower is fairly short
  • Too many repeated colors in the set

6. Best Musical Toy: VTech KidiBeats Drum Set

VTech KidiBeats Drum Set

Why we like it: The VTech KidiBeats Drum Set offers games as well as free-play to help inspire your baby’s love of music.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 18 months – 5 years
  • Batteries Required? Yes (3 AA – included for demo use)

What is it? A perfect toy for your little rockstar, the VTech KidiBeats Drum Set is a miniature play drum kit with multiple ways to play. The set includes a drum stand with three light-up drums and a set of drum sticks. Little ones can play in four different modes: letters, numbers, follow along, or free play. This drum set is a great toy for older babies and toddlers who love music and are curious about patterns.

What will they learn? There are 3 different gameplay modes designed to challenge your baby. “Alphabeats” helps teach letters, phonics, and basic words, “Number Jams” is for counting along, and “Follow Me” allows little ones to play along to premade songs and learn patterns that help develop their short term memory.  There is also a “FreeStyle” mode with 16 different drum sounds for kids to play and explore acoustics on their own.

Fun Factor: Babies and toddlers are naturally drawn to music and instruments, making the KidiBeats Drum Set an instant hit. It’s easy to transition this from a baby to a toddler toy as it can be used with or without the drum sticks. Babies will enjoy exploring the different percussion sounds, while toddlers will love making their own songs and using the drum sticks. However, because this is a noise-based toy, parents who dislike loud sounds might want to skip this one.

Value: VTech’s KidiBeats Drum Set is instantly fun, and children are immediately drawn to the large button style drums. For under $20, this drum kit is the perfect flashy toy that begs to be unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Pros

  • 4 different ways to play
  • Can be played with or without drum sticks
  • 16 drum sounds
  • Auto shut-off and volume control

Cons

  • Too noisy for some parents

7. Best Baby Blocks: One Two Squeeze Baby Blocks

One Two Squeeze Baby Blocks

Why we like it: Baby blocks have been a staple in households around the world for generations. This set of soft building blocks are our favorites for 2020.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months – 3 years
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The One Two Squeeze Baby Blocks set includes 10 hand-crafted, squishy, and stackable building blocks. They’re made of non-toxic citroflex, a food-safe, BPA-free, and FDA-approved material. This means your baby can safely chew, bite, and nibble on each block. The blocks are all numbered from 1 to 10 and feature fun symbols and animals. The included bag, made with 100% recycled propylene, makes for easy storage.

What will they learn? Babies will develop motor skills by reaching, grasping, stacking and transferring the blocks back and forth in their hands. They will also learn counting, colors, and how to identify the animals featured on the blocks. Babies and children love to safely destroy things as a way of exploring their environment, so little ones who stack the blocks will also learn cause and effect when they knock over their creations.

Fun Factor: One Two Squeeze Baby Blocks are soft but still hold their shape, making them ideal for fun and safe stacking of tall towers that won’t hurt when they’re knocked down (or thrown). Babies will enjoy squishing the blocks in their hands, and toddlers love sorting them by the numbers and colors. Little ones will be surprised and delighted by the squeaking sound they make when squeezed. Unfortunately, the blocks are very difficult to clean should they get dirty. They are also not intended to be used in water.

Value: At under $15, this is a beautiful set of blocks and a great gift for Christmas or a baby shower. The rich and vibrant colors, cute designs, and soft material add whimsy to a favorite traditional toy that babies are sure to love.

Pros

  • FDA-approved material for teething
  • Carrying case included
  • Squeaks when squished
  • Beautiful design is great for gifting

Cons

  • Difficult to clean
  • Not for water play

8. Best Teething Toy: Vulli Sophie la Girafe

Vulli Sophie la Girafe

Why we like it: This hand-crafted teething toy is one of our favorite premium baby gifts. Each one is hand-painted and unique.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: Newborn+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? Sophie la Girafe by Vulli is a popular and teething toy seen in diaper bags and playrooms all over the world. Sophie is a BPA and phthalate-free, 100% natural rubber teething toy that looks like a giraffe. Each one is hand-painted with food-grade paint and looks unique, making an excellent keepsake toy and gift. Sophie is soft and bendable, so babies will enjoy using her to soothe their gums.

What will they learn? Playing with Sophie will stimulate imaginative play and teach babies animal vocabulary and identifiers. Babies will also like being able to soothe their teething aches by chewing on her nubby ears, horns, and feet.

Fun Factor: Most teething toys are hard and shaped like boring rings, Sophie the Giraffe makes teething as fun as possible thanks to the fun animal shape. Babies and toddlers love how bendy it is, and parents will enjoy her high-quality manufacturing. It’s also beautiful to unwrap at a baby shower and looks adorable in a nursery. Unfortunately for parents, this toy is not dishwasher safe.

Value: Sophie the Giraffe is a specialty keepsake teether toy that is hand-painted, for this reason, we believe the moderate price tag is justified, especially given the excellent quality.

Pros

  • Beautiful keepsake toy
  • Comforting when teething
  • Hand-painted using food-grade paint
  • 100% natural rubber

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Expensive for a teething toy

9. Best Story Book: The Wonderful Things You Will Be

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Why we like it: Reading with your baby is a great way to give them a head start in life. This book is a delightful story that focuses on the kind of person your baby will grow up to be.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 12 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a delightful hardcover storybook geared for babies and kids up to 7 years old. The story itself is a straightforward look at how childhood is a wonderful time and how much potential each person has within. The artwork is ethereal, and we think families will like the realistic but approachable style. This book is 36 pages of short and sweet rhyming sentences that are refreshing and cheery without being too syrupy.

What will they learn? What we love the most about this storybook is that instead of focusing on possible careers or activities, The Wonderful Things You Will Be talks about ideals like kindness, responsibility, and creativity. Reading along helps children develop their language and early reading skills and studies show that reading aloud to young children has profound benefits for behavior and attention.

Fun Factor: Children love stories that allow them to imagine themselves within the pages. The story is easy to follow along with for babies and children of all ages, and the art style draws them in and holds their attention.

Value: Especially because it comes in a beautiful hardcover form, The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a great deal and is an excellent gift. The timeless rhymes and story make it a family favorite that will be saved and passed down to future generations. Our only complaint is that the binding on the book is not as sturdy as we would have liked.

Pros

  • Story praises positive qualities like kindness
  • Beautiful illustrations
  • Rhymes keep children engaged
  • Makes a keepsake gift

Cons

  • Inconsistent binding

10. Best Stuffed Animal Toy: Flappy the Elephant Stuffed Animal Plush

Flappy the Elephant Stuffed Animal Plush

Why we like it: Owning a beloved stuffed animal is a childhood tradition. Flappy the Elephant Stuffed Animal Plush combines excellent craftsmanship and technology to create an interactive friend that your baby will never forget.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: Newborn+
  • Batteries Required? Yes (3 AA – included for demo use)

What is it? Flappy the Elephant is a sweet stuffed animal toy that also has two fun gameplay elements. Along with being an adorable plush toy, Flappy has two buttons on either of its back feet to switch it into game mode, one for “sing” and one for “play”. When “sing” is pushed it plays “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” sung in a child’s voice. Pushing “play” begins a game of peek-a-boo with your baby where the elephant flaps its large ears to cover its eyes. The outside plush is surface washable with a wet washcloth. GUND also offers a rabbit version named Flora the Bunny.

What will they learn? Flappy the Elephant is a great way for babies to be engaged with music at a very early age. Singing the song and following the peek-a-boo game encourages imaginative play and teaches early language skills.

Fun Factor: Babies are naturally drawn to Flappy’s welcoming soft shape and fun ears. Parents will love how the song and gentle ear flapping is soothing and isn’t overwhelming, while babies will love how the toy gently interacts with them.

Value: Flappy the Elephant is well priced for a plush toy, especially because of how much enjoyment babies get out of interacting with it. It is also offered in a gift set with a bedtime story book, which makes a sweet and thoughtful baby shower gift. For a fee, Flappy can even be personalized with your baby’s name embroidered in one of the ears.

Pros

  • Plays peek-a-boo and sings
  • Soothing game for before naps or bedtime
  • Options for gift packages

Cons

  • Only plays one song
  • Comes in a plain box instead of a gift box

11. Best Driving Toy: VTech Turn and Learn Driver

VTech Turn and Learn Driver

Why we like it: Babies love to pretend that they are driving just like their parents. The VTech Turn and Learn Driver teaches math, reading and the rules of the road while they play.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months – 3 years
  • Batteries Required? Yes (2 AA – included for demo use)

What is it? VTech’s Turn and Learn Driver is an exciting driving toy for babies and toddlers that simulates a steering wheel and dashboard for your little one. Featuring a steering wheel, horn, gear shifter, turn signal, mirror, turning key, and more, the Turn and Learn Driver has all the fun of a real car’s dashboard in a baby-friendly size. Your baby will be able to pretend to drive just like you. With the working turn signals, they can even follow the rules of the road.

What will they learn? With many realistic features, the Turn and Learn Driver takes pretend play to a new level. Three gameplay modes switch between learning about animals, music, and driving rules like how red means “stop” and green means “go.” The dashboard has five fun buttons that teach babies driving-related vocabulary words. The panel also encourages babies to sit-up developing gross motor skills as well as core strength.

Fun Factor: Children are naturally drawn to buttons and levers, especially when they mirror real life. This is why the VTech Turn and Learn Driver is so captivating. Your little one will enjoy experimenting with all of the different buttons and triggering the lights and sounds. We also like how this toy encourages pretend play and teaches safety.

Value: For a fun toy that your baby is sure to get a lot of use out of, we think the VTech Turn and Learn Driver is well priced at just under $15. We also like that it comes in two color choices: orange and yellow.

Pros

  • 60+ songs and phrases
  • Simulates real-life imagination play
  • 3 gameplay modes
  • Teaches basic safety

Cons

  • Steering wheel doesn’t turn all the way around

12. VTech Pull and Sing Puppy

VTech Pull and Sing Puppy

Why we like it: A timeless toy reinvented for the 21st century, the VTech Pull and Sing Puppy can follow your baby wherever they go.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months – 3 years
  • Batteries Required? Yes (2 AAA – included for demo use)

What is it? The Pull and Sing Puppy by VTech is a technologically advanced new take on a classic toy. The friendly dalmatian puppy is attached to a string that is designed to look like a little leash. Your baby can pull around the room, causing it to play music and lights up. As little ones pull the puppy along, its legs move and the ears and tail playfully spin. The cord can be safely tucked back inside a tummy compartment and it features volume controls and auto shut off so it won’t waste batteries.

What will they learn? Pulling the VTech Pull and Sing Puppy will help your little one get moving and help them build strength and coordination. The friendly sounds and lights encourage babies to move their arms, crawl, and walk. The three side buttons trigger various activities that teach about colors, shapes, and numbers.

Fun Factor: Babies love animals. That is why we are confident that your little one will love having their very own puppy they can walk and play with. Getting to walk their own dog is especially fun for toddlers on walks or at the park. The light-up nose and spinning ears promise to be especially exciting for little ones, but there is a risk of little fingers being pinched.

Value: The Pull and Sing Puppy is lots of fun for babies and it easily justifies its reasonable price tag. However, some families may be a little disappointed that the puppy is only offered as a dalmatian, and wish there were more options that look more like their own dog.

Pros

  • Comes with 60+ puppy sounds, phrases, and songs
  • Moves ears, tail, and legs
  • The string can be tucked inside for safety or when not in use

Cons

  • Only one breed option
  • Turning the ears can pinch fingers

13. Best Xylophone Toy: Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

Why we like it: A musical toy designed to be played in multiple ways, the Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone is a great first musical toy for your baby.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 12 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone is a sturdy wooden toy that offers a few different ways for your baby to play. First, they can use the wooden hammer to pound the wooden balls through the holes, causing them to roll across the xylophone below. The keyboard can also be pulled out so that babies may play with the xylophone themselves. This toy also won the 2018 Cribsie Award for “Favorite First Musical Toy.”

What will they learn? In addition to promoting color recognition, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination when playing with the wooden hammer and balls, playing with this toy also helps establish the basics of musicality. The way the balls roll down the xylophone keys makes a rewarding sound and encourages your little one to experiment and make sounds of their own.

Fun Factor: Thanks to the high-quality construction, this toy can take a beating and still sound good. With so many ways to play and such satisfying sounds, this is a toy your baby is sure to come back to over and over. It’s definitely a loud toy, but the sound is more pleasant than many of the alternatives.

Value: The Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone is a little more expensive than many of the other baby toys we reviewed. However, the solid wood frame and durable parts make this toy a good value that is likely to be passed down for a few generations.

Pros

  • Our favorite musical toy for babies
  • Helps improve hand-eye coordination and promotes musicality
  • Can be used as a ball pounding toy or as a musical instrument

Cons

  • More expensive than some baby toys we reviewed
  • This toy can get loud

14. Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball

Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball

Why we like it: This simple-looking ball is has been scientifically designed to provide babies with sensory stimulation and keep them occupied.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: Newborn+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? We believe the best baby toys are simple. The Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball is an uncomplicated way for younger babies to play and learn. The ball is made with different, colorfully decorated “bumps” lining the outside. Some are stuffed and covered with varying fabrics. Some are hard with rattles inside. All of them colorfully decorated. Unfortunately, the ball may rip or lose stuffing after repeated use

What will they learn? The Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball helps babies develop their fine motor skills simply by sitting up and transferring the ball from one hand to another. This toy encourages sensory play and stimulates through touch with different fabrics, sound from the rattles, and visuals from the brightly colored and patterned fabrics.

Fun Factor: Your baby will love reaching, grasping, and holding the Sassy Bumpy Ball. The two clear rattles allow little ones to see inside, and they are sure to be fascinated that they each make different sounds. The Bumpy Ball is great for traveling and long car rides and also works great as a teething toy. Very young babies may have a hard time keeping a grip on this ball.

Value: Your baby will get a lot of use out of playing with and chasing around the Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball for the first few years of their life, so at under $10, it’s the perfect addition to any toy box.

Pros

  • Under $10
  • Stimulates senses
  • Encourages grasping and reaching

Cons

  • Stuffing leaks
  • Too large for small hands

15. Best Piano Toy: RenFox Kids Piano Keyboard Dance Floor Mat

RenFox Kids Piano Keyboard Dance Floor Mat

Why we like it: Just like the famous scene from the movie Big, this larger than life piano is sure to get your little one moving.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 2 years+
  • Batteries Required? Yes (3 AA)

What is it? Toddlers and babies love getting to explore new sounds and the RenFox Kids Piano Keyboard Dance Floor Mat is a great way for them to play and learn. Babies can crawl or walk on the musical mat to play 10 keys with 8 different instruments. There is also a “playback” mode, which allows your little one to make a song and then listen to it again. The mat also comes loaded with 8 different songs.

What will they learn? Studies show that early access to music and musical instruments improves cognitive function in babies. Learning to replicate sounds that they hear also helps your baby develop their memory. The Piano Keyboard Dance Floor Mat promotes body development by encouraging little ones to stretch, reach, step, stomp, and dance across the keys. Because the keyboard is large, kids can work together to make songs. This teaches sharing and teamwork while improving social skills like conflict resolution.

Fun Factor: The Dance Floor Mat is hit with children and adults alike. This toy is a great choice for playdates and is guaranteed to keep little ones occupied and having fun. Making music is always a fun task and the large size of the keyboard allows children to feel fully immersed in the activity.

Value: We think the RenFox Kids Piano Keyboard Dance Floor Mat is a bargain for under $30, especially considering how much fun it is and that it’s a great activity for playdates, sleepovers, family events, or just solo play.

Pros

  • 4 play modes
  • Battery-powered so it can be played with anywhere
  • Develops hand/feet coordination

Cons

  • Weight limit of 120 lbs

16. Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest

Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest

Why we like it: With fun rhymes and different textures on every page, the Lamaze Peak-A-Boo Forest is our favorite soft baby book.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 6 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? Lamaze’s Peek-A-Boo Forest is a soft and interactive baby book with a sweet rhyming story. The story is told across six pages with charming art and interactive a “pop-out” element on each page. This added interactivity is a big help for babies engaged during storytime. The book’s durable cloth design holds up to wear and tear and is easy to clean.

What will they learn? Babies will explore their tactile senses through touching the plushy animals, and crunching the crinkles. Turning the pages and opening the peek-a-boo flaps helps develop fine motor skills.

Fun Factor: Babies and adults alike will have fun snuggling together and bonding while reading this story. Babies who are curious about animals will especially love touching the soft plush-like drawings and will be surprised when they crinkle. The baby-friendly design makes turning to the next page inviting and enjoyable for little hands. Unfortunately, the quality of the story and the rhymes in the book are somewhat lacking.

Value: The Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest is similarly priced to other cuddle books. However, we found it had more interactive features than the others. We especially liked the added bonus of liftable flaps.

Pros

  • Peek-a-boo flaps add to the story
  • Crinkle sounds and touch promote tactile discovery
  • The cloth book is machine washable

Cons

  • Rhymes and story are lacking

17. Fat Brain Toys Dimpl

Fat Brain Toys Dimpl

Why we like it: One of the oddest-looking baby toys we reviewed, the Dimpl may be the most satisfying sensory toy we’ve ever seen. It also works as a teether.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 10 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The Dimpl is a large handheld sensory toy that delights babies and adults alike. It features a hard plastic frame with differently sized silicone bubbles that can be popped or turned inside out and back again. The frame is made of non-toxic ABS plastic, and each of the bubbles are made from food-grade, BPA-free silicone. The toy is simple but is limited only by imagination: even adults are likely to find pushing the bubbles to be a captivating experience.

What will they learn? The Dimpl teaches babies how to identify colors and learn different sizes. Holding the toy while manipulating the bubbles develops gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination while pushing them teaches cause and effect. Babies will also have to learn to flip the toy over to keep the fun going, which will keep them curious and engaged.

Fun Factor: Even though it seems like a one-note concept, the Dimpl is satisfying, and both babies and older kids alike have a hard time putting it down. Because it’s made of food-safe plastics, it’s a great toy for babies who are teething. It’s also a great toy for long car trips, and it fits easily into a diaper bag or backpack for traveling. Similar to popping bubble wrap, it’s hard to explain why playing with the Dimpl is so addictive, but we promise it is.

Value: We always value a toy that’s sure to get a lot of use, especially one that works for any age, and Fat Brain Toys’ Dimpl definitely fits the bill.

Pros

  • Travels well
  • Unique gift
  • Fidget toy for babies
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Only comes in one color option
  • Can be difficult for younger babies to push the bubbles in

18. Best Sound Machine for Babies: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine

Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine

Why we like it: Not only does the Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine play gentle white noise to encourage sleep, it also looks great in your baby’s room and helps them learn to keep track of their schedule.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: Newborn+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? Hatch Baby’s Rest Sound Machine is more than just your average white noise machine. It works as a soft night light that is bright enough to use in a nursery for midnight feedings and diaper changes, but not so bright that it disrupts your baby’s natural sleep patterns. It also has an “OK to rise” light, letting your little one know when it is appropriate to leave their bed. When it works as intended, it can give the adults in the house extra time to sleep. The sound machine plays light white noise to encourage a consistent circadian rhythm.

There is a handy smartphone app that allows parents to control this device remotely via Bluetooth and program the advanced features. There is also a “toddler lock” feature on the machine itself, preventing it from being overridden by curious toddlers and children.

What will they learn? The circadian rhythm is the instinctive process that regulates our sleep schedules. Natural soft light and white noise are great ways to promote healthy, deep sleep which ensures a regular circadian rhythm in your child. The “OK to rise” feature also helps to teach your toddler when it is appropriate to wake. The light can be programmed to show multiple colors corresponding to different parts of your baby’s routine, like taking a bath and bedtime.

Fun Factor: Toddlers will love to change the light colors and sounds using the controls on the device itself. We think parents will like the quick setup and simple operation using the smartphone app. With only a few different songs to play, they do get repetitive quickly.

Value: The Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine is multi-functional, operating as a sound machine and a night light. It also teaches toddlers to set and maintain routines before they even learn to tell time. That is why we think we think the moderate price tag is reasonable.

Pros

  • Promotes a healthy circadian rhythm
  • Allows parents to set a daily schedule with different colored lights
  • Includes convenient smartphone controls

Cons

  • Repetitive songs

19. Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

Why we like it: The Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat is a convenient transitional play seat for your baby that will help them develop the strength they need to sit up on their own. It can be conveniently folded when not in use.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 4 months+
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? One of the most difficult things about welcoming a new baby into a home is how much space gets taken up by baby gear. That’s why the Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat is a godsend for parents with space constraints. It’s a handy and fun play seat that folds up flat so it can be tucked away when not in use. The soft and comfortable seat holds up babies who still need a little assistance sitting, and keeps them secure. The attached play rings and turtle rattle keep small hands occupied. It’s easy to switch out the toys with different ones to keep babies engaged and the fabric seat is machine washable.

What will they learn? The comfy seat helps prop up babies to see and interact with the world around them more independently. Using this seat will help babies develop their core and neck strength, and picking up and playing with attached toys promotes fine motor skills.

Fun Factor: Babies love being able to sit up on their own to explore and more clearly see what’s going on around them. The included turtle toy is one of our favorites because it has a built-in mirror and rattle that is sure to capture your baby’s attention. We also liked that the fabric toy loops allow babies to drop toys and pick them up themselves without the toys falling on the floor.

Value: We love convenient transitional baby gear, so we think the Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat’s moderate price tag is reasonable, especially since it can be taken on trips or used as a feeding seat. However, we do think that while the included toys are cute, we would have liked to see a few more of them included for the price.

Pros

  • Folds flat for easy storage
  • Easy assembly
  • Lightweight
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Limited toy variety
  • 25 lb weight limit only allows limited use

20. Best Christmas Gift for a New Parent: Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

Why we like it: Our favorite gift for both parent and baby, the Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier is a lightweight, convenient carrier that can be worn in multiple ways for hands-free convenience.

Editor’s Rating:

Specifications:

  • Recommended Ages: 2 months+ (or 8 lbs)
  • Batteries Required? No

What is it? The Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier by Infantino is a lightweight baby carrier that can be worn in multiple ways and is machine washable. Newborns can be carried front-facing on the front of your body, while older babies can be positioned in three different ways. The leg and seat openings are fully adjustable, as are the padded waist and arm straps so both you and your baby will be comfortable and snug.

What will they learn? Babies learn and grow by surveying the world around them, so allowing them to see the environment around them at their parents’ height is an exciting new way for them to take in information about their surroundings.

Fun Factor: Your baby will love getting to hang out at your height for hikes, events, traveling, or even just around the house. Parents love that it allows for hands-free carrying while their baby is secure and that it has a protective bib to keep the wearer clean while out and about. Unfortunately, there are no pockets for storage. This carrier is best for short walks, errands, and chores around the house instead of long walks or hiking. This is because the straps can begin to irritate a baby’s legs after some time.

Value: At under $30, the Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier makes a great choice for a mid-range carrier. With a 32 pound weight limit, you’ll be able to get plenty of use out of it before needing to get a larger model. The buckles and adjustable straps make it easier to take on and off than other styles.

Pros

  • Four carrying options for hands-free carrying
  • Padded straps for comfort
  • Ergonomic waist belt reduces back strain

Cons

  • No storage pockets
  • Straps can irritate the baby’s legs

Make Chrismas Last All Year

couple celebrating Christmas with baby
For most kids, Christmas gifts account for a large portion of the toys they receive in a given year. Unfortunately, too many parents still waste money on presents that just end up in the back of the closet or the bottom of the toy box by mid-January. By filling your baby’s first few Christmas mornings with quality toys that are likely to stick around, you can be sure your little one has the tools they need to develop during these crucial years.