Best for baby: 10 essential toys for baby’s first year

Posted in Play and learn.

Your baby is learning in leaps and bounds in their first year of life and naturally you want to provide them with the best toys to aid their development through this crucial time. However there are so many toys out there that the choice can be overwhelming!

Occupational Therapist Cindy Chuan says the best toys for your baby are toys that encourage open ended play and exploration. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up an essential selection for your baby.

Here are 10 top toys that will help give your baby the stimulation they need in their first exciting 12 months:

1. Shape block sorter

shape sorter

Look for toys that will help your baby develop their fine motor and problem solving skills. Blocks in bright colours and shapes will help your baby learn colours. A shape sorter box where your baby can post the block to the corresponding shape in the box, like Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks, will help them learn problem solving skills and all about shapes. An essential first toy!

Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks

2. Baby activity gym

baby gym

Investing in a baby activity gym is perfect for encouraging tummy time as well as for playing unrestricted on the floor. Choose a gym like the Bright Starts Safari Blast Activity Gym with toys in different textures hanging where your baby can look up and learn to reach out and grasp.

Bright Starts Safari Blast Activity Gym

3. Baby board book

Thats not my koala book

Board books are essential for baby’s first year. Not only does reading with your baby help language and speech development, if you chose a collection of board books, your child can safely learn to turn the pages themselves. And they’ll enjoy board books even more if the pages have different textures to explore like in the ‘That’s not my…’ series. Look for That’s not my koala, That’s not my tractor, and many more!

That’s not my koala 

4. Bath toys

bath toys

Your baby will enjoy sensory play in the bath and adding bath toys for them to play with can help your child learn about cause and effect. Look for toys like Dymples Under The Sea – Bath Toys that are a bright and stackable with different patterns for the water to run through.

Dymples Under The Sea – Bath Toys

5. Sensory plastic links

stroller rings

When you’re on the go you can provide your baby with play opportunities by adding toys to their stroller or car seat. Choose toys with different colours and textures they can feel. Lamaze Monkey Links have crinkly feet and soft satin for your baby to explore the different textures and the middle monkey has legs that make a clicking sound when your baby stretches them out. So satisfying! 

Lamaze Monkey Links

6. Teether with grip and rattle

teether and baby

When your baby starts teething they’ll enjoy having a teether to chomp on that they can carry around themselves. Choose a teether your child can easily hold, like the Bright Starts Grab and Spin Rattle and Teether Toy. Your baby can safely chew the textured handle and can also play with the spinning rattle chamber filled with colourful little balls. 

Bright Starts Grab and Spin Rattle and Teether Toy

7. Baby-safe floor mirror 

floor mirror

Your baby will love looking at faces – including their own! As your baby grows they’ll learn that the face the see in the mirror is theirs – helping them with their own self-discovery. Opt for a baby-safe play mirror like the Bright Starts Sit & See Safari Floor Mirror that can be placed nearby your little one for tummy time or floor play and folded up and popped away neatly when not in use.

Bright Starts Sit and See Safari Floor Mirror

8. Stacking cups

play stacking cups

A must-have for baby’s first year – stacking cups are the perfect toy for your baby to learn how to grasp and release, as well as hand-eye coordination and depth perception. Choose a colourful set like the Playgro Fun Stacking Cups that also have textured patterns each cup for your baby to feel. 

Playgro Fun Stacking Cups

9. Baby bath book

bath book


Bring two fun opportunities for play together – bath time and book time – with water-safe bath books! Your baby will enjoy exploring the pages and you can talk about the pictures you see. Choose a book like the waterproof plastic Playgro Splash Book that has bright pictures of aquatic creatures for you to name and discuss. 

Playgro Splash Book

10. Baby walker 

baby walker

A walker that your child can choose to use independently (not a walker that they have to be placed in), can be helpful for your baby’s self confidence when they’re in their cruising phase. A mobile walker can allow your child to have free movement while they’re learning to walk. Look for one like the Vtech First Steps Baby Walker with Detachable Learning Centre – it has inbuilt toys in a variety of colours and shapes, with fun sounds and music too. Your baby will enjoy discovering all the functions, the cause and effect of pushing the buttons and turning the gears in their own time. You will need to stay close to your baby while they’re exploring with their walker and be ready to assist them while they have fun trying out their new skills.

Vtech First Steps Baby Walker with Detachable Learning Centre 

With these 10 toys at the ready your baby will be all set to learn through play! Remember to choose baby-safe toys and always supervise your baby while they’re playing. And while they’ll enjoy all these toys very much, keep in mind that in their first year, your baby’s favourite toy will always be you.

This is a sponsored post by BIG W, where you can find everything you need for pregnancy, baby and beyond.


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