Infant toys are available in such a wide variety that it can be difficult to sort out just what the little one needs and would benefit from the most. Here is a guide to set things straight.  First, this article explains how to find the most appropriate baby gift when you are not sure about the baby’s level of development. Then we break down the wide world of baby toys into helpful groupings, such as educational baby toys, baby blankets, and wooden toys.

How to Choose a Baby Toy as a Gift

When buying a gift for an infant a good rule of thumb for those first 2 birthdays is to go for a developmental stage between the birthdays. Look for an item labeled 18 months and up for the first birthday gift and six months later it will be a brand new toy for the baby. Developmental milestones are so huge the first two years that those six months will mean a big difference in attention span and ability. It will be a wonderful gift to have a new activity already available mid-year.

Below are the most popular kinds of baby toys by category:

teether keys Baby Toys: Finding the Perfect Baby GiftTeethers and Rattles

Teethers are tough-textured items giving the baby something to chew on that won’t disintegrate under the power of constant gumming and baby saliva. Popular teething toys include the classic infant keys on a closed key-ring and teething necklaces. Popular items in the baby section of Toys R Us are linking rings or “links”. These rings are great teething rings and are also useful as baby stroller toys since they can be attached to the stroller arm keeping the toys connected while on the go.

Baby rattles are also classic baby toys that are safe and guaranteed to captivate infants for hours.  Be sure to test a rattle out in the store, because some can be annoying for parents who have to listen to the shaking rattle all day long!  Rattles also double as teething toys and are available in styles from plastic to silver, which can often be monogrammed for a small fee.

Baby Blankets

lgpolkadotblankets Baby Toys: Finding the Perfect Baby GiftBlankets are the quintessential baby gift and are another great opportunity for monogramming to create personalized baby toys. These will be around for comfort for years and years perhaps even after the silky lining has worn off with repeated washings.

The quality of the blanket material will make a difference in the longevity of these items since the repeated washings are tough on them.  Consider trusted names when making this investment. Modern baby blankets come in an array of colors and designs to appeal to the quirkiest of 3 month-olds.

Educational Baby Toys

Learning toys for infants vary by the month of the child’s age. Lamaze baby toys run the full spectrum of developmental milestones including newborn baby toys, stroller toys, and musical baby toys. Brand new babies are visually stimulated by black and white contrast patterns, while adding color to these patterns after a few months will attract the attention of the older infant. Mobiles and playmats are available now with interchangeable pieces and reversible sides to allow for this monthly development.

wooden tricycle Baby Toys: Finding the Perfect Baby GiftEducational toys for babies and infants are often soft and virtually indestructible. Musical instruments such as simple shakers and other age appropriate instruments allow the discovery of producing a sound through interaction. Sharp points and small pieces should always be avoided in the baby stage, which means the drum set will have to wait a few years.

Wooden Baby Toys

Wooden baby toys such as durable, ride-on tricycles for children under three won’t have pedals, but they do allow hours of fun. Others, such as baby building-blocks, can be chewed, grasped in one hand or both, and eventually transferred from one hand to the other.

These activities improve hand-eye coordination and reasoning. Understanding of cause and effect begins to show once the baby moves on to crashing the block towers that have been built.

melissa doug puppet baby Baby Toys: Finding the Perfect Baby Gift

Puppets for Babies

Puppets are great for babies. They give the caregiver and child something to focus on together that moves and talks. Remember that safe baby toys include those with stitched details instead of sewn-on buttons for eyes, which present a choking hazard to those younger than 3 years old.  Melissa & Doug puppets (pictured right) have our seal of approval.

And, of course, baby doll toys are classic baby toys for girls and boys.  Today’s baby dolls often are soft and made with washable materials. For the more refined tastes,  collectable items such as Madame Alexander Dolls make unique baby heirloom gifts. (But probably are not the best idea for teething babies!)