Now that your baby can grab and hold things and bang them together, you can give them toys that 'do' more. Your child will particularly like toys that spin or rattle or light up or make a sound when they're touched or pressed or pushed.

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And they'll love toys that really move when they're touched – whether that's toppling over, falling down, opening and closing, pouring water or whizzing around on wheels. As your child gets closer to their 1st birthday, they'll start to develop cause-and-effect thinking skills and toys that demonstrate how one thing leads to another in such a clear and fun way are great for stimulating this kind of brain development.

Texture is still really important, too: toys that have interesting surfaces to explore with the fingers or mouth make excellent and enriching sensory-play choices.

Best toys for 6 to 12 months at a glance

  • Great toy for sensory play and building fine motor skills: Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube, £14.99
  • Great toy for wobbly knock-down fun: Tobbles Neo, £25.99
  • Great toy for sensory play and learning cause and effect: Soft Clemmy Touch Move & Play Sensory Train, £22.66
  • Great toy for cuddles and comfort: Ragtales Baby Plush Toy Rattle, £14.99
  • Great toy for developing hand-eye coordination: Skip Hop Explore & More Follow Bee Crawl Toy, £23.99
  • Great toy for fine finger control: Edushape Textured Pop Blocks, £16.99
  • Great toy for bathtime cause-and-effect play: Green Toys Tugboat, £13.99
  • Great toy for dexterity and light-and-sounds fun: VTech Turn and Learn Cube, £25.99
  • Great toy for early problem solving: Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs, £10.49
  • Great toy for fine motor skills: Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack, £8.99
  • Great toy for soothing and comfort: Tikiri Rattle and Bath Toys, £10.99 each
  • Great toy for all-round entertainment: Taf Toys Mini Moon Activity Centre, £16.99

How to choose and use newborn toys safely

It's particularly important with young babies to consider safety when choosing toys. Here's what to look out for.
  • Look for the CE mark, which is the manufacturers claim that the toy meets regulatory requirements
  • Look for the voluntary British Toy and Hobby Association's Lion Mark (a red lion inside a yellow triangle)
  • Buy from retailers that you know and trust
  • Ensure the toy is appropriate for your child's age. Small pieces (including things like plastic eyes on teddy bears that appear 'fastened on' but aren't properly, securely attached) are choking hazards for babies.
  • Beware of any items that detach or have sharp edges
  • Check toys regularly for loose threads or escaped filling
  • Supervise your child at all times when they're playing with toys
  • Never leave toys in your baby's cot while they sleep, even if the toys are marked 'safe from birth'.

Here are the best toys for 6 to 12 months, as tested by babies and their parents...

1. Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube, £14.99

– Great for sensory play and building fine motor skills

Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube with child tester

Age: From birth | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A multi sensory soft cube with a fabric handle that features different colours, textures, and a variety of prints and patterns and animal faces. Attached to the cube are a baby-safe mirror, a rattle, a teether, a peekaboo leaf, and plastic rings. Inside the cube is a bell, which jingles when it's shaken. Comes with a clip to attach it to a buggy or car seat.

Why we love it: The colours are fun and bright – but not in your face – and our tiny testers really loved exploring and discovering the different elements on its sides. We particularly like the padded handle (not visible in our picture) – excellent for grabbing and waving the whole cube about – and the lion with its big orange textured mane. "Alice immediately took to this toy," said Natalie, mum of our baby tester Alice, 7 months. "She played quietly, exploring the animals, and she enjoys shaking and bashing it and, as it’s so soft, I'm happy just watching her do so."

Available at: Amazon and Halilit

2. Tobbles Neo, £25.99

– Great for wobbly knock-down fun

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A set of 6 brightly coloured, weighted, broken-egg-shaped pieces of differing sizes that wobble and spin and nest inside each other. Comes with a stacking base. Wipe-clean only.

Why we love it: We like the soft, rubbery coating of the bottom half of each piece which makes them 'grippy' and offers a nice sensory contrast to the smoother top half. Our baby testers loved watching the spinning shapes and knocking over a parent-built stack; some of them did a bit of stacking of their own – the pieces will (sort of) stack in the wrong order, too.

Available at: Amazon and Happy Puzzle

3. Soft Clemmy Touch, Move & Play Sensory Train, £22.66

– Great for sensory play and learning cause and effect

Soft Clemmy Touch, Move; Play Sensory Train with child tester

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A soft train set with working wheels, made up of 1 locomotive and 3 connecting wagons, plus 8 coloured blocks that slot into them. All parts are dishwasher safe to 70°C.

Why we love it: It's great to see a train set aimed at babies that's actually meant to be squished and bashed and chewed! It certainly caught the attention of all our baby testers, and we like how light and easy to stack the little blocks are. "The whole set feels lovely – it has a really tactile, squishy, rubbery texture," said Christy, mum of our child tester Bran, 11 months. "I feel confident that when Bran's bashing the blocks around that he won’t break them or hurt himself. It seems pretty durable, too, and because it's suitable for babies as well as toddlers, that makes it good value for money."

Available at: Amazon

4. Ragtales Baby Plush Toy Rattle, £14.99

– Great for cuddles and comfort

Age: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A 23cm rabbit rattle made from fluffy, super-soft velour. Choose from Fifi (in her pink knitted jumper, pictured) and Alfie (in his corduroy dungarees).

Why we love it: This rattle is just so cute and soft. Jessica, mum to our baby tester Sophie, was very impressed by the toy's quality. "The rabbit is made of lovely material, is really pleasing to the eye and the attention to detail is great," she said. "It got a great reaction from Sophie – lots of cuddles, cooing and kisses."

Available at: Amazon and Toy Street (Fifi and Alfie)

5. Skip Hop Explore & More Follow Bee Crawl Toy, £23.99

– Great for developing hand-eye coordination

Age: 5 months+ | Batteries: 3 x AA (included)

What it is: A whizzy little 14cm x 14cm cloud, with nestling bee rattle, that zooms around with rainbow lights flashing and (actually quite nice) music playing, encouraging your baby to crawl after it and grab the bee. It spins around in circles when the bee is removed.

Why we love it: We like its 2 whizz-around modes – a circular one for sit-and-reachers and a more random one for can-go-anywhere-crawlers. Our tester parents were impressed by the in-built sensor that stops it bashing into furniture (although a couple did also mention that stray hairs on the floor can get tangled in the wheels and become quite tricky to remove). The bee rattle has moveable beads and teeth-friendly rubbery stripes which our baby testers enjoyed when taking a crawling time out.

Available from: John Lewis

6. Edushape Textured Pop Blocks, £16.99

– Great for fine finger control

Edushape Textured Pop Blocks

Age: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A set of 10 colourful, soft, chewable BPA-free rubber cubes with tactile 3D animals, shapes and numbers on the surfaces. The cubes can also interlock, so they're ideal for sorting and stacking.

Why we love it: They are soft and squidgy and bright and have a fantastic array of textures to explore. And we like the clever way they interlock. Nicola, mum of our baby tester Keira, 8 months, said, "They are really easy for small hands to grasp and great for talking about numbers, colours, shapes and animals."

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe and John Lewis

7. Green Toys Tugboat, £13.99

– Great for bathtime cause-and-effect play

Green Toys Tugboat

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A colourful 22cm-long boat bath toy made from BPA-free recycled plastic. Available in yellow (above), red and blue. It has a spout at the front for scooping and pouring.

Why we love it: We love its big chunky handle that makes it easier for little hands to grab. Our baby testers had fun tipping water out of the spout (which, actually, is great for hair washing, too). It also comes apart easily for cleaning – and, for some of our baby testers, for using as a raft for other bath toys to float on top!

Available at: Selfridges, Uber Kids, Amazon and John Lewis

8. VTech Turn and Learn Cube, £25.99

– Great for dexterity and lights-and-sounds fun

vtech turn and learn cube

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: 2 x AAA (included)

What it is: A 16.5cm cube featuring oh-so-pushable light-up buttons, sliding pieces, sound effects, sing-a-long songs and animal characters.

Why we love it: There's never a dull moment with this toy, that's for sure! All the different features are designed for motor-skill development, language development and imaginative play. But basically it's a fun toy that does lots of good stuff when you bash, press and spin it – it kept all our baby testers happily busy for ages. It's nice and robust, too.

Available from: The Toy Shop, Amazon and ELC

9. Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs, £10.49

– Great for early problem solving

Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 16.5cm yellow plastic box of 6 'eggs' with different faces, which each split open to reveal a brightly coloured chick that peeps when you press it.

Why we love it: These toy eggs have been a bestseller for years – and that's because they are an absolute baby magnet. Although the toy is designed as a shape sorter (each egg has a differently shaped base that fits into a particular hole in the egg box), our under-1 baby testers generally just had a fine old time grabbing the eggs out of the box and bashing them together. Later on, your child will progress to making the chicks peep and fitting the halves together. We've seen this toy transfix all ages from 6 months to 3 years.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, Argos and Ocado

10. Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack, £8.99

– Great for fine motor skills

Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None

What is it: A set of 5 brightly coloured rings that fit over a 24cm-high stacking cone base, from big to small. The top ring is see-through and has coloured beads inside.

Why we love it: It's a brightly coloured, no-frills baby pleaser, as all our baby testers' parents agreed. The rings are nice and grabbable and the top one is filled with lovely, shiny, rattle-y stuff. The base rocks if you tap it, and you can tell yourself that your baby is learning all about size and sequence as you (endlessly) stack the rings back on the base once your baby has grabbed them all off.

Available from: Boots and Argos

11. Tikiri Rattle and Bath Toys, £10.99 each

– Great for soothing and comfort

Tikiri bath toys

Age: from birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A selection of safari and farm-themed bath toys with built-in rattles. They're made from 100% pure organic rubber, making them biodegradable and sustainable, and they're also safe to use as teething toys.

Why we love it: We love a toy that has multiple uses and a bath toy that doubles as both a rattle and a teether is great not just for playtime at home, but for packing for days out and overnight stays. Home tester Rebekah tried the toys with her 6-month-old daughter Ariel and said, "Ariel loves the noise they make. And I like the material they're made of; it's smooth and tactile and easy to clean. I'd recommend them because they're so versatile – being able to use them in the bath, too."

Available at: Tikiri Toys

12. Taf Toys Mini Moon Activity Centre, £16.99

– Great for all-round entertainment

Taf Toys min moon activity centre

Age: 6 months+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 22cm x 28cm soft circular activity centre with multiple sensory and play elements, including textured ribbons, rattling balls, a peek-a-boo cloud and a crinkle moon. The grab handle means it can be used in 2 ways: flat on a mat during tummy time for younger babies, then sitting up from around 9 months.

Why we love it: For families with limited space, this is a great alternative to both a baby gym or an activity table, as it offers similar toys and sensory elements in a smaller package. There's plenty to keep a baby entertained and engaged – as all our baby testers' parents agreed – and it's great for developing a sense of exploration and curiosity.

Available from: Amazon and Kidly

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About the author

Helen Brown is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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