From 6 to 12 months of age, your baby becomes more responsive, more dextrous and more active. As they become keener to explore the world around them, it may start to feel like a bit of a challenge to keep them occupied – and stop them grabbing stuff you don't want them to. Especially when they work out how to crawl, scoot or roll across the floor towards something that's caught their eye...

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Which type of toys are best for a 6 to 12 month old?

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.

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 sensory balls: KIDLY Label Sensory Nesting Balls, £20
  • Great sensory blocks: B Toys One Two Squeeze, £10.99
  • Great sensory stacker: Munchkin & Bear Silicone Stackable Bear Tower, £18.95
  • Great sensory splash mat: While and Wonder Sky Edition: Baby's First Sensory Water Mat, £22.99
  • Great activity cube: Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube, £14.99
  • Great first train: Soft Clemmy Touch Move & Play Sensory Train, £24.99
  • Great bath toy: Green Toys Tugboat, £13.99
  • Great for teaching cause and effect: VTech Turn and Learn Cube, £28
  • Great for fine-finger control: Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs, £10.99
  • Great budget buy: Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack, £8.99
  • Great teething toy: Tikiri Rattle and Bath Toys, from £10.99 each
  • Great for multi-sensory entertainment: Taf Toys Mini Moon Activity Centre, £17

How to choose and use baby 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. KIDLY Sensory Nesting Balls, £20

– Great sensory balls

kidly sensory nesting balls with child tester roman

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: Diameters 14cm (large); 11cm (medium); 8cm (small) | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

These 3 squidgy, tactile balls can be held, thrown, bounced, rolled, squashed, chewed and thrown. They nest inside each other or can be played with separately and, made from robust, food-grade, BPA- and pthalate-free silicone, they can be chucked in the dishwasher when they need a clean.

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Our baby tester Roman, 7 months (pictured above), instinctively placed one in his mouth the moment he saw it, and chomped down to soothe his teething-sore gums. Then he happily sat and played with all 3 balls for 30 minutes or so – a long time for a child this age.

"Roman enjoys watching the balls bounce and roll – they encourage him to move around and also practise fine motor skills in grasping, rolling and banging them together," said his mum, Samantha.

They're not super-cheap but Samantha rates them as toys with a long play life – as do we. "My 5-year-old loves them too," she said, "and was keen to play with them with her brother. I love that they encouraged sibling interaction and are just good old fashioned fun without batteries and excessive noise – except for the lovely sound of the children laughing together!"

Available in 4 different muted colours.

Available at: KIDLY

2. B. Toys One Two Squeeze, £10.99

– Great sensory blocks

One Two Squeeze by B Toys with child tester Asher

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L5cm xW5cm x H5cm (individual block) | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Inside the handy zip-up storage bag, are 10 colourful, soft, squeezy textured blocks. Each side of each BPA-free block is hand-sculpted with a different 'touchy-feely' picture of an animal, a number or a shape.

They're a really good size for baby hands and perfect for stacking, chewing and sensory exploration. They do squeak when you squeeze them, which is fun – but you do have to squeeze them quite hard, so your baby might not be able to make them squeak. They do float, too, but as they do have an air hole that could trap water inside, they're not suitable for extended bath play.

"Asher really enjoys these blocks," said Bethany, mum of our baby tester Asher, 11 months (pictured above). "He picks them up, chews the corners and throws them."

Our other baby tester Ebony, 11 months, absolutely fell in love with her blocks. "She squeals in excitement when she knocks the blocks over," said her mum Danielle. "She likes throwing them and chasing after them, too. It's great to hear her having so much fun! She also laughs a lot when I squeeze block and blow air on her face."

Available at: Amazon and B Toys

3. While and Wonder Sky Edition: Baby's First Sensory Water Mat, £22.99

– Great sensory splash mat

Baby’s First Sensory Water Mat SKY edition with child tester Sebastian

Age suitability: 3 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: 60cm diameter (when side inflated) | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This playmat/pat mat has an inflated edge and yellow shapes floating in the water above beautiful black-and-white images of birds and insects in a starry sky. The idea is that your baby lies with their tummy resting on the comfy, inflated edge and touches the soft surface to feel and see the water move the yellow shapes around.

It's made from robust, BPA-free PVC, with a good, well-placed water plug, and is easy to wipe clean. It's also brilliantly portable.

Our baby tester, Sebastian, 6 months (pictured above), kicks his little legs with excitement every time his water mat comes out, and he spends ages patting the mat to see the foam shapes moving. "He is content, comfortable and happy here for long periods of play," said his mum Annabelle.

"This toy is of very high quality and exceptionally durable," she added. "It also has lots of extension play opportunities – we add balls and other toys on top of the mat which roll around as Seb moves the mat. It's a really comfortable place for him to lie during tummy time."

Also comes as a Sea edition, with ocean imagery.

Available at: While and Wonder and Amazon

4. Munchkin & Bear Silicone Stackable Bear Tower, £18.95

– Great sensory stacker

Munchkin and Bear Silicone Stackable Bear Tower with child tester Jos

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: 10cm diameter (base ring) | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This 7-piece stacking tower is made from food-grade, dishwasher-safe silicone which gives all the pieces a lovely texture – and makes them good to chew. It's nicely weighted and both the height of the rings and shape of the little bear face at the top are well judged for grasping baby hands.

Our baby tester Jos, 10 months (pictured above) was delighted by this toy. "It's been a joy to watch him enjoy and play with it," said his mum Emily. "The teething element of this toy is wonderful – the pieces are so light and the perfect shapes for little hands. He has really enjoyed hours from this when I was worried it wouldn't last long."

Hannah, mum of our other baby tester Holly, 9 months, was very taken with the muted look and tactile design. "I think it's so beautifully made and just looks adorable," she said. "I'm not sure Holly spent much time admiring its look though; she just thought it was hilarious to knock it down!"

Available at: Munchkin & Bear

5. Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube, £14.99

– Great activity cube

Taf Toys Savannah Discovery Cube with child tester

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L9.5cm x W9.5cm x H9.5cm (cube); H33cm when hanging | Batteries: None

This multi-sensory soft cube has a fabric handle and sides featuring different textures, patterns and animal faces. It jingles when you shake it and attached to it, or dangling from it, are a baby-safe mirror, a rattle, a teether, a peekaboo leaf, and 2 'rustling rings'. It also has a clip to attach it to a buggy or car seat.

The colours are fun and bright – but not in your face – and our baby testers really loved exploring and discovering all the different elements on its sides. We particularly like the padded handle – excellent for grabbing and waving the whole cube about – and the lion with its big orange textured mane.

"Alice immediately took to this cube," said Natalie, mum of our baby tester Alice, 7 months (pictured above). "She plays with it 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

6. Soft Clemmy Touch, Move & Play Sensory Train, £24.99

– Great first train

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

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L10cm x W40cm x H7cm | Batteries: None

This soft, rubber train set is made up of 1 locomotive and 3 connecting (and detachable) wagons – all with working wheels – and comes with 8 coloured, stackable blocks that slot into the wagons and the engine. All the brightly coloured parts are dishwasher-safe.

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 baby tester Bran, 11 months (pictured above). "I feel confident that when Bran's bashing the blocks around 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

7. Green Toys Tugboat, £13.99

– Great bath toy

Green Toys Tugboat

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L23.5cm x W11cm x H13cm | Batteries: None

Made from BPA-free, 100% recycled plastic, this robust red, yellow and blue boat bath toy has a handle on top for and a spout at the front for lots of scooping and pouring action.

We love its generous size, simple lines, bright colours and big and chunky handle. 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, £28

– Great for teach cause and effect

vtech turn and learn cube

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Size: L16.5cm x H16.5cm x W16.5cm| Batteries: 2 x AAA (included)

Featuring oh-so-pushable light-up buttons, sliding pieces, flipping pieces, animal and musical-instrument noises, 25 tunes and sing-a-long songs and other, motion-triggered sound effects, this 5-sided interactive cube (the 6th side is the blue base) has loads to keep your baby engrossed.

It's nice and robust – although it's made of rigid plastic, not silicone or rubber, so it's not squishy or soft like some of the other toys in our list.

All the different features are designed to enhance 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.

Available at: The Toy Shop, Amazon and ELC

9. Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs, £10.99

– Great for fine-finger control

Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 10 months+ | Size: L12cm x W16cm x H7cm | Batteries: None

Inside the yellow plastic box you'll find 6 'eggs' with different faces, which each split open to reveal a brightly coloured chick that bobs down and peeps when you press it.

These toy eggs have been a bestseller for years and years – and that's because they are an absolute baby magnet. Although the toy is designed as a shape sorter (each eggshell 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 wonderful, portable toy transfix all ages from 6 months to 3 years.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, Argos and Amazon

10. Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack, £8.99

– Great budget buy

Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L12cm x W13cm x H22cm | Batteries: None

This great-value stacking set has 5 brightly coloured rings that fit over a base, from big to small. The top ring is see-through and has coloured beads inside.

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.

Not fancy, all plastic, but ticks lots of baby play boxes at a very affordable price.

Available at: Argos and Amazon

11. Tikiri Rattle and Bath Toys, from £10.99 each

– Great teething toy

Tikiri rattle and bath toys with child tester

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: Varies by animal but roughly H12cm | Batteries: None

These handmade bath toys, made for 100% organic, biodegradable rubber, come in 18 different animal shapes from lion and crocodile (pictured, above right) to octopus, puppy, zebra and sheep.

They each have a built-in rattle and are safe to use out of the water as a teething toy.

"Ariel loves the noise they make," said Rebekah, mum of our baby tester Ariel, 6 months. "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 in and out of the bath, too."

For Emma, mum of our other baby tester Henry, 11 months (pictured, above left), actually prefers her (puppy) toy as a teething toy. "Henry loves its chew-ability," she said. "The animal designs are cute and fun and I've actually ordered a few more now, as I think using a group of them tougher would make for great sensory play activities when my baby is still developing his grip. I think they're well worth the price."

Available at: Tikiri Toys

12. Taf Toys Mini Moon Activity Centre, £17

– Great for multi-sensory entertainment

Taf Toys min moon activity centre

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 6 months+ | Size: L22cm x W28cm x H2cm | Batteries: None

This soft, circular activity toy ("centre" is perhaps a bit misleading as most other baby "activity centres" are much bigger and shaped like tables with legs) has multiple sensory and play elements, including textured ribbons, rattling balls, a peek-a-boo cloud and a crinkle moon.

The red grab handle means it can be played with in 2 ways: flat on a mat during tummy time for younger babies, then sitting up from around 9 months.

For families with limited space, this is a great, cheaper alternative to both a baby gym or the more usual activity centre/table, as it offers similar accessories 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 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.

We've got more top tested and rated toys here...

Authors

Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies. Before joining MadeForMums over 7 years ago, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.

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