Teeny-tiny, just-been-born babies don’t need toys: they can’t hold anything and they can’t see much. But roll forward even a few weeks, and your baby will love looking at things with bright or high-contrast colours and listening to things that rattle or tinkle or shake.

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And, by 3 or 4 months, when your baby is able to grab and grasp (sometimes more by accident than design), toys with different fabrics or knobbly textures to feel and mouth and chew are great buys for keeping your baby’s attention and stimulating their sensory development.

To save money take a look at our toy deals page.

How to choose and use newborn toys safely

It's particularly important with newborns to consider safety when choosing toys. Here's what to look out for.
  • Look for the CE mark, which is the sign from the manufacturer 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 are 'fastened on' rather than super-securely attached) are choking hazards for newborns.
  • Beware of any items that detach or have sharp edges
  • Check toys regularly for things like loose threads or escaped filling
  • Supervise your newborn at all times when they're playing with toys
  • Never leave toys in your baby's cot while they sleep, even if they are said to be safe from birth

Best toys for newborns at a glance

  • Great for surprise smiles: PeekaPets Bunny, £14.99
  • Great for a toy selection: Tag Toys Newborn Kit, £32.99
  • Great budget buy: Playgro Clip Clop Activity Rattle, £6.99
  • Great for comfort: B. Snugglies Fluffy Koko, £9.95
  • Great for sore gums – with a squeak: Sophie La Girafe Teether, £14.99
  • Great for grasping and chewing: Munchkin & Bear Silicone Sensory Ball Set, £24
  • Great toy for introducing tummy time play: Taf Toys Savannah Tummy Time Book, £16.99
  • Great for sore gums – without a squeak: Mini Mizzie, £9.95
  • Great toy for tactile stimulation: Lamaze Freddie the Firefly, £14.99
  • Great for dangling entertainment: Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit, £9.99
  • Great toy for high contrast sensory play: Wee Gallery Organic Cotton Crinkle Toy, £14

Here is our pick of the best toys for 0 to 6-month-olds, as tested by babies and their parents:

1. PeekaPets Bunny, £14.99

– Great for surprise smiles

PeekaPets Bunny with child tester Elodie

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: From birth | Size: L12cm x W15cm x H30cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This big, super-soft rabbit has the most enormous floppy ears that pop up when you press his tummy to reveal his big eyes and touch-feely fabric inner ears. Your baby won't yet be old enough to understand the concept of cause and effect but they'll love the movement and the sudden, surprise appearance of a friendly rabbit face.

Our baby tester Elodie, 11 weeks (picture above), was definitely smitten. Her mum Sarah, who also made a point of commenting on how beautifully made this toy is, said, "I love how this keeps Elodie’s attention. It’s hard to find things to engage babies younger than 3 months old but she gives this lots of smiles when the ears pop up and it’s definitely a big hit. It was also really easy for her siblings to play with, and it encouraged them to bond with her, without being too rough."

More like this

Comes in Pink or White.

Available at: Smyths Toys and Argos

2. Taf Toys Newborn Kit, £32.99

– Great for a toy selection

Taf Toys Newborn Kit with child tester Lucy

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2 months+ | Size: Various | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Wrapped in tissue inside a presentation box, this little collection of baby development toys includes a tummy time pillow with 2 detachable toys (a rattle ring and a crinkly lion cub), a baby-safe mirror, a spotty comforter with a lion teether and ribbons, and a set of 5 double-sided flashcards (high contrast black-and-white on 1 side to help your newborn focus, and colour on the other for when your baby is older). There are also some plastic stands for you to prop the flashcards or mirror up.

We're impressed with the quality and variety of toys (the illustrations on the flashcards are particularly lovely) – and by the well-thought-through developmental-play booklet that comes with them. The tummy-time pillow is small, so doesn't have great longevity but that does mean it's nice and portable.

"The comforter is really soft and I really like the chewy lion teether," said Claire, mum to our baby tester, Lucy, 3 months (pictured above). "And I love the guide that tells you what to do with each item and at what age it is best for, as sometimes new mums like me can be unsure how best to stimulate our baby. It's not cheap but I think it would make a great gift for a new parent."

Available at: Halilit and Amazon

3. Playgro Clip Clop Activity Rattle, £6.99

– Great budget buy

Playgro Clip Clop Activity Rattle with child tester Parker

Age suitability: 3 months+ | Best for age: From birth | Size: L7cm x W18cm x H18cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This great-value activity toy has a good variety of smooth, soft, silky and bumpy textures, crinkly and rattly sounds and features including a baby-safe mirror, moving teether beads on an easy-to-grasp ring and peekaboo lift-up saddle. It's the kind of toy that your tiny baby will enjoy staring at and listening to as you rattle it and then, as they grow, will love to hold and feel and learn to shake independently.

"This is a good price," said Meegan, mum to our baby tester, Parker, 6 months (pictured above). "Most similar toys to this cost at least twice as much! There's lots here to keep a baby interested as they develop and grow, Parker was initially drawn to the bright colours and the reflective mirror on the bottom of one of the hooves and, now he's a bit older, he enjoys holding the handle and shaking it – it makes him laugh!

Available at: Amazon, The Entertainer and Smyths Toys

4. B. Snugglies Fluffy Koko, £9.95

– Great for comfort

B Snugglies Fluffy Koko with child tester Aurora

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: From birth | Size: L5cm x W20cm x H31cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

With its grabbable, friendly head and double-sided snuggly plush/smooth fabric 'body', this koala-themed comfort blanket has lots of tactile appeal – there's even a little green leaf to crinkle and tufty blue 'hairs' to feel on his head.

Certainly, once our baby testers had it in their hands, they didn’t want to let go. As Gemma, mum to our baby tester Aurora, 4 months (pictured above), said, "She immediately wanted to scrunch the soft fabric in her hands, cuddle the toy close to her and put the koala’s nose in her mouth. She seems very content playing with it at home and on long car journeys."

Another of our baby testers, Amalie, quickly got attached to her Koko, as her mum – also called Gemma – said: "My little girl adores Koko, smiling at it, biting the label, looking at the patterns and holding it close. It’s the perfect size to take anywhere and it brings comfort to her when she's unsettled. It's beautifully made and definitely worth every penny. I will be buying one for a friend whose baby is due soon."

Not suitable for keeping in a cot overnight or when your baby is sleeping. Machine washable; also comes in a beige and orange colourway as Bunz the Bunny.

Available at: Amazon and B Toys

5. Sophie La Girafe, £15.99

– Great for sore gums – with a squeak

sofie la girafe teether with any tester Sophie aged 4 months

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 3 months+ | Size: L9cm x W3cm x H17cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Awards 2022

A firm favourite with new parents for over 60 years – and a winner 2 years running in the teething category of our MadeForMums Toy Awards – Sophie la Girafe is something of a cult classic, and it’s easy to see why.

Made from natural rubber and painted with non-toxic, food-grade paints, this firm but squashy teething toy has striking spots, a sweet face and a gentle gnaw-friendly feel and squeak. It's a really good size for little hands, with the long neck and legs providing plenty to grab and explore.

"It immediately caught my baby's attention and the squeak sound made her smile," said Lily, mum of our aptly named baby tester Sophie, 4 months (pictured above). "She easily held it in her hand. We’ve played with it lots and it is already a favourite toy."

Lily was also impressed how well it works a teether. "Sophie doesn’t yet have teeth but she really enjoyed chewing it as it was soft but firm on her gums," she said. This was echoed by Emma, mum of our older baby tester David, 7 months: "When it comes to teething, I would pay a lot of money for a product that works. And this product works! David is able to hold it and chew on it and it seems to give him relief."

Available at: John Lewis, Next and Amazon

6. Munchkin & Bear Silicone Sensory Ball Set – The Explorer, £24

– Great for grasping and chewing

Munchkin and Bear silicone sensory ball set and child tester Chester

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 3 months+ | Size: Various | Batteries: None

Made of soft, squidgy, food-grade silicone, each of the 3 flexible balls in this set is a different size and colour and has a different design and feel – from smooth to knobbly to bumpy. The smaller balls will also fit inside in the bigger one, with a bit of grown-up squashing, to keep them all together when play's over.

"My little boy loves these balls," said Joanne, mum of our baby tester Chester, 5 months (pictured above). "He gets really excited when he sees them and tries to reach out and grab them. He loves to chew on them, too, especially the little yellow one. They're light enough that he can hold them himself and the different textures keep his hands occupied."

Can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Available at: Munchkin & Bear

7. Taf Toys Savannah Tummy Time Book, £17

– Great for tummy time play

Taf Toys Savannah Tummy Time Book with child tester

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2 months+ | Size: L4cm x W19cm x H15cm | Batteries: None

This soft, colourful, textured double-sided book can stand up on its own, making it perfect for tummy time. One side features high contrast black and white pictures for newborns to gaze at, and the other side features more colourful pictures for older babies in different prints, textures and fabrics, along with flaps, a mirror, a lion teether and ribbons. The design of this book is very well thought out and we like how if folds down neatly so you can stow it easily in your pram or bag.

Many tummy time toys have loads of interactive features to push and pull and press and, while that's exactly the kind of stuff that older babies love, smaller babies can find them all a bit overwhelming. For them, a spot of gazing at high-contrast pictures is just the right amount of stimulation while they get used to being on their tummy.

We do really like the big mirror, too, and it was a huge hit with all our baby testers. "The mirror seems to surprise and entrance him each time we turn the page!" said Zoe, mum of Stig, 5 months (pictured above – not on his tummy for once!).

Available at: Kidly, Amazon and Good Little Egg

8. Mini Mizzie, £9.95

– Great for sore gums – without a squeak

mini Lizzie testing toy with baby tester Bran

Age suitability: 3 months+ | Best for age: 3 months + | Size: L1cm x W5cm x H14cm | Batteries: None

This cute kangaroo teether, with the most expressive eyelashes, is made from 100% natural rubber, and coloured with water-based, non-toxic dyes. It's firm but slightly squashy and it doesn't have a squeak – which some parents may consider a godsend.

The hole in its middle makes it easy to grasp and also easy to hang, with a clip, from a pushchair, where, according to his mum Christy, our baby tester Bran, 3 months, (pictured above), spent ages staring at it. "It looks so lovely with nice, bright colours," she said. "The pointed angles of the nose and ears fit nicely in a little b.aby's mouth, too. It's soft and bouncy to touch, too"

Available at: Amazon and Mini Mizzie UK

9. Lamaze Freddie the Firefly, £14.99

– Great for tactile stimulation

lamaze Freddie the firefly with baby tester Andy

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: From birth | Size: L6cm x W25cm x H30cm | Batteries: None

Freddie's been a bestselling activity toy for many years now (he even has a whole baby activity gym themed around him) and he continues to be a serious baby magnet, thanks to the sheer number of tactile features he packs into his little bug body.

Each segment of his body is made from a different fabric, he has little knotted legs and each of his crinkly wings has different things to explore, from a squeaker and peekaboo mirror to a bright yellow teether tucked into a little pocket (and secured with a ribbon string). He has clacking rings attached to his tail and a clip on his head for attaching him to a pushchair or car seat.

Our tester mum Mirela was really taken with this toy's quality and how much it stimulated and held her 3-month-old baby Andy's attention. "So much to see, feel hear and chew!" she said. A couple of months later, she's still impressed with it. "It's a lovely toy," she says, "and it washes great – it's been machine-washed a billion times!"

Available at: Boots, JoJo Maman Bebe and Amazon

10. Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit, £9.99

– Great for dangling entertainment

Age suitability: From birth |Best for age: 3 months+ | Size: L8cm x W13cm x H25cm | Batteries: None

Small enough to tuck into your changing bag but BIG on baby entertainment, the Whoozit is a 7-legged beanbag friend with a squeaky red nose and a big smiley face. There's loads of differently patterned and textured fabrics to see, touch and feel, and a little mirror hidden behind his nose.

Our 5-month-old baby tester Oliver loved the dangling legs with different shapes on the end, and his mum Sarah was particularly taken with the Velcro strap that lets you attach the toy to a pushchair or car seat: she found it easier than trying to use a plastic clip.

Available at: Amazon

– Great for high-contrast sensory play

Wee Gallery Organic Cotton Crinkle Toy

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: From birth | Size: W20cm x H25cm | Batteries: None

Little babies are fascinated by shapes and pictures in sharp black and white contrast. This large 100% organic cotton leaf is printed in black with white detailing on one side, and white with black detailing on the other and filled with crinkle paper between the layers.

It's machine-washable and we love its generous size. Our smallest baby testers were mesmerised by the monochrome patterns, while the older babies enjoyed the crinkly sensory play that comes with grabbing and waving and holding it.

Comes with a little fabric loop of a stem that can be used to attach it, with a clip, to a pushchair or car seat.

Available at: Kidly and Smallable

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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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