There is no shortage of baby toys and gifts on the market today. So, how do you find the best gift for a baby shower or your baby registry? Or maybe you want to add some new toys to your early childhood or special education classroom. We got you covered! We put together 10 of our favorite toys that parents, teachers, and babies will love. Plus, they all provide opportunities for babies and caregivers to interact and bond in ways that support early social-emotional development.
1. Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror
Social Emotional Benefits of Baby Mirrors: Mirrors support a babies developing sense of self-awareness. As they grow, babies will begin smiling and “talking” to their reflections. Over time, many babies move from seeing another baby in the mirror to recognizing that THEY are the baby looking back. (Of course, every child develops at his or her own pace.)
2. Infantino 4-in-1 Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat
Social Emotional Benefits of Tummy Time: Supervised tummy time helps strengthen a baby’s neck, back, core, legs, and arm muscles. Tummy time also gives parents and caregivers the chance to get eye level with their little ones and interact face-to-face in a way that supports early bonding. Plus, positive responses to a baby’s tummy time efforts fuel a child’s emerging self-esteem.
3. The Color Monster Board Book by Anna Llenas
Social Emotional Benefits of Baby Books: Reading to babies and infants supports more than early literacy and language skills. When a parent or caregiver snuggles up with an infant to read together, they promote bonding and emotional intimacy. Plus, this book encourages emotional literacy as young children see the pictures and hear the words for feelings long before they can understand or form the words themselves.
Want more social-emotional books for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers? Here are 10 of our favorites!
4. Nuby 10 Count (Pack of 1) Little Squirts Fun Bath Toys
5. Nuby Bath Time Fun Splish Splash Cups
6. BabyBibi Waterproof Bath Books
Social Emotional Benefits of Bath Time: Early childhood developmental research shows that baths relax babies and set the stage for a good night’s sleep. The gentle skin-to-skin contact as a parent or caregiver bathes a baby promotes bonding and trust, a key part of healthy social-emotional development. Plus, bath time offers playtime fun that involves all of a child’s senses. Multi-sensory activities strengthen the neural pathways in a developing brain. That’s just a fancy way of saying the learning sticks better! These three favorite bath toys for babies will grow with your child and offer hours and hours of fun bonding time!
7. Wild Life album by Justin Roberts
Social Emotional Benefits of Music: Music and movement support social-emotional development in young children. Listening to soothing music, such as this album, begins to teach young children how to relax and starts to lay the foundation for the music to be used to self-soothe. In addition, rocking with a baby to gentle music promotes bonding and also serves to relax adults, too!
Want more social-emotional music for families with young children? Here are 10 of our favorites on Youtube!
8. WisToyz Bubble Machine Bubble Blower
Social Emotional Benefits: Music and bubbles seem to be a language that every child understands. Babies (and children of all ages!) seem to light up whenever bubbles float through the air. Older babies will often request “more bubbles” in their own unique way. When a parent or caregiver, responds to their request, babies are learning that their needs and wants have value. In the toddler years, children can practice self-control by NOT popping the bubbles!
Social Emotional Benefits of Ball Play: Balls with textured surfaces stimulate an infant’s sense of touch. As an infant grows, ball play supports social-emotional development as a child learns turn-taking, sharing, and even how to follow rules.
10. Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring
Social-Emotional Benefits of Stacking Rings: These rings are easy for babies to grasp, which supports fine motor skill development as well as eye-hand coordination. While babies will need help at first, they will gain confidence as they practice problem-solving and learn how to stack them by themselves.
Did we leave off your favorite baby gift or toy that supports social-emotional development?
Let us know in the comments.
Lisa Camino Rowell has spent more than 20 years in early childhood education. She’s written for well-known brands, such as Kindermusik International, Reading Rainbow, Babies R Us, Crayola, KinderCare, and Pampers. Lisa loves writing for the Teaching Is a Royal Adventure blog because she considers it her life’s best work whenever she creates content that supports the role of parents as a child’s first and best teacher or provides tools that help early childhood educators excel in the classroom.