Keeping older kids entertained is a piece of cake compared to the whims and attention spans of infants. Here are some tried and true toys to keep your little ones entertained.
For the first three or four months of a baby’s life, they’re really predictable. They eat, they poop, they sleep, they sit in a little bouncing chair and stare at everything around them, and then they fall asleep again. But after about four months, they start to get a better understanding of the world around them. Parents suddenly have to figure out a way to keep a small baby happy and satisfied as they attempt to get things done.
Infants (typically babies under the age of one-year-old) are difficult to keep entertained. They have very short attention spans and are distracted by pretty much anything and everything. When the COVID-19 pandemic took off and quarantine rules were put into place, I had to say goodbye to my babysitters and suddenly found myself working from home full-time while also watching my 8-month-old daughter on my own. It’s been … interesting.
In our mom group chat, my friends with toddlers have been comparing craft projects and fun activities to attempt to keep their little ones busy. Me? I’ve just been struggling to find a toy that will keep my daughter interested for more than 10 minutes. You can’t do crafts with an infant. You can’t do cute things like cook pizzas with them. You can’t set them down with some toys and tell them to play with their own imaginations for a while. You have to keep a very close eye on them, which means that because of their separation anxiety, they are bound to abandon those toys after a few minutes and grab onto you. Yes, I know and see that toddlers are extremely difficult as well, but infants present a slightly different kind of difficulty.
That being said, there are some toys out there that will actually keep your infant busy and entertained while you get some things done. I know because I have desperately tried them all at this point. The following options just might be worth ordering:
Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Step ‘n Play Piano
My daughter, like most babies, absolutely adores music. It stops her in her little crawling tracks and puts a huge smile on her face. So, when I saw this Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Step ‘n Play Piano online, I knew she had to have it.
This thing is kind of a little miracle (well, not that little, because it’s actually quite clunky and large, but the sacrifice is worth it). You can put baby in the seat and then they can “make” music as they stomp their feet or bang their hands against the piano keys. There’s a mirror so they can stare at themselves, toys for grabbing and teething all around, and plenty of buttons for them to push. My daughter can play in this thing for a pleasantly long time without crying. Sometimes, she even forgets I exist while she’s in there!
Another great thing about this one is that it grows with your baby. When they’re really little, you can remove the piano floor part, and they can lay on that and use it as a playmat. Once they can sit up, they can go in the seat attachment. And, once they can confidently stand and walk on their own, you can take the seat attachment out and it just becomes a little hand and foot piano for them to play with.
Bright Starts Springin’ Safari Bounce-A-Bout Activity Center
Once baby is developed enough to be in a jumper (they have to be able to hold their heads up on their own, and are usually recommended after or after six months of age), they are truly excellent to have. They’re entertaining and fun for your baby, and they allow you to get a few things done while knowing they are safely in one spot.
We love the Bright Starts Springin’ Safari Bounce-A-Bout Activity Center. It’s big, but it’s also light enough to easily cart it from one room to the next, and it’s not so big that it takes up a ton of room. Between the bright colors and the toy attachments, it gives my daughter plenty to do—there are also rings around it so that I can attach other toys for her. It lets her bounce up and down happily, and she can swivel in a full circle as much as she wants.
I love to plop her in this when I need her to stay in one spot, like if I’m running to the bathroom or getting lunch together or something. It’s worth the money!
V-Tech Busy Learners Activity Cube
Babies are busy. They need something to do with their hands or they’re not satisfied. About a week or so ago, feeling desperate without my babysitter, I went on Amazon and ordered about $100 worth of toys for my daughter. (Aall attempts at keeping the toy situation low-key went out the window for us). This V-Tech Busy Learners Activity Cube was one of them, and so far, it’s been great.
This cube has five sides, each one encourages learning and helps develop fine motor skills. Twenty-five different songs and melodies can be played as baby hits different buttons and moves it all around. Light-up buttons also introduce animal names, animal sounds, and shapes.
For young babies, it helps them learn how to sit up, and older babies will love pushing it all around. My daughter loves turning it all around and trying things on each side.
VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube, Purple
The V-Tech Busy Learners Activity Cube helps develop fine motor skills and plays lots of different music and sounds.
V-Tech Sit-To-Stand Learning Walker
Once your baby learns how to stand up and begins walking, things get even more complicated. Suddenly, they just want to be on the move all the time, and unfortunately, you can’t just stand there and help them practice walking all day long.
My daughter started standing up just as we started quarantining, and now she’s obsessed with it. It’s adorable but exhausting! I got her this V-Tech Sit-To-Stand Learning Walker, which has been a great transitional toy that is growing with her. The play panel in the front easily comes off the walker, so I set it down on the floor and let her play with it. (It plays over 70 different songs, sound effects, and phrases for her to listen to, and has plenty of buttons to push). Sometimes I leave it on the walker, and she plays with it on there as she can sit up on her own.
Once she starts taking her first steps, this will also come in handy: babies who are learning to walk can grip the handles and use this as a tool to help them learn even more. It’s cute, easy to put together, and doesn’t take up too much room.
VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker (Frustration Free Packaging), Lavender (Amazon Exclusive)
The V-Tech Sit-To-Stand Learning Walker helps teach babies how to sit and walk.
The First Years Stack Up Cups
To us, stacking cups may seem boring. To a baby, they are kind of amazing. I continue to be shocked at how entertained my daughter is by The First Years Stack Up Cups. She sits there and takes them apart completely, then stares at each one with a focused look on her face before teething on them and then eventually trying to stack them up together again.
Stacking cups are a great and simple way to help baby develop fine motor skills. These cups also have large numbers on the bottom that will eventually help them learn numbers as well. They don’t come with musical effects or flashing lights, but they don’t need to—babies love the simplicity, which is nice sometimes.
The First Years Stack up Cup Toys, Multi, 8 Count, Pack of 9
The First Years Stack Up Cups are a great and simple way to keep baby busy.
Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys
There’s a good chance your infant is teething or is in the beginning stages of teething. In that case, these Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys are really great to have on hand. Filled with gel and featuring different textures, these feel soothing on a baby’s sore gums and are easy to them to gnaw on for as long as they’d like. You can also stick them in the fridge and get them cool to make them feel extra soothing.
These teether keys also keep little hands busy. My daughter loves teething on them, but also loves turning them over and over in her hands. I don’t know why this small set amazes her so much, I’m just happy it does!
Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys
These Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys are ideal when baby needs something to soothe their gums.
Manhattan Toy Winkle Sensory Rattle
Another great teether option (because you will definitely need more than one) is the Manhattan Toy Winkle Sensory Rattle. It looks like a little maze of tubes and is fun for babies to hold onto, play with, and stick right in their mouths. It promotes fine motor skills like clutching and two-handed play.
Babies will also love the middle cube, which contains a rattle sound that they will be fascinated with. The loops are BPA-free, so you can feel good about your baby chewing away on it. It’s a fascinating toy for them that they won’t be able to put down and has even won a handful of toy awards.
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy
The Manhattan Toy Winkle Sensory Rattle is a perfect teething toy to keep baby busy.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
The Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy may look simple, but it’s something your infant likely won’t get tired of anytime soon. This easy-to-hold toy plays 10 different melodies of classical music, which baby will love hearing. The panel in front also lights up with bright colors as the music plays, which is fascinating for them to stare at.
The handle is easy for them to grab and hold, and features little beads that baby will love teething on. It promotes some fine motor skills and is just an overall great handheld toy. We’ve had this one since my daughter was three months old, and she’s still obsessed with it today.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy, Ages 3 months +
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy is a fun way to introduce baby to classical music melodies.
Tiny Love Meadow Days Sunny Stroll Stroller Arch
The best quarantine days for us are the ones that are sunny and warm enough to allow us to take a walk. (We stay far away from anyone else, don’t worry.) On those days, I try to stay outside for as long as possible so I don’t lose my mind, whether we’re walking around the block or sitting on our patio. This Tiny Love Meadow Day Sunny Stroll Stroller Arch is excellent to have on hand during this time.
This arch can be attached to nearly every stroller in under a minute (you could also try attaching it to a seat) and gives baby lots to look at and do. There’s a carrot teething toy my daughter gnaws on forever, a reflective light that dances in the sunlight, a little mirror, a flower that spins, and so much more. It’s interactive and engaging, with lots of fun textures that keep baby interested.
Tiny Love Meadow Days Sunny Stroll Stroller Arch
Tiny Love Meadow Days Sunny Stroll is an excellent stroller arch that keeps baby entertained on walks.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-A-Stack
Another seemingly simple toy that keeps baby happy for a long time is Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-A-Stack. I bought this without much hope that it would keep my daughter entertained, and was quickly proven wrong. She loves learning to stack them on top of each other and then turning it upside down so that every ring falls and she can eat them.
The top ring has little balls in it that rattle, and the rest are colorful and fun for baby to play with. The rocking base is something my daughter loves because she can push it all around. It’s truly a great basic toy to have.