Newborn Toys: The Best & Safest Options for Baby

Learn how to avoid toxins lurking in many newborn toys and find the best stuffed animals, wooden, and rubber toys for baby. Plus, get safer plastic options.

What are the best newborn toys? We've got the scoop on natural toys for babies. Including natural wood toys, natural rubber toys, and organic stuffed animals for babies.

Have you ever walked down the baby toy aisle and realized that so many of those toys are made of plastic or other synthetic materials? Yikes! This might leave you wondering: What exactly is my newborn supposed to play with?! Whether you’re just starting to make your baby registry or your baby is already here and ready to play, we can help you choose the best and safest newborn toys.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The best toys for newborns
  • How to choose safer toys
  • Plus, why newborn toys are important

The Best Newborn Toys

A 2008 study by Michigan-based consumer-safety program called the Ecology Center discovered that about a third of all the toys tested contained potentially harmful levels of lead, cadmium, phthalates, and other harmful substances.

Unfortunately, labels can be very misleading and even things labeled “eco-friendly” may not be the best choice. Look for toys that have a GREENGUARD certification. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and The Consumer Product Safety Commission are also excellent resources when shopping for safe newborn toys.

It may take a little detective work, but finding toys made without harmful materials is worth the effort, since babies tend to mouth, chew, or even teethe on newborn toys.

With that said, the best toys for newborns are:

Wooden newborn toys

Because even BPA-free plastic can be harmful (source), the ideal toys are made of natural wood without any paint or stain.

Consider these options:

Natural rubber newborn toys

If you’re concerned baby might hurt themself with a wooden toy, try one softer natural rubber toys that are manufactured from the sap of a Hevea tree. They should say “100 percent natural rubber.”

Consider these options:

Organic stuffed animals

It’s important to choose organic stuffed animals that contain natural materials, like 100 percent organic cotton or wool. Traditional stuffed animals usually contain flame retardants, which in studies, can affect hormone production and even lead to breast cancer. Consider these options:

How to Choose Safer Plastic Newborn Toys

While avoiding plastic is ideal, sometimes you might let some plastic toys be part of your child’s collection. Here are some tips for sourcing safer plastic newborn toys.

Check the type of plastic

You’ll probably see a number in a triangle somewhere on the toy and/or the toy’s packaging. This number signifies the type of plastic used. Here are the most common types of plastic:

  • #5 polypropylene: A low-risk, heat tolerant plastic; often used for yogurt tubs. It is a suitable plastic for newborn toys. (source)
  • #2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE): This plastic is BPA-free, but some tests show it can affect hormone levels. Use with caution. (source)
  • #4 low-density polyethylene: Use with caution.
  • #3 pvc: Do not use this type of plastic. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is one of the most dangerous plastics, according to a study published in The Science of the Total Environment. PVC is both carcinogenic and mutagenic. (source)

Check manufacturing details

Choose toys manufactured in the U.S. Why? Although most plastic comes from China, manufacturing guidelines are stricter here.

Try these vetted plastic newborn toys

Although there aren’t many options in this category, babies don’t need an overabundance—just a few quality toys. The brand Green Toys is a parent favorite, because it’s easy-to-find and made from recycled plastic.

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More Quick Tips for Buying Newborn Toys

Ready to get shopping for a few new gifts or toys? Follow these guidelines:

  • Choose age-appropriate toys: Read the label for age guidelines and avoid toys with any small parts that can come off and pose a choking hazard.
  • Read the labels: Always buy products that state they are nontoxic, eco-friendly, etc. If you do have an electric toy, make sure it says “UL” approved. When your electronics are “UL approved”, it means that your product has met the safety standards of Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Avoid loud, bright toys: These toys may overstimulate sensitive newborns. Plus, these toys tend to have many plastic parts.
  • Check for product recalls before purchasing a new toy.

Why Newborn Toys Are Important

It’s tempting to throw in the towel—to feel like the effort of finding the right toy just isn’t worth it when baby is so young—but toys aren’t just for entertainment. Toys can help babies (and older children):

  • Build social skills (i.e. interacting with you!)
  • Strengthen gross motor skills, like hand-eye coordination
  • Improve fine motor skills, like their pincer grasp
  • Develop logic and problem-solving skills
  • Foster imagination and story telling

Remember…

The most important thing about playing with your newborn is bonding! Do you have any favorite natural baby toys?

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

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