The Best Baby Toys And Gift Ideas For 9 To 12 Month Babies For Learning And Development

Looking for the best baby toys for 9 to 12 months? 

Does your baby seem bored with the toys you have at home? 

The reason is once your baby is out of the newborn phase, it is time to start finding new toys that will entertain and stimulate them as well as help them reach their developmental milestones.  

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If you are looking specifically for educational toys, I have great news:

At this stage, all toys are educational toys because they all contribute to your baby’s development and your baby’s learning in some way or another.  

I have grouped my favorite toys by type and listed what major milestones they will help your little one achieve.  

Keep in mind that these are estimates from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

 It is perfectly fine for your child to reach them earlier or later than 9-12 months.  

If you are ever concerned that your child is falling behind developmentally, you should discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.

Developmental Milestones For 9 To 12 Months

Here are some of the developmental milestones that you should be looking for between 9 and 12 months according to the CDC as they relate to playing and toys.  

If you want the full list (they even have printable checklists!) you can visit the 9-month-old baby milestones here. And the 12-month-old baby milestones are here.

I also listed the types of toys that will help your child reach these milestones, or keep them entertained if it is something they have already mastered.

Social and Emotional (favorite blankies, lovies, stuffed animals, etc.)

  • Has favorite toys.
  • Points or hands you a book to hear a story.
  • Makes sounds or actions to get attention.

Language/Communication (musical toys, books, interactive toys)

  • Makes babbling sounds.
  • Points at things.
  • Changes their tone when making sounds.
  • Tries to repeat words.

Cognitive/ Brain Development (shape sorters, blocks, pretend play, etc.)

  • Plays peek-a-boo.
  • Looks for hidden objects.
  • Puts stuff in their mouth.
  • Can pass an object from one hand to another.
  • Experiments with throwing, banging, shaking, etc. objects.
  • Looks or points to the correct object when named.
  • Copies gestures.
  • Uses tools and utensils correctly.
  • Likes to put objects in and take objects out (of bags, bins, boxes, etc.)
  • Poking with their index finger.
  • Understands and follows simple directions like “bring me the doll.”

Movement/Physical Development (shape sorters, ball pits, push toys, tunnels, etc.)

  • Can stand (with or without holding on to something).
  • Can sit and get into a sitting position independently.
  • Pull themself up to stand.
  • Can crawl.
  • Can cruise.
  • May stand alone or take a few steps alone.  

Pro Tip: Are you looking for travel toys to take on a plane 🛩️🧳? Check out my full post of 50 airplane toys for 1-year-olds as well as a packing list.

Best Toys For 9 to 12 Months For Fine Motor Skills

The skills that your child learns with their hands are referred to as their fine motor skills.  

There are lots of toys to learn fine motor skills but here are a few of my favorites.  

  1. Shape Sorter (practices hand-eye coordination as well as the cognitive task of recognizing each shape)

Bonus: My son still uses this truck and he is almost 2.  It is really well made and I love that we can have a multipurpose toy that grows with him through new stages. 

baby playing with melissa and doug shape sorting truck
My Son Playing With His Melissa And Doug Shape Sorting Truck

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  1. Pegs 

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  1. Play Dough

    Once your baby is old enough–and you are brave enough 🤣–playdough is a great toy for fine motor skills like squishing, rolling, and cutting.

    Here is my favorite recipe for homemade playdough (with a secret Kool-Aid hack).

Best Baby Toys For 9 To 12 Months For Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are the physical development and coordination of the whole body (think arms, legs, and feet).  

  1. Push Toy (encourage baby’s first steps!)

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  1. Ball Pit
My Son Playing In His Ball Pit

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  1. Activity Center (encourage early walkers by getting them on their feet)
baby in activity center
My Son In His Activity Center

My son would have actually stayed in this for hours at a time if we let him 🤣 This model also held up VERY WELL to a rambunctious little one. 

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  1. Tunnel
baby crawling in tunnel
My Son Crawling In His Tunnel

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This is one of my son’s favorite toys to this day–he’s a toddler now.  

Tunnels can be used to encourage crawling early on, peek-a-boo, and pretend to play with forts and whatever else your child can dream up later on.  

As a mom, I love the tunnel because it collapses down and can fit in our toy chest, but feels like a big and special toy to my son.

  1. Large Soft Blocks

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  1. Climbing Center

My kiddo cannot get enough of these at daycare! 

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  1. Pickler Triangle

If you’ve never heard of them, pickler triangles are a Montessori favorite.  The basic design allows kids to use their strength and imagination for endless possibilities.  Add-ons like bridges and slides also ensure that it is a toy that will grow with your child for many years to come. 

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  1. Indoor House Structure
My Son Playing In His Fisher-Price House

We loved this Fisher-Price model because it can be configured in many different ways.  

It also has bonus attachments like a mini piano, shape sorter, ball drop, and more. 

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Best Toys For Tummy Time 9 To 12 Months

Tummy time is still a great activity for your little one until they are a year old.  To keep tummy time interesting here are a few toys that are specifically designed for older babies on their bellies.

  1. Squishy Mat

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  1. Piano Mat

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The Best Bath Toys For 9 To 12 Months

Water play is a fun way to teach your child new skills.  

We love our water table but aren’t in a climate where we can use it year-round.  Having bath toys to experiment with water will engage your little ones and make them love bath time even more.

  1. Squigz

These things are a blast.  Little ones can connect them together, or just stick them all over the tub. 

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  1. Funnel Toys

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The Best Musical Toys For 9 To 12 Months

Babies love sounds.  

Whether they are listening to animal sounds, real-life sound effects, or making up their own tunes, music brings joy to babies of all ages.

  1. Puzzles With Sound Effects

Be forewarned that babies love these… But the sounds can go off randomly… So make sure to flip off the off switch when you’re done! 

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  1. Xylophone

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  1. Baby Piano

I love that this comes with color-coded music to teach music literacy as your child grows. 

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4. Baby Music Player

Tonie toddler music player with cookie monster, dog, Elmo, and Daniel Tiger
Tonie Music Player for Kids

Music players like the Tonie and Yoto Mini are great for kids to explore and engage with media in a screen-free environment. I actually love music players so much, I have a whole post on my favorite ones that you can read here.

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The Best Toys For Cognitive Development 9 To 12 Months

This is your baby’s brain development.  

These toys are specifically geared to nurturing that noggin… 

But like I said earlier, at this age, all toys are educational and are teaching your baby new skills and concepts about the world.  

One important cognitive milestone is object permanence–or, knowing that an object is still there even after it is hidden.  

You can play games with your baby by hiding objects and seeing if they will look for them (or even find them!), but there are a few tried and true toys that babies seem to love to test this concept.

  1. Coin Slot (also helps with fine motor development)

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  1. Object Permanence Toy

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The Best Sensory Toys For 9 To 12 Months

Sensory toys let babies feel, touch, mouth, smell or taste different textures, scents, or materials.  Babies will love exploring with sensory toys and will enjoy a lot of open-ended play.

  1. DIY Sensory Kits

Some of the best sensory toys are right in your pantry.  Dump some rice or beans in a bowl, and you’re all set. 

  1. Themed Sensory Kits

Pro Tip: There are dozens of pre-made sensory kits to capture your child’s imagination. 

WARNING: Some kits contain pieces that are choking hazards.  Make sure to read the labels.  Anything that can pass through a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard. 

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  1. Pop It (practice poking)

At 9 months, my little guy couldn’t get enough of these! He loved the popping feeling, and I loved that he was experiencing a new sensation. 

They are also a mainstay fidget toy for kids and adults alike in our home. 

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  1. Play-Doh (also great for open-ended play)

This table is also a carrying case for the ‘doh and all of the components.  Some components might be choking hazards, so make sure to read the packaging.  Play-Doh and the table by themselves are fine for even tiny hands… and mouths–the ‘doh is non-toxic. 

Pro Tip: Want to make your own incredibly soft homemade playdough for less than a quarter of the price? Check out my recipe for The Best Homemade Playdough.

baby playing with playdough at learning tower
My Son Playing With My Homemade Kool-Aid Playdough

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The Best Toys For Open-Ended Play For 9 To 12 Months

Open-ended play is not the same as imaginative play or pretend play.  

Your baby is still too young for pretend play (like playing house, dress up, doctor, etc.).  

But, open-ended play is an important part of learning how to do pretend play.  

With open-ended play, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to use the toy.  There is no “winning” or specific goal like we see with many other toys.  

Open-ended play allows your child to play with toys or objects on their own terms and encourages them to use them in many different ways.  

  1. Toy Cars

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  1. Building Blocks 

Our Mega Blocks have been a smash hit from 9 months to 2 years old. 

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  1. Squigz

Nope, not a typo, these have made the list twice!  They are so versatile for open-ended play whether you are inside, outside, or in the tub.  

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The Best Toys For 9 To 12 Month Language Development

Musical toys that practice sounds or words are also great for language development.  

Board books that you can read to your baby (or let them explore with their hands and mouth) are also great to introduce simple words.  

Board books continue to grow with your baby.  Your little one might be more interested in chewing off the spines of the books today, but in a few months will still enjoy those books just as much for storytime or before bed.  

  1. Chika Chika Boom Boom

As one of my personal favorites from childhood, which my son now calls “chicky,” I can’t help but put this adorable book on the list. 

The main goal is reading though, so any board books would be great! 

My Son Playing With His Books

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  1. Sound Books

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  1. Sensory Board Books

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  1. Interactive Word Book

This LeapFrog book is great for your baby to play with by themselves, or with you.  It practices words in English and in Spanish, as well as sounds and information about the different words in the book.  

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The Best Toys For 9 To 12 Month Emotional Development

As your child develops emotionally, you will find that they gravitate toward certain toys (perhaps a favorite stuffed animal, blankie, doll, or anything else).  My son gravitated toward–and still does–his binkies (pacifiers).  He also has one small stuffed bear that he sleeps with at night.  For many months he has requested for me to kiss the teddy bear goodnight when I put him down.  

If you notice your child gravitating toward a particular toy or object, feel free to teach them the name of it, how to care for it, and how to treat it nicely.  

  1. Characters 

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  1. Teddy Bears

These are great toys for emotional development.  Consider getting a bear or a stuffed animal that he might recognize from his favorite book or TV show.  

GUND teddy bears are also a classic plushie for your child. 

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The Best Toys For Social Skills For 9 To 12 Months

Depending on how much interaction your little one gets with other children, they might need help learning some social skills related to their toys like sharing and properly caring for and playing with their toys.  

Practice sharing with your child by saying “your turn,” and letting them hold and play with the object, then “my turn,” and have them give it to you for a few seconds.  

Your baby might get frustrated with this game at first.  Explain what sharing is, and limit it to just a few seconds at a time that you take their toy.  

Toys with many components are also great ways to introduce sharing to your little one.  You can have a few and your child can have a few.  

  1. Sports Complex (Great for teaching boundaries) 

I loved this toy for teaching my son how to play with balls in the house.  He learned quickly only to throw balls at the hoop or kick them to the goal.  The nice thing about this set is that the balls are so lightweight that they won’t do much damage to your house while your child is still learning.  

baby playing with vtech smart sports sports center
My Son Playing With His Sports Center

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The Best Teething Toys For 9 To 12 Months

Having toys dedicated to teething will help save your other toys from getting chewed apart.  

  1. Teething rings

Having different textures for your child is important to provide relief to sore teeth and gums.  

These provide different textures and can be refrigerated beforehand to cool inflamed areas. 

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  1. Teething clips

If your little one is mobile, consider a clippable teething toy that goes everywhere they do.  

They will never find themselves without something (other than your favorite piece of furniture) to chew on! 

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  1. Food Teethers

Call me crazy… But I was never a huge fan of these… The mess was just too much for me to get over.  Plus, half-chewed food that’s been slobbered on… Hanging around on my carpets?  No thank you.  

Why did they make the list? 

Because good friends of mine (multiple) swear by these things.  

To each their own mamas!  

It’s actually a great way to introduce new flavors to your little one as they start solid foods.

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The Best Interactive Toys For 9 To 12 Month Olds

There are so many interactive toys on the market.  Many of these toys have lots of components like buttons, lights, sounds, etc.  

Some children love these toys, while others might be overwhelmed by all of the stimuli.  

My son loves interactive real-life toys that look like the electronic devices that we use around the house (cell phones, tablets, gaming controllers, etc.).

  1. Game controller

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  1. Cell phone

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  1. Tablet

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  1. Multi Purpose Interactive Toys 

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The Best Real Life Toys For 9 To 12 Months

Not all real life toys are interactive.  Although my son didn’t start to play with household objects until he was closer to 12 months, some babies are fascinated with grocery carts, doll strollers, mops, brooms, and anything else that they find in their daily lives.

  1. Cleaning Toys 

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  1. Shopping Cart 

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  1. Stroller 

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Classic Toys For 9 To 12 Months 

There are some classic baby toys that never go out of style… That’s because they are both entertaining and educational for little ones.

  1. Stacking Rings

It might look like a simple toy, but this one helps your little one with hand movements.  As they get older they start to understand the order that the rings go in.  

baby playing with fisher price stacking rings
My Son Playing With His Stacking Rings

Bonus: this stacking set has a rattle ring at the top that is a crowd-pleaser among the 9-12 month crew.  

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  1. Stacking Cups
My Son Playing With His Stacking Cups

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  1. Hammer Balls

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Homemade Toys For 9 To 12 Month Olds

Don’t forget to get some outdoor toys for your little one to enjoy during the summer months. Some outdoor toys can even double as indoor toys during the colder seasons.

Last but not least, I would be doing you a huge disservice if I didn’t mention homemade toys.  

You can make amazing toys with things that are lying around your house like empty water bottles and cardboard boxes.  

Pro Tip: Want more ideas on how to turn everyday household objects into hours and hours of fun?  Check out my article on 39 Activities For 9 To 14-Month-Olds

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The #1 Best DIY Homemade Playdough Recipe [Secret Kool-Aid Hack!]
57 Best Outdoor Toys for 2-Year-Old Boys of 2023

50 Best Airplane Toys for One-Year-Olds (2023)

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Jacqui

Author

Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.