Hint: Toys that stimulate baby’s rapidly developing senses are always a big hit!
By Martina Garvey, the Bump
Baby is almost halfway through that all-important first year, and they’re changing by the day. It’s true what they say the first year of parenthood really does fly by! By the five-month mark, your little one’s personality is starting to shine through, and language development kicks into high gear. Baby will look toward you when you make noise and imitate sounds they hear. And at this point, you should keep your ears peeled for those first glorious chuckles! Baby is also getting more interested in playtime, and may actually spot their favorite toy from across the room and reach out to grab it. Go baby!
So what are the best toys for 5-month-olds? For starters, toys should be age-appropriate and safe at this stage. Beyond that, look for playthings that help you communicate and interact with your little one. Curious to learn more? Read on to find out more about baby’s key milestones and play behavior at this age, then browse our list of expert-approved toys for 5-month-old babies. Pro tip: Want to stock up on developmental toys for the months ahead? Check out our gift guides for 6-month-olds and 7-month-old infants too.
What are the Best Toys for a 5-Month-Old?
The best toys for 5-month-olds support healthy development and meet their growing need for socialization. Yep, baby’s becoming quite the social butterfly and will likely begin to recognize friendly faces and respond with squeals of excitement. As much as your little one enjoys communicating with others, they’re also learning to have fun on their own. During tummy time, try placing a mirror in front of them and watch their reaction—babies love to look at their own reflection and practice different facial expressions. You can also leave a couple of toys within reach, as a 5-month-old can typically grab objects in their eye line, and may even pull them toward their mouth, says Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. “Many parents think this is a sign of teething, but at this age, babies are just mouthing objects to learn more about them and stimulate their oral sensory nerves,” explains Sarno.
Baby’s vision is also a lot sharper. “By 5 months of age, most babies begin to fully see in color and no longer just black and white, and they can even differentiate between different shades of colors,” explains Kristen Miller, director of education for Celebree School, a nationwide franchise that provides early childhood education for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. With this in mind, you can start to move away from monochromatic toys and books, in favor of brightly colored playthings. Hooray! Sarno advises parents to bring out brightly colored items during play time, but stick to neutral shades closer to bedtime to avoid overstimulating baby’s senses. Here are a few other milestones baby may achieve around the 5-month mark:
- By this point, you’ll have heard baby laugh for the first time
- Infants will turn their head to hear a rattling noise or voice, and will respond with their own sounds when spoken to
- Baby is fascinated by their hands and may have started bringing both of them together or up to their mouth
- Your little one can distinguish between colors and even see pastel shades
- Baby can now spot a toy just out of reach, and grab it
Remember every child grows at their own pace, and may not hit all of these milestones by the 5-month mark. But if you’re concerned about your child’s development, reach out to your pediatrician.
What to Look for in Toys for 5-Month-Olds
Before we get into our list of the best toys for 5-month-old children, here are a few expert tips on what to be aware of when browsing options:
- Size of parts. Baby has likely started putting everything in their mouth by this age. With this in mind, Miller advises parents to avoid toys that are small enough to fit inside baby’s mouth as they could pose a choking hazard.
- Multiple textures. At this age babies enjoy textured toys that are fun to pull, poke, prod and gum on. Teething toys are a good option, as they are safe for baby to chew on, and ease any gum pain from newly emerging teeth.
- Durable construction. To reduce the risk of choking or strangulation, opt for well-made toys that don’t have loose parts or long strings.
- Go bold with color. Now that baby can see a greater spectrum of colors, they often prefer bright primary colors like red, blue and yellow. So set aside the neutrals for now and concentrate on colorful playthings.
- Non-toxic materials. The best toys for 5-month-olds are made from non-toxic materials like wood, natural rubber or food-grade silicone.
While toys are great at keeping baby busy, remember to keep a close eye on your little one during playtime. Five-month-old babies could be learning to sit upright and may tire easily. “As they’re developing physical strength, it’s imperative to remain close to infants who are playing with seated toys, or are keeping a sustained posture that’s not supported, as falling may become a risk,” notes Sarno.
Best Toys for 5-Month-Olds
Now that you’ve learned a thing or two about baby’s social, emotional and physical development at 5 months old, here are a few expert-approved toys to keep them busy.
A child-friendly mirror offers endless entertainment. Observing their own facial expressions is fun for babies, and it also helps them build an understanding of social reciprocity, says Sarno who recommends this pick by Fisher-Price. The roll-along hedgehog starts as a tummy-time toy for baby, with a friendly face to gaze at on the large mirror. Then, when baby starts to sit up, they can explore the bat-at roller, clacker bead bar and soft “quills” of their hedgehog pal. Finally active tots can give the mirror a gentle push to send it rolling along, encouraging them to crawl and chase after it!
Reading to your child is important at every age, especially when they’re gearing up to say their first words. Miller likes these indestructible board books, as they are rip-proof, tear-proof and, most importantly, chew-proof. Plus, the thick pages are easy to turn.
Simple sensory toys are often the most fascinating to young children. Case in point: The Skwish by Manhattan Toy. “Babies seem to be entranced with the Skwish Color Burst, as it’s easy to grab and hold, plus it makes sounds and squishes down when turned and squeezed,” says Sarno. Worried about baby nibbling on it? Don’t sweat it—it’s made from wood with a non-toxic, water-based finish so it’s safe for curious babies to chew on.
Miller recommends toys and books with realistic depictions of people, places and things. That’s why we love this board book, which features 100 simple words with corresponding color photographs. Bonus: There’s also a Spanish-English bilingual edition.
Suction cup toy
Image: Fat Brain Toys
Need something to keep baby entertained during mealtimes? Sarno recommends these brightly colored silicone pipSquigz Loops. Babies can spin and shake the plastic rattle rings, or press the suction cups onto their high chair before pulling them off to hear a loud, exciting “pop” sound.
Animal sound board book
At this point, don’t expect baby to sit through a lengthy story book. Instead, focus on fun picture books that get you talking. Sarno likes this animal-themed book that uses repetition to help baby learn new sounds and words.
Image: Skip Hop
Designed for use from 4 months on, this activity center is the perfect toy for your little mover and shaker. It offers three modes of play: young infants can swivel, bounce and play while sitting in the seat; early walkers can hold onto it for support during the cruising stage and older toddlers can use it as a craft table.
“Games of hide-and-seek and peek-a-boo begin to get fun for babies (and their families!) around 5 months old, as they’re starting to learn about object permanence,” says Sarno. (FYI: Object permanence is the concept that people and objects don’t simply cease to exist once they’re out of sight.) Although nothing beats human interaction, this interactive plush toy can step in when you need a break. The sweet elephant plays peek-a-boo with its ears and sings “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”
This musical toy for 5-month-olds is sure to hit the right note. The toy piano introduces baby to instruments, animal sounds and numbers in four different languages. The soft cloth piano keys are nice and tactile, while the light-up buttons appeal to baby’s new heightened sense of sight.
Another great toy for 5-month-olds learning the basic concept of object permanence is this activity book by Sassy. The monochrome book has textured pages and peek-a-boo flaps that cover playful illustrations. Parents can say things like, “where did it go?” before helping them lift the flap again to reveal their favorite animal characters, explains Sarno. Bonus: It’s also waterproof, chew-proof and clips onto a stroller for playtime on the go.
At 5 months, baby is still mastering those grasping skills. Help them out with this engaging toy by Bright Starts. Made for the smallest hands, it has an easy-to-grip handle filled with colored beads that make a satisfying rattle sound. On either end is a mini Oball that baby can squeeze, poke and gum on.
Stacking cups are a classic toy for children. Bring them into the bath to scoop and pour water for a quick lesson in cause and effect, or simply stack them up into a tall tower—either way baby will have tons of fun.
Classic board book
Here’s one more book recommendation for 5-month-old babies: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin and illustrated by Eric Carle. The sing-song text is peppered with plenty of repetition making it a great tool for language development. Plus, the soft padded cover is easy for little hands to grip.
Image: Melissa & Doug
Miller recommends soft shape sorting toys like this one by Melissa & Doug. The mesh grocery basket is filled with a plush milk bottle with a chime, a silky-soft crinkling head of lettuce, a rattling soft tomato and a squeaking carrot. Tip them out on baby’s play mat during tummy time, and see which item they reach for first.
Image: The Tot
If baby’s obsessed with your keys, get them a child-friendly bunch of their own! This wooden toy for 5-month-olds is easy for little hands to grasp and shake, and helps to develop your baby’s auditory and fine motor skills. Better yet, it’s made from sustainably sourced, organic rubberwood and finished with non-toxic vegetable dyes.
Image: Skip Hop
As baby is working on sitting and pre-crawling skills, toys like this one can keep them engaged in multiple positions as they build their strength. It functions as a stationary toy baby can explore from a seated position. Then, once your little one is ready, it moves in circular patterns close by to encourage baby to stretch those legs and get crawling.
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