20 best open-ended toys for babies

open-ended toys for babies

My little baby is almost 5 months old now. Five months. He grows SO fast.

He’s at that stage where he likes to explore everything by putting it in his mouth. His giraffe squeaker, his security blanket, teddy, my fingers, his fingers. Everything.

To help him explore, discover, and play, I have a little basket of open-ended toys for babies.

There are only 4-to 5 different toys, and I switch between them so he can play. And chew on them 😀

I’ve made a list of my favorite open-ended toys for babies at every stage of their development.

You don’t need all the toys on this list. Generally, less is more, because too many toys can be overwhelming for both you and your child. These are just some of the ones I’ve been particularly happy with for both of my boys.

This post contains referral links for products I love. Danish Mom earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. Thank you for your support ♡

What are open-ended toys for babies?

If you’ve never heard of open-ended toys before, let me explain.

Open-ended toys for babies are toys that encourage imagination and curiosity. Put simply, they let your baby do the thinking and learning.

There’s no right or wrong way of playing with them. That’s why they’re called open-ended. They are designed to inspire creativity and curiosity, and babies can play with them from they’re 1-2 months old.

The opposite of open-ended toys is close-ended. They do the play for your baby.

For instance, when your baby pushes a button on a toy and it plays a certain melody, the toy is entertaining your baby. That’s close-ended and it’s passive play.

While close-ended toys are great in some situations (like in the car, if they’re sick, etc.), I’ve never bought them for my kids when they were little. I prefer toys that encourage independent play for babies.

Examples of open-ended play

For babies, open-ended play might be cuddling and exploring the feel of a teddy bear.

For toddlers, open-ended play is building with Lego or Play-Doh. Open-ended play is play without rules; it takes a sandbox approach to play, where anything is possible and the only limits are those of your baby’s curiosity and creativity.

Why is open-ended play so important?

And what’s the harm in letting your 9-month-old baby listen to a song on the iPad?

None at all!

They should do that, too.

But if you want to encourage independent play which promotes creativity, learning, and health (and gives you a break), you’ll want open-ended play.

When your baby plays with an oBall for instance, they explore what can be done with it.

Can they put their tongue through the holes? Can they hold it with both hands? Does it make a sound when they shake it?

The wonderful thing about open-ended play is that it fosters creativity and curiosity. All you need is to give your little one an open-ended toy and watch them explore the possibilities.

Read next: Why independent play is important for cognitive skills and health

What are the best open-ended baby toys?

Although your baby may not yet be crawling or talking, their mind is still a sponge that is desperate for engagement and learning.

The best open-ended toys for babies are safe and soft; they engage the senses and encourage curious play. Here are some things to consider when selecting the best open-ended toys for babies.

Plastic vs wood

I prefer wood over plastic.

Wood is a more environmentally friendly product, for one thing. It’s natural. But wood is also stronger, softer, smoother, and more satisfying for your baby to touch and hold.

No batteries

Battery-powered toys are fun but they have obvious limitations.

No batteries means no time limit, and also an overall lower cost for you. Balls, soft toys, and building blocks don’t require batteries.

Scandinavian kids clothing

Best open-ended toys for babies

With all of these details and considerations in mind, let’s look at the best open-ended toys for babies that you can buy right now. These toys are separated into age groups, right from day one to twelve months.

When your baby steps into toddler-hood, you’ll need more advanced toys, which I’ve made a list of here: 12 open-ended toys for toddlers that promote creativity


0-3 months

1. Wooden activity stand

The activity stand is one of the toys we’ve been most happy with. This one in particular is versatile because you can move it around. When your baby is around 3 months old, they can touch, feel, bat, and swing.

This open-ended toy also includes a mirror, and the toys can be easily detached and reattached. Shop now.

2. Security blanket

This soft security blanket from Jellycat has been a must for baby naps in our house. Not only to lie against the baby’s chin, but the long ears are perfect for grabbing as the baby falls asleep. Both our boys have loved to cuddle with this blanket. Buy now.

3. Silks

These silks come in a rainbow of colors that provide visual stimulation for your little one. That stimulation also extends to touch thanks to the lightness and softness of these silks. These are the best open-ended toys for tactile play. Buy now.

4. Mirrors

When your baby is around 3 months old, they’ll start to recognize themselves in the mirror. It might even make them laugh. This elephant mirror is great for tummy time. Buy now.

5. Mobile

Every baby loves a mobile, and what makes this particular mobile so fantastic is the fact that it ticks off several of the boxes mentioned above.

It’s made of wood, rather than plastic; it doesn’t need batteries; and it is environmentally friendly (as well as hypoallergenic). Buy now.


3-6 months

6. Cloth snake

This inchworm toy is made up of eight soft segments, each one with a different color, texture, and feel when squeezed. Each one also emits a different sound. Both our boys have loved these open-ended toys for babies.

7. Squeaker

Sophie the Giraffe is one of the most popular baby toys in Denmark. We’ve had one for each of our boys and can definitely agree that it’s great!

It’s perfect for teething babies. It emits a squeak when squeezed and the giraffe shape means it can easily be held in one hand and your baby can chew on the legs and its nose. Buy now.

8. Tummy time blanket

We have tummy time several times a day and for that, we need a blanket. This one is super cute and soft. Buy now.

9. Plush animal

Jellycat is our go-to for plush animals. Their designs are just so adorable and come in many different variations (we also got the cutest little owl as a maternity gift). Buy now.

10. Oball

So, if you have to choose, the Oball is one of the must-haves on this list. It’s great for several things: Rolling or throwing, chewing, and teaching motor skills. The Oball has easy-to-hold finger holes and is multicolored for extra sensory engagement.


6-9 months

11. Hammering toy

Made of wood, multicolored, and with a removable xylophone, this is a tactile toy that also teaches your baby about music as they develop their dexterity and hand-eye-coordination skills. Buy now.

12. Bath toy

Bathtime is just much more fun with adorable, colorful cartoon barnyard animals. These soft and squishy bath toys squirt water and provide lots of play for your baby. Buy now.

13. Soft building blocks

Building blocks are some of the most timeless open-ended toys for babies. These multicolored blocks come in different shapes and are decorated with both numbers and images to help your baby learn. Buy now.

14. Sensory balls

Roll these balls and watch your 8-9-month-old baby burst out laughing. Trust me, it doesn’t take much at that age. These sensory balls are also great for sensory play and motor skills. Buy now.

15. Noah’s Ark

Around this age, your baby will start loving peekaboo play. This toy is perfect for it as your baby is free to open, close, and move toys around as they like. As a bonus, every animal is soft and sweet. Buy now.


9-12 months

16. Brio pull-along duck

When your baby has learned to walk or stand, this pull-along duck is a fantastic little friend. They can take it with them as they explore. Buy now.

17. Brio toddler wobbler

This is one of the best open-ended toys for babies who are learning to walk. It gives them support while also allowing them to take their other toys with them on their little adventures. Put a few books in to make it heavier when they walk with it. Buy now.

18. Sensory blocks

These sensory blocks are so much fun as they allow your baby to build and discover how they fit together. Buy now.

19. Touch piano

This wooden piano is great fun when learning to appreciate and play music. Buy now.

20. Turtle cover band

This set of percussion toys includes a drum, maraca, rattle, and tambourine, all decorated in animal shapes and colors, providing endless musical exploration for your budding little musician. Buy now.

FAQ – Best open-ended toys for babies

What are open-ended activities for babies?

Open-ended activities for babies are play ideas that don’t have a specific outcome or way to play.

Think stacking cups, blocks, and sensory bins. These activities let babies explore and play however they like, which is great for their creativity and problem-solving skills.

What toys do babies like the most?

Babies are often drawn to toys that stimulate their senses and encourage exploration, like rattles, soft plush toys, teething toys, and anything with bright colors or interesting textures.

They also love toys that make noise, like musical instruments or toys with buttons that produce sounds.

As they get older, interactive toys like shape sorters and simple puzzles become big hits too.

Does Montessori use open-ended toys?

Yes, Montessori education does use open-ended toys, which are known as materials in this context.

These are items that can be used in multiple ways, encouraging exploration and creativity. Examples include blocks, fabric pieces, and natural items like shells and stones.

Montessori materials are designed to be simple and purposeful, allowing children to learn through play.

What are open-ended play toys?

Open-ended play toys are toys that can be used in a variety of ways, letting kids get creative and use their imagination.

There’s no right or wrong way to play with them—think of things like blocks, art supplies, and dress-up costumes.

They’re great for encouraging problem-solving and independent thinking.

More posts

Save it!

Your baby will have fun with these 20 budget friendly baby toys at home. These are simple open ended toys for babies that can activate your little one and you can call it a parenting win.

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *