Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ten Toys Your Baby Wants

A baby with Down syndrome enjoys toys just as much as any other baby. But which toys are best-suited for your newborn? Here is my list of favorites and why...

(Got a baby that is further along down the development path? Visit Stage Two Toys and Stage Three Toys.)

#1 Bright Starts Rattle and Shake Barbell Rattle 

The textured twisty handle is easy to grasp and hold onto. A newborn’s arm-waving reflex will produce instant auditory feedback as well as lots to look at with the tiny beads shaking around. One side has a mirror behind the beads for added viewing excitement. It is light-weight so even my low-tone, cardiac baby could play with it. $1.99 at Walmart.

#2 Wrist Rattles 

Babies with Down syndrome at some point notice their hands and then, for some, the obsession with them begins. They will hold up a hand as if to admire an imaginary manicure and the staring goes on for quite some time if not interrupted. Wrist rattles are a great distraction for hand-watchers. $4.95 at

#3 Oball Rattle 

The oball is one my daughter’s super favorite toys. It comes in a rattle version as well...

This light-weight ball has plenty of places to grab and is fun to mouth. When tethered with links a baby will have lots of fun watching it roll away and retrieving it. Plain Oball $3.99 at Target, Oball rattle $9 at

#4 Bright Starts Lots of Links

Get a couple packs of these. You can use them to attach other toys to the carseat, swing, playgym, etc. The links themselves are brightly colored or highly contrasting, and are textured. Your baby will love holding them, looking at them, and mouthing and teething on them. The textures are great for oral stimulation and getting your baby used to different feelings in his mouth. $4.99 at
#5 Vtech  Soft Songs Baby Phone

This toy phone gives lots of return on effort. It lights up and plays a short greeting and then a song when the buttons are pushed. This is a very durable toy which was actually purchased for my oldest child 8 years ago and it has been passed down. Each of my babies loved it. There is also an on/off switch to save the 2 replaceable AA batteries and keep baby from accidentally setting it off and waking herself up from a nap! $19.99 at

#6 Infantino Foot Rattles

Babies with Down syndrome can be wonderfully flexible and quite wriggly. That makes these cute foot rattles very entertaining for your baby. They are fun to look at and listen to, and encourage baby to exercise her legs and feet. $5.99 at
#7 Brilliant Basics Tug & Giggle Kitty 

This toy giggles and vibrates when you pull the tab. Babies with Down syndrome like the feel of the vibrations and it wakes up their muscles. For little ones, you have to do the pulling but an older baby will have the fun of doing it himself and learning cause and effect in the process. The batteries are replaceable. I bought my baby’s at Walmart for about $5 but if you can’t get there, you can find it online at for $9.95.

#8 Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror

You can set this mirror up on a playmat, tie it to the crib, or stand it up on a table. The mirror border has great contrast and fun stuff to touch and pull on. But who baby sees in the mirror is super for self-awareness. It comes with a surprise bonus of having an mp3 player jack in the back so your baby can listen to her favorite songs or even recordings of your voice (or hers!) while checking herself out. It is very light-weight but can be easily secured using the ties. $14.99 at Target.

#9 LP Santana Chick-itas Shakers Blue 

This little Chick-Ita is light-weight and easy to hold. It sounds like a genuine maraca when baby shakes it. It will be your baby’s first real musical instrument. The Beyond Play website recommends it for three years old and up, probably because if you leave your baby unattended there is a risk of him whacking himself in the head with it. My child’s physical therapist brought it to us on her first visit and my baby loved it. I figured she has just as much chance of smacking herself with any other rattle, so why not this one? 2 for $7.95 at

#10 Neurosmith Sunshine Symphony

I saved my daugher’s absolute favorite toy for last. This toy motivates her to reach, stretch, roll, etc. It is a physical therapist’s dream. I’ll give you the official description of it, "This huggable, plush activity toy plays beautiful classical music while sparkling lights flash. Features four musical compositions activated by a simple touch and can also be used in a long-play lullaby mode. Fun tactile activities include a crinkle, squeak, beads and teether." It takes three AAA batteries and has two volume settings. It is easy to activate with even a gentle touch from baby. It is very durable, too. We’ve had it six years through three babies, but my Down syndrome baby girl adores this toy more than her siblings did! $28.95 at

Your Turn
So that's my list. How about some of you other ds mommies comment about your infants' favorite toys?

Other People's Favorites
Check out Lucy's (Teeny Tiny Hopkins) favorite toys


  1. Great list! Finn has several of these toys; the O-ball is definitely a fave.

  2. We ended up with about half of those toys! My dd has low vision so she loved her black, white, and red baby gym. Cute blog!!

  3. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!! I have stressed myself trying to figure out what is the best toy for Sam without spending a fortune on them. I am going to go get some of these today!!!!!!! I do have a plastic blow up ball with a little rattling ball inside of it that Sam seems to love. Thank you again!!!

  4. This is wonderful! Thanks so much for starting this- I haven't read everything but what a wonderful resource!

  5. awesome! We have about 90% of those toys, lol.

    Also, we have started container play. Our OT gave me some awesome black and white checkered contact paper and I used that on old formula cans. It's really captivating for Gabby.

  6. All of our children, including my youngest who has Ds, have loved the Sassy and Infantino toys. The Sassy photo album "Who loves Baby?" was a favorite, as were the Sassy rattles and bath toys. Anything Infantino that had ribbons and crinkle texture was a bit hit, too. Amazon has a great selection of both brands. Toys R Us seems to carry lots of these items as well :).

  7. My daughter loves her Tiny Love mobile with classical music and dancing farm animals.

    Recently as we've started transitioning to oral feeds after having a g-tube placed (she hasn't fed orally for 6 1/2 of her 7 months)we love the vibrating teethers available through Infantino for the oral stimulation recommended by her occupational therapists.

    One final recommendation (and a cheap one at that!)would be to purchase a yard of brightly colored, busy fabric at a fabric store. We drape it over the back of the car seat, let her lay near it during tummy time, drape it over the side of her crib, and she loves looking at all the things going on in the print...

  8. Tolo and Ambi toys are great, with bright colors, work really well. Also, books with big photos. And, cardboard stacking blocks (which motivate to crawl and knock over). Shaker toys, stuffed animals with bright stitching. Around 1 to 1 1/2 years old, interest in mozart cube, cars with wheels, picture cards, and rolling ball games. A great toy is the pop-up toys (helps them work on pushing down and cause-effect).

  9. The Chime Garden from Lamaze was always a favorite with us...cute songs, crinkly petals, bright colors, lights, and easy to activate!

  10. Hi DS MAMA,

    All the toys you are showing in this article truly work for our kids with DS. I used most of them with my boy. I also made my own boards to encourage eye traking. I downloaded the illustrations from I glued them on foanboards. I follow the intruction in the website of how to play with them. I used to play with the boards while my son was on the pack & play basinet.

    Thank you very much for this article.


  11. My boy's OT recommended the links by discovery toys because they don't pull apart accidentally as often. Also, we got a great wooden activity arch that can be used for playing lying down (on back or tummy time), and sitting up. The one I have even raises up so that it will continue to work as your baby grows. You can use the links to attach more toys to it, or change what you have there. Most activity arches are too low to use while sitting. Ours is by Hess and sold by Baby Barefootin:

  12. Your toy list is great! My little one just turned one and I was having the hardest time trying to figure out what to get him for his birthday. Thanks!
    By the way, he has the baby einstein exersaucer and loves it! He gets a kick out of being able to move himself to the toy he wants to play with.

  13. Funny I found this list when trying to find what to tell grandma to buy her grandson for Xmas. My son was born a few months ago w/ DS (TOTAL suprise) & i think grandma's having a harder time dealing than we are. Anyways, great info on the toys! He's right in the thick of hand obsession and LOVES his wrist rattles. Also, when he goes in the car seat they're great to velcro the the handle, gives him something to stare at for the ride.

  14. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

    Baby Toys

  15. just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.
    baby toys

  16. would love a button to share this on fb. our family I'm sure would love to also read! Thanks for this list. we have a few of those things, they're all so good!

  17. I just found this link - totally registered for most of these things! Thanks so much!

  18. Hi!
    My Mom helped to invent the Sunshine Symphony while she worked at Neurosmith!

  19. Hello and thank you for this list, my 3 mo old daughter needs toys. She's very into the mirror. Very helpful:)

  20. I just came across this list and it's so funny becuase we had several of these toys already (some before we knew my son had Ds)--the Bright Start barbell rattle, the wrist and sock rattles, the Oball (which he loves), the links-though we have Sassy links but it's pretty much the same thing, we have an elephant that is similar to the vibrating cat toy and of course a mirror. But one of his favorites is the Sunshine Symphony which I scored at a thrift store! Great list!

  21. Thank you for this list. My son id two months old and is now fascinated with his hands. I did not know this is typical for DS babies. I will now get these rattles for him. he also stares at a bright red painting in the living room and we were wondering why he is focusing so much on it. Thank you for enlightening us as this is our first child.


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