Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of tons of colors and noises for infants. The way I see it, if you’re new to everything, everything is interesting. Also, babies are sensitive and easily overwhelmed. So, let’s save the, “Go big or go home!” for later, along with the annoying electronic music and noises attached to so many garish baby toys. I’m betting The Real Housewives of New Jersey all had big, loud baby toys, don’t you think?
It figures then that I fell in love with Haba’s wooden toys. They’re well-made, whimsical, and none of them have scary faces or irritating noises. Also, for you gift givers, they’re not sold in chain stores, so you have an excellent chance of being that person who got little Bertram something truly special.
Haba isn’t the cheapest collection out there – they’re about $5-15 more than their Fisher Price-type counterparts – but I think they’re worth the extra cost in style and durability. If you live in San Francisco, Ark Toys and Ambassador Toys both carry a selection, as will other small European-centric nationwide. Definitely support your local businesses if you can, but a broader selection (and slightly lower prices usually) are available online. Moolka carries tons, as does Padilly, and, of course, Amazon, although their collection is a little harder to sift and sort.
Haba Baby Toys at Moolka, $4 – $200 (!) Also available: older kids toys: just use their filters in the left nav.
Padilly is more difficult to navigate and has fewer sorting options but they carry some Haba that I haven’t found elsewhere.
My Toy Box offers a 10% discount on Haba and has a decent collection, but their site design is unpleasant, so maybe shop elsewhere and then compare prices here.