In our research, we asked 50 mums, what are their Top New Baby Gifts that encourage development.

Research Report - Top New Baby Gifts that Encourage Development

Research Background

Either offline or online, there are lots of baby gifts to choose from. But why do we still find it hard to choose which baby gift is perfect for our first son, daughter, godson, niece, nephew or goddaughter? The main reason for this is because aside from being an entertaining item, we also want the gift to be the safest and the best for baby’s development.

In this research paper, the Top Baby Gifts are revealed. These top gifts have been the result of a survey of 50 mums between November 2014 and January 2015. We contacted 200 mums by e-mail and asked them the following question:

If you were to choose your top 3 New Baby Gifts that encourage development of the little ones, what would it be and why?

In total 50 mums replied providing 137 indications of New Baby Gifts that encourage development. All of the respondents were UK mums, 36 of the respondents were mums bloggers, 25 of which are the UK’s tots 100 mum bloggers.

Results of the Survey

The chart on the left shows the top baby gifts that our mums respondents believe to encourage development of the little ones. The legend on the left indicates the kind of baby gifts that were most popular while the bars indicate percentage of mums who chose that baby gift.

Overall, it is very clear what the top three baby gifts are. Books got an undisputed first place with almost half of all mums voting for them. Baby play mats and classes made it a tie at the 2nd place, followed by the nursery decorations, chosen by more than 1/5 of all mums.

1. Books, books and more books.

According to mums, books are the best baby gift to stimulate babies’ development. As they say, it is never too early to start reading to a little one - „Books, books and more books. You can never have too many and you can never start reading to a child too soon…” - Tiffany . Even at a very young age babies can still enjoy books, especially those with brightly coloured images, black and white motifs, flaps, mirrors and lots of textured elements to explore. Mums pointed out that these simple books are perfect for baby’s developing senses. As a baby grows, you can’t overestimate the role of books in supporting a child’s development.

Mums also prize books for helping them bond with their little ones. Babies love hearing different pitches in the readers voice and it doesn’t matter that they don’t yet understand the story, hearing familiar voices is very comforting for them. Reading to a baby, making sounds and noises, is also a great way to expand a child’s vocabulary, especially once he gets a bit older. What mums also love about books is that they are easy to take with you when out and about, and buggy books are fantastic too.

"Books are important. Even though they won't understand, it's lovely to sit and read a story to your baby and share that close moment. They will also enjoy listening to your voice. And as they get older, books really help children to learn and develop!" - Alex

"Books for the new baby - patterns/faces/black and white etc. Stimulating, fun and happy books." - Jenny

"I like the Baby's First Book style books in black and white which helped aid my babies' developing sense of sight as well as encouraging tactile play too.” - Vicki

2. Baby Play Mat or Baby Gym.

With almost 1/3 of mums voting for baby play mats, this product is an essential buy for every new parent. Mums love play mats because they provide safe and cosy environment for their babies to play in, while they „can get things done” - Penny. Bright and colourful, with interactive toys, chimes, crinkle fabrics, and mesmerising mirrors, they allow a baby to explore the world of sounds, colours and textures. Our surveyed mums believe play gyms „are a great way of helping a baby develop” - Erica, mentally and physically. They are designed to support sensory development, as well as help with motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and upper body strength. Thanks to play mats tummy time is fun, and lying on the back, trying to reach up for the hanging toys has never been more exciting. They may not be the cheapest, but they will grow with a baby and will last for a long time. Another great thing about play mats pointed out by mums, is the fact that they fold easily, are convenient to store at home and are portable.

“Baby Gym - perfect for helping them to learn to explore the world while you get things done” - Penny

“Finally I adore the Baby Einstein Rhythm of the Reef Play Gym. It has seriously cute toys on it, it's comfortable for baby to lay on.” - Emma

“A good play mat (…) great for tummy time, rolling practice take it outside to lay baby on. I especially love this one for the developmental milestones and activities it shows” - Nicolette

3. Classes.

According to almost 30% of mums surveyed, baby classes are a great gift for a newborn baby. They each provide different learning & development experience. There are inspiring and stimulating sensory classes, relaxing baby massage, confidence building swimming classes and many more. As mums say, they are also a great way to interact with other children and an opportunity for a baby to socialise and learn about his connections with other people. Classes and groups are amazing and exciting fun for both parents and babies. They help to tighten the bond between them, resulting with a baby feeling more secure and confident. They often are a relaxing break for a new parent, and an opportunity to meet other parents and learn from each other’s experiences. „We were huge fans of Baby Sensory (…) it meant I could get out of the house with confidence (…) and meet Mums while stimulating my baby (…) in a friendly environment.” - Vicki. The most popular classes among our mums were baby swimming and baby sensory.

“Baby classes i.e. being part of a group experiencing something like sound, touch, smell etc. I think you get more out” - Cara

„Baby classes and playgroups, as my son Ethan attends both baby swimming and playgroup and has come on so far and grown in confidence! It's amazing the skills they can learn at such a young age.” - Alex

4. Nursery Decorations.

Mums know very well that babies learn about their environment from everything they do and see. Nursery decorations was the third most chosen gift category in our research. This is because mums believe that everything baby can look at in the nursery can provide „an important yet gentle level of stimulation for baby in the home environment” - Michelle. The most popular nursery decor products were nursery art and nursery lights. However, mums pointed out that if you want to give nursery art as a present to someone else's baby, you must consider his parents' taste first. While choosing art for your own child, pick art pieces that will be attractive, visually engaging and stimulating for her, for example „Some black and white baby art” - Maggy. „It's important for babies to enjoy their own company so providing something stimulating to look at in the nursery enables development during those short 'alone periods' upon waking” - Michelle. All decorative items mentioned in the research were carefully chosen by mums with an intention to stimulate baby’s senses e.g. stimulating wall art, musical nightlight, lamps projecting lights on the wall or rug with different sensations and textures.

“A great rug with different sensations and textures, and an interesting pattern that the child can use as a road or river when they get older, and can trace the lines on while they're small.” - Jenny

“Philips Imageo Candlelights” - Margot

“Baby musical nightlight. A great way to get baby used to music and my kids loved watching the projections on the wall” - Nicola

5. Cot Mobile.

As babies spend most of their time lying on their backs, it is not surprising a Cot Mobile is among most popular baby gifts in our research. A musical mobile with vivid colours, black and white motifs and moving elements will, according to mums, „help stimulate babies brains” - Rebecca, make it easier for a baby to focus attention and „encourage reach and grab reflex” - Jodie. It can also be a great „occupier” when hung above a changing station.

“A musical cot mobile which plays gentle, soothing music.“ - Nicki

„(…) It was one of the first "toys" that my daughter started cooing and "talking" too. It offers both bold black and white and vivid colour images so you can adjust as your baby grows and develops and the images are visually engaging and stimulating for babies.” - Lisette

6. Wooden Blocks/Stacking Cups.

Wooden blocks and stacking cups are a timeless classic. Wooden toys in general are tactile and durable. They will stand the test of time and that makes them a really good investment. Mums love this simple toy because it can be used in many different, creative ways „Watch as they learn to pick up an item with one hand, pass toys between two hands, chew on it like a teether and clap them together to make a noise. Stack them up high and watch baby knock them down. Or use the supplied clip to nest them and bring them on the go!” - Tara. They help babies & toddlers develop hand-to-eye coordination, fine motor skills and their physical and mental abilities. Mums particularly liked the fact that wooden blocks grow with a child and are great fun for a baby as well as an older toddler.

“When they are a bit older colourful and easy to handle wooden stacking blocks.” - Laura

“My next pick would be the traditional coloured stacking cups. By far the most inexpensive toy that we still play with now and always come on holiday with us. Fun to knock down when they are little and great for fine motor skill development as they get bigger.” - Jennifer

7. CD/Music.

Music fuels all areas of a baby’s development: social, intellectual, language, motor and overall literacy. It aids the mind and body to work in one. Our mums mentioned many different uses of music such as:

“Classical music playing in the background throughout the day.” - Tara

“Music that you will dance to with your baby” - MaryAnne

„A fun and easy sing along CD for mum and baby.” - Laura

„(…) some calming baby music (…)” - Becky

music for a mum and a baby - „The double CD Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant. Not only are the songs beautifully composed and the lyrics are nursery rhymes it is the type of music a mum can listen to without going insane (…)” - Jo


As the research findings show, mums are fully aware of how important it is to actively engage infants and babies in sensory play. They know sensory experiences provide an essential opportunity for a child’s development, growth and learning. It’s not surprising then that all 7 new baby gifts provide some sort of sensory stimulation, either visual, tactile or audio. In the research mums often talk about how sensory experiences support their babies development:

„ (…) books in black and white which helped aid my babies' developing sense of sight as well as encouraging tactile play too” - Vicki

„Manhattan Toy Wimmer Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile: My daughter loved this! It was one of the first "toys" that my daughter started cooing and "talking" too. It offers both bold black and white and vivid colour images so you can adjust as your baby grows and develops and the images are visually engaging and stimulating for babies.” - Lisette

„ (…) A second thing for a baby would be sensory play. Encouraging them to discover through play is very important and will help them develop their senses and different motor skills.” - Katy

„Baby mobiles - similarly to the Lamaze toys, the colours, movement and music help stimulate babies brains.” - Rebecca


Sophie The Giraffe was most often named single toy. It’s been mentioned by 8% of all mums taking part in the research.


This research reveals the top 7 new baby gifts chosen and tested by mums. It is a useful source of information for anyone looking to buy a baby shower gift or a new baby gift, either for their own or somebody else’s baby.

We would like to say a BIG THANK YOU! to all mums taking part in our research. We hope you enjoyed reading the report.

Julia & Aggie

Here is a list of links to our participants' blogs:

Expert's Corner