Best Toys of 2012

Babies play differently than big kids do. They gnaw anything in reach. Rather than build with blocks or dolls, they drop toys, pound on them or throw them. It's how they explore.

When American baby evaluates toys to pick the best of the best, they choose from 100 toys that are age-graded no higher than nine months and up and use testers aged 12 months and younger. Jessica Hartshorn, Senior Lifestyle editor for American Baby Magazine says moms and dads can be sure that babies will be happy to be hard on these toys in pursuit of fun and learning.

Every parent needs a restaurant-appropriate toy in her arsenal! The Chicco Touch & Spin is $7 and has a suction-cup bottom, so your baby can't throw it. It's a portable distraction good for airplane trays as well.

If electronic sounds and flashing lights stress you out, go old-school with the wooden arch for infants. The Hape My First Gym has three simple dangling toys encourage your baby to reach and grab for $60.

The Greem Toys Twist Teether is the kind of teething toy that's just right for an infant. It's lightweight, totally chewable, and BPA free for $11.

Babies fixate on people's faces. Fill the Parents Monkey Fun Photo Adventures book for $20 with family photos and show your baby his own face in the mirror at the end.

Moms love that the little firefly's wings of the Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Musical Mobile flips from black and white when baby is tiny to colorful patterns when baby gets a little older and can see more. It is $50.

For more information on baby toys and parenting tips, click here.