Rattles are a classic tool for keeping babies soothed and entertained, but their definition has expanded well beyond the plastic orbs of our childhoods.
They’re now available in many shapes and sizes, sometimes even including teething components and fun electronic audio features that are extra engaging to your baby — the variety is great but can leave you wondering which picks are best.
Before you shake, rattle, and roll your way to the shop, take a look at our guide to the best baby rattles for an in-depth review of our favorites.
In this article:
Are baby rattles actually helpful?
While most parents agree that rattles are effective at keeping babies entertained, you may find yourself wondering if your baby actually reaps any benefits from playing with their rattle.
Rest assured, the answer is yes, even when the toy is fairly basic. Wondering how rattles help your baby developmentally?
- For very young babies, watching their rattle move back and forth in their hand (or someone else’s) helps them coordinate the use of their eyes for tracking a moving object, an important part of vision development.
- Grasping, holding, and shaking are all ways that babies use to develop their fine motor skills, and how they play with the toy naturally progresses with their developmental age.
- A baby-safe rattle is often made of textured plastic, wood, or cloth and is large enough for baby to put in their mouth without choking, which means it often doubles as a teether whether it’s intended to or not.
What qualities should I look for when shopping for a rattle for my baby?
There’s a proliferation of adorable rattles out there to choose from, which might leave you wondering which features are essential and which are optional. We believe in focusing on the big three:
- Age-appropriate: It’s always essential to make sure toys for babies and children under age 3 are age-appropriate, and especially so for babies under a year old who tend to explore new objects orally. An age-appropriate rattle will have no choking hazards, including dangling decorations that can be detached, and be too large to fit entirely into your child’s open mouth.
- Material: Choosing a rattle made of suitable material is important in several ways. It keeps your baby safe from harmful, toxic plastics and treated wood toys that aren’t good for them, and, depending on your choice, it may also make the rattle easier for you to clean. Cloth, natural organic wood, and BPA-free plastic rattles are ideal.
- Safety: In order to be fully safe, your baby’s rattle should be age appropriate, made of a baby-friendly material like wood, cloth, or non-toxic plastic, and should be durably constructed so that any internal parts that could act as potential choking hazards are not exposed during normal play.
How do I know what kind of rattle my baby will like?
Much like their favorite song or favorite food, it’s nearly impossible to predict which rattle your little one will love the most.
Some are crinkly, others are jingly; some are quiet, others loud. In fact, they may find one rattle to be a satisfying source of sensory engagement one day, only to reach for another the next!
Providing a variety of rattles with different sound styles is ideal for keeping your baby interested and happy.
What’s the best way to clean and sanitize my baby’s rattles?
Much like your baby’s other toys, rattles wind up spending a fair amount of time in the baby’s mouth, the floor, the car, and in-between the couch cushions.
It’s not surprising, then, for you to keep things sanitary with a regular cleaning! A wipe is usually sufficient for small messes on plastic rattles, but mild dish soap and water will offer a thorough wash — just be sure to let the toy dry thoroughly.
Wood rattles can be treated similarly, while cloth picks can be laundered safely by tucking them inside a pillowcase or lingerie bag before washing.
Remember, if the rattle has an electronic/audio component, NEVER submerge it in water! This will result in permanent damage or disabling of the rattle’s electronic components.
Our top picks for the best baby rattles
Your baby will roar for this one, and we’re not lion! Okay, but really, it’s hard not to love the simple stimulation, bright colors, and easy-grip of this jungle cat-themed Manhattan Winkel Rattle & Teether (check price on Amazon).
The cheerful lion face in the center of the toy makes soothing sounds when shaken, encouraging cause and effect play. Multiple soft BPA-free plastic loops make up the lion’s mane, making the rattle easy for baby to hold onto and shake, while doubling as safe, effective teething rings.
This toy can even be chilled during peak teething periods, allowing this double-duty rattle to offer them some extra relief.
What we love
- It’s colorful and entertaining, but not overstimulating, making it an ideal pick for younger babies
- The soft BPA-free rings are easy to grasp, safe and comfortable for teething, and can offer extra relief when refrigerated
- It isn’t dishwasher-safe, like some other plastic rattles, so make sure to wash it by hand
Silver mementos, like spoons, cups, and rattles, are classic gifts for babies that can be treasured by parents and children for a lifetime.
The Personalized Silver-plated Stainless Iron Rattle (check price on Amazon) from Things Remembered can be engraved at both ends, making it a wonderful choice for commemorating a baby’s birth or baptism date.
This rattle sports a classic barbell design with two flat ends featuring an etched beaded border. While this rattle can safely be used by your baby with supervision, it isn’t ideal for teething and can make a rather mean projectile — while its lovely design, sentimental value, customization, and price tag could mean that it’s more suited as a display item than an actual toy.
What we love
- A beautiful memento that can be customized with your child’s name, along with the date of their birth or baptism
- Though it can be used by baby, it’s a sentimental piece that’s better displayed
Best budget buy
Although the sweet three-pack of woodland creature-themed Skip Hop Explore & Musical Egg Shaker Trio (check price on Amazon) may seem basic compared to flashier picks like the Vtech rattles on our list, they’re actually ideal for younger babies who are vulnerable to overstimulation.
The simple hedgehog, owl, and fox trio have textured bodies that are easy for little hands to hang on to. Each shaker makes a unique sound and features a unique combination of colors and textures, giving your baby plenty of opportunities to explore this budget-friendly set.
The cute animal theme means they may also find a role in pretend play as they get older.
What we love
- Simple at first glance, but each shaker has a unique sound, color and texture combo
- The sweet animal theme and flat bottom makes them great toys for future pretend play
- The rattling sounds the shakers emit is somewhat quiet
Our fourth choice
A combination of bright, high-contrast colors, varied patterns, and touchable textures makes the squishy Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball (check price on Amazon) both appealing and beneficial to babies.
Your baby will be able to grasp and hold the rattle easily, thanks to its knobby surface, which is ideal for accommodating their developing small motor skills. Large and small beads create two different soothing rattle sounds, helping to generate neural connections in baby’s brain.
Finally, those bright colors and patterns aren’t just pretty to look at but encourage your child’s eyes to focus, strengthening their vision abilities. It’s also a good pick for their gross motor skills, as the textured surface makes it easy to transfer from hand to hand and hold onto during full-body motion.
What we love
- The bright colors and patterns, which help to strengthen baby’s vision while also holding their interest
- The knobby, easy-to-hold surface which makes it easier for baby to hold and more helpful in their motor skill development
- The size, which may be a little bit large for smaller, younger babies
Our fifth choice
The Playgro Clip Clop Activity Rattle (check price on Amazon) isn’t just a friendly pony pal — he’s also an activity-packed rattle that offers a number of sensory and motor skill development opportunities for babies.
He’s easy to grasp and hold, thanks to a rounded handle shape that fits naturally into baby’s hand. Each of his four hooves has unique features and textures for your baby to interact with, while his crinkling body and clicking, rattling beads encourage playful shaking and motion.
This toy inspires thought and movement, encourages early basic understanding of cause and effect, and prompts the use of their developing motor skills.
What we love
- Each of Clip Clop’s feet has its own texture and sound, so there’s multiple ways to engage with the rattle
- The rounded handle makes the toy easy for baby to grasp
- The legs may be somewhat heavy for some younger babies
The perfect combo
One reason that rattles are a classic toy for babies is their encouragement of motor skill development.
This makes the Daisy Baby Animal Infant Wrist Rattles and Socks (check price on Amazon) an ideal combination — sweet animal-themed socks keep their feet warm, while both the socks and their matching wrist rattles encourage both gross and fine motor skill building.
As they kick, shake, wriggle, and rattle, they’ll be working on both their cause and effect skills along with the muscles they’ll need when they start crawling and walking. These soft Monkey and Elephant rattles are also adorned with a variety of colors and patterns, encouraging babies to strengthen their vision.
What we love
- Because they can attach to baby’s wrists and feet, these rattles encourage both gross and fine motor skill development
- While these can be tumble dried, they need to be washed by hand to preserve the colors and patterns of the fabric and the durability of the toys
Best classic baby rattle
When it comes to choosing your baby’s first rattle, simple is always best. The First Years’ First Rattle (check price on Amazon) features a classic ring-based design that’s comfortable for a newborn’s grasp, with soft, cloth construction that’s safe for teething while offering a soothing, sensory experience.
The cheerful bug-themed rattle has four feet attached to the ring, which encourages your baby to explore the varied textures of the toy and make it easier to hang onto during play.
It’s a simple, safe rattle that’s specifically designed for newborns, so you can feel good about choosing it for your new baby.
At a glance
- The ring shape of the rattle fits naturally into baby’s grasp, and the “feet” on the ring make it easy to hang on to
- The simple, soft design is ideal for newborns, so it’s a great first rattle
Best rattle microphone
Many simple rattles become less interesting to babies over a year old, but this unique Singing Puppy Rattle (check price on Amazon) from Vtech defies the odds.
It’s safe for babies from the age of three months and has visual and tactile features including bright, colored patterns, rotating rings, and rattling beads that stimulate focus and motor skill development.
What makes this pick unique is an electronic component. When the baby activates the music button, their rattle plays one of over 20 songs, sounds, or phrases. The puppy’s rosy cheeks also light up when the button is activated, offering experience through cause and effect.
There’s an on-off switch for parents reluctant to offer electronic toys to younger babies or in search of a quiet playtime.
What we love
- Not many toys make the cut in the transition from baby to toddler, but the audio features on this toy keep it interesting for older babies
- There’s an off switch for parents who’d rather save electronics for when they’re older. Batteries can be removed if desired
- Since there’s an electronic component, it’s bulkier and heavier than the average rattle
Most appealing rattle
Maracas, one of the world’s most popular rhythm instruments, have a lot in common with your baby’s rattle. They’re both colorful and fun to shake, and Fisher-Price has channeled that inspiration into this set of Rattle ‘n Rock Maracas (check price on Walmart) that are both adorable and functional.
They’re perfectly sized for small hands and feature bright patterns and visible rattling beads, as well as three unique feelable textures. This builds focusing ability, offers sensory engagement, and encourages gross motor development as babies shake along to all their favorite tunes.
At a glance
- Just the right size for three-month-old hands with a fun style to keep baby entertained
Best organic wooden rattle
You’ll be amazed at how easily the Skwish Rattle, constructed from non-dyed, sustainable organic wood and elastic ties, can live up to its name — it can be flattened, squeezed, and “squished” into a variety of positions, always returning to its initial polyhedron shape.
The Manhattan Skwish Natural Rattle and Teether (check price on Target) is made up of non-toxic wood, is ideal for teething babies to gnaw on, and its moving, wooden beads provide fine motor skill development opportunities along with the gross motor skill boosts rattles are known for.
The flexible ties and open shape of the Skwish also make it easy for baby to hold, grab, and move from hand to hand.
What we love
- The unique construction of this rattle allows it to flatten and be reshaped, and includes moving wooden beads which encourage fine motor skill development
- The non-toxic natural wood surfaces are ideal for teething babies
Our eleventh choice
Many simple rattles become less interesting to babies once they’re over a year old, but this unique Singing Puppy Rattle (check price on Walmart) from Vtech defies the odds.
It’s safe for baby starting at three months, and has visual and tactile features including bright colored and patterns, rotating rings, and rattling beads that stimulate focus and and motor skill development.
What makes this pick unique is an electronic component – when baby activates the music button, their rattle plays one of over 20 songs, sounds, or phrases.
The puppy’s rosy cheeks also light up when the button is activated, offering experience with cause and effect. There’s an on and off switch for parents reluctant to offer electronic toys to younger babies or in search of quiet playtime.
What we love
- Not many toys make the cut in the transition from baby to toddler, but the audio features on this toy keep it interesting to older babies
- There’s an off switch for parents who’d rather save electronics for when they’re older, plus batteries can be removed if desired
- Since there’s an electronic component, it’s a bit bulkier and heavier than the average rattle
And our winner is…
Let’s face it: parenthood comes with enough gear, and anything that cuts down on the inventory is a plus. When it comes to combining a rattle and a teether, no pick on our list does it better than the Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Teether (check price on Amazon).
The soft loops of this rattle are perfect for soothing sore gums, and especially comforting after a few hours in the fridge or freezer. It’s also great as a traditional rattle as there are plenty of colors to focus on and the loops make hanging on a breeze.