Infant Toys and Rattles

Baby toys are not just for entertainment. Babies respond to sounds and follow the path of the rattle with their eyes which give infants a sense of discovery as they grab, chew on and hold on to their rattle. Baby rattles help infants through their teething stage when teeth grow through the gums. Rattles also assist in the development of a baby's motor skills, hand-eye coordination and provide a good source of stimulation for sensory development. Modern rattles and teethers are generally made of wood, plastic or cloth. Rattles are usually brightly colored and make sounds when shaken. Some baby rattles incorporate musical tones and other sounds like jingling bells.

Use of baby rattles and toys date back at least 2,500 years. Historians unearthed a baby rattle in Poland that dates back to the early Iron Age Lusatian culture. The clay rattle was pillow shaped with tiny balls inside to make noise.

Ancient rattles were made of a variety of materials:

  • Clay
  • Wood
  • Bronze
  • Dried poppy flowers heads
  • Pebbles
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Ocean Coral

Some Colonial Americans constructed elaborate gold and silver baby rattles with bells, whistles with teething extensions made of coral.

Rattles come in a variety of shapes including:

  • Spheres
  • Flowers
  • Boxes
  • Sets of Keys
  • Hoops with sliding beads
  • Animals: owls, pigs, cats, dogs, birds

View an ancient Greek Terracotta Dog Rattle.