Some baby toys, like stuffed animals, are meant for cuddles. Others, like music boxes, were designed to help your bundle of joy fall (and stay) asleep. Then there are toys, like stacking rings, that were made to further stimulate your little one’s always-developing brain. These are the toys you’re going to step on, trip over and ultimately have take over your living room floor, but at the end of the day, they’re staples in your infant’s toy chest because they help promote early education.
You might even recall playing with stacking rings when you were a tot, and there’s a reason this toy is so timeless: It helps develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance, and promotes understanding order and how objects fit together. Throw in the fact that a set rarely costs more than $20 and you have yourself an instant classic.
The best stacking rings are ones that stimulate as many of your baby or toddler’s senses as possible. For example, some play music and/or repeat a variety of sounds and phrases, which helps develop memory and even understanding of emotion. But if you can’t handle yet another singing toy, we don’t blame you. Even if your pile of stacking rings isn’t musically inclined, they’re typically very colorful to keep babies engaged and designed with different textures to promote tactile development.
Find a set that meets the developmental needs of your child below.
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1. VTech Stack & Sing Rings
VTech’s stacking rings light up and play over 40 melodies to your little one’s favorite sing-along songs, sounds and phrases. Of course, should these repetitive tunes get on your last nerve, you can easily pop out the two AAA batteries it runs on for some quiet playtime. This learning toy is not only musical, but it’s also visually pleasing with five vividly colored rings, and stimulates your child’s sense of touch with a variety of textures.
2. Melissa & Doug Rainbow Ring Stacker
Melissa & Doug’s ring stacker literally includes one ring for every color of the rainbow, which essentially guarantees that your child will be able to identify every shade in a basic Crayola box. The rings are also wooden, not plastic, but don’t worry about splinters: they’ve been sanded smooth for child safety. The educational toy was designed for little ones 18 months and older, and exposes your child’s developing brain to different shapes, sizes and colors.
3. Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack
It’s only fitting that baby’s first stack of rings would come from Fisher-Price. Your little tyke will love grabbing, shaking, sorting, stacking and probably teething on these five colorful rings. Dump the lot on their play surface and watch as they start to make sense of relative size and color. They’ll also love the topmost ring, which features a shiny, transparent surface and beads for rattling. And to add to this sensory play, Fisher-Price also designed the base so it wobbles to further heighten their curiosity.
4. Sassy Stacks of Circles
Sassy’s take on the classic toy is no ordinary stack of rings. In addition to vibrant colors, the brand incorporated different patterns, textures and weights to further enhance your child’s motor and sensory skills. The nine-piece set was designed for babies from six to 24 months, and will help them learn to sort; understand the concept of size, sequencing, building; and make connections between sound and sight.