Babies love the audio and visual simulation of electronic toys—but are these flashy playthings really beneficial for brain development?

There’s no question that play is tremendously important for babies and children. “It allows them to develop a sensory understanding of the world through things like textures, smells, and shades of color,” says Laura Phillips, PsyD, ABPdN, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute. Play also has tremendous benefits for an infant’s fine motor skills, problem solving, critical thinking, coordination, and much more. And although Dr. Phillips says an infant’s brain will develop naturally whether you simulate it or not, certain toys may help the process. But how do blinking, talking, and singing toys—the ones that undoubtedly catch your baby’s attention in the store—stack up?