The 10 Best Baby Gyms
10. Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo
- different tactile fabrics
- holds up well in the wash
- mat is a bit thin
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
9. Skip Hop Camping Cubs
- adorable bear-shaped pillow
- adorned with several textures
- toys hang at awkward heights
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
8. Infantino Grow-With-Me
- teaches tidiness
- also great for toddlers
- isn't machine washable
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
7. Skip Hop Treetop Friends
- helps teach cause and effect
- quick and easy to assemble
- encourages batting and grasping
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
6. Bright Starts 5-in-1
- expands and grows with youngsters
- highly customizable
- may not hold up in the wash
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
5. Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends
- lots of toy attachment links
- plays music for 20 minutes
- great at helping improve dexterity
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
4. Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano
- keyboard is removable to take along
- lots of different songs
- well-cushioned pad
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
3. Fisher-Price Rainforest Deluxe
- two modes of play
- beautiful satin border
- mirror for tummy time fun
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
2. Bright Starts Charming Chirps
- includes a cute rattle
- lightweight and easy to carry
- benefits breast cancer charities
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
1. Skip Hop Explore-and-More
- all toys are held securely in place
- extra-large activity arch
- the plush fox dances
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
Your Baby Needs to Play
You might think your baby is an immobile blob in those first few months of his life, but he's actually taking in his environment and learning everything that he can. The right activity gym can help your baby interact with his environment.
A baby's activity gym activates all five of his senses. When your baby is grabbing for the toys hanging above his head, he's developing his motor skills. When he's hanging out on the tummy time pillow, he's improving his head and neck strength and preparing his body for crawling.
When he touches the different textures and looks at the vibrant colors, he learns about the environment around him. If his activity gym plays music or has crinkling material, he is exploring the sounds in his surroundings.
In addition to the physical benefits and the improvement of the senses, activity gyms are developed so that they stimulate brain activity and imaginative play. The varying colors, textures, and shapes allow them to explore and learn about their surroundings.
Play and interaction are crucial to your little one's development. It's important to choose a toy like the activity gym that is going to encourage him to interact with his environment.
Activity gyms have the added benefit of keeping babies entertained for several minutes at a time. If you're a new parent, you will not only want a baby activity gym for the intellectual and physical benefits, but you'll be ecstatic to have a few moments to put your baby down so you can eat a meal (hopefully while it's hot) or head to the bathroom.
Your Baby Needs to Move Around
Scientifically speaking, it is crucial to your baby's physical development that he be moved into different positions throughout the day. Babies who are left to lay on their backs for extended periods of time can develop flat head syndrome which is difficult to correct (and good luck finding a hat that fits).
Health care professionals often recommend that babies be moved from back to tummy to side positions during their waking hours. This helps to avoid physical complications and improve physical development.
That's why baby activity gyms are such great inventions. Even if your baby is laying on his back during play, the toys hanging above his head are going to encourage him to move his head side to side as he shifts his focus. This can happen just by hanging the toys to the side instead of directly above his head.
Activity gyms that come with a tummy time pillow can give babies who despise tummy time a little extra encouragement and comfort. Who wants to lay flat on the floor for several minutes a day with nothing soft underneath? I know I don't.
If your baby needs some time on his side, the activity gyms that come with the attachable mirrors that are great for getting baby to focus on something other than the wall.
Baby activity gyms are especially beneficial in the first three months when your little one is hitting those milestones one right after the other. Many are designed to grow with your baby, so you'll get a lot of use in that first year.
Oh, How Times Have Changed
The exact history of the baby activity gym is unclear, but what is clear is our ever-increasing knowledge of the benefits of toys for babies and children.
Since the earliest documented history, children have been playing with toys. Sometimes those toys were just sticks and rocks. Sometimes they were fortunate enough to have hand-crafted toys made specifically for play.
Around the 18th century, children were beginning to be recognized as separate human beings. This means that more focus was placed on their happiness in childhood rather than how their presence benefited their families. This was known as the Enlightenment Era for toy development. This is the era when rocking horses, puzzles, toy wagons, and other popular toys were developed.
The 20th century saw a rise in the middle class resulting in more families being able to afford toys for their children. Some popular toys (like Silly Putty) were even created by accident during the second World War. Toys that enhance creativity in babies and children grew in popularity and became staples in American homes with children.
Today's parents fully recognize the benefits of toys from an early age, sparking the creation of toys such as the baby activity gym. The colors, textures, and sometimes sounds found with an activity gym are beneficial for a baby's physical and cognitive development.