The 10 Best Baby Gyms
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Children will believe they are just having lots of fun with one of these baby gyms, but you'll know that they are loaded with stimulating activities that also help to develop fine motor skills, coordination, balance, sound recognition, and more. They may also allow you to get a few minutes of much-needed relaxation in, too, as your little one is distracted by all the entertaining options. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
March 12, 2020:
There were two hazardous issues with offerings included in our previous ranking, and it necessitates an important statement on safety: When you get one of these gyms home, please give it a once over to ensure all its components are as safe as possible, take great care in assembling and testing the stability of things like arches or specialized activities, and always keep an eye on your kids while they're using their gym.
Specifically, one of the toys that came with a model listed in conjunction with the Skip Hop Treetop had a component that could break off and become a choking hazard, so we decided to keep it off our list out of an abundance of caution. Also, the arches on the Bright Starts 5-in-1 were very difficult for many parents to assemble securely, and in some cases they could come crashing down on a child underneath. That might not sound particularly hazardous given how soft and lightweight all these materials are, but we decided to play it safe nonetheless.
In their places, we added the Lovevery Stage Based Play, which has a more interactive mat that many other offerings, and that seems like it will come in handy even as your kid becomes a toddler. We also added the Bright Stars Happy As Can Bee, a Winnie The Pooh themed set that has a lot going for it, but that's a bit on the small side, so kids might grow out of it quickly.
Your Baby Needs to Play
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.
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).
Who wants to lay flat on the floor for several minutes a day with nothing soft underneath?
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.
Toys that enhance creativity in babies and children grew in popularity and became staples in American homes with children.
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.