A baby activity gym is a must have when it comes to infant development.
However, Exersaucers and Jumperoos are what many parents end up choosing, especially as their baby’s get older.
A play mat or gym is ideal for babies 3 months+ but there are literally 1000’s to choose from.
So, how is a parent to decide what the best baby activity gym really is?
Hopefully by the end of this article I will be able to answer this question for you.
I have chosen 4 for you to make this an easy process!
There is also a 5th option, but this is a DIY Activity Gym, so you need to be somewhat handy to build this one yourself.
All baby activity gyms and mats are good for your child’s development. And most of them are actually quite similar.
I will explain why I have chosen the following 4, but first here is why these are an excellent option for a child’s language and learning!
Pros of Baby Activity Gyms
♥ Activity mats do not cause issues with your child’s gross motor development in the same way that (exersaucers) and jumperoos can.
♥ They typically do not overstimulate your baby. With exersaucers and jumperoos there is a lot going on with regards to bright lights, sounds and different materials.
Activity mats do not need to have lights and sounds (although some do). I recommend staying away from too much noise/lights, it is not needed in an infant toy.
♥ The toys that hang from an activity mat are common items and often are in a child’s first words repertoire.
For example, star, ball, fish, monkey, bird, apple, sun, frog, etc. As your baby starts to understand more, ask them to show you a particular toy (e.g. where is/show me the star?). As they get older they can try to make the words himself.
♥ Activity gyms are made of soft washable materials. They do not take up a lot of space and can be moved around and stored with ease.
♥ They can be used to encourage tummy time.
♥ They promote fine/gross motor development (reaching, grasping, pointing, sitting, rolling, head control/strength).
The 4 Best Baby Activity Gyms!
Infantino Grow-with-me Activity Gym and Ball Pit
This play gym is my Number One recommendation for the following reasons:
- Unlike most activity gyms that babies outgrow by around 8-10 months, this one can be used quite a bit longer as it can be changed into a ball pit! Once set up as a ball pit, a baby or toddler can sit in it. However, the sides are mesh and therefore a child can easily climb in and out of it.
- Comes with 4 sea animal toys for hanging (more can be added) and 40 light weight balls
- Gender neutral
- Mid range price point ($40-$50)
Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym
- neutral colors
- comes with mirror and tummy time pillow to encourage tummy time (babies love to look at themselves)
- includes 4 toys for hanging, but more can be added
- easily folds up for storage or travel
- the toy monkey plays music and slowly turns
- Mid range price point ($40-$50)
Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym
- Skip Hop is a reputable brand that produces high quality baby items
- one of the most stylish activity gyms which makes it one of the best sellers
- comes with 5 toys for hanging but more can be added
- oversized mat
- gender neutral
- comes with supportive tummy time pillow
- quick and easy assembly
- higher price point (approximately $70-$80 – but it is often on sale!)
Yookidoo Baby Play Gym Lay to Sit-Up Play Mat. 3-in-1 Infant Activity Center
- Perfect for a growing baby as it can be used 3 ways
- folds up for storage and travel
- motion activated musical plane great for learning cause and effect
- includes large tummy time mat and mirror (can hang on arch or stand on mat)
DIY Wooden Activity Gym For Baby
You do not need to purchase an activity gym if you are handy!
Empty Handed has some straightforward instructions you can follow to make your own play gym for your little one.
An added bonus is that they should you how to convert the gym into a mini tent once your baby has outgrown the gym!
You will need some some tools and supplies to complete this project.
Here are a few things to make sure you have on hand:
Dowel and 4 pieces of wood, hand saw, chisel, hammer, drill bit, wood glue, oil (and a few other items)
You can also head over to ETSY to check out their amazing selection of handmade wooden activity gyms!
Cons of Baby Activity Gyms
This is why many parents choose exersaucers and jumperoos as an alternative (babies cannot get out on their own).
However, with all of the new and innovative baby products coming out each day, there is a solution.
A baby play yard!
You can put the baby activity gym inside the play yard and your little one won’t be able to get very far, allowing you to get some things done knowing that your baby is safe.
What are The Best Baby Play Yards?
As with baby activity gyms, there are also many baby play yards to choose from.
The common complaints with the larger play yards (not the same as a playpen or pack n play) are that they can be flimsy and can be climbed as children get stronger and more mobile.
Most play yards are meant for babies and toddlers under 24 months, so keep that in mind.
I am not going to do a review of them on here, but I do think that they are good for a baby or young toddler that is just starting to move.
And as I mentioned above, you can easily put a baby play gym inside one of these.
If you do decide to purchase a baby play yard, one with a door may come in handy.
Unless you are quite flexible and don’t mind stepping over the play yard to get yourself and your baby in and out.
There are also portable versions available which easily fold up for storage and travel!
There are so many baby activity gyms to choose from, so it will come down to your wants and needs in the end.
Does your little one have a baby activity gym?
Is this an item that you would purchase for your little one?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!