The concept is the same whether you refer to it as a playmat, play gym, or activity gym: it’s a vibrantly coloured and interactive mat for your baby to play on. It’s available in various shapes, themes and sizes to develop with your kids as they get older!
Do I Need a Baby Activity Gym?
While most parents won’t put an activity gym on their newborn essentials checklist, it can be very handy for you as parents and very beneficial for your baby’s development.
Cuddling your newborn after you come home from the hospital can be so enjoyable that it can be hard to put them down. However, you can’t hold your baby all the time; at some point, you’ll need your hands free to prepare dinner or go to the bathroom. The baby play gyms offer your child a cosy, safe place to unwind and play while you take care of your needs.
What’s more important, they’re a great way to promote your baby’s growth. A baby play gym can benefit your child’s cognitive growth and comprehension, visual perception of the toys above them, ability to grasp objects and practice their grip strength, and all of these skills as early as six weeks of age. You can use them as a main prop to encourage more floor time for your bub.
The benefits increase as your baby moves on to more advanced play gyms, providing an opportunity for your baby to improve their hand-eye coordination and muscle development. A play gym for older kids essentially offers all the advantages of a playground but inside your own home!
How Do I Choose a Baby Play Gym?
When searching for the best baby gym mat think about the features that are most significant to you.
Are you looking for a stimulating area to keep your child occupied while you take care of other household duties? The solution may be a gym with overhead bars and lots of bells and whistles.
If tummy time is your top priority, a soft mat with flaps, mirrors, and various textures will encourage your baby to roll around and explore. An extra baby activity gym feature like a tummy prop pillow can make the baby more comfortable in the early days. There are also options in muted tones that will fit in perfectly with your decor if bright colours aren’t your thing. What are some other things to consider?
The type of material used to make your child’s play mat is the first thing to consider, just like you would with most baby products. Selecting a baby-friendly material is crucial, whether you go for organic cotton for your newborn or polyester that can hold up to a busy toddler. Babies and toddlers are undoubtedly messy, so having a low-maintenance baby gym mat that can be washed and quickly dried is essential to make your life easier.
For newborns and young babies, baby play gyms are sturdy constructions that arc over them and dangle entertaining toys. Babies enjoy looking at, holding, and even moving these dangling toys around and squeezing them with their little hands.
For toddlers and older kids, choose a more sophisticated play gym to help them practice climbing and crawling in the comfort of their own homes. As your kids grow and gain more energy, they’ll need activities they can burn off steam. In-home play gyms are a lifesaver for those days you can’t get your kids to the park!
The right play mat should assist your child in achieving many developmental milestones as they transition from infancy to toddlerhood, including grasping toys and sitting up.
Most baby activity gyms have textures, teethers, mirrors, and easily accessible sensory toys that babies can concentrate on and feel. These features can trigger the learning process and give the baby the motivation to turn and shift weight while lying on their stomach. You’ll want to encourage a lot of reaching, kicking, and pushing up to get the baby ready to move on to sitting and crawling.
Playmats are available in various sizes and types. Therefore, you need to choose the right dimensions to make sure it will fit where you need it.
For instance, a play mat that also serves as a rug is usually smaller than a tummy time mat for a newborn. However, if you have hardwood floors, you’ll need a bigger and softer mat that’ll give your baby more room to move.
When Can I Start Using Baby Play Gyms?
You can start using a baby play gym between six and eight weeks old, depending on your baby’s developmental stage. As soon as your baby starts to interact with the gym while lying comfortably on their back or stomach, you can put it on one. Babies don’t require any ultra-fancy gadgets at this stage of development. Keep an eye on your child constantly to ensure everything is all right like you would during regular tummy time.
You can upgrade your baby’s play gym as your child grows and needs more stimulation to advance their development. There are play gyms for every young child, ranging from those with more interactive overhead toys to full-on indoor crawling structures as they grow more mobile.