Baby Play Gyms: All You Need to Know

Baby Play Gyms: All You Need to Know

From the minute they’re born, babies start learning how to drive the little bodies they’re in.

They’re figuring out what their limbs and appendages can do and how to roll from one side to the other.

They’re also learning to use their five senses to interpret and navigate the world.

The baby play gym can go a long way to help them on this journey.

Let’s dive into the details.

In this article 📝

  • What is a baby play gym?
  • Why are activity gyms good for babies?
  • What age do babies use play gyms?
  • How long to leave baby in play gym
  • How to clean your baby play gym

What is a baby play gym?

Also called playmats or activity gyms, baby play gyms are comfortable, interactive mats that include all sorts of colorful stimuli to help with your baby’s development.

They come in a range of shapes and sizes and can be very simple or highly elaborate.

They generally have a range of fun toys dangling from them that your baby can marvel at, reach toward, and grip onto.

Some have lights, mirrors, and even play sounds.

All-in-all, they’re a safe spot for your little one to hang out while learning very important skills along the way.

Check out this sweet wooden option, for example.

Or this one that plays music.

Or how about this cuddly option with its removable furry friends?

They’re all generally lightweight and portable, meaning you can take them with you whenever you need a safe, soft spot for your baby to hang out.

And they offer you a moment of free hands to finally finish your lunch.

Why are activity gyms good for babies?

Activity gyms can help your baby’s development in all sorts of great ways.

One of the most important uses for the activity gym is as a safe place to practice tummy time.

While babies should sleep on their backs, practicing time on their tummies when they are awake is really beneficial.

It helps them develop the important muscles that will get them rolling over, crawling, sitting, and walking.

Here’s how the baby gym can help them achieve these goals and more:

1. Motor skills

Those little toys that dangle from the “roof” of a play gym do more than just entertain.

They also help your little one navigate how to use their body.

From grabbing and reaching to kicking and clasping, they’re figuring out what all these body parts can do.

2. Muscle strength

While they’re discovering how this little body of theirs works, they’re getting stronger by the minute.

This is going to be really useful when it comes to hitting the milestones to come, like crawling and cruising.

3. Hand-eye coordination

Somewhere in the first 2 months of their lives, they’ll learn to open their hands.

And by about month 4, they’ll be grasping onto objects.

A baby play gym can really encourage this development.

Who can resist going for a fluffy elephant or rainbow rattle?

4. Sense of touch

Baby play gyms can help them explore how to feel their way through the world.

From discovering the shapes of different objects to understanding the differences between soft and squishy and hard and smooth, their activity gym will help them see the great diversity of textures available to us in this world.

5. Visual development

As your baby develops, so does their vision.

They start off nearsighted, meaning they can only see objects close up.

They also have to learn how to see color and how their eyes have to work together as a team.

Mirrors, contrasting colors, and shapes that are different distances away from them can all help them see the world in a new light.

And it’s not just their sight that’s getting a workout. Because many play gyms come complete with a musical element, their ears get to come to the party, too.

Note that the best play gym for your baby is not necessarily the most expensive one.

They just need a safe spot to practice and develop all their new skills.

What age do babies use play gyms?

There are no precise rules about when to introduce a play gym to your baby.

But because you can start tummy time almost as soon as you’re home from the hospital, a baby play gym can become handy from really early on.

Babies really get a kick out of play gyms between 3 and 6 months as they start to figure out how their bodies work.

This is also when they become more alert and aware of the world around them as their senses sharpen.

And as to when they should stop using their play gyms, there are no hard and fast rules here either.

While the peak benefits are felt earlier on in their first year, your baby can enjoy the play gym throughout the first year and beyond.

How long to leave baby in play gym

While play gyms may allow you to go hands-free for a bit, it’s important to keep your eyes on your baby at all times when they’re in their gym.

They’ll likely give you clues as to when it’s time to move on to something new, like a feed or a nap.

For tummy time, the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that they should play on their tummies two to three times a day, for three to five minutes at a time.

How to clean your baby play gym

Because baby playmats come in different materials, there’s no one way to clean them.

It’s important to consider that your baby’s delicate skin will come into contact with whatever you clean their gym with.

That’s why baking soda is a good option.

Mix it with some water to form a paste.

Pop it on and leave it for about ten minutes before removing with a wet sponge.

If you use a detergent, opt for one that’s free from harsh dyes and perfumes, as this may irritate your baby’s skin.

Some baby gyms come with replaceable mat covers, which can be super handy when it comes to keeping everything clean and fresh.

Enjoy your time with your new little gym buddy. 💗

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