The lowdown on playgyms
From what to look for and the latest on the market in playgyms
A baby gym is a useful buy, as it’ll give you somewhere to place your baby, giving you the peace of mind that they’ll be safe, comfortable and stimulated. They’ll enjoy their colourful surroundings and learning how to reach out and grasp the dangling toys.
What to look for
Almost all baby gyms are suitable from birth, but it's worth double-checking. They can cost from £20 to well over £50, so which model you choose might depend on budget. There are so many types on the market, so you can either choose a more neutral one to blend in with your home, or something a bit more vibrant.
All baby gyms have dangling toys for your baby to reach for, some more sophisticated models have lights and play sounds, too.
Look for lots of stimulating features for your baby to explore. Some have removable toys so you can swap them around or let your baby play with them more closely. There are also gyms that can convert to give your baby tummy-time. These often have a padded support so they can lie on their tummies to strengthen their head, neck and back muscles.
Another important thing to consider is how easy it is to clean, as you may need to do this quite regularly. Many mats are now machine-washable but some can only be wiped-cleaned.
Need to know
Baby gyms allow your baby to learn the basics of cause and effect. Between about six weeks and four months, babies become keen to learn to repeat an action that they initially did by chance (such as “accidentally” batting at a toy).
Between about 4-8 months babies begin to intentionally initiate these actions and repeat them because they find them fun.
Baby gyms can be quite large, so think about getting one that can be easily folded away and stored.
Latest products on the market:
Fisher Price 3 in 1 Musical Activity Gym RRP £29.99
- Has five linkable toys plus a take-along musical fox with fun sounds
- The comfy, padded, portable activity play mat has two soft play gym arches overhead
- Music plays for up to 10 minutes
- The two soft overhead arches are designed for easy fold ‘n’ go portability
We love the two music modes and the removable toys that can be used to entertain baby on the go.
Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Gym RRP £29.99
- Offers 3 different positions as your baby grows
- It has lay and play, tummy time play and sit and play options
- There are 3 dangling sensory toys for baby to focus on and reach for
- The curved cushion provides safe and steady support for tummy time
We love its versatility and the the variety of detachable hanging toys that also double up as teething toys.
Mamas and Papas Baby Play Tummy Time Octopus RRP £49.95
- Has hanging toys to encourage your baby to reach and grab
- There are fun noises that stimulate hearing and promotes cause and effect learning
- Easy to pack away with re-usable bag
- Suitable from newborn and can be wiped-clean
We love that this comes with a tummy time wedge to support your baby and help strengthen their arm, back and neck muscles.
Little Bird Told Me Softly Snail RRP £68
- A deeply cushioned brightly coloured playmat
- Has soft multi textured fabrics, with a detachable arch and 4 detachable hanging toys
- It makes sounds including rattle, squeak, crinkle and chime
- The musical pull toy plays a gentle lullaby
We love how softly padded and comfortable this mat is, and that it can be converted for tummy time use, too.