Baby play gyms may not be a necessity, but for your little one, they sure beat laying on a mat or blanket while you run to the bathroom or heat your coffee.
An infant activity gym is an entertaining and interactive space for your baby to get some tummy time or even just stretch out. The best baby gym often comes in different sizes, styles, and with a plethora of toy options.
Activity gyms may even be able to help your baby progress towards learning and achieving new skills. Play gyms are a clean and safe place for your baby on the floor with an added bonus of interactive toys.
Our top pick is the Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym – but that’s for us. For a quick overview of our best picks, take a look at the summary below.
The 8 Best Baby Gyms Summary
Should I Get A Play Gym for My Baby?
Even though you might be able to get by just fine without a baby gym mat, they can be a useful item to have in your baby gear arsenal apart from playpens and playards. You can’t hold and snuggle your little one all the time, so why not make downtime more fun with a colorful best baby gym?
Stimulating activity mats may also help with achieving developmental milestones. Parents.com recommends allowing your baby to bat at hanging toys to develop their hand-eye coordination. Oftentimes, a best baby gym includes a variety of colorful, sound-producing toys that may be suspended just within your baby’s reach.
Tummy time on a play gym will likely keep them engaged longer than if you were to just lay them on a blanket or a non-toxic play mat. This is important for developing their neck muscles, trunk strength, and motor skills.
A play gym can make your little one’s floor time more enjoyable and maybe even soothe some of your mom-guilt about not being able to cuddle them 24/7.
You may be interested in: 5 Best Play Mats for Hardwood Floors. What is Floor Padding for Babies
How to Choose the Best Baby Gym
When searching for the best baby activity gym, know that there are many different types, and your baby probably won’t care too much about which kind you choose. The best baby gym you choose should suit your needs, such as the amount of space you have available, what stage your baby is at developmentally, and whether you want a certain theme.
Some attributes you may want to consider when perusing the aisles are:
Size. Most activity gyms are around the same size. However, some may be narrower while others have a larger footprint. Many fall within the three-foot by three-foot range for the base and may be around two feet in height if they have suspended toy bars. You may want to consider a larger baby play gym if you have twins.
Shape. The mat portion of the activity gym can be square, round, or nearly any shape in between. If you have a designated area in which you hope to fit the best baby gym you might need a specific shape. Square shaped mats can also be easier to fold and store.
Theme. There is a wide variety of super cute themes for baby play gyms. You can find woodland animals, the circus, or ABCs and 123s. If you want the gym to match your baby’s nursery you can probably find an activity mat to complement your decor. Most play mats and play gyms have bright colors and loud patterns. However, there are a few with muted colors that may work well in a living room.
Developmental Stage. Activity gyms tend to be pretty versatile, accommodating infants through multiple milestones. However, some go above and beyond and have fold-down sides to keep really little ones feeling cozy. Others are ideal for babies at the sitting stage so that they can reach for toys and pull them near. The broader the developmental range the activity gym suits, the longer it will last you.
Having one-year old toddler at home and looking for ideas to keep your little one occupied during play time instead? You may want to check out our list of 12 Awesome & Fun Outdoor Toys for One Year Old.
The 8 Best Baby Play Gyms
1. Bright Starts Charming Chirps Activity Gym
The Bright Starts Charming Chirps Activity Gym is a great play gym for baby because it can be fun for little ones on their back, during tummy time, or even sitting. The toy bars have multiple points to hang toys, and you can even secure toys onto the mat. This activity gym includes four interactive toys all of a springtime design. The pretty colors are engaging and cute!
- Can use mat without toy bars for older children or to conserve space
- Machine washable
- The plush owl plays music when activated by your baby
- The battery cannot be replaced in the owl toy
- Plastic take along clips may not be very durable
- Playtime’s in full bloom
- Have a dance party with 4 melodies
- 5 take-along toys clip to baby’s carrier
2. Skip Hop Baby Infant and Toddler Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat
A uniquely shaped baby play gym is the Skip Hop Baby Infant and Toddler Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat. This mat has a square base but the suspension poles form a tee-pee style tent. It includes four hanging toys and even a plush tummy-time pillow. If your little one grows bored easily this mat may be the remedy with its seventeen developmental activities. They will have fun camping out in a play “tent” all their own.
- Conducive to tummy time, seated play, back/overhead play, or for use as a playmat
- Includes a peek-a-boo flap, light up toys, a mirror, and a rattle
- Durable material
- All toys and play mat are washable
- Tee-pee poles may make hanging toys too high for some little ones
- Hard to store
- Tummy time pillow might be too small for babies older than a few months
- Activity center is packed with over 17 developmental activities, playmat features fun textures and peek-a-boo felt flap, and includes plush, sleeping bear tummy time pillow
- Four ways to play: Overhead play, tummy time mat, seated play, Plymouth
- Four ways to play: Overhead play, tummy time mat, seated play, playmat
3. Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym really is “deluxe” in the world of best baby gym. The setup is pretty standard, a square base with two suspension poles, but it also has over ten toys. One is a large light-up toucan that plays sounds and is removable so you can take it along with you! There are many ways to play on this mat that provides it all, lights, sounds, and textures. This is quite a colorful activity gym which your little one will likely love.
- Each toy has an interactive component
- Multiple loops on the bar so toys can be high or low
- Keeps little ones entertained
- Very difficult to store, poles don’t detach from one another
- Toucan on top is very heavy, causing the structure to lean
- Frustration Free Packaging: Easy to open, 100% recyclable, and less packaging waste
- Deluxe newborn gym with 10+ toys and activities and a removable, take-along toucan with music and dancing lights
- Three ways to play: Lay & play, tummy time and take-along
4. The Play Gym by Lovevery
The Play Gym by Lovevery is suitable for babies zero months all the way up to the toddler stage. It is so versatile it converts from an activity gym for babies to a fun fort for older children. The mat itself has zones that can be covered or uncovered to adapt to your baby’s developmental stage. It also includes hanging removable toys. This best baby gym truly strives to achieve learning through play and is backed by research.
- Accessories are organic and safe for teething babies
- Includes a 12-month play guide with suggested activities
- Two-minute set up and takedown
- Very durable, the frame is made from solid wood
- The wood frame makes it bulky
- Very pricey
- Not as colorful or bright as other activity gyms
- From Tummytime to Play Fort: Lovevery knows nothing is more important than your baby's physical, cognitive, visual and motor learning; from lifting their head as a newborn to hide-and-seek as a toddler, The Play Gym provides a whole year of play
- We Grow With Your Baby: 5 Montessori-inspired development zones on the Play Mat reveal or conceal to prevent overstimulation, teach focus, sound making, encourage sensory exploration, hiding and finding, and exploring colors
- Learning Through Play: Includes a guide for age appropriate activities to promote brain and motor skill development, as well as removable accessories for stage based learning; organic ball and teether, sustainable wood batting toy, and 4 interchangeable learning card sets
5. Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym
A baby mat that transitions to a ball pit, what could be better? The Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym does just that. Once your little one has moved on from overhead play, and is done with tummy time using the prop pillow, fold up the mat sides to make a ball pit! This adorable mat will probably be used long past the baby stage, even adults love a ball pit!
- Toy bar has twelve different activities for your baby
- With the sides down the mat is large, measuring 48” x 48”
- Plays twenty minutes of music
- Includes clip-on ball bag to contain balls
- Mat doesn’t have a lot of padding
- The baby may be able to unlatch “wall” clips by kicking
- Toys are wipe clean only
- Playtime is a BALL with the ball pit play gym
- Mat can be folded up to create walls
- Imaginative infant play gym with lights
6. Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe Activity Gym Play Mat
The Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe Activity Gym Play Mat may be the ideal travel play gym for baby. The extra-large mat includes snaps so it can be easily folded up and taken with you. Many of the toys can be secured to either the suspended bars or just the mat. The stand-alone mirror even adheres to solely the mat, making travel a breeze. So often toys get easily lost along the way, but hopefully not with this activity gym!
- Eighteen different activities including an electronic touchpad to engage your baby
- 36” x 36” fits well in most spaces
- The stand-alone mirror is unique in that it can be used for tummy time
- The mat material is a little scratchy
- Toy suspension bars fold easy but construction may not be very durable
- FEATURES 18 DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITIES: Develop gross and fine motor skills; visual, auditory and tactile senses; language, communication, cognition and EQ
- INTERACTIVE ELECTRONIC TOUCH PAD: Baby can play 2 modes of music and set off lights with ease. Three included AA batteries required
- DETACHABLE TOYS INCLUDED: Adorable animal pals hanging from fixed rings for baby to play with
7. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Baby Developmental Play Mat Activity Gym
This round mat cum activity gym invites your little one to play in the treetop with woodland friends. The Skip Hop Treetop Friends Baby Developmental Play Mat Activity Gym is a round mat constructed from soft linen. The mat also includes many textures and sensory items that will keep your baby engaged during tummy time like crinkly materials and blinking lights. The included plush pillow is a nice touch to help your baby stay comfortable while strengthening their neck.
- Muted colors are nice if the playmat is set up outside the nursery
- Machine washable mat
- High-quality toys and each one has a special feature
- Mat does not easily wipe clean
- Nature inspired activity center is packed with 17 developmental activities and 13 loops to hang, baby toys low, high or on the mat
- Playmat surface features multiple fabrics plus activities on the mat: crinkle leaves, squeaker flower and baby safe mirror in the tree trunk (mirror is removable for machine washing)
- Five hanging toys attach to 13 easy-to-hang loops offering irresistible multi-sensory play for baby or infant at every stage of development
8. Infantino 4-in-1 Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat
The Infantino 4-in-1 Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat is an awesome mat and best baby gym for families who are always on the go! The twist and fold technology makes storage and transport a breeze. By rotating a lock on the top the poles fold and become streamline so that you can tuck it under your arm and head out! The toys can even be removed and attached to a car seat or stroller. Like other gyms, this one has many ways to play at each stage, but its portability can’t be surpassed!
- Includes a tummy time bolster
- Very lightweight
- Decent mat padding for bare floors
- Soft fabrics for baby’s sensitive skin
- Shows stains easily
- Music doesn’t play for very long
- Infantino 4-in-1 Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat, Tropical
- The Gym folds up, making it very easy to take on-the-go.
- The monkey plays music as it slow turns around
A Baby Gym That Goes Beyond the Baby Stage
The best baby gym is one that will keep your baby so entertained that you won’t feel bad about setting them down to make dinner or answer an email. And in this case, that gym is the Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym.
The fold-up plush sides create a safe barrier for rolling babies and a cozy play space. They also can be used to form a ball pit; which is a rare attribute for a play gym, but one loved by infants and toddlers! Aside from the balls, there is also a prop pillow and twelve toys each with an interactive feature. The discoveries are endless.
Overall, this engaging gym is a perfect size and shape to keep babies happy and parents relieved.
Last update on 2021-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API