Push, pull, press, play… Amusing activity centres are great for keeping your baby busy while you tackle some household chores. The bonus? These entertainment centres ― also called activity gyms ― can also power your little one’s cognitive and physical development.
Activity-centre toys are a great way to teach junior about the concept of cause and effect. For instance, when he pushes certain buttons, he can hear distinctive sounds or see various objects light up. Some activity gyms even feature teethers or mats in various textures to aid tactile development.
Use the toys to liven up baby’s play time, too. As babies are naturally curious about the environment, grab this opportunity to describe the different textures and sounds to her. Or mimic animal sounds or sing along to the tunes and introduce various letters to her. It’s good fun and a great way to bond!
Check out these activity centres that will amuse your babies:
1) Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym
FROM Pupsik Studio
WHAT The melodic piano tunes will surely get your little one moving her limbs and over time, she’ll learn to tap the keys with her feet. You can lock the arch and piano in different positions to add versatility to play time. Once baby can sit up unaided, you can place the piano in a horizontal position, so she has easier access, as well as remove the arch, so she has more head space. The piano can also play a selection of tunes! Suitable from birth. Pink and purple versions available.
PARENTS SAY While the removable piano extends the gym’s lifespan, one tester felt that her baby is likely to grow tired of it fairly quickly. The fixed distance between the piano and the arches mean baby might grow out of it pretty quickly. The flexibility of the gym’s fixtures make it easy to pack away.
2) Tiny Love Gymini Super Lite N Sound
FROM First Few Years
WHAT The brightly coloured mat boasts different textures to enhance your cherub’s sense of touch. A musical touch pad plays tunes ― Mozart or nursery rhymes ― to stimulate and amuse baby. To enhance her physical development, the dangling toys range from a rattle and mirror, to a cute monkey with springy arms and an elephant pull toy. Suitable for babies from 1 month.
PARENTS SAY Storing it is a cinch as the arches can be detached, which means that you can extend the use of the mat. It’s also machine washable, which makes for easy cleaning.
3) Babyfehn 3-D Activity Quilt, Hare Explorer
FROM Baby Online
WHAT Measuring 85cm by 85cm, the quilt features five removable toys, each offering a variety of sensory and tactile experiences — from vibrations and squeaks, to a rattle and crinkly paper. The colours also make this a gender-neutral choice, so it makes a great gift for a new mum. Suitable for baby from birth, especially infants.
PARENTS SAY Quite a hassle to clean as you can only wash the quilt by hand. Also, the absence of music — other than the squeaky sounds and the rattle — may mean that you’ll find it quite challenging to keep baby occupied for extended periods.
4) Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy and Friends Learning Table
FROM Toys ‘R' Us
WHAT Check out this bilingual activity table ― besides English, bubba (and you) will get an introduction to elementary Spanish. Four light-up learning corners (laptop, telephone, book and piano) invites baby to play, stand, move and explore the table. Boasting 60 different songs, tunes and activities, this entertainment centre will surely keep baby busy for some time. The interactive buttons teach your tot about numbers, shapes, opposites and animals. You can even detach the legs, so your mini-me will enjoy floor play. Suitable from 6 to 36 months.
PARENTS SAY The affordable price and wide variety of activities and songs to keep junior occupied makes this a very attractive buy!
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5) Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym
FROM Agape Babies
WHAT This cloud-themed activity gym teaches baby all the different things that make up the sky while the cute cloud-shaped pillow offers plush support during tummy-time. Every toy offers a distinct sensory experience: Squeezing the dangling star lights it up while pressing the toy sheep plays You are my Sunshine. Other playthings include a bird rattle, a baby-safe concealed sunshine mirror and a squishy cloud that squeaks when pressed. By the way, the cushiony 91cm-long mat not only offers multiple textures for sensory stimulation, it makes one mighty comfy spot for baby. Suitable for from birth.
PARENTS SAY The mat’s thick material makes for a cosy surface to lie on, but it might get warm after a while. Watch out, too, as the fabric toys might reek of saliva after a while.
6) Little Tikes 5-in-1 Adjustable Gym
WHAT Featuring three settings — motion activated, songs or piano tunes ― this versatile gym morphs into five different play centres as baby grows. Newborns have toys to bat at, as well as a “kick pad”. When he can sit up, activities include electronic lights and sounds. When he’s old enough, flip the play table upside down into a desk where he can do colouring and play games. Last, you can even convert the table into an easel, so that your budding artist can unleash his inner Picasso. Suitable from birth to age 3.
PARENTS SAY Love the versatile grow-with-baby features, which adds diversity to baby’s playtime. Easy to assemble and clean.
7) Early Learning Centre Blossom Farm Musical Station
WHAT The 360-degree musical station engages your cherub with five melodies and four animal sounds, while letting him exercise his legs. He can swivel around in the comfy seat to explore the surrounding built-in toys, which range from beads to rattle and spin, a picture book to flip, as well as a keyboard to press. The latter can also be removed for tummy-time play. The Musical Activity Station is lightweight and has a carry handle for easy portability and storage. Suitable for babies 6 months or older.
PARENTS SAY Fun, interactive and sturdy, although the seat might be a bit too snug for chubbier babies. Mothers we spoke to liked that the activity station is stationary, which can help strengthen their lower limbs without letting them wander too far.
8) Tiny Love Gymini Bouncer
FROM Baby Online
WHAT The vibrating function of this bouncer soothes baby even as he is amused by the colourful animal theme complete with toys, music and lights. The movable arches have three hooks for parents to attach various toys for endless play opportunities. Toys include an electronic crab, which lights up and plays music, a hippo rattle and teether. You can lower the seat for a young baby, then set it back to an incline position once he can sit up on his own. Make sure to use the straps to secure baby to prevent him from falling out and injuring himself. Suitable for babies from 1 month and up.
PARENTS SAY Christine Xu, 34, liked the calming vibrations which helped soothe her child before bed. However, the padded seat felt warm even after using it for a short while.
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