Each stage of a baby’s life requires the use of certain accessories, but once your baby reaches the age of tummy-time or even eating solids (in case you plan on introducing them early), it’s time to think about investing in child development accessories. During this stage of life, your baby is already reaching and grasping things, so the ideal play toy during this period would be a baby play gym.
What Is It and What Should a Baby Gym Have?
Also known as a baby play mat, this is an accessory that is made of fabric in contrasting colours in order to encourage your baby to move more, play and learn new things. There are different types of baby gym toys to buy and most of them usually have one or two arches with interesting hanging toys. Baby-safe mirrors, soft plush toys, hard toys, rattles and rings are some of the toys attached to these amazing play gym mats, and some of them can even feature lights and sounds. The arch/es are usually low enough so your baby could reach for them even in a laying position. You can also consider investing in the wooden versions which don’t have a mat or padding underneath. These baby gym toys can be placed on the floor or even on the bed.
At What Age Do Babies Use Baby Gym?
The ideal stage for a baby to use a baby gym is somewhere between three and six months old because this is the period when they start to develop their hand-eye coordination. Said in simple words, this is the stage when they start reaching for dangling toys.
What Are the Benefits of Using Baby Activity Gym?
Improved Motor Skills
As we already mentioned, the purpose of these play mats and gyms is to improve the child’s hand-eye coordination, but most of all, to improve their motor skills. A great number of these mats feature interesting designs, colours and shapes so that your baby can observe and touch during tummy-time. The hanging interactive toys, on the other hand, are great for the time when your baby is ready to grasp, and by doing this, your little one will also learn how to turn and kick things in order to grasp the toy.
Improved Visual Perception
As we all know by now, the vision of newborns is blurry, and they can only recognise faces only when looking at them from up close. During the first few months, they’ll start recognising highly contrasting colours, and it’s around the fourth month when they start to perceive depth and can look at things that are further away from them. Well, this is the period when you can introduce your little one to a play mat and help him improve their visual perception even more.
Improved Cognitive Skills
Tummy-time on a play mat is closely related to thinking time, as this is the time when babies learn about cause and effect. For instance, by choosing a play mat with sounds, baby-safe mirrors and rattles, your baby will learn that by touching a particular thing, something will happen. During this time, your baby will start to recognise colours and patterns, as well as to listen to sounds. All of these things will additionally stimulate their imagination.
All in all, a play mat of this kind can help your baby hold their head better, especially during tummy time. It will help him learn how to turn from one side to another, and over time, when he’ll be already sitting, he’ll have the opportunity to catch and observe toys from up close.
Another great thing about these mats is their convenience and ease of use. Lightweight and coming in a separate bag, you can take and set up the mat anywhere you go. When compared to some heavier and space-consuming baby accessories like a baby bouncer, swing or rocker, baby play gyms are way better. In fact, during this age, they are able to provide your baby with the same level of entertainment as these bulky baby accessories.
When in the search for the right play gym mat, make sure to choose one that is machine-washable. This is essential in order to keep it clean and tidy all the time. All of us know that babies can throw up a lot during the first few months, so making sure you can properly clean and wash the playmat is paramount.
When choosing a classic playmat gym, make sure you choose a padded one in order to keep your baby comfortable and safe. In order to improve its comfort in the beginning, you can add extra padding underneath it, like for example a blanket. This will help him get used to it with ease, especially if your little one is not used to be laying on their tummy.