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Activity gyms provide a safe, cosy and exciting environment for baby to explore and develop in at their own rate. The leading nursery brands featured here including Fisher-Price, Baby Einstein, Bright Starts, Lamaze, Tiny Love and Little Bird Told Me all pay huge attention to the design of their gyms for optimal delight, stimulation and development of baby.  The play mat included is usually bright in colour to stimulate baby’s eyes and often padded for comfort. They are available in different materials with additional patches of different textured material to stimulate sensory senses with little ‘peek a boo’ sections to discover! Toys included are designed to draw baby’s attention and to encourage them to reach out, kick and play and often to be rewarded with sounds. Mobiles, dual stroller toys and mirrors are also often included to captivate the interest of baby and develop their thoughts and reactions. Some play gyms include tummy time pillows to support baby while on their front and help them to become accustom to being this way round and start developing their balancing skills.
The concept of a baby play gym is really to best stimulate your baby in line with their development stage from birth to approximately 5 months. At this point baby is still understanding use of their hands and feet so having toys that tempt baby to reach out to grab and bat is a great way to test and improve their co-ordination skills. It’s worth seriously considering what toys come with the gym and how they reward baby e.g. with music, sounds and lights and whether they have valued used outside of the gym. In addition, kick pads are equally great for baby’s feet and legs such as the one that comes with the Fisher-Price Discover and Grow Kick Gym.

As baby is unable to support themselves at this time and lying on their back for a considerable amount of time a gym provides great visual stimulation (as opposed to the ceiling!) and some brands such as Lamaze even ensure that the underside of their toys are in great bold black and white geometric prints to help baby focus when they are very little. Some activity gyms even have mobiles attached to the centre of them such as the Fisher-Price ‘Luv U Zoo’ and the Fisher-Price ‘Rainforest’ gyms which play music and have coloured dancing lights!

Another feature to consider is trying to encourage baby onto their tummy for a little time. Many gyms come with great big toys such as the whale in the Brights Starts Baby Neptune Ocean gym which doubles up as a tummy time support pillow. This can be used to help prop baby up and encourage development of neck muscles and reduce pressure on the skull. Similarly having nice bright colours, peek a boo features and different textures on the mat will all help exploration and movement ultimately leading to crawling. Mirrors often come with play gyms too as babies find faces absolutely fascinating including their own and as such can help them develop facial expressions.
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