Baby activity gym, play mat, play gym, floor gym, play mat gym ... have you ever wondered what is the difference between all of them? Actually, they basically mean the same thing - a bright, colourful and interactive mat that your baby can play on during play time.
There are many different types of play mats (possibly the reason why there are so many different names for it) ranging from simple to action-packed. A simple mat usually has no features/toys, hence usually called a play mat and is mostly available in foam type, whereas those that come with a variety of toys like rattles, jingles, music, light and mirrors are more often touted as activity gym or play gym.
1. Do You Need A Play Mat / Activity Gym?
Although they have been around for quite awhile now, we cannot deny that there is no such thing like a play mat or activity gym back in the days. So you may wonder: do you actually need a play mat for your child? Well, why don't you read some of its benefits -they may just convince you that an activity gym is a necessary item on your baby list.
A. Safety & Hygiene
Hands down, we believe the floor is the safest place for babies. In the US, falls are the #1 reason for emergency room visits for kids under the age of five. Thanks to their large size (comparable to a queen-sized mattress) and extra-cushiony texture, play mats soften babies' falls and give them plenty of room to roll, sit, stand, and tumble so they can boldly keep exploring.
B. Learning and Growth
Kids of all ages love the vibrant colors. The activity gym is the perfect place for them to learn and grow through various sensory inputs like touch, sight and sound. It also allows them to free their arms and legs which other baby gears may limit and restrict their movement. Toys and mirrors that are available in most play gyms help them develop hand-eye coordination, in no time, they will be identifying numbers and images from the pictures on the mats. An infant play gym also promotes ‘tummy time’ which can help babies get stronger in all neck, shoulders, arms, and legs.
C. A Great Insulator
The cushioned surface, aside from ensuring a soft landing for rolling, tumbling and falls, is also a great insulator for all floor surfaces. Not only are gym mats for kids perfect for reducing any noise and impact, they also provide a comfortable and hygienic play area for your little one as opposed to the cold hardwood or carpet!
2. Top 8 Best Baby Gym (in no particular order)
3. Before you go ...
It is important that the play mat / activity gym you choose for baby is 100% safe to ensure his health and wellbeing. This is why you do not see much foam mats recommendation here because they are not of the best material - read more of why here.
Find out what are some of the best baby products that help stimulate and develop baby's skills from the early stage: