Play and Grow: 10 Best Baby Play Gym Options for Developmental Fun (2024)

Best Baby Play Gym

Unlike their simpler counterpart, the baby play mat, baby play gyms (or activity gyms as some would call it) come equipped with an array of dangling toys, mirrors and textures suspended from arches and bars that help encourage babies to reach, bat, and grasp. An interactive playground, they do more than just entertain – pivotal in developing a baby’s motor, sensory, and cognitive skills through various textures, colours, and sounds, they also provide a safe and comfy place for tummy time, all during those precious first months.

Unsurprisingly, the options of baby play gyms available are vast and varied. Choosing the best baby play gym can thus be quite the overwhelming task, which is why we have come up with this guide to help you navigate the process. Learn some of the expert insights and find out what features to pay attention to the most in order to select the best baby play gym that is right for your baby’s early life exploration. 

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What is the best baby play gym for all families? It has to be Lovevery The Play Gym, no doubt about that, with its Montessori-inspired design and high-quality construction. The Tiny Love Black & White Gymini is the best play gym for newborns and young infants while the Avenlur Montessori Waldorf Style Indoor Gym is definitely recommended for older toddlers. The modern family will love a convertible style in the form of a Mallify 5-in-1 Convertible Play Gym, on the other hand, parents into the minimalistic design will appreciate the simplicity that the B.toys Wooden Baby Play Gym bring. And what activity gyms review is complete without the Baby Einstein 4-in-1 or Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym – these are your absolute go-to for some musical fun!

Our Top 10 Best Baby Play Gym Picks – A Quick Summary

Do You Need A Baby Play Gym?

Well, it is not a strict necessity but a baby play gym can be very beneficial for your baby’s development. They support babies during various growth stage by promoting tummy time (which is essential for head, neck and shoulder muscles development), and they also encourage motor skills development, hand-eye coordination and sensory exploration. In doing so (and many people actually didn’t realise this), play gyms also actively help to prevent flat head syndrome as babies spend longer tummy time and tilt/shift their head more often when they view the items overhead.

That said, whether or not you decide to get one depends on your lifestyle, space, and your baby’s needs and preferences. Some parents find a baby play mat good enough for tummy time and sensory exploration, while others find a play gym absolutely indispensable in terms of providing a safe and stimulating environment for baby to play and learn.

One advice? Think about how often you’ll be able to actively engage with your baby on the floor, and whether or not you have space in your home for an extra piece of baby gear. For the latter though, know that play gyms come in a variety of sizes and shapes (as well as price) so if that is your main concern, read on and you’ll probably find just the right size for your home.

Find more information at the end of this guide:

Best Baby Play Gym Reviews

BEST BABY PLAY GYM OVERALL

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5.0
4.8/5

Dimensions: 23.9 x 50 x 47 inches
Weight: 7.6 pounds
Age Rating: 0-18 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

There is a reason why Lovevery The Play Gym continues to be the best play gym for so many families despite the numerous strong competition around. It combines fun, learning and quality construction all in one, focusing on supporting an infant’s development with a variety of stage-based activities.

Designed by child development experts, it offers 5 Montessori-inspired development zones on the play mat that reveal or conceal to prevent overstimulation and promote learning (making sounds, learning to focus, how things feel, hiding and finding, and exploring colours). Equipped with a range of sensory and educational tools including a Montessori ball, a wooden batting ring, and an assortment of high-contract mirror cards that cater to different developmental stages, this is easily the best Montessori play gym for those who prefer open-ended play.

Parents particularly appreciate the use of sustainably sourced wood (FSC-certified wooden legs and batting ring) and organic materials (teether and removable accessories) which ensure eco-friendliness and safety for babies. It is easy to set up and take down with no tools required, and it comes with a play guide that offers useful play tips for parents.

Things To Take Note Of
Due to its comprehensive design, it takes up more space than other activity gyms so it may not be suitable for smaller homes. The wooden arches are non-collapsible, further affecting the storage and portability aspect. It is also pricey for an activity gym but considering it converts into a fort for older babies, the longevity of use you’ll get out of it makes it a worthy investment.
VERDICT: Lovevery’s approach in striking the right balance not to overstimulate babies as well as its commitment to sustainability and safety are the key reasons why we think it is the best baby play gym overall. Despite the higher price point, we think it is a worthwhile investment for every family to make.

BEST INFANT PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5.0
4.8/5

Dimensions: 28.75 x 22.63 x 2.88 inches
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Age Rating: 0-6 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

While most baby play gyms can be used right from birth, the Tiny Love Black & White Gymini Infant Activity Play Mat is, in our opinion, the best play gym for newborn thanks to its high-contrast black and white patterns which are proven to be significant for visual development in newborns and young infants.

For first-time parents, you may not know that babies see only in black and white after birth, and only start to develop their colour vision at around 4 months. The patterns of this play gym is therefore especially engaging for newborns’ vision, stimulating their development in the visionary department.

That said, it is designed to be adaptable for different developmental stages with a variety of interactive toys and up to 18 developmental activities. This includes a baby-activated musical toy with three melodies (to teach cause and effect), a mirror (for self-recognition), and soft and engaging mat texture (for comfort and sensory stimulation). We particularly love the adjustable arches as they provide a multi-mode activity platform to tailor to baby’s developmental stages, and can be removed for tummy time or storage purpose.

Things To Take Note Of
While the black and white design is specifically chosen for sensory reasons, some parents may find it not as visually stimulating for older babies compared to the more colourful counterparts. On the same note, the lightweight design may not withstand vigorous movement or pulling on the arches as baby grows, likewise for the toys’ capabilities which baby may outgrow after a while.
VERDICT: The Tiny Love Black & White Gymini is a play mat designed with an infant’s early stages in mind. Striking a thoughtful balance between aesthetics and function, this is the best option for parents seeking a play mat that supports their baby’s early development.

BEST CONVERTIBLE PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
4.5/5

Dimensions: 17.13 x 13.11 x 7.99 inches
Weight: 4.58 pounds
Age Rating: from birth to toddlerhood
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

It is a baby gym, and then it is a ball pit. Flip the sides up and you get a baby nest with safety fence surrounding, or remove everything to have a simple play mat. Patented, the Mallify 5-in-1 Convertible Play Gym elevates the whole game in the play gym scene with its innovative design.

From a newborn playmat where baby can use it as a tummy time play mat, you can easily transform it into a safe nesting area for baby to nap on if you fold the sides up into a cocoon-style lounger. Transform it into an interactive activity gym with the detachable (for independent play or washing) sensory toys provided and you can have the sides of the mat either folded up (in nest form) or laid flat in this mode. Finally, fill it up with either balls or other toys and turn it into a ball pit for baby to play in as they grow and become more mobile.

The longevity of use is something we love about this activity play gym as the ability to convert for different ages and stages of development means it can be used from infancy through to toddlerhood. This gives good value for money, although as a convertible play gym, we’d say it is very reasonably priced to start with!

Things To Take Note Of
Opinions are mixed on the padding aspect with some parents wishing there be more stuffing in the mat, while others love how plush it is. Despite being foldable, the multifaceted nature of the gym and its weight could compromise its portability compared to other more straightforward and lightweight designs, but that wouldn’t be an issue if you’re not going to move it around.
VERDICT: The Mallify 5-in-1 Play Gym is an excellent choice for parents looking for a durable, educational, and multi-functional play area that supports their baby’s development from newborn to toddler stages.

BEST FOLDABLE BABY PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5.0
4.8/5

Dimensions: 32(w) x 19(h) x 46(l) inches
Weight: 2.05 pounds
Age Rating: 0-8 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

Another foldable baby play gym that we like is the Skip Hop Farmstand Grow & Play Baby Gym. Both ends of this play gym here can be folded up to create an enclosed play space, which is ideal for tummy time and to keep toys from rolling away. When not in use, it is easy to dismantle and fold away for storage purpose.

What parents really like about this activity gym is that it doesn’t bear colours/patterns that are too strong or bold as that can be a tad overstimulating for babies sometimes. It is still visually stimulating with a colourful garden theme to promote developmental growth, incorporating things like fruits, veggies, interactive toys and even a watermelon wedge pillow to make tummy time more comfortable.

Offering 17+ developmental activities, it comes with 5 hanging toys to add to the interactive play experience and we appreciate thoughtful details like the crinkle leaves, a pocket to pop a carrot in and out, and a variety of textures for tactile exploration in particular. As your child grows, the arches can be removed and used as a growth chart, which all adds to the long-term value to the purchase.

Things To Take Note Of

Despite the activity gym being machine-washable, the size of it may mean taking up a considerable amount of space in your home as it must lay flat to dry. On the same note, the large size may not suit smaller living space. The musical bunny toy’s batteries are not replaceable which means once they run out, the bunny can no longer play music. At this price point, some may think it not worthy for the extra money forked out compared to simpler baby gyms.

VERDICT: If you’re looking for a baby gym that combines developmental benefits with a visually appealing design both for baby and parents, the Skip Hop Farmstand Grow & Play is a great option to consider.

BEST MUSICAL PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.7/5.0
4.7/5

Dimensions: 18 x 34 x 27 inches
Weight: 4.4 pounds
Age Rating: 0-36 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

When people think about how a baby play gym should look like, the Baby Einstein 4-in-1 Kickin Tunes Music and Language Play Gym is probably the first thing that comes to mind. The #1 most gifted baby gym of all time, it has everything from overarching toys and mirror to lights and music, even flash cards and 4 languages!

A comprehensive tool for early childhood development that engages babies through music, language, and sensory stimulation, you can kick start their musical flair and creativity from a young age. And we mean that literally. This fun baby jungle gym comes with a piano toy that releases music when baby kicks on it, and we’re talking about 70+ melodies, phrases and sounds for over 25 minutes. Remove the piano and you can bring it anywhere you go to continue entertaining your little one.

This gym also develops baby’s multilingual ability by introducing colours, numbers and shapes in four languages – English, Spanish, French and German. There are a variety of sensory toys that facilitate learning and motor skill development such as reaching, pressing and kicking, and it comes with a tummy time pillow too for extra support.

Things To Take Note Of
Aside from the piano needing batteries which are not included, we don’t have much to fault the Baby Einstein Kickin Tunes. It is on the heavier side given all the attachments, but they all detach easily if you need to move it around. At this price, it really is a bargain and we can see why it is deemed an educational “must-have” for early development.

VERDICT: If your baby loves music (or you’d like to encourage that flair in them), this is the baby play gym for you. Prefer water for sensory stimulation instead? This one here will give you just that, without the mess!

BEST VALUE PLAY GYM FOR BABY

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5.0
4.8/5

Dimensions: 36 x 27 x 18 inches
Weight: 3.8 pounds
Age Rating: 0-36 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

Speaking of value for money, the Fisher-Price Baby Playmat Kick & Play Piano Gym is another popular option. In many ways, it resembles the Baby Einstein 4-in-1 above, kicking piano and all, but this one here is a lot simpler if you find the former a little too much for your liking.

It still provides engaging musical fun through a large keyboard with light-up keys that baby can kick at, and people especially love that it offers four different ways to play as baby grows. Lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and take-along. This makes it a flexible and long-lasting product suitable from newborn to toddler stages, giving it the best value for money.

Its Smart Stages technology is another signature – there are altogether 3 levels, each filled with different songs, sounds, tunes, and phrases for baby to explore. Attachments include a repositionable toy arch with five linkable toys, a self-discovery mirror, BPA-free elephant teether, crinkle panda, rattle lion, and monkey cymbal clackers, all designed to encourage sensory development and tummy time play.

Things To Take Note Of

The Fisher Price is slightly bigger than the Baby Einstein so if the latter already poses a space issue, this one here may not suit. Some users also find the playmat a little on the thin side, which may be less comfortable for some babies especially on hard floors. Keep in mind that the selection of songs and tunes is not as extensive as Baby Einstein’s so if you’re sensitive to repetition, this could become a consideration after prolonged use. Good thing is, you can control the volume to keep sounds at a comfortable level!

VERDICT: For a simpler, multi-stage developmental play space that gives good value for money, the Fisher-Price Baby Playmat Kick & Play Piano Gym is the one to go to.

BEST MINIMALIST BABY PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
4.5/5

Dimensions: 24 x 20 x 20.5 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Age Rating: 0-24 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

It doesn’t get any cheaper than this – the B.toys Wooden Baby Play Gym is easily the most affordable baby play gym on the market, and a good quality one at that! This is a wooden play gym that is well-regarded by many parents for its design and functionality, a minimal activity gym that doesn’t compromise on the learning front.

As you can see from the picture, it bears just a wooden structure with three removable sensory toys overhanging a piece of play mat. Simple, no fuss, effective. If you’re one who believes that babies do not need a lot of toys, this play gym will be right up your alley. Each toy is carefully designed to stimulate baby’s senses and encourages developmental play so baby will still get the hand-eye coordination and reach-and-grab motor skills they need.

The wooden construction is also a significant aspect that many parents love about it. Compared to plastic, wooden toys are often more sought after due to their quality and longevity and for this one here, natural wood is used in its construction. This gives high assurance on the sturdiness and durability front, giving peace of mind that it will stand up well to baby’s active play.

Compared to traditional baby play gyms, it has a smaller footprint so good news for those with limited space. And you’ll be happy to know that the playmat is made of organic cotton, padded and cushy for extra comfort and machine washable for hassle-free maintenance.

Things To Take Note Of
While this gym is recommended for newborns and older, the scope for use beyond the very early months might be limited as your baby grows and requires more stimulation (in the form of bolder colours and more complex activities).
VERDICT: If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing activity gym, a minimal yet functional one that doesn’t discount on the developmental front (and doesn’t break the bank), the B.toys Wooden Baby Play Gym is the one to go for.

BEST BABY PLAY GYM FOR TRAVEL

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5.0
4.8/5

Dimensions: 19.3 x 32.3 x 32.3 inches
Weight: 3.89 pounds
Age Rating: 0-36 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

If you’re looking for a baby play gym that you can bring with your travels, we recommend the Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvey Activity Gym. It has a patent-pending SlimFold wooden toy bar that easily collapses for storage or travel, and 2 built-in handles that let parents fold the mat into a self-storage bag to carry or simply put away.

Unlike other playmats, this one here bears a duvet design where the playmat itself has a duvet cover that you can remove and wash in the washing machine (the mat is machine-washable, too). This design offers a plush and ultra-soft surface for baby to lay and play on (almost cloud-like feel) and there are 2 gender neutral prints that will effortlessly blend with any contemporary décor. Likewise, this is also a patent-pending design.

The gym includes a variety of detachable toys that will be sufficient to entertain babies up till 3 years old, and a tummy time pillow is included as well to give extra support and prevent flat head.

Things To Take Note Of

This is another baby play gym that we can’t find much fault on. The only thing is it could possibly pose some issues for people with limited space as this gym is on the larger side, and the variety of sensory toys may not be as extensive as other gyms.

VERDICT: The Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym is an ideal choice for parents looking for an activity gym that they can bring on travels for their baby. The easy-fold and thorough-cleaning components make it the most suitable, also a good match for environmentally-conscious parents who prefer products that use natural materials.

BEST LARGE BABY PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.6/5.0
4.6/5

Dimensions: 36.5 x 25.5 x 20.5 inches
Weight: 3.21 pounds
Age Rating: 0-12 months
Machine-washable mat? Yes

Why We Love It

For parents expecting twins, the Lupantte 7 in 1 Baby Play Gym Mat is probably your best play gym for babies. Yes, plural. The extra-large dimensions of this activity gym can easily accommodate two babies aged 0-6 months, with an overall rather neutral palette that isn’t too stimulating for newborns and young infants.

Adding to the newborn-suitability is a black and white cloth book for early developmental learning alongside 6 sensory toys and a moon-shaped tummy time pillow. What sets this play gym apart from the rest though is the inclusion of 2 replaceable mat covers – just change to the other one when the inevitable mess happens and you won’t see yourself waiting for the old one to dry up after a wash before baby can use the gym again. The bottom of both mats has anti-slip features so the activity gym won’t slip and slide around, perfect for wooden floors.

We have to say we really love the thickness of the mat here – at 1.2 inches, it strikes the perfect balance between flatness and softness, giving babies a safe and comfortable place to play on. The dimensions of this one here is definitely meant for the bigger space, though.

Things To Take Note Of
The Lupantte mat is designed to cater babies up till 12 months only due to the limited activities available. At a price like this (which is on the higher side), some parents may think it is not worth the extra money paid.
VERDICT: For parents having twins or just generally looking for an extra-large mat for their newborn, we highly recommend the Lupantte 7 in 1 Baby Play Gym Mat.

BEST WOODEN PLAY GYM

Editor's Rating: 4.3/5.0
4.3/5

Dimensions: 59.5 x 17.7 x 19.7 inches
Weight: 23.9 pounds
Age Rating: 1-5 years
Machine-washable mat? No

For parents looking for the best wooden play gym, we have the Avenlur Montessori Waldorf Style Indoor Gym for you. This is not your average baby activity gym though, in fact, it is designed specifically for toddlers aged 1 year and up so it is more like the best toddler play gym for older children.

When it comes to wooden play gyms, parents are most concerned about the quality of wood used. This one here employs a robust, industrial-grade natural wood construction which ensures longevity and safety, with a surface sprayed with BPA-free environmental-friendly paint that reassures parents of a non-toxic finish.

Montessori- and Waldorf- inspired, meaning it aligns with educational philosophies emphasizing natural materials and open-ended play, this gym comes in a set of 5 different activities that start as a climbing structure which encourages imagination and improves gross motor skills. Foldable and easy to store with a locking mechanism, it is tested at a load of 220lbs. but the recommended load for use is 132lbs. max.

Things To Take Note Of

Now, this activity gym does not come cheap. Not surprising, given it is a Montessori Waldorf-style of play gym so it definitely is not for the budget-conscious ones. The assembly process is another thing to take note of – considerable time and effort are required as you can’t just spring out and lay it flat like traditional play gyms do. Its capacity may not accommodate multiple children playing simultaneously on it too, which could be a consideration for families with more than one child.

VERDICT: For parents looking to invest in a safe, educational, and eco-friendly play option for their child beyond the infancy stage, the Avenlur Montessori Waldorf Style Indoor Gym is a good place to start.

How We Choose Our Best Baby Play Gym (What to Look For in A Baby Play Gym)

In narrowing down our best baby play gym options, we take into consideration a couple of things – the price point, the material, the purpose.

This is so that we can curate a list of choices for parents with different requirements and in doing that, we of course look at the quality, safety, ease of cleaning and aesthetics of every product.

Material

Non-toxic materials are essential because babies are likely to chew or suck on the play gym’s parts. BPA-free plastics, organic cottons, and untreated woods are some of the safest materials, the latter being especially popular among parents due to their durability and sustainability.

The playmat part of the gym should also be soft and comfortable for baby to lie on, and it’s a bonus if it includes a variety of textures to stimulate baby’s tactile sense. Of course, the ease of cleaning of the material used is of utmost importance given play gyms can get dirty with regular use – machine washable will be preferred for hygiene and convenience.

Purpose

The purpose of getting a baby play gym is to encourage baby’s development in different aspects – sensory stimulation, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, cognitive development… you get the picture. When shopping for a baby play gym, think about what you want to achieve – do you want a more newborn-appropriate for the young infant days or are you looking for a more stimulating one for an older toddler?

Know that the latter could be a tad too overstimulating for a younger newborn so there’s a difference there. Some play gyms offer different configurations or adapt as the child grows by transforming into structures like ball pit or forts so again, consider if this is something you’d like instead.

Price Point

In our review above, we’ve covered all price ranges from budget-friendly to mid-range options, and then ultimately premium. The affordable ones can be as low as under $30 – the B.toys Wooden Baby Play Gym is one – and they offer basic features like hanging toys and a comfortable mat for tummy time. Perfect for parents who want just the essential benefits of a play gym without the additional frills.

Mid-range gyms typically offer more interactive features – detachable toys, music, and lights are the most common – and they are usually constructed with higher quality materials. Play gyms in this category offer a good balance between features and cost, and this is the type that most families go for. Premium ones can cost upwards of $100 which typically incorporate educational philosophies like Montessori or Waldorf, offering a wider range of developmental activities and are usually constructed with sustainable materials.

When evaluating the price point, consider not just the immediate cost but also the duration of use, the range of features offered, and how those features align with your child’s developmental needs. It’s about finding the best value for your money within your budget, and ensuring the gym will be used effectively for your baby’s play and learning.

Other FAQs

The easiest way to tell between the two is the presence of additional attachments or toys. A playmat is generally just a flat piece of cushioned material with simple designs and it serves as a soft barrier between baby and the floor, providing a safe and clean surface for babies to lie on, roll over, sit, and eventually start to crawl.

A play gym, on the other hand, not only includes a mat but also comes with an overhanging arch/bars from which toys, mirrors, and other sensory items hang, attachments of which are to stimulate a baby’s senses and encourage them to reach, grasp, and explore. Compared to a simple playmat, play gyms provide more interactive elements and developmental benefits, promoting motor skills development, coordination, and sensory stimulation. 

They can start using a play gym as early as a few weeks’ old, but babies typically find it most engaging around the 3-month mark as this is the time when they begin to develop hand-eye coordination and are able to actively reach for and bat at the hanging toys.

Often, the attachments can be interchanged to encourage cognitive and motor development at different stages – black and white cards/mirrors during the earlier stage when they’re still on their back for visual and tactile stimulation, and toys and other attachments later on for core, motor tone and grasping abilities.

Keep these in mind when you use your baby gym:


1. Assembly: follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when assembling the play gym. Ensure all toys and components are firmly attached and inspect them regularly to ensure they are not loose or broken.


2. Age Appropriateness: use the play gym according to the age recommendations provided and always supervise baby when they use the play gym. Adjust the gym’s settings and toy placement as baby grows to match their developmental stage and mobility.


3. Hygiene: keep the gym clean and free of small objects that could be a choking hazard. Toys should be cleaned regularly especially when baby is at the teething stage and check the gym for any damage or wear that could pose a safety risk before each use.

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