Everything You Need to Know about Baby Gyms
You may also know them as play mats or activity mats. No matter what you call them, these mini recreational centers are ideal for babies between two and six months of age.
The objective of a baby gym is for children to discover different elements as they advance in their development.
As children’s senses and abilities become more refined, the way they interact with the gym will also change.
There is a wide variety of baby gym designs to choose from. Most are portable and easy to move from one place to another. This allows you to place it in any room or space, or even take it on the go.
Today, play mats are a very common item on baby shower registries.
What do baby gyms look like?
In general, baby gyms consist of a cushioned mat that stretches out on the floor. Above the mat, there is usually some sort of arch to hang different toys from.
These objects catch little ones’ attention and motivate them to reach with their arms or legs.
For babies between the ages of two and four months, these gyms help stimulate the ability to grasp. They also motivate your child’s body movement and encourage visual development.
Once a child is able to hold her head up, you can place her face down to strengthen muscles and encourage crawling.
What are the benefits of baby gyms?
- Baby gyms benefit your child’s psycho-motor development. Through play, your child learns to grasp the objects that float above him. The cushioned surface below allows your child to wiggle without the risk of injury.
- Baby gyms stimulate the senses of sight and hearing through light, color and sound. They also motivate your child to explore his surroundings.
- Cognitive development: These miniature play centers help develop your child’s memory. Parents can teach their children the names of the different objects that hang above. They can also invite their children to look at or touch the objects they name.
- Baby gyms provide hours of fun and entertainment where parents can get involved and share playtime with their little ones.
Choosing the right gym for your baby
There’s a wide variety of designs with all sorts of characteristics to choose from on the market. What’s more, you can choose well-known commercial brands or opt for something handmade.
Factors to take into account before deciding what gym is right for your baby are the following:
- Product quality. Your baby’s gym not only needs to be resistant, it also needs to be made out of quality materials. If the materials are of good quality, you can avoid the possibility of any allergic reaction while your baby is playing.
- Both the rug and the arch above (where the toys are hanging) should be cushioned. Your baby will probably spend longish periods of time laying in his gym, so it’s important that he be comfortable. Furthermore, the cushioned arch will prevent your baby from any painful bumps.
- The gym doesn’t necessarily need to be large, but it should be spacious enough to allow your child to wiggle around. Another point of consideration is the space where you’ll be using the gym in your home.
- The gym’s toys should be well attached and shouldn’t pose a safety threat for your baby. No part of the gym should contain any toxic components.
- Never place the gym on a table or far from the floor. This is to keep your baby from falling in case he rolls over or scoots around. Even if you think your baby won’t move around that much, never take your chances when it comes to safety.
- Avoid any loose parts that are small enough for your child to put in his mouth. Children are very curious and have a tendency to explore objects with their mouths. It’s best to always stick with larger objects to avoid choking.
- Never leave your child unattended. You should never leave your child alone when he’s playing in his gym. It’s best for your child to have adult supervision at all times. You can also keep an eye on your child through a baby monitor with a live video camera.
- Control the amount of time your child spends in the gym. Prolonged exposure to the objects, colors and other aspects of the gym may become overstimulating for your small baby. It’s important to control the amount of time your child spends there. A great way to supervise your child is to interact with him while he’s playing in the gym. If you notice your baby seems agitated, then it’s a good time to move onto something else.