Baby Play Gyms & Play Mats- Developmental Benefits, When to Start Using & How to Choose

Every baby is unique. Some babies are easy-going & placid or a few may get easily upset. Moreover, there are playful ones with legs that go off like pistons the whole day or the ones that are extremely shy. However, the one thing they all need is a safe, engaging & comfortable space to explore, play, grow & learn. Most of the times, your arms offer safety & unmatched comfort. Since you cannot hold your baby every single minute, baby play gyms/ play mats come handy. Equipped with toys, these are a good option for your baby to play, stretch & stay active comfortably.

What is a baby play gym or baby play mat:

An interactive soft play mat, these come in bright colors & designs. Mostly, two arches, decorated with cute toys, help keep the baby engaged in playtime for hours. The small toys, move & stimulate your little one & help you enjoy some me-time. For some interesting TLC ideas during such me time, click here. The soft mats help the little ones enjoy "tummy time" too.

How to choose a baby gym or play mat:

Indulging your baby in a well chosen play gym or play mat can make play time fun. Choose an option that comes with a soft mat, that can be used even at a later stage as a diaper changing mat. In addition, look for attached stimulating toys like rattles, baby mirrors & toys with different sounds and lights. Moreover, one can even choose more fancier options that come with attached piano keyboard or plush toys that can be easily detached. And, guess what? Now, there are eco-friendly options too!

When to start using baby gym or play mat:

Mostly, a baby play gym is one of the items that comes handy during the first year of life or before babies learn to crawl. If your question is when will a baby start enjoying a play mat, the answer is- a few weeks after birth. Additionally, these come super handy during 3-6 months as your baby learns to reach out & grasp things in his/her hands. Start with a few minutes of playtime each day. At first, aim for short periods of tummy time, lasting only a few minutes. As your baby grows and becomes more comfortable, you can increase the amount of time by a minute or two each session. Eventually, your baby will enjoy using their play gym several times per day.

Benefits of  baby gym or play mat:
Safe, Comfortable & Engaging Diversion:
The first few weeks, babies may get content with feeds, cuddles, sleep & swaddling. As time passes, they require more. A fun diversion, play gyms offer an engaging opportunity for the whole family to spend time with the little one. Explore different toys, lights & sounds of the play gym together. This helps improve communication between parents and the little one.
Better Hand & Eye Co-ordination and Motor Skills:

Through the first year, your baby shall learn & develop new skills. Carefully selected baby safe products like play  gym, help them by providing ways to encourage their development. The colorful toys, hanging on the arches, encourage the baby to reach out for them. Besides, play mats also have attractive designs on the mats itself. My little one spent most of her time on the play gym, kicking a cuddly elephant :-)

Portable & Easy to Clean:

Play gyms, usually can be cleaned easily. Do follow the instructions that come along. Also, they are light weight, compact, portable & easy to carry during travels. Besides, it is much better to carry a play gym than a heavy bouncers/walkers.

Stimulates Baby's Visual Senses:

Play gyms & play mats come in bright contrasting colors that attract baby’s attention. Also, the bold patterns help stimulate visual development. The attractive toys in play gyms, also help enhance visual senses. Additionally, the textured soft mat fabric & differently shaped toys help in tactile development by providing sensory stimulation with assorted textures.

Hone Auditory Skills:

Your baby will listen to various sounds made while playing, kicking & pulling various rattles & toys attached to the play gym. This shall help hone auditory skills too.

Boosts Cognitive Development:

Play gyms help intellectual development by boosting knowledge of colors, textures & shapes. Also, the small baby-proof mirrors in play gyms promote self discovery & self awareness. Moreover, research says that early stimulation in babies contributes to brain development.

So, choose an attractive baby gym or play mat for your little one. But, do take care not to leave the child unattended in it for long. Moreover, if you are or know of an expecting mommy, do share our comprehensive list of new born essentials here


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