As your baby gets older, he’ll spend more of his daytime hours awake. Newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day; a three month-old sleeps 16 hours, and by six months, most babies sleep around 14 hours per day. They’re getting stronger, too, and have more energy for moving around. You may notice that your baby has trouble falling asleep because he’s keyed up and wide awake, even at night. It’s time for some baby exercise!
There are two types of baby gear specifically designed for this purpose: activity gyms and baby jumpers. We have twins, so of course we have one of each. In this review, I’ll discuss the different advantages they offer.
Baby Play Gyms
Fisher-Price Play Gym
Tiny Love Music Gym
Infantino Twist and Fold Gym
A baby gym is a frame-work thing with two parts: (1) arched “arms” that reach about two feet off the floor and have toys dangling from them, and (2) a soft cloth bottom for your baby to lay upon. I received one as a gift from a co-worker and I admit that initially I thought I wouldn’t use it. How wrong I was! When the boys were about three months old we set it up, just as a place for one to lay while the other was fed or changed. They loved it, and I quickly realized that a baby activity gym has some key advantages:
Good for tummy time. The cloth bottom is undoubtedly softer and probably cleaner than our berber carpet. Our boys like the feel of it; they do most of their “tummy time” and rolling practice in the play yard.
Comfort and protection. Babies don’t seem to like open spaces, so the enclosing arms offer a bit of comfort. They also happen to get in the way of older siblings or visiting relatives who mean well, but want to pick your baby up all the time. The bright colors and criss-crossed arms make it more visible, too, especially in the peripheral vision.
Entertainment. Activity gyms have dangle toys, mirrors, and other things to keep your baby entertained. Don’t be disappointed if your baby doesn’t reach for these right away – it takes time to get the strength and coordination.
Portability. The arms are narrow plastic rods, and the cloth bottom rolls up, so this toy is easy to pack up and stick somewhere or take along with you. It’s handy if you want your baby to play on the floor at someone’s house, but in a defined and clean area.
The current best-selling play gym is the musical light-up gym from Fisher-Price.
|Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym|
Baby Gym Review:
This bright and cheery activity center features a quilt with a silky border and colorful arches supported by an adorable giraffe. A variety of links let you attach toys up above or down below to capture baby’s attention. A cushy monkey, jingly toucan, cute elephant, and parrot with spinning paddle invite baby to bat them around, an action that helps develop gross motor skills.Or, you can put your baby on his belly for some tummy time on the soft quilt bottom.
Tiny Love makes a stimulating baby play gym with lots of activities, lights, and musical sounds.
|Tiny Love Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym|
Baby Gym Review:
Tiny Love’s award-winning activity mat folds out into a 32″ by 32″ square. The padded arches are loaded with cute safari animals to engage your baby’s hands. One especially nice feature is that this mat’s hidden music box plays classical music (Mozart). The giraffe’s tail and the zebra’s mane offer interesting textures for your baby to touch, and the elephant’s ear is perfect for peek-a-boo!
The most portable baby play gym is the Twist and Fold from Infantino.
|Infantino Twist and Fold Gym|
Baby Jumper Review:
The Infantino provides a travel-friendly gym that’s a soft, safe place for baby playtime and tummy time. The patchwork quilt design features gender-neutral colors. The portability of this gym is its strength: it folds flat, has a unique twist-and-fold breakdown, and the dangling animals are removable. All told, this fits nicely into a suitcase.
Baby bouncers have come a long way since the hangs-in-a-doorway model of years past.These days, jumpers are bigger, self-contained, and decked out with toys, sounds, and lights. We have the Fisher Price Laugh-N-Learn Jumperoo and our boys absolutely love it. I recommend a bouncer for your infant for several reasons:
- Protection and safety. Our jumper has a very solid metal frame, a cloth/polyester saddle seat, and a plastic platform (tray) at baby’s chest level. The ring base and wide platform keep your baby fairly well ensconced, away from pets and over-eager siblings. Less supervision is required than a play yard because the baby can’t go anywhere.
- Muscle development. My boys get a good workout from this and I’m sure it’s been helping strengthen their legs, which is important for when they start crawling and then walking.
- Keeps baby upright. When a baby has recently eaten, we might put him in here to prevent reflux.
- Lights and sound keep your baby pretty well entertained. There are two different modes (songs or alphabet) and two volume settings.
- Durable toys. The toys on the platform are built in and of sturdy construction, so I’m not worried as much about losing or breaking them.
The minimum age/size is probably higher for a jumper than for a baby gym, since your baby must be able to hold his head up. We put a pillow under the feet area until they’re heavy and tall enough to reach the floor comfortably. You can also adjust the height of the platform if you turn it over. Our boys usually tolerate the bouncer for 20-30 minutes, a few times a day. One caveat to the jumper is that it’s big. It has a 3′ x 3′ or so “footprint” on your floor. Not ideal for traveling, but perfect for keeping at home.
The Fisher-Price Zoo jumper is very similar to our own. It has a safe design and lots of activities to keep your baby entertained.
|Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo|
Baby Jumper Review:
This jumper offers a lot of entertainment for a baby – flashing lights, melodies, and lots of movable toys. Your child will love being able to spin and jump in the Luv U Zoo Jumperoo. A bright and cheery zoo-themed tray plays music, makes animal sounds, and lights up with every movement.
He or she will learn to pull and tug on the hanging mobiles to discover cause and effect. Whether your baby is turning, jumping, or grasping, the Jumperoo encourages gross motor development, hand-eye coordination, and introduces baby to a variety of textures, shapes, and colors.
Currently the #4 bestseller on Amazon.com, the Baby Einstein Musical Activity Jumper has a lot to like about it, and over 130 5-star reviews.
|Baby Einstein Musical Motion Jumper|
Baby Jumper Review:
The Musical Motion Activity Jumper is designed to grow with your baby with a 5-point height adjustment on seat. It also features padded toy bars and covered springs for added safety and folds for storage and portability. There are four activity stations and an electric piano with 7 lights and melodies.
I saved the best for last: The Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo is the #1 bestselling baby jumper on Amazon.com, with more than 1,100 5-star reviews.
|Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo|
Baby Jumper Review:
The Rainforest Jumperoo is a safe and comfortable place for baby to sit and play, whether he stays for just a moment or for several minutes. Two soft leaves extend from the frame to create an overhead canopy with soft toys that dangle down for fun bat-at play. It also features a rotating seat with soft spring covers that keep little fingers safe from pinching, and three-position height adjustment for a custom fit.