Infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months can be likened to explorer scientists. They always like investigating their surroundings. They have this natural curiosity to figure out how everything around them works. To nurture their inquisitive character, you should get them the best baby activity centers. These platforms give your toddler a ton of things to explore; from textures to sounds and movements.
These activity centers also enable your child to develop excellent hand-eye coordination. Besides, the baby activity centers can keep your little one engaged as you do laundry or wash the dishes. So, let your Einstein lose himself to these fascinating activity centers.
What’s the Best Baby Activity Center?
The designs of baby activity centers vary widely; from a simple padded mat fitted with a couple of toys to gyms containing padded toys, flashing lights, mirrors and more. This can make picking the right activity center difficult. Based on price, quality and efficiency in teaching different skills, these are our top picks for baby activity centers.
Below find the best baby activity centers:
Designed with very vibrant colors, the Neptune’s Ocean Discovery is an incredible product that gives your toddler 15 different activities to explore. It’s fitted with a 360-degree rotating seat, allowing your baby to swivel from one toy to the next very easily. Also, it’s a bouncy chair allowing your baby to jump and dance. By doing so, they develop strong leg muscles.
Some of the items incorporated in this activity center are an octopus paddle toy, a small starfish holding a self-discovery mirror, a crab spinning inside a clear ball and flash cards with relevant underwater images.
With the Ocean Discovery Jumper, your toddler will be able to learn numbers and colors in three different languages: English, French and Spanish. Plus, you can even swap out the current toys with new ones.
All the materials used in its construction are BPA-and-lead free so you’re guaranteed that your baby will be safe.
If you’re looking for a more versatile activity center, the Tiny Love Baby Walker is perfect for you. It features a 4-in-1 design, doubling up as an activity center, a walker, pusher or jumper. This is convenient as the activity center can be configured to match your child’s growing needs.
Also, Tiny Love has a wide range of activities for your baby, which enable them to discover seven developmental wonders- language, fine motor skills, senses, gross motor skills, cognition, creativity and emotional intelligence.
Another thing you’ll love about this activity center is that it’s very easy to clean. If the baby’s seat is dirty, just toss it in your washing machine.
Tiny Love activity center is designed very compactly; it takes up very little space when it’s put away. And like the Ocean Discovery Jumper, this one also has a 360-degree swivel seat, which enables your toddler to explore all their surroundings.
If you’re looking to buy a portable activity center that you can carry easily when you travel, the Oribel 4-in-1 is the best option. Whether you’re planning a weekend trip or a long vacation, the foldable mechanism of this activity center will come in handy.
Oribel PortaPlay is perfect for infant entertainment, allowing your young one to bounce safely and easily. Also, the activity center can be transformed into a play table that can be used by your child up to the age of 5.
The Skip Hop Explore is designed to promote special awareness among toddlers. It features a discovery window, which allows babies to see their feet as they play. This discovery window also teaches your baby the cause-effect relationship.
Measuring 1l”l by 31” w by 18.5” h, Skip Hop is best suited for children aged 4 months and above. It can be converted to 3 different play areas: sit, swivel, bounce and play. The little ones can explore their surroundings using the swivel seat while older kids cruise around the table set an appropriate height.
Are you looking for a baby activity center that grows with your baby? The Fisher Price 2-in-1 play saucer is just what you need. Its seat rotates 360 degrees to give your toddler access to all his toys. When your child is a little older, you can convert it to a play table. And the best part is, the play table can be adjusted in 3 different positions.
This activity center is also a great animal-teaching tool. It has tons of animal toys that your child can learn from. For entertainment on the go, your toddler can carry the take-along musical alligator that has light up piano keys.
Designed for toddlers aged 6 months and above, Bright Starts is an excellent option if you’re looking for an activity center with walker. This play saucer doubles up as a self-contained walker and an activity table.
Your toddler can choose between three play modes: melodies, animal sounds and piano notes. There’s also a flip book containing colorful characters and sounds, to keep your little one engaged and amused for a prolonged period.
If you only have a few pennies to spare, you can still get your loved one the Creative Baby Woodland activity center for such a small price. It’s equipped with tons of toys to keep your toddler entertained for hours.
To boost your child’s motor skills, the activity center comes with a 360-degree rotating seat and two spinning plates found at the base. It’s also certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA), meaning it’s safe for your child to use. However, you’ll have to buy 2 AA batteries to get this activity center running.
What is a Baby Activity Center?
Remember that baby walker that you used to cruise around the house in when you were young? Well, these devices don’t exist anymore and for good reasons. Although they enabled toddlers to develop motor skills, baby walkers posed significant risks. They caused children to self-stroll themselves down a flight of stairs or right into the corner of a living room.
It explains why both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics banned the use of baby walkers in the United States. The advent of baby activity centers served as the perfect substitute for baby walkers. Unlike their predecessors, activity centers provide a safe play.
Baby activity centers, which are mostly stationary, come fitted with a swivel seat, allowing your child to rotate around one area while putting his or her toes on the floor. These activity centers also come with toys and other objects to help your infant learn a thing or two.
Choosing an Activity Center
Also known as play saucers, stationary play centers, exersaucers or infant exercises, activity centers come in a variety of designs, shapes and styles. However, the specific activity center that you choose should be able to meet your child’s needs. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Just because you’re a new parent does not mean that your movement should be restricted to stroller walks and pediatrician visits. With an activity center, you can take your baby to any place you wish to go and still carry his favorite toys along. For convenience, you should choose a foldable activity center, which is easy to carry and store.
Ease of cleaning
Ideally, all baby products should be easy to clean. The last thing you want is to spend hours cleaning a device instead of spending time with your little one. As such, you should pick an activity center that’s easy to clean, preferably, one that doesn’t have corners where dirt can accumulate. Alternatively, go for one that has easily-detachable seats and toys.
An activity center should be packed with a variety of toys. This way, your child can stay entertained and engaged for hours on end. We recommend checking out the toys that come with the activity center. Apart from entertaining your child, these toys should be encourage your child’s development and learning. If you’re buying one for a newborn, pick an activity center with highly-contrasting colors.
For 4 to 6 Month Olds
It can be tricky to buy play saucers for 4 to 6-month olds because their head and neck are not fully-developed. For such a toddler, you should get a baby activity center bouncer instead. The difference with the latter type is that it provides ample back and side support.
As they grow bigger, kids in this age group start embracing a more upright perception of their surroundings. They start looking around and learning how to stand. At this point, you can buy them a stationary baby activity center or baby jumper.
A baby jumper is merely a fabric seat that is suspended on a framed doorway or other item. It contains a big coil spring to provide the bouncy action. Given its size, a baby jumper is more portable than an activity center.
Don’t eat that!
Toys, clothes, books, and tins- kids like putting everything they can get their little hands on, in their mouths. This is not unusual as they are they are still learning; hence, experimenting with every item. For enhanced safety, check the size of the play toys. They shouldn’t be too small that they can fit in your toddler’s mouth.
Furthermore, you should pick an activity center that has been thoroughly tested and certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturer’s Association. This certification is proof that the play toy is safe for your child. Although this is not required by law, getting certified play saucers for infants gives parents peace of mind. You can vacuum the house without having to check on your toddler every five minutes.
Another aspect to consider is the stability of the activity center. Put simply, this platform should have a sturdy construction and soft fabrics for cushioning the seat. Also, it shouldn’t have any sharp edges that can harm your child.
If you’re the kind of parent who juggles between performing house chores and taking care of your infant, the last thing you want is to spend an hour assembling a simple play toy. As such, you should pick an activity center that is high-quality but easy to assemble.
Your baby’s choice
Your kid’s interests should also come into play when you’re picking his activity center. Try and engage your child in a specific activity before determining the ideal play saucer. For instance, if your child likes dancing to your favorite tunes, it’s likely that he has an interest in music. To nurture or develop his interest, pick an activity center with music toys. An activity center fitted with piano or drum would be a perfect choice.
Is your baby walking yet?
If your toddler has not learned how to walk yet, you should choose an activity center with toys that are easy to reach. Ideally, the toys should be close to the ground so that your child doesn’t strain when trying to reach them. However, toys that are high up can also encourage your kid to learn how to walk.
But if your infant already knows how to walk, you can choose activity centers that place emphasis on placing toys on the sides or elevated places. Obviously, your child won’t have any interest on toys placed near the bottom.
Will you be traveling with your new activity center?
Many parents make the false assumption that all baby activity centers are portable. In reality, only a few models are. Most activity centers are heavyweight because of the materials used in their construction. Another thing that contributes to their weight is the variety of toys. If you want a unit that you can easily carry or travel with, pick one that is lightweight.
Optional Baby Activity Center Features
While most activity centers only provide a swivel seat and a couple of toys, some models come packed with extras.
It is said that having your infant listen to music helps to boost his intelligence. Whether you believe in this school of thought or not, it doesn’t hurt to provide a little more when it comes to the activities they can engage in with their baby centers. You can achieve this by incorporating music. It explains why modern units are now equipped with music boxes. However, if you have other sources of music such as a stereo, computer or phones, then you don’t have to consider such an activity center.
If your toddler has just started learning how to walk, whereby he falls and tumbles occasionally, you should pick an activity center with padding for enhanced safety.
Why are baby activity centers important?
Activity centers give kids an opportunity to play on their own. This in turn, develops their cognitive, motor, emotional and physical skills. In the first of their lives, kids learn about their environments by employing all five senses.
Even though you treasure spending time with your toddler, you may not be available round-the-clock. This is where activity centers come to the rescue. They teach your toddler an array of things such as shapes, animals, musical instruments and more. Baby activity centers are recommended for toddlers aged 4 months and above.
The Bottom Line
Activity centers are one of the most versatile baby tools. They provide rock, bounce and spin actions, which babies find fascinating. These activity centers can be used by infants, who are yet to learn how to walk and older ones as well. Kids are amused by the 360-degree spinning seats that allow them to play with surrounding toys. You can also lock the seat to create a stationary feeding place. Unlike traditional baby walkers, activity centers are safe, fun and entertaining.