Handling your day-to-day household tasks can be exhausting enough, what more with an active little infant around? Here’s where an activity gym will shine through. These soft mats typically come with a host of fun features and activities, and are designed to keep your baby occupied while you prance about doing your work. Besides allowing you to have a much-needed break, activity gyms also promote development of your baby, in terms of improved hand-eye coordination, encouraging physical movement, exploration and discovery, and a ton of more subtle benefits.

Most activity gyms share some common features, such as arches with suspended toys, soft mirrors, and tummy-time pillows designed to provide stimulation for your little tot. They can be used when your baby is as young as a few weeks old, and will keep them occupied till they are close to a year old.

Your choice of an activity gym is mostly a matter of personal taste – do you want a simple, classic model, or maybe your spouse will prefer something which incorporates lights, sounds and music too? We’ve checked out activity gyms from various popular brands, and here’s our top 5!

SKIP HOP Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym

SKIP HOP Alphabet Zoo Activity GymThis adorable activity gym manages to blend bright and soothing colours without being garish. The base pad is thick and soft, and it comes designed with alphabet motifs to perhaps give your little one a head-start in alphabet recognition. This animal-themed gym features a whole lot of developmental activities to keep your baby well-occupied! There are fun, multi-sensory characters hanging on the arch, including zebras, monkeys, whales, lions and elephants – bringing the whole safari to your little one. We especially like that the arches are removable, so you can create more space for you and you baby during playtime whenever you please.

SKIP HOP Explore & More Amazing Arch Activity Gym

SKIP HOP Explore & More Amazing ArchAs you can tell, we simply love the designs of Skip Hop Activity Gyms, but their newest and latest design activity gym brings all these features to a whole new level! It hasn’t strayed away from what it does best, with 20 developmental activities including a sound-activated dancing fox, pull-string peekaboo owl that actually hoots, and a hanging hedgehog musical teether. This transformer-esque activity gym can be adjusted into three different configurations for three different playstyles – tummy up, tummy down and sitting positions.

And now, on to the best part. The activity gym arch has a neat little pocket to slip your phone in, to record your little one during playtime and capture those precious memories, or you can switch on Apple’s FaceTime and let your baby video conference with granny and grandpa. With all these additional features, this activity gym comes with a matching hefty price tag, so be prepared.

Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym

Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym

Teleport your baby into a lush jungle setting with friendly animals that sing, together with background rainforest sounds. Sounds good, yes? What’s great about this gym is that it comes completely equipped with music, lights, nature sounds, and lots of stimulating activities and textures. Based upon a rainforest theme, you can find a soft cuddly monkey, jingly toucan, an elephant and a chatty parrot that will make excellent playmates for your little one.

The best part about this gym is the music setting, where you can choose from 4 different fun tunes or rainforest sounds to play for up to 20 minutes. Together with rattling beads, spinning butterflies, a shiny mirror and crinkly leaves, we feel this gym would make a fine addition to a jungle-themed nursery!

Tiny Love Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym, Super Deluxe Lights and Music

Tiny Love Lights and Music Gymini Activity GymClassical music lovers rejoice, for this activity gym hides a music box that plays classical tunes by Mozart himself! No kidding. If you’d like your baby to become a musical genius, perhaps you’d want to invest in this gym. Otherwise, the design of this gym pretty much follows the standard design, with two padded crisscross arches with dangling critters, a plastic bead rattle, and a large mirror. The mat itself is designed with visually-stimulating flora and fauna motifs. The arches are collapsible, so the entire gym can be brought on your family travel trips.

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym, Vintage Boy

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym

At first glance, Infantino’s activity gym resembles a standard gym mat, together with tummy time, overhead and sitting Play Positions. The mat also comes with four plush pals, a peek n’ see mirror, and a bright coloured mat with patchwork and pattern motifs. However, what makes this gym different is the ease of set-up and dismantling – with the Twist & Fold function, whereby the gym can be prepared or tucked away with ease. This activity gym’s price is very reasonable, and will make a good addition to any baby’s playthings.

Activity gyms are a fantastic investment to promote development and learning in young babies, and they typically don’t cost a whole lot too. Always check that the construction of your activity gym is solid, and the arches are stable, since your baby will be playing on it for lengthy periods of time. Have an enjoyable learning time with your baby!