The 9 Best Baby Play Gyms and Activity Mats for Baby’s Development
Baby needs to be entertained—but that can be tough when you’re running on 15 minutes of sleep and your arms desperately need a break. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best baby play gyms, ranging from simple to action-packed, as an easy way to engage with baby while stimulating their mind.
“You can use a play mat from day one as tummy time can be done immediately after birth with supervision,” says Alexis Phillips-Walker, DO, a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. And with features like hanging toys to bat, soft and crinkly textures for tactile exploration and high-contrast images to captivate their attention, these multifunctional infant play gyms engage several senses at once. Better yet, play activity mats support the development of important milestones like grasping, rolling over and tracking movement. A play gym serves as a safe spot for your little one to practice tummy time with your close supervision or a designated place to enjoy a little independent play (yes, you sit down nearby and maybe even enjoy your morning coffee!). Sold on the idea of a standout baby gym? Below, shop our favorite styles for every need and budget—plus, read expert advice on how to safely use a baby play gym.
Whether you’re looking for a play gym for newborns, an affordable baby activity mat or a minimalist design, we’ve got you covered. Below, shop our curated roundup of the best infant play gyms and activity mats on the market.
Trying to decide on the best baby play gym for the little one in your life? You can’t go wrong with Lovevery’s signature play gym. This Best of Baby award-winner has some serious science behind it. Designed by child development experts, it’s the best play activity mat to last through your child’s first year. The colorful mat consists of five developmental zones for hours of play and tummy time, plus four detachable toys that can be switched out based on baby’s age and stage. Bonus: Its stylish design will look right at home in your living space.
Dimensions: 43" (L) x 38" (W) x 24" (H) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Five developmental zones
- Customizable toy attachments
- Can be used from birth
- Turns into a toddler play fort
- High price point
Newborn vision isn’t quite strong enough to pick up on subtle color differences. Until around the three-month mark, high-contrast images—like the black and white graphics on this baby activity mat—are the best way to grab your little love’s attention. A great spot to enjoy tummy time, this infant play gym has fun features for newborns to explore, like a detachable mirror, teething rings, flaps and crinkle paper.
Dimensions: 12.5" (L) x 11.5" (W) x 4.3" (H) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: N
- High-contrast images captivate newborns
- Several sensory elements to explore
- No overhead baby gym
A great neutral option for a small space, this minimalist baby gym consists of a wooden activity frame and a plush tummy time mat. They can be used together or separately, making this wooden baby play gym travel-friendly and easy to move around your home. Baby will love grasping at the floating sensory toys above—and you’ll love how it fosters their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Dimensions: 24" (L) x 20" (W) x 20.5" (H) | Age rating: 0 to 24 months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Gym and mat can be used separately
- Toy length isn't adjustable
Your little one may not have a green thumb, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy this botanical-themed baby play gym. The sweet setup includes a soft, quilted baby activity mat with garden-inspired toys hanging above. What’s more, this pick is perfect for getting baby used to tummy time, thanks to its supportive cactus pillow.
Dimensions: 15.7" (L) x 13.4" (W) x 7.5" (H) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Includes tummy-time pillow
- Garden-themed toys
- 17+ developmental activities
- Some elements are spot-clean only
Have a baby Mozart at home? Stoke your infant’s creativity with this fun baby jungle gym that lets them learn through play. Your child can kick the piano toy to trigger music as a reward for wiggling around, while the overhead frame encourages them to reach for the colorful toys above. Playtime will never be boring thanks to the crinkly, mirrored and musical elements on this infant activity gym—plus, there’s even a supportive pillow for tummy time.
Dimensions: 34" (L) x 27" (W) x 18" (H) | Age rating: 0 to 36 months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Colorful, music-inspired toys
- Detachable piano toy
- Tummy-time pillow included
- Four language options
- Requires batteries (not included)
If you’re on the hunt for a baby activity mat that isn’t an eyesore, this minimalist design is sure to check all the boxes on your list. The chic model consists of a super-soft mat and a wooden toy frame, all made of natural materials. Baby will love experimenting with the sensory ball, teether and mirror included with this infant play gym. Better yet, the neutral color scheme is sure to blend in with your home’s aesthetic so you can keep it out even after playtime is over.
Dimensions: 26" (L) x 20.5" (W) x 20" (H) (gym); 37" (L) x 37" (W) (mat) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Gym and mat can be used separately
- Two color options
- Converts into a tent with this kit
- High price point
- Included toys geared toward younger infants
Made from plush sherpa and chamois fabric, this dreamy baby gym is perfect for cozy playtime moments throughout your child’s first year. The baby activity gym includes plenty of sensory features—like a rainbow-shaped rattle and a soft squeaky bunny—for your infant to explore as their gross and fine motor skills develop. Better yet, the arches can be removed if you’re taking this baby activity mat on the go, using it as a tummy time mat or need to store it.
Dimensions: 39" (L) x 34" (W) x 21" (H) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Adorable sensory toys
- Made with high-quality fabrics
- Removable arches
- High price point
- Toys and arches are spot-clean only
Searching for a baby activity mat that your little one can continue to enjoy as they grow? Look no further than this versatile option. The 3-in-1 design starts off as an infant play gym and then can be used as a tummy time mat or a mini play tent as your child gets older. Five stimulating toys are included, like a wobbly, musical watering can and a frog rattle.
Dimensions: 54" (L) x 24" (W) x 19.8" (H) | Age rating: 0+ months | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Versatile design grows with baby
- Five garden-inspired toys
- Not as travel-friendly as other options
- Requires 3 AA batteries
Whether you're heading to the park for an afternoon or taking baby on their first camping trip, this travel-friendly play activity mat is designed to tag along and keep your little one entertained. The baby play gym poles break down, the mat rolls up and the whole thing packs away into an included “stuff sack.” Waterproof and machine-washable, you can also use the mat by itself as a diaper-changing pad—super convenient when you're on the go.
Dimensions (open): 39" (L) x 39" (W) x 19" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 6" (L) x 16" (H) | Age rating: N/A | Machine-washable mat?: Y
- Carrying bag included
- Minimalist design
- Made of nylon
When it comes to baby activity mats and infant play gyms, you’ve got plenty of choices. To help you narrow them down, we considered products in a range of price points, made from varying materials and designed for different purposes. To find the very best baby play gyms on the market, we looked for a range of qualities including features, aesthetics, ease of cleaning and, of course, safety. Whether you need a play activity mat made for travel or you’re looking for the best tummy time mat, we think you’ll find one that works for you in our roundup.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all our articles here.
Although a baby play gym can be used as soon as baby is born, once they reach the three-month mark they’ll enjoy using it even more. This is because their neck muscles will be stronger, so they’ll be able to better support their head and chest while on their stomach, explains Phillips-Walker. As your child begins crawling and becomes more mobile, they probably won’t use their activity mat as much. A baby gym also serves as a designated place to place baby on their back for some visual and tactile stimulation. Baby play gyms generally feature a variety of toys, textures and developmental activities that’ll continue to stimulate your little one as they grow. Some infant activity mats can even be transformed into play forts or tents once your child reaches toddlerhood—meaning they’ll be a staple in your playroom for years to come.
Safety is a top priority when it comes to using any baby gear, and play gyms are no different. To ensure your little love is safe as they discover the world around them, keep the following advice top of mind:
- Time limit. Start off with five-minute sessions up to three times a day, suggests Phillips-Walker. As baby gets older, the time limit can be increased; 5 to 10 minutes is recommended for newborns under the three-month mark, and 10 to 30 minutes is recommended for infants between 3 and 6 months.
- Supervision. Parents and caregivers should never leave baby unattended on a baby activity gym; this is especially true for infants who aren’t yet able to push up on their hands and knees independently. If your child rolls onto their face, Phillips-Walker suggests quickly intervening to prevent the risk of suffocation. Moreover, if you have to leave the room for a moment, look for another safe place for baby, instead of leaving them on their play gym.
When shopping for the best baby play gym, think about what features are most important to you. Looking for a stimulating space to entertain your child? Then an infant activity gym with bars overhead and lots of bells and whistles might just do the trick. Better yet, adds Phillips-Walker, dangling toys can encourage your little one to roll over, reach and grasp for objects. If tummy time is a priority, opt for a comfy baby activity mat covered with different textures, flaps and unbreakable mirrors. These features will promote tactile interactions, discovery and self-awareness. If bright colors aren’t your thing, there are even options in muted tones and natural materials that’ll blend right in with your decor. No matter what style baby gym you have in mind, Phillips-Walker recommends choosing an option made from non-toxic, infant-friendly material that’s durable and easy to clean.
Alexis Phillips-Walker, DO, is a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. She earned her medical degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens.
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