5 Benefits of Play Gyms
The first 18 months of your child’s life is spent absorbing the world around them and accomplishing milestone after milestone. Play gyms are a fantastic way to help your little one make the most of that imperative learning period.
From birth, babies come out ready to explore, learn and grow. As parents, we instinctively feed, nurture and protect them. On top of that – we teach and guide. For years, play gyms have become increasingly popular due to their overwhelming advantages when it comes to aiding the development of your child. Here are five benefits of adding one to your baby’s routine.
- Sight: When babies are born they are near sighted, which means objects far away are blurry. It takes around 6 to 8 months for their sight to become clear and for them to differentiate colors and perceive depth. In the early months, objects placed 8-12 inches from their face are easiest for babies to scrutinize. Because of this, baby gyms are strategically designed to accommodate for a newborn’s developing visual perceptual skills.
- Muscle Strengthening: Most play gyms come with a play-mat, which is a safe place for tummy time. From day one, babies can begin practicing tummy time, which helps strengthen their necks, backs and abdominal muscles and eventually aids with their ability to crawl, roll over and sit up. Because babies spend so much time sleeping on their backs to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,) tummy time can also help prevent a flat spot that sometimes forms on their heads. Doctors recommend doing tummy time for 1-2 minutes a day. As your baby grows stronger, you can eventually build up to 30 minutes a day. One of the many added benefits of babies being on their tummies is the strengthening of their muscles in the arches of the hands as they bear weight on them when pushing up.
- Hand-eye Coordination: Play gyms are great for promoting hand-eye coordination and honing your little one’s depth perception. Most play gyms are safe to use from birth, however, they don’t get fully used until up to 18 months of age. As your baby’s sight develops, the toys, colors, textures and shapes will become clearer and the way they play and touch toys will evolve. You may find that putting extra toys on the ground in front of them can encourage your baby to reach, which leads to crawling.
- Cause and Effect: Around 4 months of age, babies begin to develop depth perception. This often coincides with your baby starting to intentionally push, pull, or drop things to see what happens (i.e. cause and effect.) By allowing your little one to spend time in a baby gym, they can safely experiment with the toys, mirrors, textures and sounds around them.
- Tactile Stimulation: As previously mentioned, when you give your baby interesting things to look at, their hand-eye coordination develops much faster, which aids in their ability to reach the milestone of grasping. Because play gyms are designed to be easy for little hands to discover, they propel your child into a world of tactile stimulation and help them do things like follow a moving object, recognizing themselves in a mirror, and differentiating between bumpy or smooth objects.
By actively playing, babies learn how to engage and interact in the world around them. The simple acts of moving, making and doing encourage creativity and imagination while developing your child’s dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Baby gyms can dramatically assist with healthy brain development. However, it won’t be long before just looking and touching something isn’t enough for your baby. Once your baby can sit up and crawl they’ll be on the move in search of toys and activities for older babies.
Tummy time safety
Remember to always stay close to and supervise your baby during tummy time. As he/she gets stronger and starts moving more, clear away any potentially dangerous objects.
Our favorite play gym
We love the Finn + Emma play gym because it has a 100% birch-wood frame finished with non-toxic stains and lacquers. The wooden toys are non-toxic, made from all-natural, untreated Indian hardwood and buffed with vegetable seed wax. The knit dolls were made with phthalate-free rattles inside, hand-knit from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and dyed with non-toxic and eco-friendly dyes. All Finn + Emma play gym buddies are interchangeable and can be used away from the play gym in the car, the bumper bar of your stroller or on a high chair. Best of all, your tot will never need a ride home at the end of the playdate!