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The Best Baby Gyms and Baby Activity Centers

Give their creativity a workout.

If you’re going to invest in one major toy for your baby, a baby activity center or activity gym is the way to go. Otherwise known as a toddler activity center, these things are essentially saucers where babies six months and older can sit, play with toys, admire themselves in mirrors, and generally, experience their first sense of freedom.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a baby activity center. Make sure it’s stable and won’t tip over, ever, especially if you have a very active child. Opt for activity centers with removable toys that you can rotate out to keep your child engaged. You’ll thank yourself later for choosing an activity center with a seat that’s easy to clean and small enough to not take over your whole living room. If you’re sensitive to repetitive annoying sounds — too late! (We kid) It’s unlikely you’ll get through parenthood unscathed by kiddie music, but there are certain baby activity centers that are quieter and less obnoxious.

If you don't have a lot of space, or want to take this activity center to grandma's house, the fold-up Oribel is for you. Its legs fold inward quickly and easily allowing you to store it in the trunk of your car. It converts into a toddler crafts table. The seat is made of elastic, so your baby can gently bounce around. And it's modular, meaning you can swap out toys to keep baby interested. The seat can be removed, allowing the unit to be folded into a traditional kids table, so kids can use it past the infant years.

This baby activity center has a spinning seat and four moveable activity pods for 360 degrees of play. Plus it grows with your baby. It has four activity pods that snap together or pull apart, providing a variety of toys to spin, click, teethe, flip, stack, sort, rattle, and roll. It turns into a toddler table when you remove the seat. And it has a ton of textures, bright colors, and rattle sounds to engage your baby's tactile and visual senses. The maximum recommended weight when using it as an activity center is 40 pounds.

The Skip-Hop baby gym lets babies watch their own feet while playing, which provides more minutes of entertainment than you might think. It has toys that can be moved around, and a 360-degree rotating seat that turns and stretches. The whole unit converts into a coloring table for older kids. While this activity center is billed as being safe for babies 4 months and older, make sure they can sit up on their own before using it.

A cozy play den, this one is meant to be used once your baby can sit up, at around five or six months. It has a hanging arch filled with crinkly, squeaky toys, and the colors are bright and engaging. The outer cover is removable, as are the rattles.

This baby activity center has a slew of toys, and a ramp that teaches babies cause and effect. It includes a high-flying giraffe rattle, teeter-totter zebra and lion, and palm tree spinner, an elephant bead bar with fishy clackers, a bee teether, and a removable musical alligator. We love that the seat pad is machine washable and that the unit can transform into a toddler table. It's suitable for babies 6 months and older, while the toddler play table is safe for kids 9 months and older.

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