5 Benefits of a Baby Play Gym for Development
Look at any list of newborn essentials or items you must have on your baby registry and a baby play gym will be at the top of every one. There’s good reason for that! Baby play gyms provide a ton of great benefits. They also provide somewhere safe and stimulating to put your baby down (while supervised, of course.)
There really isn’t much you can do to play with a newborn. The good news is, newborns are very easily stimulated and they are learning constantly just from interacting with the world around them. A baby play gym is the perfect item for babies to interact with, and they will get lots of benefits from it from birth until they are several months old, making it a worthwhile investment for any family. Not to mention it will help your child begin to develop the strength and coordination needed to enjoy an EZPlay indoor toddler gym a few years down the line!
Helps Improve Vision and Hand-Eye Coordination
When babies are born, they can only see clearly objects that are between eight to twelve inches away. Baby gyms are perfectly set up for a newborn’s developing vision, since when a baby is laying under the play gym the toys hanging above them are just about eight inches away from their faces. They also best see brightly colored or contrasting colored objects, which is why most baby gyms (including ours!) have objects in contrasting colors. This means your baby’s vision is being adequately stimulated while they play.
Babies are also born with a reflex that causes them to move their arm in whichever direction their head is facing. This reflex is the very beginning of their developing hand-eye coordination. A baby play gym gives babies the opportunity to use that skill in an intentional way rather than as a reflex as they reach for objects. Once they turn their head to look at an object attached to the play gym, the corresponding arm will move. Over time, the baby will become aware this is happening and start to move their arm on purpose.
Even if a baby is very small, they can still get benefits from a play gym by working on their visual tracking skills. Visual tracking is when a baby or newborn follows a moving object with their eyes. As babies get better at this skill, they’ll be able to better track objects with their eyes by moving them up, down, sideways, and diagonally. This is the beginning stage for developing hand-eye coordination and being able to move their gaze intentionally from one object to another. So while it may seem as if your baby isn’t doing much at all when you set them down under their play gym, pay attention to their gaze!
Encourages Movement and Strength Building
As your baby starts to become more mobile, a baby gym is a great place for them to work on strength building and practicing movement. Laying on their back while they hold a toy, bringing both hands to their midline while holding a toy, and reaching across their midline for a toy are all hugely important milestones. These activities help strengthen the muscles and also areas in the brain that are essential for further movement development down the line, like crawling.
These movements can also help your baby build core strength, which is another essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to holding up their own head, sitting, and crawling. Baby gyms give babies the safe space necessary to help develop these skills. While using a gym babies can play on their back, sides, and tummy, and practice rolling. The cognitive developments a baby gym can assist with are huge!
As your baby gets older, they will start experimenting with rolling and sitting up on their own. A play gym can provide a great stimulating and safe environment for these things to happen. It can also encourage this type of movement by providing interesting objects for your baby to reach and grasp for which will then lead to rolling and later sitting.
Sensory play is one of the most important types of developmental play for young babies. Baby gyms are a great way to introduce different sensory objects to your child. Most baby gyms have objects that are different colors and textures or make noise. Different, contrasting colors help stimulate your baby visually. Toys that rattle or play music will grab your baby’s attention and teach them to move their gaze to find the source of the noise. Different textured objects will hold your baby’s attention as they experience something that is bumpy, or crinkly or smooth when they reach for it.
t’s important not to make your baby’s play time too stimulating, however. Remember newborns are used to a dark, quiet place. Too much noise and light and color can easily overwhelm them and make playtime go from fun to a nightmare in seconds. Try using one or two brightly colored or noisy toys at first and take them away when your baby shows the first signs of being distressed.
It doesn’t take much effort to stimulate a newborn at all. It may feel as though you’re not doing enough to play with your child, but enjoy this quiet phase while it lasts! Even though it may seem like your baby is simply lying on the floor under their play gym doing nothing, they’re actually learning a whole lot! Providing them with the resources to learn and develop is the best thing you can do when it comes to “playing” with your infant.
Babies learn cause and effect and a concept called a “primary circular reaction” which means that they will learn to repeat an action they originally did by accident. Any toys attached to the baby gym that can be pulled, kicked, or make noise can help yeah cause and effect. As your child gets older, they will then move on to “secondary circular reactions” which means they remember actions they completed before, and will repeat them. So the first few times they hit a hanging toy it may be by accident, but eventually they’ll start doing it on purpose.
Baby play gyms are obviously great tools for helping babies and infants start to work on these skills. It may seem like they are lying there flailing aimlessly, but in reality they are working very hard to get their brain and muscles to work in tandem. They are very busy starting to grasp the concept of cause and effect, an important milestone in child development. They are also learning to control their limbs, something that takes time, strength, and concentration. Plenty of time in the baby gym can help them develop these skills.
Benefits in Self Awareness
Many baby gyms come with a small mirror attachment, and even if the one you have doesn’t they are easy to find and add yourself. Babies love looking at themselves in the mirror. It helps them learn to recognize faces and facial expressions.
As babies get older, they also begin to be more aware of the rest of their body. They have arms they can move, legs they can kick, and hands that can grab. A play gym is the perfect place for them to practice using their bodies and building awareness.
Baby play gyms are also a great opportunity to parents to get down on the floor and play with their children. Getting up close to your baby and letting them see and touch your face can help them build facial recognition skills. Plus, you’re probably their favorite thing to look at!
As you can see, there’s a reason why every new baby registry contains a play gym. They have lots of great benefits for you and your little one. It isn’t always easy to find ways to keep a newborn stimulated and make sure they are getting enough playtime and development time. A baby play gym is the easiest and most effective way to ensure your child is getting the very best.
The new EZPlay Bonobo baby gym is a perfect choice if you are considering getting a baby play gym, whether it be for yourself or as a gift for someone else. Unlike other play gyms which are made from plastic or synthetic fabrics, the EZPlay baby gym is made from all-natural and high quality materials, meaning this is a baby play gym that is safe and durable.
The Bonobo playset comes with 3 detachable handcrafted sensory toys designed by experts to promote cognitive, visual, and motor development from newborn to toddler. The gym will fit in seamlessly with any decor and doesn’t take up too much space in the home. All of these features make it a perfect option as an addition to your baby registry.