There are a few items that every parent must-have when their babies are born. The list might be a little bit different depending on where you are raising your kids and the cultural practices that exist. However, one item you can be assured to find in every baby registry and home is – the baby play gym. When perusing lists of newborn must-haves or assembling a baby registry, one item consistently claims the top spot – the baby play gym. Extreme popularity truly does make sense once you understand all the great features and conveniences one has access to. There are a large number of benefits that provide a safe and stimulating environment to infants.
It allows them to engage with their environment in a safe space and hit those crucial milestones right from birth. We encourage all parents to invest in an indoor play gym because although they love to be held and need a lot of snuggles in the beginning, they will soon graduate to needing a little bit more swaddling and rocking. By providing your child with an indoor play gym that is available in various forms, you are able to create a space where they can play and hit developmental milestones and create some cherished memories for the whole family. Let’s explore a few advantages of a play gym so you can solidify your decision.
Enhancing Vision and Hand-Eye Coordination
Did you know that a newborn baby can only see as far as 8 to 12 inches? Imagine that being their whole world! Baby play gyms are thoughtfully designed to cater to this limited vision, as the toys hanging just above them fall within this optimal range. When these hanging objects are also in contrasting colours then it catches the baby’s attention even more, making sure that their vision is stimulated daily. In addition, it helps a baby in supporting their reflex of moving their arms and body in the direction of their vision and starts to grow their hand-eye coordination.
Have you ever had a baby grab onto your hair at random? This is the same reflex we are talking about. As babies become more conscious and aware of this correlation and start moving their arms with more purpose, they start to develop their skills with more intention. Even what may seem like passive arms moving around truly hone their skills under the play gym. As an adult, this may not seem like much when we observe them trying to move around but it plays a significant role in their hand-eye coordination.
Sensory Stimulation for Development
Have you noticed how much toys and baby accessories have evolved over time? You can now buy toys in various textures as more information is available supporting sensory stimulation and development. Remember, a baby or toddler does not know the difference between work and play. We may know the difference between reading a novel of our choice versus reading a book for school because our cognition is developed enough. However,a baby gains all their sensory stimulation from what we introduce them to.
A play gym can be modified to support this and can be accessorised with various textures, mirrors and auditory features to engage their senses. Contrasting colours, rattles or music also help them engage in their space and learn what needs to be done to prompt a certain sound or feeling. It is important to remember though that this should be done in moderation and we never want to over stimulate a child. Take some care to not overwhelm with too many activities, instead let them explore this gym on their own and engage in play as they feel fit. As you observe your baby in the play gym, you will learn what they are enjoying and what other features can be added on for their growth and comfort.
Encouraging Movement and Strength Building
As infants start to become more mobile, a baby play gym becomes their whole gym much like a toddler going to a larger park and engaging with various swings and slides. This starts to contribute to their strength and mobility as they practise various movements and exercise those little muscles in their body. We love to joke that babies are always in funny yoga positions. This is a perfect example of how a baby play gym encourages them to move their body in different ways and build the stamina to do so over and over again. Different activities like holding toys in varying weights and textures, extending their arms, laying on their back and trying to reach hanging objects and reaching across the midline are all great strength building activities for your little ones that help with their physical and cognitive development.
This is also a great start to assist them for when they are ready to start crawling and holding their little heads up. These play gyms can also be very versatile and can be bought depending on what kind of play you want to encourage. We encourage you to purchase where you can lay it out on any flat surface so that they can move around their little bodies safely but also can choose to roll around when they are strong enough to do so. As you can see, the baby play gym is a perfect example of a versatile environment where much like choosing a gym for an adult, it serves as a strong stimulating environment for your baby too.
Cognitive Development and Cause-and-Effect Understanding
Baby play gyms also contribute significantly to the cognitive development of infants by creating an understanding of cause and effect. The beginning stages involve grasping the concept of a ‘primary circular reaction’, wherein infants learn to repeat actions which they first did by accident.Toys attached to the gym, designed for pulling, kicking, or making noise, serve as very valuable tools for teaching cause and effect. As babies grow, they progress to ‘secondary circular reactions’, where they show the ability to recall and intentionally repeat actions. Baby gyms, which to an adult may look like just play, actively engage babies in improving their cognitive skills, encouraging them to control their body and understand the consequences of their actions.
Fostering Self-Awareness and Social Interaction
As mentioned before there are a vast variety of items you can incorporate into a play gym. For example, mirrors provide infants with an opportunity for self-reflection. You will notice that many play gyms have a mirror attachment and that’s because babies love to work on their facial expressions which also contributes to their early social development.. As babies become more aware of their bodies, the play gym becomes a go-to space for them to practise using their limbs and enhance overall self-awareness.
The significance of baby play gyms today lies in their multifaceted contributions to infant development. From enhancing their vision to promoting body movement to growing their cognitive abilities, these gyms are a must-have for every parent raising a baby. We know it’s hard to not always snuggle your cute little one but they need to develop certain skills and strengths with you simply watching over them. Moreover, these baby play gyms offer a chance for parents to engage closely with their little ones at eye level, allowing their babies to develop skills they otherwise wouldn’t practise. This mutual interaction promotes a sense of security and emotional bonding.
For more information, make sure you visit EuroKids