Parent’s Guide to Baby Play Centres: Learn by Having Fun

picture of a baby in front a baby activity centre in the living room

After a few months a baby is born, he/she starts to show a greater interest in playtime and this is when toy shopping becomes fun. But as a new parent, you might also feel unsure about what kind of toy to choose for your baby. A baby play centre is a great option to consider. By offering multiple opportunities to learn and enjoy, this toy is a hit among young children who are just starting to discover the world around them.

Unlike a single toy, a baby activity station offers a wide range of entertaining features such as buttons, sounds and levers, etc, that keep little ones fully engaged. Available in different shapes and sizes, they are an affordable toy to get for your munchkin. Most are designed for children ages 9 months or older.

Aside from being fun, activity centres provide tremendous benefits for your baby.

Physical Development

picture of a baby in an activity centre

In addition to supporting your baby’s cognitive growth, a baby toy activity centre also helps improve your baby’s physical skills such as grasping and reaching skills, visual awareness, motor benefits, self-awareness as well as sensory awareness and stimulations. By stimulating your baby’s movements, an activity centre allows your baby to cultivate and strengthen body muscles. Both gross and fine motor skills are improved as your baby play with an activity centre.

Cognitive Development

Nowadays you can find many baby play centre options with educational features that enable babies to learn a number of mental activities such as colours, shapes, letters, numbers, problem-solving, language development as well as general knowledge learning. It’s known that at the age of five years over 85% of the human brain will have developed. Research has shown that children who are exposed to activities involving reasoning at an early age tend to have a higher IQ than those who are not, and also tend to perform better in academic performance later in life.

Engaging Entertainment

picture of a baby girl with a baby activity cenre on a rug

When you give a baby a new toy, he/she tends to get very excited, but the level of excitement tends to decline with time due to the boredom with a single or couple of features. An activity centre, on the other hand, offers numerous features that keep a baby engaged for a longer period. This is not only beneficial to your baby but also for you as you get a break to make yourself a coffee or tea, or any other personal activity.

What Are the Best Baby Activity Centres?

To save you from spending countless hours researching the web for reviews and product information, below I’ve listed the best baby activity centres according to experienced parents.

Skip Hope 3-Stage Activity Centre

picture of a mother beside a baby in activity centre on a rug

This is an activity centre that grows with your baby. Its design allows it to be converted to a play station and eventually a toddler table. Little ones tend to love this toy and seems to just can’t get enough of the swaying objects, swivelling, and the electronic keyboard that lights up and plays songs when they hit it with their hands. The height-adjustable foot platform means your baby’s toes are always able to touch and push off. The Skip Hope 3-Stage Activity Centre comes with 6 detachable toys and activities and can be used for children 4 months to 4 years old.

Oribel PortaPlay Convertible Activity Centre

Like with the Skip Hop activity centre, the PortaPlay also grabs your child’s attention with toys that squeak, flip and spin. It can also be converted into an activity table for when your little one starts cruising or as a play table for bigger kids. What makes this activity centre stand out is its small-size and fast-fold legs, which makes it perfect to tote to grandma’s or fold flat to store away. Featuring 6 detachable toys and activities, the PortaPlay can be used as an activity centre from ages 5 to 12 months, and as a play table for up to 5 years.

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Centre

picture of a man beside a baby in front a baby activity centre on a rug in the living room

While the previous two options are also multi-stage activity centres, this one goes one step further – tummy time. This activity centre comes with a bottom mat that detaches from the table to give babies a comfortable place to practice their tummy time while they’re still too small for the full table. Because the toys are also detachable from the table, they can also be used to keep the baby entertained during tummy time. Once the baby is big enough for the activity centre, he/she will be captivated by the 360-degree spin and full standing table option.

One of the main concerns parents have when buying this toy is, are baby activity centres safe? Yes, this stationary toy is considered safe for children. However, you’ll want to pay attention to how much activity centre time your baby is getting. That is because the fabric seat does put stress on your baby’s hip joints, which can cause dysplasia with extended use. So, feel free to let your baby have a blast in his/her activity centre, but try to limit it to twice a day for no more than 15 minutes each time.