Our Yael loves to kick and straighten his legs when on his back. At this age, he could very well appreciate his play gym. It is always a joy to see him kick his new mat gym in order for it to light up and make sounds.
Just like any mom, I am guilty of overspending for my boys. We tend to hoard cute onesies and rompers which our babies could wear for only a few months. We have the tendency to overstuff our children with toys they would only play for a few months or weeks.
Imagining that our Yael would look cute with these clothes on or toys, I oftentimes give in to the temptation of buying baby stuff for him. But I guess there is always a time for everything and that includes buying these cool baby necessities or wants.
As I see our Yael grow, I may say that the best time to buy a play gym is when he reaches three months of age. By this time, he now tries to reach out and touch things close by. He also kicks a lot and would love to straighten his feet. A play gym would definitely help his physical development!
Ours is from Bright Starts and it has a baby-safe mirror, tummy time pillow, dangling toys of different textures, shapes and colors, and a musical box which plays melodies and animal sounds.
Listed below are some of the developmental benefits of a play gym as I watch our baby plays with it:
Advantages of play gym
Visual benefit. When I was shopping for a play gym, the store attendant mentioned that babies are born nearsighted. Objects or faces about eight inches from their face register clearly as oppose to those beyond 12 inches which may appear blurry. They are highly attracted to contrasting colors like black and white. Most play gyms take advantage of this thus have bright contrasting colors.
Motor benefit. A play gym encourages babies to use the muscles in their arms, legs, neck, and even tummy. Why? because everything is just so colorful and attractive they would want to reach them all.
Mental benefit. Yael would stare at the dangling cat that shows colors and makes sounds. Then the light and sound stop. He accidentally kicked one of the arches of the play gym and the light and sound appear again. He must have realized that kicking his play gym would make the sound and light come back again, thus he repeat doing it. \ Through this exercise, he learns at a very young age the basics of cause and effect. Those kick-activated toys respond to his actions, facilitating him to understand the concept of cause and effect.
Sensory stimulation benefit. A play gym features various textures, colors, and sounds. The dangling toys help babies develop their visual awareness skills. The music and rattles make babies curious thus push them to look for the sound. Even the texture of the toys would teach them what hard and soft mean and how rough and smooth feel.
Self-awareness benefit. It is most advisable to get a play gym with a non-breakable mirror so babies can spend the time to look at themselves in the mirror. Our Yael was three months old when he first recognized himself in the mirror. And he was stunned. Now, at four months, he begins to playfully respond to his mirror image by making faces. And watching him is such a joy!
Indeed a baby play mat can be an excellent tool to teach our babies and assist in their development. But still, the best teacher and stimulation is us, mommies or daddies. Even the kuyas and ates. It is best that our babies hear our voice, touch our face, and even smell our hair because aside from letting them develop their senses, they would definitely feel a lot secured. Why? because they know they are with people who love them dearly.
So after your babies play with their gym, how about you play or sing with him?
*Yael at 3 months old