- The Lovevery Play Gym uses simple toys, a large mat, and a variety of play stations to keep infants engaged in play.
- It was developed in collaboration with child development experts and includes a helpful developmental guide so parents can maximize its use.
- Of all the baby activity gyms I tried, this one held my son’s attention the most.
- Although it’s pricey, the gym also grows with your child — allowing for seated play and converting to a tent that toddlers may find fun.
Babies are obsessed with the simplest things — my 9-month-old just spent 15 minutes talking to a sock he stole from the clean laundry pile. But most baby toys are anything but simple, with bright colors, flashing lights, and annoying music. The Lovevery Play Gym is not most baby toys, and the difference was evident as soon as I pulled the wooden arches out of the box.
Designed with the help of child development experts, the Play Gym has a large mat with built-in tummy time stations and three hanging toys that can be played within several different ways. Infant activity gyms can help encourage developmental milestones through play, according to a pediatric occupational therapist and Inspired Treehouse blogger Claire Heffron.
“As a therapist, I would say that the most significant experience for a baby’s development is being positioned on the floor to play,” she said. “Many families opt for activity gyms and other ‘props’ that can make floor time more interesting for babies. Playing on the floor in various positions builds strength, promotes visual motor skills, and generally helps babies get a feel for how their bodies work.”
Despite the simplicity — or perhaps because of it — the Lovevery Play Gym kept my son’s attention and encouraged grasping and rolling. Lovevery sent me a sample to test, and I tried it with my son for more than three months, starting when he was 6 months old. The design and versatility make it the best baby activity gym that we’ve tried so far.
Design and specs of the Lovevery Play Gym
The Lovevery Play Gym uses three wooden arches that are quickly assembled without tools using a plastic centerpiece. The arches are about 20 inches tall, which is high enough for older infants to engage in seated play. An optional cover turns the gym into a tent, but in turn, it covers much of the tummy time stations. Measuring almost 4 feet with the tummy time stations unfolded or about 3 feet with them closed, there’s plenty of room to roll.
The Lovevery mat isn’t just fabric for keeping spit-up and diaper explosions off the carpet. It has five built-in play stations for tummy time — pictures, colors, sounds, textures, and hide-and-seek. Each section can be folded up to encourage the baby to focus on one area at a time. It also offers more cushion than any other mat that I’ve tried.
The Play Gym includes three hanging toys, a fabric ball, a wooden noisemaker with a jingle bell, and a teething ring with crinkle fabric. Three plastic pieces can also hang photos on the arches to provide visual stimulation for young babies.
Made from a polyester blend, the mat is machine washable but air-dry only. I was originally worried about the off-white color, but spit-up stains washed out well. It tends to wrinkle and is a bit of a lint magnet, so avoid washing it with towels.
Minimal looks, maximum play
Despite the minimalist design, or perhaps because of it, the Lovevery Play Gym held my son’s attention longer than other baby gyms — long enough for me to fold laundry or tackle the dishes. He loved shaking, exploring, and just jabbering at the wood hanging toy. The crinkly fabric in the noise station extended his tummy time, which was impressive for a baby that previously hated being on his belly.
Lovevery also developed a guide that offers ideas on how to play together, as well as different ways for baby to use each element of the gym. I never would have thought to use the ball or the crinkle tummy time section to encourage kicking. The guide breaks downplay ideas for every age (with two months to each section) and also highlights developmental milestones relevant to how baby plays.
What makes the Lovevery Play Gym stand out
Wooden play gyms are much less common than fabric-and-plastic options. But the Lovevery Play Gym stands out for much more than its minimalist design. It was designed in collaboration with child development experts, and it shows. Without the help of flashy colors or electronic music, the gym encourages rolling, extends tummy time, and keeps baby focused on one toy for longer periods.
My favorite part is the mat. Most mats might have one spot for tummy time play, but the entire perimeter has a different station for a variety of play options. The developmental guide is also a big help in understanding age-appropriate play.
Now that my son is crawling, he doesn’t spend quite as much time in the play gym because he’d rather explore the rest of the living room. But the taller design allows for seated play, and toddlers may get a kick out of the tent cover. Those features help extend the life of this product.
While the wood arches are overall positive, the hanging toys are attached using slots in the wood so they can’t be adjusted to different positions or heights. The youngest babies will only be able to reach one toy at a time because of how much space is between each. This could be intentional since overstimulation can be a problem.
The size of this mat could pose a problem for apartment dwellers and in small spaces. It takes up a good chunk of real estate and is awkward to carry through a doorway. Storage isn’t an issue, however, since it is easy to disassemble.
The bottom line
With a minimalist design and toys designed by child development experts, the Lovevery Play Gym is the best baby activity gym that I’ve tried. Despite its simple appearance, the hanging toys and tummy time stations kept my son’s attention for a long time and the mat’s large size is conducive to milestones like rolling.
Retailing for $140, it is a splurge item. Other activity gyms, like the Skip Hop Farmstand ($80), will still encourage the same milestones. But the design, versatile play, and developmental guide make it an excellent buy for parents with a larger budget.
Pros: Large play mat, wood design, versatile play, easy to wash, developmental guide
Cons: Toys cannot be repositioned, expensive, too large for small spaces