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You’re lucky if your baby has a favorite toy and wants to play only with it. Otherwise, you may need multiple toys with multiple features to keep the baby entertained, especially when they’re growing. One of the many entertaining toys you can get for them is an activity center, which keeps them engaged for hours.
In this MomJunction post, we provide the complete guide to activity centers for babies and also list some of the best activity centers that you should consider.
What Is An Activity Center?
A baby activity center is a stationary stand with a seat and a range of toys around it. The toy looks like a saucer placed on a stand with the baby seated at the middle of it. Unlike baby walkers, activity centers do not move but may have a bouncy seat, with a slot each for both the legs to prevent the baby from slipping. The number of toys and activities can vary.
Activity centers are also called exersaucers and stationary entertainers. A baby can benefit from an activity center in many ways. Read on to know why your baby could use one.
What Are The Uses Of A Baby Activity Center?
You need a baby activity center to:
- Keep the baby engrossed: The various games and toys of an activity center keep the little one engaged. Playing with the rollers, buttons, and squeaky toys on the platform may help the baby improve fine motor skills.
- Help them practice standing: You can get an activity center when the baby is around eight months old, or 12 months to be more appropriate. A 12-month-old can use their hands to pull up to stand and may even be able to stand alone (1). An activity center can let them practice standing, without the risk of falling, which in turn can strengthen the leg muscles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby activity centers over baby walkers (2). The stationary nature of the activity center can be a safer choice than the moving walker. However, it is vital to pick the right activity center for the baby so that they can get the most out of it.
How To Choose An Activity Center?
Here is what you should consider when shopping for an activity center for your baby.
- Target age group: Activity centers are often made keeping in mind the needs of babies of different ages. So the games and activities on an activity center will be relevant to the age group the toy is made for. Also, the age will determine the weight limit of the activity center.
- Ease of use: The various toys that come with the activity center should be easy-to-understand and play for the baby. There should be enough novelty and excitement offered by the activity center to keep the baby busy.
- Multiple features: Some activity centers grow with your baby. For instance, once your baby has turned into a toddler, the activity center transforms into a play table. Some activity centers let you remove the toys, allowing the baby to play with them even when they’re outside the activity center.
Next, we give you a list of the best activity centers for babies of all ages.
11 Best Activity Centers
1. Fisher-Price Spin ‘n Play Safari Activity Center
This exersaucer from Fisher-Price probably has some of the most exciting toys to keep the baby entertained.
- It has a musical toy shaped like an alligator, with keys that let the baby play music. The baby can remove the module and carry it along to play.
- Several other small toys make various rattling sounds to keep the baby engaged while they sit on the seat, which enables 360° movement.
- The activity center transforms into a play table for a toddler. A spiral ramp stands in the middle of the table. Some toys can roll down the spiral slide, or the toddler can use their toys like a toy car. The sight of the toys sliding down the spiral slide is surely exciting for a little one.
- A few parents were unimpressed by the durability of the product and found the activity center a bit unstable.
2. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo
This activity center is a wholesome entertainer and will certainly be loved by the baby.
- The seat is bouncy, and each time the baby bounces, the activity center lights up and plays sounds.
- The seat can be adjusted to three heights, to suit the growing baby’s needs. The seat pad is removable and machine-washable.
- The frame is made from steel, which makes the toy quite durable.
- The activity center comes with several exciting toys like peek-a-boo toy, rattle, drum, and more.
- Some parents noticed that a few toys and their functions stopped working after some time.
3. Skip Hop 3-Stage Activity Center
This activity center is an excellent choice for parents who plan to retain it through the baby’s infancy and toddlerhood.
- The activity center has three functions: sit & bounce, a cruise & interact, and a play table for older toddlers.
- The activity center comes with several toys that clamp to its frame. The toys are removable for the baby to play separately.
- The removable seat suspends the baby securely from the frame. A pad works as a footrest and also doubles as the lid to cover the opening of the activity center.
- Some parents did not like the design of the activity center. Parents noticed that the fingers of young infants tend to get stuck within some toys.
4. Summer Infant Portable Activity Center
The Summer Infant activity center is highly portable and can make any place fun for the baby.
- The entire activity center is wrapped around a foldable frame. When the baby is done playing, fold the frame, and carry the activity center away.
- The manufacturer ships the activity center with a bag to carry it. The shoulder straps on the bag make it convenient to carry.
- There is a detachable canopy that you can carry separately when taking the activity center outdoors. The canopy protects from the UV rays.
- Since the activity center is foldable, you do not get many attached toys when compared to other activity centers.
- A few parents did not like the build quality of the product.
5. Oribel PortaPlay Activity Center
If you like carrying along the baby’s activity center during your travel, then this exersaucer from Oribel makes a perfect accompaniment.
- The legs of the activity center fold flat and transform it into a compact and easy-to-carry toy.
- The seat is plush, which makes it comfortable for the baby to play for long. The seat can also turn by 360°.
- Once the baby is old to play in the seat, you can remove it and convert the activity center to an activity table.
- The toys are designed for young infants and do not make any sound or music. A few parents noted their baby growing bored of the activity center after some weeks of use.
6. Evenflo Exersaucer Bounce and Learn Sweet Tea
This exersaucer has a tea party theme that is adorable to look at and engaging for the baby.
- A colorful toy bar runs across the activity center, encouraging the baby to raise their head and take a look at it, thus exercising the neck muscles.
- The seat pad cover is removable and machine-washable so that you can keep the activity center clean. The seat can be adjusted to three height settings.
- The activity center sits on a base that provides stability and grip.
- Several parents did not like the quality of the plastic and noticed several edges of the activity center to be sharp.
- A few parents found the activity center to be a bit unstable.
7. Disney Baby Finding Nemo Jumper Activity Center
Disney’s activity center with a jumper comes with brightly-colored toys that will keep the baby thoroughly engrossed.
- Each toy is modeled after a character from the popular Disney film, Finding Nemo. There are more than 12 toys and activities for the little one to enjoy.
- Two electronic toy modules give out light and sound when moved. The toy makes ocean noises.
- The electronic toys use little power, extending the battery life to around 288 hours.
- There are four height settings for the activity center, which you can use to adjust it as the baby grows.
- Some buyers did not like the build quality of the product. A few parents noted that parts of the activity center loosen and break with use, over time.
8. Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Center
This activity center has a unique design that separates the baby’s seat from the toys.
- The activity center, with its toys, stays to the side of the baby’s seat. This way, all the toys are in front of, and not around, the baby.
- The baby’s seat has wheels. The seat revolves around the activity center or the central stand. It encourages the baby to push or move their legs and slide the seat around.
- You can remove the baby seat and only use the activity center stand when the baby turns into a toddler.
- The quality of the plastic and the product’s durability was not to the liking of a few parents.
9. Evenflo ExerSaucer
Evenflo designs this activity center to stimulate the complete physical development of the baby.
- There is a baby mobile (an arch with toys) that goes over the activity center’s frame. It makes the baby look up and around, which helps exercise their neck muscles.
- The seat can be easily adjusted to three heights using a slider on the frame of the exersaucer.
- The seat comes covered in a removable, machine-washable pad.
- A soft base attached to the frame of the activity center provides support to the little one’s feet.
- Most toys are removable and can be used separately by the baby.
- A few parents felt that the teething toys could come across sharp for some babies.
- The electronic module only plays sounds and not songs.
10. Infantino Baby Activity Center
This activity center packs excellent features, along with a set of toys that is exciting for a baby to use.
- The comfortable seat can rotate 360°, to provide the baby access to the six activity toys on the frame.
- The floor platform also works as the top cover of the activity center. It turns it to an activity table when the baby grows old.
- You can detach the toys and store them in the seat harness. Two straps close the seat and prevent the toys from falling.
- The legs of the exersaucer fold inwards, thus making the activity center fold nearly flat, making it easy for you to carry and store.
- Some buyers did not like the quality of the plastic and the colors used on it.
11. Baby Einstein Rhythm of The Reef Activity Saucer
This activity center has an adorable theme that your little one will undoubtedly find exciting.
- There are several ocean-themed toys across the activity center. There is a lot for the baby to do in this exersaucer.
- The seat can turn 360°, which provides the baby easy access to all the toys across the activity center. The seat is adjustable to three height positions.
- There is a removable and machine-washable seat pad.
- Some parents noticed that the stickers on the toys tend to peel off if the baby puts the toy in the mouth.
- A few buyers did not find the product durable, and electronic module stopped working after a few weeks of use.
Whichever activity center you choose, remember to check its age and weight limit. If it begins to tip even slightly with regular use, then your baby has likely outgrown the weight limit. With careful use and maintenance, most activity centers go a long way, especially if they can be transformed into an activity table after the child outgrows the activity center.
Has your baby used an activity center? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
- Important Milestones: Your Child By One Year; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Movement: 8 to 12 Months; American Academy of Pediatrics
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