Description: A soft, comfortable surface over which hang two arcing poles and under which events may dazzle and amaze the onlooker – not dissimilar, in fact, to the new Wembley stadium. Or more precisely, a selection of toys and soft cuddly things suspended from above that will entertain your baby as she tries to focus on this strange planet she’s just arrived in.
Pros: Baby gyms show you, the parent, the wide array of feats and movements that your baby can manage even though she’s only a few months old. Once you put Junior under those activity toys you’ll begin to see a total-body experience taking place, with all sorts of leg and foot action going on as well as the first real utilisation of fists and arms – it’s truly remarkable. Baby gyms, for most of us, are the first opportunity we get to see baby flexing her muscles and choosing which toys she likes and which toys she doesn’t.
Cons: It’s not really the fault of the baby gym, but there is something quite sad about the time when baby has had enough of being static on the floor and just wants to explore instead. As parents we obviously applaud the newfound skills of crawling and very soon, walking, but equally we mourn the end of the true baby-era. Baby takes a matter of months to go from cute, near helpless infant lying prone on the floor to the destroyer that is a toddler, roaming from room to room upsetting all that stands in his or her path. Never mind ‘pity the children’ how about ‘pity my brand new state-of-the-art LCD stuck-to-the-wall television’.
What’s it all about? Babies either get on with gyms or they don’t. There’s no real way of telling until you have gone to the trouble of buying one. Our son would certainly use his, but only if one of us was hovering over him and encouraging every single interaction – whereas friends of ours unveiled their baby gym one day and by the next, their baby was lost in her own world for the best part of two hours at a time. This gave Mum and Dad the chance to read a chapter of their new paperback, or watch a bit of news on the television. Imagine that.
Bloke’s Rating: You’ve joined the gym yourself in the past, and had every intention of going regularly – this could be the same for your little one. Give them a while to get into it. Alternate the toys, and therefore the exercises on offer and look forward to the day that he rolls over for the first time, unassisted – magic.