During their first years of life, children learn with every step they take. Therefore, educational games are essential for them to absorb information while having fun. Baby activity tables are specifically designed to meet these two goals.

With these types of activity tables, your little one will learn numbers, varied vocabulary, music and even languages. In addition, they also help with the development of psychomotor skills and coordination. What more could you want? If you still have doubts, in this complete guide we solve them all.

Key Facts

  • Children between one and five years old are able to absorb much more information than we can imagine. This is one of the main reasons why it is extremely beneficial to have them play with toys that encourage learning.
  • Baby activity centers are toys that expose your child to different stimuli, so that they learn and have fun at the same time. Thanks to them, they can learn about numbers, music and vocabulary, among other subjects.
  • When purchasing a baby activity center, you should take into account factors such as the recommended age, the activities that it includes, the size, the weight and the material.This way, you can ensure that you make a good choice.

Our Selection: The Best Baby Activity Centers on the U.S. Market

As a parent, we know a little help never hurts. And especially when it comes to choosing a toy that will entertain your child during their early stages of development and learning. Therefore, we have taken the liberty of selecting for you the best baby activity centers right now on the market.

Highest Rated Baby Activity Center

With 4.7 out of 5 stars, this baby activity center by Skip Hop is the highest rated item in our ranking. So it is no surprise that it is also a best seller! This activity center includes movable toys such as peekaboo clouds that pop up and squeak,  a lamb with rattle beads, swaying stars that move back and forth, and a sun bead mover with a spinner. All of these fun games will get your baby’s attention, with over 25 different developmental activities. It even includes a little piano for their feet to play with!

Best Ocean Themed Baby Activity Center

If you’re looking for a fun, ocean themed play center, then this is a great product for you. Also a best seller, this activity center by Baby Einstein includes everything from a crab that spins inside a clear ball, to flashcards with real underwater imagery to boost vocabulary. With extra link loops, you can also add your baby’s favorite toys or swap out fresh ones if they get dirty. The baby chair allows your little one to jump and dance, which helps strengthen their developing leg muscles.

Best Adjustable Baby Activity Center

As parents, we are always looking to save money where we can. So it is not great when your baby outgrows everything so quickly and you have to spend time and money replacing everything. This is why an adjustable table is a great option. This activity center by Bright Starts has three height settings to let the platform grow with baby, and the seat rotates 360 degrees for access to the many toys. This activity center also features a platform that acts like a bungee when baby jumps up and down.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know about Baby Activity Centers

As time goes on, toys evolve and our children eventually move onto new things. Therefore, it is normal that, when buying a new game, we give it a lot of thought. To make the choice easier for you, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about baby activity centers.

las mesas de juegos para bebé son juguetes educativos con forma, como su propio nombre indica, de mesa.

There are many types of activity centers that you can choose for your baby.
(Source: Olesia Bilkei: 75145922/ 123rf.com)

What is a baby activity center?

Let’s start at the beginning. For those who do not know, baby activity centers are educational toys shaped like a table. It is a board with legs that have different activities, games and toys incorporated into if for children to learn and have fun.

Thanks to these tables, children become familiar with numbers, letters, songs and different words, as well as begin their language learning. The market offers a great variety of models designed to favor certain types of learning. They are very practical toys that your children will use for several years.

What types of baby activity centers can I find?

As we have mentioned, we are lucky to have many different types and models of baby activity centers available. It is important to know the difference between them, in addition to knowing what each one can offer you in order to choose the one that best suits your child and their stage of growth. These are the main ones:

  • Educational centers: although with all the tables the child will be learning something, there are some that are specially designed to teach numbers, letters, colors and that kind of basic knowledge.
  • Bilingual centers: ideal for children to enter the world of languages. They usually have two languages (such as Spanish and English), although you can find some with different languages.
  • Outdoor centers: these are fantastic when you have good weather. These types of centers have an additional seat so that your child can play with them outdoors.
  • Classic / basic centers: they are the simplest of all. The activities they include favor, above all, coordination and knowledge of new textures and forms. They are ideal for younger ones.
  • Construction centers: in addition to the traditional board format with legs, these tables have different blocks to create constructions out of very varied shapes.
  • Musical centers: these come with many different sounds and songs. Children have a great time with these kind of centers, since music is one of the best stimuli to which we can subject our baby.
  • Activity centers: the most complete of all. These tables combine games and activities of different types, which the child will discover as they develop their abilities. These are the ones that last the longest.
  • “Multiplayer” centers: very practical if you have more than one child or when you want the child to play with their friends, since they have several games.

Each of these activity centers offer different benefits that depend on both the tastes and the child’s development. It is important that you look at the age recommended by the manufacturer so that the baby does not get frustrated and can have fun with the Game Center. In addition, not all models within each type are the same, so we can choose the one we like the most.

Anne ZachryPediatric Development Specialist

“There should be no screen time before age 2. Studies suggest most children don’t understand what they see on a screen before that age. Currently, there’s no research available that shows learning truly takes place when babies view commercial educational videos, computer programs or apps.”

What advantages does a baby activity center have for my child?

If we ignore the different aspects of each type of activity center (that is, each of the activities that it includes), you will see that, in addition, they have numerous general benefits for children. The games focus on the children’s development and, as such, these are the main advantages it offers:

  • Children can learn while having fun.
  • They stimulate creativity and allow the baby to explore and understand their surroundings.
  • They encourage psychomotor capacity and hand-eye coordination.
  • They promote an active lifestyle.
  • Activity centers promote the development of cognitive abilities and intelligence.
  • They increase self-confidence and self-esteem, since children are able to carry out activities they set up themselves.

Baby activity centers are very useful and, as you can see, they have multiple advantages that the child will enjoy. And all these educational opportunities will arise without your child even realizing it. They will only play and have fun and we are sure it will become their favorite toy.

Ejercitan la capacidad psicomotriz y la coordinación mano-ojo.

Various studies indicate that children learn while they play.
(Source: Oksana Kuzmina: 93514831/ 123rf.com)

What age are baby activity centers recommended for?

At least for traditional activity centers (those consisting of a board and legs), the ideal is for the baby to be able to stand or sit alone. There is no exact age for this, but it is usually around the year or a year and a half. If the child is not able to maintain this position, he will not be able to reach the board or enjoy the activities.

However, today, manufacturers have adapted this type of tables to smaller babies. To do this, the boards can be separated from the legs and placed on the floor, so that our child can use it without any problems touching the buttons even while lying.

Age Range Ideal Position Type of Activity Center
From three months to a year Lying or sitting with support Boards on the floor or vertical tables
One to two years old Seated Activity centers with legs
From two to three years old Sitting and standing Centers with activities on the board and outside it (building blocks, for example)

Taking this into account, you can see how the centers grow with your child. As time goes by, these toys will offer more “sophisticated” activities. It is essential to remember that you should not use an activity center that is designed for an age greater than your child, since they will be frustrated by not be able to play the activities.

How can I get the most out of the baby activity center?

There are always certain practices that can help us get the most out of the time our baby spends in the activity center. This is some of the advice that specialists give parents for these types of situations. Take note, you will not want to miss anything!

  • It is important to respect the learning process: it is normal that, at first, the baby needs some time to adapt, know and feel comfortable with his new toy. Don’t worry if they don’t want to play too much.
  • Never force the child to play: the ideal thing to do is to create interest in the toy. You can sit with your child and show them how each activity works. This way, they will feel safer and have more interest in playing with the table.
  • Overusing the activity center is not recommended: two hours a day is more than enough. What we want is for the child to be curious and want to continue discovering. If you overuse it, you will get the opposite.
  • The table must be placed in a safe place: it is essential that we make sure that the place in which the baby plays is completely safe, away from edges of tables or objects that may pose a risk.
  • Company is sometimes essential: although you want to encourage your child to play autonomously, playing with him from time to time and showing them how much you like their toy will improve their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Shopping Criteria

We can waste lots of time comparing models before choosing the ideal toy for our child.We want to make your choice easier, so in this section we talk about the main purchase criteria that you should look at when buying a baby activity center.

  • Recommended Ages
  • Toys and Activities
  • Size and Weight
  • Material

Recommended Age

As we have mentioned on several occasions throughout the guide, it is important that the activity center has to adapt to the age and stage of growth of the child. Therefore, this is an important purchase criteria that you should take into account. Usually, the recommended age is specified by the manufacturer on the toy packaging.

It is essential that you follow these indications, since, if you do not, you can run the risk of your child becoming frustrated with the table. By not being able to understand and carry out the activities, the child will lose interest. Also, if the recommended age is less, the baby will get bored and will not want to play.

Los niños aprenden al mismo tiempo que pasan un rato divertido.

The games foster the development of the cognitive abilities of our children.
(Source: Oksana Kuzmina: 33021540/ 123rf.com)

Toys and Activities

As expected, another factor that you should assess before opting for an activity center for your baby is the quantity and quality of the games and activities that it includes. For this, you should take into account, on the one hand, that the games are entertaining and fun. In short, that your child can have fun with them.

On the other hand, the quality of activities. That is, they are designed so that the child learns in a practical and dynamic way. The more different activities the table includes, the better, so the little one will learn about varied topics and they will not able able to get bored or tired of the toy.

Size and Weight

In relation to size and weight, you should take into account two different aspects. You want to be sure that the activity center is the right size for your child, so that they can easily reach each button or activity of those found on the board. Also, when it becomes your child’s favorite toy, you will have to clean it, and you want that to be as easy as possible.

And, when it comes to taking it places, the best thing is that it does not weigh too much and is as compact as possible. That way, you can take it around with you and the child can use the table wherever they go. You can find folding or collapsible activity centers designed just for this.

Material

Another of the criteria that will make a difference when buying an activity center is the material with which it is manufactured. Most toys are made with plastic materials that, in addition to being very resistant and safe, are easy to clean.

You should also make sure that none of the materials may be harmful, toxic or cause allergies on the baby’s skin. Although most brands have 0% of BPA (bisphenol A), it is still worth checking.

Summary

A baby activity center is the ideal toy for the first years of your child’s life. Thanks to them, your little ones can learn numbers, colors, vocabulary, music and languages without even realizing it. They only know they are having a great time!

You can find different types and models of play centers, and you can choose the one that best suits the needs and tastes of our child. If you look at aspects such as the activities included, the recommended age, and size, the purchase will always be for the best. What are you waiting for to get your child’s new favorite toy?

If you liked our guide on baby activity centers, share it on social networks and leave us a comment!

(Source of featured image: Andrea De Martin: 85247097/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

William is a babysitter. In his professional career he has learned a lot in the field of education. Now he loves to blog about it and hopes to help young parents. It is important to Wiliam that he stays up to date, therefore he regularly informs himself about current topics in the field of education.