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10 best baby gyms to help improve their cognitive skills

Ignite your tot’s imagination with a multitude of activities and textures for them to grasp

Hanging toys and other features like textures, colours and noises, help baby's visual awareness ( iStock/ The Independent )

Baby gyms are the perfect way to keep little tots of just a few months entertained while encouraging their cognitive development by engaging with their surroundings and uses their senses. 

The hanging toys and other features like textures, colours and noises help baby's visual awareness while noisy parts can encourage the development to search for sounds. 

Look for durability, as well as plenty of sensory add on toys, that’s also easy to pack away.

But most importantly, it needs to help develop those crucial tummy muscles, as well as neck and arm strength eventually too, all of which will promote crawling and sitting up unaided. 

Here, we wade through the best offerings that help your little one absorb all the magic that surrounds them while preventing your home from becoming peppered with toys.

Argos baby Einstein rhythm reef play gym: £31.99, Argos

The lights and melodies in a tropical coral reef setting on this mat could keep baby’s minds buzzing for hours. The sturdy mat is soft and well padded to prevent adventurous tots from rolling – or crawling – out of it. With a big soft turtle hanging over the middle, separate plastic toys and mirrors, it’s engaging for little babies. But when they’re older, the gym part can be removed and just used as a mat for tummy time. It’s suitable from birth and batteries are included. 

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Fisher-Price kick and play piano gym: £39.99, Smyths

This busy baby gym will have tots multitasking in no time with the rattles to shake while tapping their little feet on a huge piano keyboard to activate music. The moveable arch enables baby to switch from back to tummy time easily and the removable keyboard equipped with long and short play modes can pop out for extra fun on the move. Music, lights, mirrors and bright colours make this fun gym the ideal way to boost baby’s motor skills – and could possibly make baby an X-Factor hopeful in years to come!

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Taf Toys musical newborn cosy gym: £72.99, Boots

Extra-thick and raised padding to keep baby extra-safe sets this gym above the rest when it comes to security. It’s moses basket design is part of a four-in-one musical baby gym, which is adaptable for different stages of a toddler’s development. We loved this as it also ticks the box for durability. The cosy gym nests baby under detachable arches that have four multi-sensory toys including a rattling penguin, a chime bell, a safety mirror and a musical pull-ring toy with colourful lights.

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Tiny Love forest gymini deluxe: £47.89, Precious Little One

This is another two-in-one baby mat and gym that gives tots an enchanting forest themed environment for that all-important continued growth and development. We particularly like the forest animals as it uses lights to engage babies as well as 20 different musical tunes, which encourages essential skills such as visual and auditory senses. When the time comes to use it as just a mat, poppers cover the holes left behind from the detectable arches.

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Playnest and gym farm: £52.99, Galt Toys

This doughnut-shaped farm themed gym keeps bouncing babies safe and supported thanks to its inflatable ring design. Textures and sounds compliment the four hanging toys, which aids tots’ hand-eye development. The design gives young children plenty to explore below and above thanks to its adjustable bracket, and the base is machine washable. 

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Ikea birch leka baby gym: £20, Ikea

We think this is one of the most well thought out gyms we tested because of the clever hanging toys which stimulate coordination skills thanks to the bright colours and contrasting shapes. These will help babies develop their eyesight and hand-eye coordination. Although it doesn't come with a mat, we still think it’s good value and we also like that the wood comes from a sustainable source.

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Mothercare confetti party tummy time roller: £13.50, Mothercare

Although it doesn't look like a traditional baby gym, this roller ticks all the boxes of one. The rolling cushion is packed with a variety of textures, colours and sounds for curious babies to discover such as a friendly jiggling mouse, a plastic mirror and some imaginative fabric petals that crinkle when scrunched up. We adored this because it was the only product we tested that promotes flexing of the limbs as opposed to simply grasping.

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Billowy Butterfly multi-activity play gym: £32.48, Little Bird Told Me

With padded butterfly wings that open and close, baby will feel cocooned inside this clever contraption. The butterfly design helps develop a handful of baby’s senses with toys to invigorate sight, a musical pull string for hearing and rattles to touch and crinkle. It also comes with a useful head pillow built into the wings.The gym’s arches are detachable, so the play gym can be used on home or on the go and the whole thing folds in half for simple storage.

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Lamaze spin and explore garden gym: £16, Argos

Babies can lay on their tums and spin on a giant ladybird on this garden-themed gym which works by building and stretching infants’ upper bodies by prompting them to reach for an array of toys that offer wonderful textures and sounds to entertain and excite them. The central spinner can be easily removed encouraging them to sit upright in the centre of the gym to play. Combining exercise and entertainment, this gym grows with your child throughout their early years.

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Mamas & Papas wish upon a cloud play mat and gym: £75, Mamas & Papas

This luxurious looking baby gym looks just like a cloud thanks to its soft faux-fur base and four hanging toys that encourage baby to reach out and grab, with each one boasting a surprise feature for tots to crinkle, squeak and rattle. An additional light-up penguin toy gives babies their very first playmate too. Soft, gentle fabrics in greys and creams provide a safe, stylish area for children to play and develop with maximum comfort.

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The verdict: Baby gyms

The Argos baby Einstein play gym is a clear winner at less than £40 and with so much to tantalise tots. While the reef rhythm play gym provides excellent value for money and works to enhance senses and cognitive skills. The lip at the edge of the mat gives the product that all-important security feature. We love the huge variety of toys, including the adorable centrepiece turtle that will surely become baby’s first friend.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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