Healthy babies are always bubbling with energy. To burn off this energy, they jump on you, scatter the house or even throw tantrums.
Activity centers can entertain your baby, and burn off their energy the right way. Also, you will appreciate having a safe place to keep your baby while you rest or do other things.
However, choosing the right activity center, exersaucer, or jumperoo isn’t always the easiest thing. There are many brands and not all may suit your needs or be worth your money.
Follow our guide and recommendations to choose the best activity center for your baby.
These are our best picks
- SkipHop Silver Lining Cloud activity center– Overall best activity center
- Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo – Overall best runner up
- Evenflo Exersaucer woodland wonder lightweight activity jumper – Best for modern design
- Evenflo Exersaucer Activity Center, Safari Friends – Best for less stimulating toys
- Baby Einstein Neptune’s Ocean Discovery Jumper – Most educational activity center
- Bright Start Disney Baby Finding Nemo Sea of Activities Jumper – Best for enticing toys
What is a baby activity center?
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A baby activity center is a freestanding item that you can put your baby in to have fun while you take a break or do other things. They usually have a lot of toys, lights, and sounds to entertain the baby.
Babies can sit upright in activity centers and spin the seat around when their feet are on the floor. The toys in activity centers are evenly distributed for your child to access no matter their angle.
Activity centers, jumperoos, and exersaucers are usually grouped together and perform almost the same functions. Though you can use any of them for babies in the same stage of development, there are some things to consider before buying.
What to consider before buying an activity center
- Your baby’s age and weight limit of the item
Activity centers are designed for kids of different ages. Some are suitable for four months old kids, while there are others that your child cannot use until they are 6 months or older.
Activity centers for older kids are usually larger, with more capacity for their weight. You don’t want your child to stay in a play item that is too big for them. It could be hazardous.
Also, following the weight limit of the activity center will guide you on how long your child can use the activity center. Your child may tip and fall if he or she stays in an activity center that is too small for their weight or height.
- The size of the activity center
The size of an activity center determines how mobile the item will be. For instance, it will be easier to move smaller activity centers from one room to another.
If it doesn’t move freely when assembled, can you fold it to take it out from the doorway?
Consider your needs, and where you will be spending more time with your baby. You can go for a bulkier model if you and the baby will stay in a place where you won’t move much.
- The toys and other features
Activity centers come with different toys and activities, some are more stimulating than others. There are also different lights and sounds that could calm or motivate your baby to play.
Consider how energetic your baby is and why you need an activity center. An activity center with more bounciness and high-energy games can help reduce the energy level of a super-energetic child. This will help them sleep quickly.
Some toys and sound systems are detachable in some activity centers. You may want to go for something with detachable toys that you can take around if your child won’t let them go.
Kids jump a lot in activity centers and you want something that can withstand that energy level. A poorly made activity center can break while your child is in it and cause severe injuries.
Sturdy activity centers on the other hand will stand still while your child applies all the pressure they can.
You can convert activity centers like SkipHop to chalkboard tables for your child can still use them after they have outgrown the activity center. However, you may need to buy some of the extensions.
- Ease of cleaning
Babies use their mouths to explore everything and will spend much of their time sucking and chewing on the play item. Hence, you will need to clean them frequently.
Go for activity centers where you can wipe clean and wash the seat covers. The seat covers of some activity centers are machine washable, easy the job for you as a busy mom.
6 Best Activity Centers for Babies and Toddlers
We found the following activity centers to be great and worth the buy. Check them out:
SkipHop Silver Lining Cloud activity center
This activity center has everything a child needs to be entertained. There is a light-up keyboard that plays short songs and musical notes. It also has removable multisensory toys for your child to play with.
There is also a peek-through window for your child to look out if they want to see the piano close to their feet. You can adjust this piano setting to suit their needs.
This activity center has adjustable legs that will help your child use it for a long time. It is the best solution for kids that love to bounce. Instead of letting them bounce on you, make the legs of this item longer and keep them there. They will safely bounce to their heart full.
Cleaning is not difficult with this activity center because the removable snack bowl is dishwasher-safe.
You can convert this activity center to a plastic chalkboard table to make it grow with your child. However, you will need to buy the matching chairs separately.
Ali Van Straten loves this jumper
Ali is a mom to 2 from Minnesota and a blogger at Champagne and Coffee Stain. She said:
“My favorite is the Skip Hop 3 Stage Activity Center because it’s super durable and grows with a baby. We got ours with our first baby, and love how it’s been able to transform from an activity center up to an art station so she can still use it today (and she’s 4!). It’s been one of the best investments we’ve made!”
- There are more activities for the baby
- The colorful and multisensory toys are very interesting for babies. You can also move them around to keep the baby intrigued
- Babies enjoy the sounds from the keyboard and can look through the window
- The baby can stretch, spin and jump in the seat because it rotates 360 degrees
- Baby can bounce in the seat because of the adjustable foot platform
- The snack bowl is dishwasher safe
- You can convert this activity center to a suitable play table when your baby grows
- It may be difficult to clean the cracks around the peek-through window without scratching it
- The keyboard may go off on its own and this may hinder your baby’s play
Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo
Do you have a hyper kid? Get them on this jumperoo from fisher price. It is a full pack of fun, and kids can enjoy lots of jungle activities like a bobble elephant, peek-a-boo, and others.
It is one of the bounciest options in the market. kids can get a little wild and explore as much movement as they can.
Babies enjoy the stimulation from the toys hanging on this jumperoo. Some of them include a spinning sun, a hanging bird, and swinging animals.
Their play is even more interesting because of the lights and zoo animal sounds that are activated when they touch or make some bouncy movements.
Kids can access everything in the activity center without your help. The seat rotates 360 degrees, responding to their effortless spins.
Would you like to have some time for yourself? Drop some snacks for your baby on the inbuilt snack tray, or let them chew on the teether toy while you do your thing. Only stay close enough to monitor the baby.
This jumperoo is easy to assemble and cleaning is easy. You will only need 10 to 15 minutes to assemble the toy, and a washing machine to clean the removable seat.
To get the best from this jumperoo, lay a mat or fold a small blanket on the floor before placing the jumperoo. Playmat tiles also work as well.
If your seat rips or something else happens to your jumperoo, get a replacement from the manufacturers, under the warranty.
- The 360 degrees spinning seat allows the baby to reach every part of the jumperoo unassisted
- You can adjust the heights to three positions to suit your baby as they grow
- you can wash the seat pad in a washing machine
- The parts are easy to assemble
- The toys are stimulating and help kids explore movement
- It is one of the bounciest jumperoos in the market
- it is quite pricey
- it is large in size
Evenflo Exersaucer woodland wonder lightweight activity jumper
We love this activity center and jumper from Evenflo because it has 13 engaging activities, sounds, and lights for your baby. It is also very bouncy because of the springs in the seat.
These engaging activities are distributed around the play item to help your baby access them from any angle. Also, they can spin the seat with ease to find another interesting play.
Its beauty is another thing to die for. This is the kind of jumper you can comfortably park in your living room. It has modern colors and the wood accent makes it stand out. Its lightweight also makes it easy to transport from room to room.
Plus, you can adjust the height to four positions. This is unlike others that only have 3 adjustable height positions.
- It has 13 engaging activities for babies
- It is lightweight and easy to move between rooms
- You can adjust the height to four different positions
- It has a modern design
- The seat can spin
- It can be quite challenging for some people to assemble
- Some parents thought it looked flimsy
Evenflo Exersaucer Activity Center, Safari Friends
If your kid is super hyper and you would like something less stimulating for him or her, try this exersaucer from Evenflo.
It still has lots of great features, like a seat that rotates 360 degrees, and 15 activities that promote that help a child develop hand-eye coordination, core muscles, and fine motor skills.
Your child will enjoy the bouncy nature of this exersaucer because it uses enhanced springs. However, the child may not bounce enough until they have more leg strength.
It also comes with lights and animal sounds, and an off and on switch to regulate them. The elephant sound is the most enjoyable to us.
If your baby develops an attachment to the toys on this exersaucer, you can remove the toys and carry them away with the child.
You can adjust the height of this exersaucer to three different stages so that your child can use it until they are 18 months old.
The removable seat cover is machine washable, hence cleaning is not difficult.
However, you may need to fold a towel or blanket and keep on the seat opening before keeping your 4 months old. This opening is too large for them, and the added towel or blanket will support their torso more.
There is no lock feature to prevent kids from bouncing on this exersaucer, but you can lift the height higher to keep your baby’s leg from touching the floor. This will naturally reduce their ability to bounce.
You need 6 AAA batteries to play the music in this activity center. These batteries are included in the pack, but you will buy the replacement when it runs down.
- the toys are less sensory-stimulating and great for hyperactive children
- it has 3 adjustable height positions
- it has 15 fun activities
- it has a sleek design and is great for moms that love the simplicity
- it has interesting lights and sounds to keep the child entertained
- the removable seat cover is machine washable
- the seat rotates at about 360 degrees
- the seat diameter may be too large for 4-month-old babies. However, they can still enjoy the jumper if you pad the seat with a towel or blanket.
- The removable toys can be lost or dirty
- There is no lock feature on the seat to minimize bouncing. You can solve this problem by increasing the height of the chair to lift your baby’s leg from the floor, thereby preventing excessive bounce.
Baby Einstein Neptune’s Ocean Discovery Jumper
We love the calming color of this jumper. Its sea theme is attractive and interactive for kids. They will love the wide variety of colorful toys on it and connect deeply. These toys are also detachable, should your child find it difficult to let go.
This activity center also plays sounds and music. Good enough, this music is in a removable Neptune turtle which you can still carry around.
This turtle will still be useful when your child outgrows the jumper, because they will love learning how to count numbers in the 3 different languages provided.
However, some drawback of this jumper is that you cannot fold it to store it. Hyper kids may also be limited with this jumper because some parents complained about limited jumping capability.
Mark Joseph loves this activity center
Mark Joseph is the founder of Parental Queries. He said:
“My wife and I have two young boys who are always full of energy. We’ve tried a few different activity centers and jumparoos, but our favorite by far is the Baby Einstein Activity Jumper. It has so many different activities and toys for our boys to play with, and they both love it. It’s also been a lifesaver on those days when we need to keep them entertained for a little while so we can get some things done around the house.
If you’re looking for an activity center or jumparoo that your kids will love, we highly recommend the Baby Einstein Activity Jumper. Trust us, it’s worth every penny!”
- It has four adjustable heights
- It has padded seats and seat straps that will grow with your baby
- The seat rotates 360 degrees to help your baby reach all the features unassisted
- The detachable Neptune turtle plays lovely music and teaches the baby counting in different languages
- The brightly colored toys are attractive to kids
- It needs more storage space since you cannot fold it
- A parent complained that the base is not sturdy enough for hyperactive kids that jump a lot
Bright Start Disney Baby Finding Nemo Sea of Activities Jumper
This activity center is so much fun and engaging that it will wear out your energetic baby. A parent said she would hear her baby laugh out loud from the living room.
It features characters from Disney/Pixar films and babies love to play with them. They will still love the characters even when they haven’t seen the movie yet.
There are many toy options, including teethers for a slobbery teething baby. they can chew on this toy while listening to jazz music in the activity center.
The bright colors of this toy is another thing that parents love because it attracts kids.
The seat rotates 360 degrees for all round fun and cleaning is easy. You can remove the seat cover to wash.
Besides, this activity center is so easy to assemble that it wouldn’t take anything for a 16-year-old to put it together.
This activity center is suitable for 6 months old and has 4 adjustable heights to grow with your child.
Lola Akingbade loves this jumper
Lola is a wife and mom of 3, a 6-year-old and two-year-old twins. She is the founder of Deyewa. She said:
“Being a mom of 3, I have gone through a number of activity centers and jumperoos. Especially with my twin.
Our favorite is the Nemo jumper. It was very easy to assemble and has a removable seat cover which can easily be removed to wash and then replaced. It comes with a lot of toys for babies while they jump up and down and it keeps them entertained for a long amount of time. Another perk was that the seat height can be adjusted using the adjusting straps. It also plays music from the turtle and has some soft toys that babies can chew on especially when teething.”
- It has four adjustable heights to grow with your child
- The seat rotates 360 degrees to let your child reach all the toys unassisted
- The attractive Disney characters are easy for kids to relate to and enjoy
- Kids are attracted to the undersea fun and its attractive color
- The removable seat fabric is easy to clean
- Babies younger than six months may not be able to access some items on this activity center
- You need more space to store this activity center since it is not collapsible.
Are activity centers good for babies?
Every baby deserves an activity center. Besides the fun, these play items are necessary for babies because of the following reasons:
- It helps them build fine motor skills and coordination
There are many attractive toys in activity centers. For your baby to play with them, they must learn how to reach out to these items, grab them, shake and even explore them with their tongues. This will help them differentiate between textures.
The different lights and sounds in activity centers stimulate babies differently. Some will calm them on their tantrum day, and others will motivate them to play and get their eyes off you.
Babies also learn to move with their legs at an early stage when the legs reach the floor. Most activity centers have seats that rotate up to 360 degrees. 6 months old kids and those older learn to place their feet on the floor and spin their bodies to reach their desired objects.
- It helps them spend their energy the right way
Activity centers, exersaucers, and jumperoos allow babies to jump and bounce, burning off the excess energy. They take the blows for you on those days your baby won’t stop jumping on you.
Many of these play items have round and balanced bases which provide the support for your child to enjoy themselves unhurt.
The seats are also padded to provide a soft landing for kids. Hyper babies love bouncy activity centers, and many manufacturers add springs to their seats to promote this bouncy feature.
Babies can start using an activity center when they can sit up straight. This may be at six months. However, if your child becomes curious at four months, you can still get them a suitable activity center for four months old if they can hold their heads up alone.
20 minutes is the recommended time for babies to stay in an activity center. Staying longer than that can make the fabric seat stress your baby’s hip joint.
Also, at this time, your baby needs to spend more time playing on the floor to strengthen their muscles.
Many activity centers caught our attention, but SkipHop won our hearts. The convertible feature makes it stand out; you can even find a matching color of the chair.
Besides SkipHop, there are other lovely brands that can suit your needs. Don’t forget to consider the color and toy types that attract your baby the most. They can also guide you in making the right choice.
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