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When I was expecting my second child I bought all the necessary equipment and supplies ready for his arrival, however, one thing that I didn’t worry about was toys, as newborns have the entire world to take in, and the first few weeks are spent sleeping and cuddling. Although one of the few toys that a newborn can benefit from early on, is a play gym. There is a vast choice of play gyms of differing sizes and prices, some which are basic and others that are more deluxe and offer a range of toys and music for baby to explore.
Luckily I was gifted the Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym when my son was born, as it has a rather hefty price tag of £54.99. This is the higher end of play mats in general; it is one of the most expensive play mats that I have seen. The rainforest gym is packaged in a clear heavy duty plastic carry bag, so it can be stored back in the bag when it is no longer of use, or to store it in if you want to put it away after play sessions.
Fisher Price is a reputable and trusted brand that produces and manufactures a vast array of toys for babies and children. All of the toys in their range are of a high quality and are designed with bright and vivid colours to stimulate and educate babies and children.
Rainforest™ Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym
The rainforest gym is visually appealing and it will capture a baby’s attention. It is constructed from non-toxic materials, it is durable and of a high quality. The gym is rather big, measuring 20 x 32.5 x 32.5, so a good amount of space is needed to gain regular use from it. It is suitable for newborns, and it is a toy that will grow with baby and encourage development. The gym requires three “C” batteries which are not supplied, however, these do last a reasonable amount of time. The bright and colourful rainforest play gym stimulates a baby with lights, sounds and textures, it is packed with features to entice and attract a little one. This is a fantastic interactive toy that is made up of different textures and colours for little ones to explore.
The play gym is equipped with a luxury quilted mat, which is 73cm long by 57.5cm wide, so it has ample space for baby to roll around and play. The four material covered arches slot securely into the mat and it takes literally seconds to assemble for baby to enjoy the sensory delight. Simply lay the mat out on the floor, and then snap the arches together, one of the arches slots onto the giraffe, these then twist open and can be slotted into the corners
of the play mat, you can then hang the toys from any of the hanging areas. The battery compartment is cleverly hidden, it is located in the base of the giraffe, you need to slide the giraffe up to get to the compartment, and the batteries are screwed in for security.
The soft giraffe sits at the bottom of the rainbow arch to provide extra support and look over your baby; it is holding a play mirror which hangs down for baby to admire their reflection, all babies love to look at themselves in the mirror. You are provided with an assortment of toys which attach to the arches, which can be detached and moved around to be re-positioned in different areas to keep a baby interested, and change the environment slightly to make each playtime different for baby. The toys are supported with material loops so they can be hung on baby chairs that feature a bar, on a pushchair or high chair, they can also be played with independently. There are several areas on the play gym with links to attach the toys (there are eleven areas in total,) so they can be hung above or lower down for them to reach out.
The tactile hanging toys provided include, a soft monkey that hangs from its springy tail, a soft toucan that jingles, an elephant with soft ears and a spinner containing beads, a parrot with a paddle spinner, and a frog mirror which hangs from the giraffe. There are two satin butterflies which are suspended from the hub; they gently flutter about when vibrations are made from baby’s movement.
The Play Mat
The large quilted activity mat has a luxurious feel to it, with a silky border. The mat depicts a rainforest scene, and it has many features for baby to discover that will encourage ‘Tummy time’. As well as the mirror, there is also a large crinkly leaf which has a shinny underside, a tiger tail, sun-ray ribbons, and there are three points to attach any of the hanging toys, you can also position the other toys to the lower hanging points so that everything is lower down to encourage baby to look up and lift their head. The mat is machine washable on a cool wash, which is an essential requirement, I find, with baby equipment, as there are always unwanted little accidents, so it makes cleaning it a breeze, so you can always ensure it is kept clean and hygienic.
‘Tummy time’ should be introduced once your baby is able to lift their head at approximately one to two months of age. This is vital for baby’s development as it strengthens the upper body, neck and arm muscles, which prepare baby for rolling over and crawling, which is the next stage in their development. Tummy time also improves coordination and balance. This also allows baby to perceive the world from a different perspective.
Music and Modes of Play
The play gym also offers music to stimulate baby’s hearing senses, and lights to stimulate baby’s visual senses. There are four tunes provided, as well as rainforest sounds to calm and relax baby. You can choose between three modes of play, from the buttons located on the top of the hub of the gym.
• Baby mode – baby can set off lights and music with their movements. • Music mode – plays 20 minutes of continuous music. • Rainforest mode - plays 20 minutes of rainforest sounds while.
The interactive play gym is educational; it offers many activities that will enhance baby’s development. It will also entertain and occupy a baby, and it could possibly soothe and calm them. It will stimulate a baby’s senses, whilst promoting and developing core skills. It will encourage baby to reach out, kick and bat at the toys, which will strengthen muscles whilst aiding in developing their coordination and focus. As baby is enticed to lift their head, they will soon build up their neck muscles to prepare them for sitting up. Gross motor skills are developed as baby reaches out for the toys and lift their head, and fine motor skills will be promoted once they are able to grasp and manipulate the toys. All of these skills improve hand-eye coordination. A baby’s sense of touch, sight, and hearing will also be improved from all of the stimulating activities.
Enjoying Being in the Rainforest
My son had a good few months play out of the gym; it was great for giving him a safe stimulating environment to play in. He enjoyed kicking his arms and legs about frantically with excitement, and he was eager to reach the toys, when he did eventually reach a toy he would be immensely happy. He was very content to play in the gym and watch all the toys dangling from above. Once he had strengthened his neck muscles and was able to hold his head up, the play gym offered a perfect environment for him to enjoy some ‘tummy time’, this gave the gym a whole new experience, as he was able to view objects from a different angle. ‘Tummy time’ strengthened my son’s muscles in preparation for sitting, crawling and walking. However, ‘Tummy time’ was never his favourite position,
and it didn’t take long for him to learn how to roll over. He was far more content with being upright; the play gym improved his development and gave him the skills needed to be able to sit up. We never really needed any other toys in the first few months, as this had so many activities to occupy my son. Once he had outgrown the gym, he still continued to play with the removable hanging toys, and these remained favourite toys for some time after, they were handy to hook onto his pushchair or high chair, so they wouldn’t get lost whilst out and about, or thrown onto the floor. All of the toys were lovingly chewed on and they all remained in great condition. The toys offered lots of different textures, and babies learn through their mouth. The gym provided my son with many happy hours of play. There was so much for my son to explore, with a multitude of tactile textures, sounds, music and lights, which all kept him entertained. I have been very happy with this gym, and my son has enjoyed playing on this gym.
Care and Maintenance
The rainforest gym is easy to keep clean, the play mat is easily washed on a low setting in the machine to bring it back to life and keep it in great clean condition, which is important as the mat is chewed, sucked and dribbled on. The mat should be placed inside a pillow case to protect it in the machine, and it should be line dried. The mat never did fade, even after being washed quite a few times over several months’ worth of use, the colour remained vibrant and the mat kept its soft feel. The toys can be washed in warm soapy water; I wouldn’t put them in the machine as this may damage them, and the arches can simply be wiped down with warm soapy water.
As you can see the rainforest play gym comes highly recommend, it is expensive, however, it is good value for money, as it has so many features and different modes of play, there is so much to keep baby entertained. I think this is going to be over the budget for a lot of new parents; however, it is a nice gift to receive. It is worth the money, even if it is extortionate, as the quality is excellent and it should give a baby plenty of stimulation and fun for several months. I really can’t find any faults with this toy, as it is of high quality; it is a delightful toy.
The Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym is widely available; it can be purchased from a number of on-line retailers, and retail outlets, such as:
• Argos • Amazon • Boots • Toys "R" Us
To see the full range of Fisher Price toys and baby equipment you can visit their website. Fisher Price also offers an extensive range of rainforest toys and equipment to kit out your nursery.
• Requires 3 x C batteries (not included). • Suitable from birth. • Product Dimensions: 82.6 x 82.6 x 50.8 cm; 1.1 Kg. • Batteries: 3 C batteries required.