As your baby learns to sit up, crawl and eventually walk, there will be no shortage of new things for them to discover and explore. Activity centers are designed to engage your child’s senses and stimulate their development, one toy at a time. They can also provide a safe space for baby to play when mom or dad needs a break. Here are the seven best activity centers for your little one to enjoy.
Best Baby Activity Centers
1. Bright Starts Around We Go 2-in-1 Walk-Around Activity Center
(Easiest to clean — $$)
Why it’s great: This two-in-one activity center features 10 tropical toys that capture baby’s attention with lights, music and interactive games. A unique design allows parents to use this seat and activity table as one connected unit or as separate parts, making it incredibly functional and versatile. Your little one will love the fun animal sounds and the electronic baby drum set that plays a myriad of tropical tunes. Parents praise this activity center for being easy to assemble and easy to clean.
Keep in mind: This activity center requires three C batteries to operate.
Good for: Parents who want an activity station that baby can use while sitting or standing.
2. Battat Wooden Activity Center
(Most durable — $)
Why it’s great: This wooden activity cube is a classic take on a modern concept and features lots of fun toys and games for baby to explore. An adorable farm theme factors into each activity, including a spinning animal alphabet, racing zigzag and wooden bead roller coaster. The bright colors and tactile features are sure to captivate your baby while the smooth wood and rounded corners will keep them safe while they play on their own.
Keep in mind: This activity center doesn’t have a confined seat to keep baby contained.
Good for: Parents who want an activity center that will stand the test of time as this wood activity cube is praised for its durability.
3. Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit-to-stand Activity Center
(Most versatile — $$$)
Why it’s great: This cheerful Fisher-Price activity center allows for three modes of playing and can be used as a newborn play mat, infant activity center and toddler play table. A 360-degree rotating seat invites your little one to spin and grab all the toys in front of them without mom or dad’s help while bright colors and flashing lights stimulate visual development. Meanwhile, a removable musical alligator plays fun songs that will inspire baby to practice her singing and dancing. With three height adjustments, this activity center is designed to grow with baby beyond their first birthday.
Keep in mind: Some customers say they wish there were more height adjustment options.
Good for: Parents who want an activity center that will grow with their baby as this product is appropriate for newborns and toddlers alike.
4. Baby Einstein Neptune’s Ocean Discovery Jumper
(Easiest to assemble — $$)
Why it’s great: This ocean-themed activity center also functions as a baby jumper, adding an extra element of enjoyment for your little one. Featuring four height adjustments, a bouncy swivel seat and loads of interactive activities, this activity center is a fan favorite among parents and babies alike. An electronic talking sea turtle introduces baby to numbers and colors in three languages: English, Spanish and French. The sea turtle can also be removed and used separately, perfect for throwing in the diaper bag or taking with you in the car.
Keep in mind: Some customers say this product is better for smaller babies, so check the height measurements before purchasing.
Good for: Parents who hate products with complicated assembly instructions as this activity center can be put together in less than 15 minutes.
5. Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center
(Best wood activity center — $$)
Why it’s great: This wooden activity center, by the Manhattan Toy Company, is durable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Designed as a tree house with four activity quadrants, this free-standing play center invites your little one to practice his gross and fine motor skills by touching, grabbing, gliding and spinning all the different objects. Babies will love the colorful details and interactive elements and parents will love the water-based, non-toxic finish and sturdy base.
Keep in mind: Some customers say that this activity center is tricky to assemble.
Good for: Parents who prefer to buy products made from wood rather than plastic.
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6. Skip Hop Baby Activity Center
(Highest quality — $$$)
Why it’s great: This modern activity center, by Skip Hop, encourages a “whole body” approach to discovery and is suitable for babies four months old all the way through the toddler years. With over 25 developmental activities, your little one will love touching, listening and looking at all the toys and games this activity center has to offer. As your child grows, this activity center can be converted into a play table with a chalkboard surface. Parents praise this activity center for its durability and sweet rainbow aesthetic.
Keep in mind: Some customers say the keyboard pops out easily, making it easy for baby to dismantle and toss aside.
Good for: Parents who want a high-quality activity center that won’t be an eyesore in the living room.
7. Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Spin and Sort Activity Center
(Best value — $)
Why it’s great: This jungle-themed convertible activity center has lots of fun features to keep your little one engaged, including four removable activity pods that stimulate your child’s tactile, visual and auditory senses. A 360-degree spinning seat provides easy access to the dashboard’s toys and games, all of which are removable and can be rearranged to accommodate your child’s preferences. As baby grows, you can switch out the seat and turn this activity center into an entertainment table for your toddler to stand at.
Keep in mind: Some customers say the seat on this chair isn’t as cushiony as they’d hoped.
Good for: Parents who want an activity center with all the bells and whistles for an affordable price.
The Bright Starts Around We Go 2-in-1 Walk-Around Activity Center is our overall top recommendation. It's the highest quality product we have found with the most affordable price making it the best value on our list..
FAQs about Activity Centers
1. What features should I look for in an activity center?
You’ll want to find an activity center that includes toys and games geared towards your baby’s age and preferences. Most activity centers encourage motor and cognitive development and cater to babies’ unique sensory experiences with bright colors and lights and cheerful music and sounds. Other standard qualities to look for when choosing activity centers include safety features, durability, size, and how easy it is to clean.
2. What are the different types of activity centers?
Some activity centers come with a seat included in the middle to keep your child contained. Other activity centers are designed for children to stand while they play. Convertible activity centers will offer both options and are a great choice if you want an activity center that can be used beyond your child’s first birthday.
3. What age is best for activity centers?
Some activity centers are designed for babies 4-6 months old while others are recommended for older children. If you’re using an activity center with a seat, make sure your child can hold their head up and support their neck before using it. Always consult the instructions and guidelines that come with your activity center to determine the correct age and weight limits for your product.
4. Are activity centers safe?
Yes, activity centers are designed to keep your baby safe, especially those that have a confined seat. While you should never leave your baby unattended in an activity center or allow them to stay inside it for an extended period of time, activity centers are a great way to keep your little one distracted when you need both hands to do a quick task.
5. How do I know my baby won’t hate using an activity center?
It can be tough to know what toys your baby will take to. Nothing’s worse than when a product that promises to cure baby’s fussiness or boredom comes up short. Fortunately, activity centers are designed to include a variety of different gadgets and games to stimulate infants’ short attention spans. Even if your baby doesn’t seem to like his activity center right off the bat, give it a little time to see if he adjusts. You can also rest easy knowing that most products can be returned or exchanged if you’re not 100% satisfied.
Babies are curious by nature and as soon as they learn to crawl, it can be tough to keep up with their constant desire to explore. Activity centers are a great way to indulge your little one’s penchant for adventurous play while also keeping them safe. Most activity centers come with a variety of toys and games that are designed to engage the senses and promote cognitive and motor development. Some activity centers can convert into standing stations to better grow with your child while other activity centers specialize in toys that encourage discovery and learning. No matter which type of activity center you choose, rest assured it will keep your little one safe and distracted while you get a few things done around the house.