Activity Gym Hacks That Promote Healthy Baby Development

While babies are often careful watchers of the world around them, your little one also needs plenty of playtime actively engaging with people and objects in his environment. That means plenty of time out of restrictive Baby Holding Devices and lots of playtime on the floor or being held. 

Even though playtimes will be short in baby's early months, they should be frequent throughout your baby's day. Here are a few simple hacks for keeping your baby's activity gym exciting using household objects you already have and strategically placing toys to keep baby's head round!

Get Creative With Suspended Toys

If you haven't chosen an activity gym yet, here are tips for choosing a great gym for your baby's development). And if you're on the fence about whether or not an activity gym should be one of the many pieces of baby gear that clutter your home, Mama OT does a great job thoroughly explaining the developmental benefits of activity gyms for babies

If you have an activity gym for your baby, it probably came with a few toys.Since your baby can't yet move around the house and explore new sights, sounds and sensations on her own, she's relying on you to bring new experiences to her. 

Getting creative with what you hang from baby's activity gym is a great way to give her new things to visually explore (a HUGE playtime activity for newborns), to reach for, and to touch. Actively engaging with the world around her is critical for your infant's motor, cognitive and sensory development. While you still need to closely supervise for safety, you'll have more freedom baby's first 3 months to hang household objects because your little one likely won't be grabbing and bringing things to her mouth. 

Ideas for Objects To Hang From Baby's Activity Gym

Use ribbon, yarn or plastic toy links to secure items to your baby's activity gym, such as:

-gift wrap bows
-small bells
-tiny windchimes
-shiny metal measuring spoons 
-black & white picture cards (mounted to cardstock or cardboard to keep them from folding)
-household decorative items - non-glass Christmas tree ornaments, silk flowers, etc.

The sky's the limit - this is definitely not an exhaustive list. Instead it's purpose is to get your wheels turning. What do you have in your home that your baby might like to look at or reach for?

Keep Your Activity Gym From Making Baby's Head Flat

An important thing to keep in mind when using your baby's activity gym is that it CAN encourage your baby to spend MORE time with pressure across the back of the head, just as in the "back to sleep" position. This can put baby at higher risk for Brachycephaly - or flattening across the whole back of the skull. It can also allow baby to let her head turn in a preferred direction, putting baby at higher risk of Plagiocephaly - or asymmetrical flattening on one side of the back of the head. (Confusing because "Plagiocephaly" is also the umbrella term used to describe multiple types of head shape deformities). 

To make sure that your baby's time under her activity gym doesn't contribute to head flattening, position toys to the sides of her activity gym instead of directly above your little one. Positioning toys around the perimeter of the gym will encourage your kiddo to turn her head, reducing pressure across the back of the skull. If your baby has a preferred head position or has developed a flat spot, strategically place toys on the opposite side of the gym to encourage head turning in her non-preferred direction or away from her flat spot. 

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