The best baby gyms and play mats to buy in 2024 each put to the test by parents and their babies

Our edit on the best baby gyms, including how to find the perfect baby gym for you and your little one

Our guide to the best baby gyms including options from Aden + Anais Play, Red Kite and Taf Toys
(Image credit: Future)

We're calling it: the best baby gyms or playmats are one of the greatest pieces of equipment you can buy for your little one. 

Helping to entertain your child, explore their surroundings and enable you to be hands-free, the best baby gyms are fun and functional. These pop-up designs and colourful creations are easy to use, even easier to set up and super portable. So if you ask us, they are one of the best toys money can buy. 

It will entertain your little learner, help them to explore their surroundings, and provide a safe space for them to play. “You want it [the baby gym] to be stimulating enough that it interests your child and helps with their development but not too overstimulating,” says Georgina Durrant, author of 100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play

The classic design of a baby gym hasn’t changed much over the years (and why would it when it works so well?). But usually, these handy accessories have a comfortable padded mat and an arch made from plastic or wood with toys dangling down. However, more modern creations tend to encourage sensory exploration with different textures, colours, and sounds to play with. 

“To support a baby’s visual development and interest, look for bold patterns ideally in black and white,” suggests Georgina. “Babies learn so much from listening to us speak, so try talking about what they are doing, describing the feel of the toys, the colours, anything!” she adds. “Praise them when they touch or feel something, kick their legs, or reach with their hands. You could also play peek-a-boo with them hiding behind the toys and peeking back out.”

How to choose the best baby gym 

Why you can trust GoodtoKnow. Our experienced Consumer Editor & parent reviewers spend hours testing products to help you make the best choice. Find out how we test and review products.

Choose your baby gym wisely, and you'll end up with something which will make your life as a parent that little bit easier.

Our testing process is thorough, consistent and fair. We selected the best baby gyms for this buying guide from a range of different prices, so we've covered everything from brilliant budget buys to luxury premium options.

To determine the best baby gyms we looked at:

  • Mat: There are many types of baby playmats, but choose a flat one because it's better for your baby’s back. Mats come in all different sizes and it’s likely that your preference will depend on the space you have available and how big your baby is. To keep them looking good, make sure you opt for a mat that can be detached from its arch and is, ideally, machine washable.
  • Toy arch: When deciding on a playmat, the height of its arch is important. Too high and your baby won’t be able to see and enjoy the toys higher up but too low and they might feel enclosed. Ideally, opt for a toy arch that allows you to add your own toys or – at the very least – move toys lower down so they are within reach.
  • Sensory activities: Sensory toys are probably the main way in which baby gyms have moved on and incorporated modern technology. From sound effects and textured animals to black-and-white patterns and fine-motor-skill toys, most baby gyms now have something for most of the senses. “It’s great if you can find something multi-sensory that uses all or many of their senses,” says Georgina. “Look for something with different textures to feel or things that make noises when they touch them.”
  • Mirrors: Babies are funny little things and often nothing entertains them more than looking at themselves. This is because they are learning face cognition, which will help them understand emotions and how to express themselves later on.
  • Longevity: Choose a baby gym that has something for every age and stage of your baby's development. A mirror and black and white patterns will keep a newborn captivated but, by the time they’re four months old, they're likely to want something a little more sophisticated to interact with, such as music or animals.
  • Tummy-time pillow: Many baby gyms now come with a tummy-time pillow. This creates the opportunity for babies to strengthen the muscles in their neck and back whilst lying on the floor, which will eventually help them sit and crawl. “The amount of tummy time a baby should be doing will depend on the baby and their development and muscle strength and I’d recommend asking your health visitor or GP for advice,” says Georgina.
  • Portability: If you plan to take your baby gym out and about, think about how portable it is. You need something that folds down quickly and small and that can then be reassembled with the minimum of fuss.

The best baby gyms as reviewed by our parent testers

The Play + Discover Baby Activity Gym from aden + anais


(Image credit: aden + anais)

1. Aden + Anais Play + Discover Baby Activity Gym

A tasteful, pastel-coloured baby gym made from high quality materials

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Tasteful design
+
Breathable mat
+
Machine washable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey but an investment buy

Tested by: Rebecca Hayward and four-month-old James

Aden & Anais’s Play & Discover Baby Activity Gym is very easy to put together, taking our tester, Rebecca, just five minutes from getting it out of the box to being ready. 

It has tasteful, pastel-hued toys which hang down from a light-coloured wooden arch and, unsurprising for a brand famed for its muslins, a muslin mat that is safe, breathable, and comfortable for your baby. 

Rebecca liked the Scandi feel of this gym, although she did think: “As much as it's nice, the pastel tones are perhaps a bit less appealing for little baby versus other more garish options.” The baby gym comprises elephant, zebra, and flamingo toys that hang down at just the right height for your baby to grab at. It also comes with a moon-shaped tummy time pillow which Rebecca thought “could come in handy again when James is a bit older and doing longer stints on the floor”. 

She thought that the price was a little on the high side and that “it's certainly at the more premium end on the spectrum of baby gyms available.” She would recommend this to someone who wasn’t on a budget but wanted “stylish design and functionality” and valued good quality products.

Red Kite Baby Gym


(Image credit: Red Kite)

2. Red Kite Peppermint Trail Play Gym

A fun and well-priced play mat that doubles up as a ball pit

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Detachable hooks
+
Eye-catching design

Reasons to avoid

-
Ball pit feels like an afterthought

Tested by: Florence Guppy and six-month-old Josie

Red Kite’s colourful baby gym uses a clever mix of bright, neon-coloured animals and black-and-white patterns to appeal to older babies and newborns alike. 

“The mat itself is bright, colourful and practical with the folding options,” said our tester Florence. “It has room for a good range of toys and enough space for baby to move about.” 

She found her six-month-old really enjoyed lying on it and would grab at two of the hanging toys in particular, although others she was less enamoured by. “Two of the toys are crinkly balls, one of which rattles, which I don't think really works as hanging toys and haven't really captured Josie.” 

Josie spent a lot of time looking at herself in the mirror. “The mirror really is fantastic and entertains Josie for ages.” One of the big bonuses is that the hooks on this baby gym come off. “The hooks are detachable so you could add your own toys,” said Florence, who also used this feature to move the toys lower when Josie couldn’t reach up. 

This baby gym doubles up as a ball pit, but Florence wasn’t that impressed as it made the space inside the mat small and there was only a token six balls included. This is a compact mat and Florence liked that “it is not too bulky in our flat”. It is competitively priced and would suit someone who lives where space is a premium.

Baby Einstein, 4-in-1 Kickin' Tunes Music and Language Discovery Play Gym


(Image credit: Baby Einstein)

3. Baby Einstein, 4-in-1 Kickin' Tunes Music and Language Discovery Play Gym

A colourful, sensory-based baby gym that grows with your baby

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Grows with your child
+
Multiple toys
+
Easy to assemble

Reasons to avoid

-
Thin mat

Tested by: Amelia Jean Jones and four-month-old Frederica

Baby Einstein’s 4-in-1 Kickin' Tunes Music and Language Discovery Play Gym is so-named because it entertains your baby in four ways: through lying, sitting, tummy time and take-along. 

It’s rather brightly coloured and our tester Amelia didn’t find it “the prettiest toy, which matters to me but not my daughter”. That said, it’s been cleverly designed so that, as your baby grows, they find different toys interesting or interact with them in a different way. 

So newborns will enjoy the mirror and colourful flashcards, three-month-olds, who are starting to control their neck, will make use of the tummy time pillow and older babies will enjoy making music for themselves with the Magic Touch piano. 

The piano is a standout feature and has flashing lights, classical music tunes and multi-language keys which describe colours, numbers and animals to little ones. The arch in this gym is high, but you are able to move the toys lower for babies to reach and touch them. 

One downside that Amelia found was she felt the mat was too thin which she thought “meant it’s uncomfortable on wooden floors”. 

This is a mid-range product that Amelia thought was worth its price tag because it lasted from newborn through to toddler age and has “multiple toys in one to keep them busy for longer”.

Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym


(Image credit: Fisher Price)

4. Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym

A colourful play mat that will keep your baby entertained, whatever the age

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Machine washable
+
Grows with your child
+
Multiple toys

Reasons to avoid

-
Very brightly coloured

Tested by: Emma Goodall and five-month-old Will

The main takeaway that our tester Emma had after using Fisher Price’s gym was how effectively it entertained her baby. “The design is very bright and colourful,” she said, admitting that it was a little too bright for her décor, but she liked that “the different hanging animals have captivating faces and designs.” 

Her son was mesmerised by the toys and would happily lie on the mat while she busied herself nearby. “Anything to buy me a few moments to get some jobs done.” This activity gym has a wide range of different interactive toys, including a musical toucan that sits on the top of the arches. 

You can choose where the toys go and there are even loops on the mat if your baby isn’t up for grabbing yet. “From spinning to crinkly to soft, it consistently kept Will entertained and busy,” said Emma. 

It also scored well on practical elements and was easy to put up, light to move around, and fuss-free to wash in the machine. 

At around £60, Emma thought it was good value for money for its combination of engaging toys and the way that the gym has been designed to appeal to different ages. For this reason, we’ve named Fisher Price’s Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym our Best Buy in the Baby Gym Buyer’s Guide.

Taf Toys All Around Me Gym


(Image credit: Taf Toys)

5. Taf Toys All Around Me Gym

A stylish, multi-sensory baby gym that grows with your child

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design
+
Grows with your child
+
Multiple toys

Reasons to avoid

-
Not machine washable
-
Batteries not included

Tested by: Leisa Millar and two-month-old Caspar

Taf Toys All Around Me Gym focuses on developing a baby’s senses with a range of different toys. Our tester Leisa thought her eight-week-old Casper would be too young to get much out of it but she was proved wrong.

“I was delighted to see how much he interacted with this,” she said. He swung his arms and legs to bat away the hanging toys and whacked at the ‘sensi-center’, a large panel of crinkly fabric, to get it to make a sound." 

The toys are all large and very colourful. “They each also have a bunch of sizeable care labels attached, which I guess is a requirement, but Caspar keeps trying to put them in his mouth, so I’ll be cutting them off.” The toys can be moved around to add variety as a baby grows and finds new things interesting and the mat that the baby lies on is well padded. 

This is a very chic-looking baby gym that works with most grown-up décor but unfortunately, the mat isn’t machine washable. “On balance, though, the threat of a code red clean-up operation is probably worth it for what I see Caspar getting out of this.” 

While the price is high, Leisa would recommend this to friends who want “to invest in a multi-functional product that baby can use over a long period of time…. Just be sure to stock up on batteries. And stain remover.”

Infantino 4-in-1 Milestones & Memories Twist & Fold Gym


(Image credit: Infantino)

6. Infantino 4-in-1 Milestones & Memories Twist & Fold Gym

A chic baby gym with a milestone mat

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design
+
Milestone mat
+
Easy to put up and down

Reasons to avoid

-
Mat a little small
-
Could have more toys

Tested by: Emma Goodall and five-month-old Will

Infantino’s 4-in-1 Milestones & Memories Twist & Fold Gym is easy to assemble and put down, thanks to a dynamic twist and fold system. You twist the arches, and click them into place, making the gym feel extremely robust and stable, even when energetic babies try and pull on it. 

This is a stylish piece of baby kit, with black and white patterns interspersed with vibrant pops of colour, making it not too garish while still being engaging. “It has a brilliant, cute look,” said our tester Emma. “It hits multiple play criteria while still being stylish.” 

The baby gym has a number of hoops for hanging toys and “my favourite is the cheeky fluffy sloth,” said Emma. She did think there could be a few more things for babies to do: “It doesn't seem to have as many accessories as other play gyms on the market for the same price.” 

That said, she liked the ‘milestone mat’ which you could use on the background of milestone photos. “It feels like a premium and plush product due to the overall style and the robust feel,” said Emma but caveated this with: “While value for money, there are other items in the market that offer similar for a lower price.” 

She would recommend this to friends, especially those who would appreciate something that was stylishly designed.

Skip Hop baby gym

(Image credit: Skip Hop)

7. Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym

A stylish, soft and well-made baby gym with lots of toys and developmental activities

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design
+
Lots of toys
+
High quality products

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey but an investment buy
-
Fiddly set up

Tested by: Susana Silva and eight-month Oriana

This Skip Hop baby gym was initially a bit tricky for our tester Susi to assemble. “The setup involved laying the mat flat, feeding the poles through four holes situated at different ends of the mat, and hooking them on a loop situated at the bottom of the mat.,” said Susi. 

“To ensure that the poles stayed upright and secure, you also have to loop them together at the top.” But once she had got past this, she found the mat stood “upright and secure”. 

The play mat is a neutral shade with just a few pops of colour so manages the thin line between appealing to style-conscious adults and being interesting for a baby. “Once it was fully built the activity gym looked beautiful,” said Susi. 

“I also appreciated the fact that no batteries were required as these are already included.” Her daughter was very engaged with all the toys in the gym and Susi found that this play mat “included many different activities which would keep the little ones engaged for longer”. 

That said, she did think it was a little large and wouldn’t suit someone who didn’t have lots of space. This gym retails at around £85 and Susi thought it was good value for money despite the price tag because of the quality of the materials and because there were so many toys for babies to engage with. 

For this reason, we’ve named the Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym our Best Premium Buy.

Lovevery baby gym

(Image credit: Lovevery)

8. Lovevery: The Play Gym

An eco-conscious, chic and well-considered baby gym

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design
+
Grows with your child 
+
Multi-sensory toys

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey but an investment buy

Tested by: Amelia Jean-Jones and her five-month daughter Fredericka

Lovevery’s play gym manages to tread the difficult path between being stylish (for parents) and fun (for babies). Our tester Amelia summed it up as “tastefully bright, yet eco-friendly and multi-functional enough to keep a baby occupied for hours at a time for months, or even over a year.” 

It has been created by experts using the principles behind Montessori and focuses on how the senses can stimulate development through play. “This is the kind of toy you set the baby down on and can finally finish a cup of hot tea before it turns tepid, knowing that the play is helping their development rather than feeling guilty over screen time,” said Amelia. 

Toys are a mixture of hanging and mat-based and are organised into five different sections that help focus a baby’s sight, sound, and touch senses, among others. This baby gym also boasts impressive environmental credentials, with carbon-neutral shipping and very high safety standards. 

“[It’s] good for baby, good for the planet, good value - it’s a triple treat,” said Amelia. It’s also machine washable (although only at a low temperature). 

While it’s an expensive initial outlay, Amelia thought it was good value for money in the long term because you’d get a lot of use out of it. Not only does it have longevity and “keep baby occupied from tummy time to teething and beyond”, but, because it is made of such good quality materials, it can be passed down through siblings.

Tiny Love baby gym

(Image credit: Tiny Love)

9. Tiny Love Black and White Gymini Play Mat

A chic, monochrome play gym, designed with baby development in mind

Specifications

Age range: From birth

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Stylish design
+
Multiple toys

Reasons to avoid

-
None

Tested by: Ursula Purrington and five-month-old Violet

This baby gym got a big thumbs up from our tester Ursula Purrington and her daughter, Violet. 

“This is a really brilliant play mat and my five-month-old really enjoys using it,” she said. The mat is a decent size (it can even fit two babies on) but at the same time “it doesn’t take up too much space”. 

It manages to be simultaneously appealing to parents and entertaining for babies. Ursula thought it would suit “someone that loves stylish baby items, monochrome, and anything not garish!” 

The play mat has been “designed with milestones in mind, such as object permanence”, so it develops with your baby and uses the various senses to stimulate and entertain them. There are musical toys and crinkly toys with different textures and colours. 

While Ursula found “the pull-out picture board part somewhat flimsy”, she thought the mat well-considered and made using high-quality materials. Most importantly, her daughter absolutely loved it and was totally engaged in it. 

At around £50, it’s competitively priced and looks more expensive than it actually is. For this reason, we’ve named the Tiny Love Black and White Gymini Play Mat our Best Budget Buy in the Baby Gyms Buying Guide.

When should I start using a baby gym?

Baby gyms are suitable from birth until your baby starts crawling around. The age of the latter varies widely but is usually between six and 12 months for most babies. “If it’s a flat mat and your baby is happy and safe to lie down on it, they can enjoy (supervised) short amounts of time on it from birth,” says Georgina. “As a newborn they can use it to lie and kick their arms and legs and as they get older they will start to interact with the various toys.”

Are baby gyms safe?

Baby gyms are safe to use from birth but you should never leave a baby, of any age, unsupervised on one. Make sure that the mat itself is padded and comfortable for the baby to lie on, and that there’s no way that they could choke or get tangled in the hanging toys in any way. This won’t happen with well-made baby gyms.

While you're looking for the best baby gyms, you might also be interested in the best baby bouncers and the best Moses baskets

Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

Heidi is a seasoned parenting journalist with over 15 years of experience. She has contributed to numerous UK national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph. Her work has also appeared in a variety of print and digital magazines, such as Psychologies and Mother & Baby, where she was Shopping Editor for six years. In this role, she specialised in consumer features, including buying guides and baby gear reviews. Heidi is also mum to two teenage sons and a ten-year-old daughter.