This activity is perfect for very young babies. You can start as soon as your child is born if you like, and as the months pass, you will be surprised to see how quickly they learn to play with the hanging objects differently. A newborn will stare at the objects, whereas by two months of age, they will already try to bat at them with their hands and legs (you can vary the position of the play gym so one day their hands reach and another their feet reach). Later, they will try grabbing the objects and holding onto them as they explore them.

Children at our CEFA Early Learning schools are too old for this activity, but it is perfect for newborns and young babies. Try it at home!

Best Ages for This Activity

0 to 6 months

How to Make It

You Will Need

  • A baby gym (you can make your own as long as you are very sure that it is safe)
  • A comfortable surface for them to lay on (it can be their crib if you wish, or a thick comforter on the floor)

Let’s Get Started!

  • Assemble the baby gym and lay your baby underneath it. Make sure you supervise at all times and position the objects in a way that they will not scratch or hurt your baby’s delicate skin.
  • Remember that very young babies cannot turn their heads. For this reason and until they are capable of taking their focus away from the toys hanging from the baby gym, you must stay close at all times. Only place the baby gym above them for a few minutes at a time so they don’t feel overstimulated. If your baby starts to cry, remove the baby gym and try again a day later.
  • It is best to do this activity when your baby is not tired or hungry. For example, when they just wake up (after feeding)
  • Each week vary the objects you hang from the gym with objects you can make yourself. You can then bring back objects you used before after two or three weeks – your baby will love to focus on them again!

Here are some ideas:

  • Black and white patterns (here are some free patterns that you can print)
  • Photos of your family (parents and siblings) focusing on just the face
  • A small toy they can grab and pull, like this one for example:

  • Bells that make noise when baby bats at them (you can use the ones from this music set, which they can also use as instruments when they are a few months older)
  • A maraca that makes noise when baby bats at it with feet or hands (you can use the ones from this music set, which they can use as instruments when they are a few months older)
  • Colorful ribbons
  • Colorful scarves
  • A light ball they can grab, like this one
  • Soft rattles, like these
  • Three bright shapes like these or these, or ones you can make with cardstock
  • One small toy that they can focus on, like this one

Learning Opportunities

At first (when they are very young) your child will focus on the objects or pictures and learn from them. During that time, photos of your face and the faces of the people closest to babies are perfect. Even photos of other babies. As well, black and white images offering high contrast are great learning tools for babies. Later, your baby will learn S.T.E.M. while they try to bat, pull or touch the objects with their hands and feet, and they begin to examine objects (and their reactions) more closely. It is also a nice sensory activity, a precursor to writing.