Are Activity Centers Good for Babies?
Activity centers are good for babies because they provide them with a safe, secure space to explore textures, movements, sights, and sounds and practice important fine motor skills like the pincer grasp, reaching, grabbing, shaking.
But here comes a caveat.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, activity centers are only safe for babies when a child can use them when they can sit independently without balancing on their arms and limiting their use to 15 minutes for one or twice a day. Otherwise, activity areas stress a baby’s body by putting them in positions beyond their development milestones or in unnatural positions, delaying or preventing their development.
Exersaucer American Academy Pediatrics Recommendation
The AAP recommends 6-7 months, or until when your baby can sit independently without using arms for balance as the best time to put them in the exersaucer. Similar to baby walkers, they are not good for newborns until they reach a certain age.
You can also read our guide on why baby walkers are bad for infants.
Why Activity Centers may not be Best for your Baby
Activity centers, especially when used before your baby can sit independently without using their arms for support or for an extended period, may not be best for your baby because they limit your baby from exploring how their body works, they put your baby in poor postures, delay important motor milestones, and they increase the risk to falls.
Recommended age if you must use baby activity centers
The American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 6 to 7 months (or until when your baby can sit independently without using their arms for balance) as the right age for putting your baby in an activity center.
How to entertain baby without activity centers
You can still entertain your baby without activity centers if you are wary of their likely risks to the development of your child. If you choose to get an activity center at the recommended age of at least 6 months, check out our reviews of the best baby activity centers in the market today.
Use playmats, portable cribs, play gyms to entertain your baby without activity centers.
Playmats entertain your child and support mobility development because they come in different colors, patterns, and sizes and the floor time helps your baby learn how to move independently.
Portable cribs, also called Pack and Play are a safe alternative to activity centers because they allow you to contain your baby in one place and provide them a safer area to move about and explore.
Play gyms are an effective alternative to activity centers because they encourage your baby to use their strength to explore.
Note that play gyms do not contain your baby.
FAQs on Baby Activity Centers not being good for your baby
Are Baby Activity Centers Bad for Baby Development (Legs and hips)?
Baby activity centers are not bad for your baby’s legs and hips development as long as they are used for a maximum of 15 minutes, are freestanding, and are not attached to the doorway. Otherwise, the baby activity centers are bad for your baby’s legs and hips development because they put unnecessary stress on their legs, hips, and spine.
Is the Skip Hop Activity Center Safe?
The Skip Hop activity center is safe for your baby as long as you do not use it for more than 15 minutes and are not attached to doorways as recommended by the American Academy for Pediatrics.
Mary Stephens is our infant development and baby fun activities specialist here at Motherhood HQ. She has over 10 years of experience dealing with kids, previously as a K3 teacher and now as a K9-12 teacher specializing in physical education and Social Studies. She is certified to teach in New York and Massachusetts and when not teaching trampoline jump tricks or giving toddler safety guides, she enjoys writing and providing helpful guides to parents on baby fun activities from infancy to toddlerhood. Mary is also an independent consultant providing parents with fun activities at home and appropriate toys and baby gear for infants and toddler development. She can be reached at her email, mary.s(at)motherhoodhq.com.