The Best Non Toxic Activity Gym for your Baby. Best Baby Play Gyms Reviews & How to Choose the Best Wooden Baby Gym for your Family.
When you’ve got an infant at home, a good wooden baby gym is worth its weight in gold. Helping to develop hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and shapes/colors/sounds recognition, encouraging reaching, grasping and rolling, and keeping young babies entertained are just some of the benefits of a great play gym for babies.
However, because babies get so up close and personal with the gym and play gym toys – and have even been known to put a baby gym toy in their mouth – we recommend buying a wood baby gym that uses non toxic materials and toys, and using fragrance free cleaning products to clean them.
Build around 5 different zones, we love that it comes with a list of suggested ways to use it, ensuring you’re offering your little one plenty of age-appropriate activities to encourage development. Priced right in the middle of the pack, we also think the Lovevery offers great value. And we adore that the baby play gym mat is included – and filled with plenty of developmentally appropriate activities built right in!
If you don’t like the gyms below, another great option is to “build your own” gym. Scandiborn sells baby gym frames with different accessories you can add on, which lets you choose each piece and curate the experience.
Here are the gyms we considered!
- The Winner – Best Activity Gym for Infants and Older Babies: The Play Gym by Lovevery
- The Runner Up – Best All Wooden Baby Activity Gym – HABA Color Fun Play Gym
- The Upgrade – Monti Kids Wood Play Gym (with 8 hanging toys for baby gym included)
- Good on a Budget: HAN-MM
- The All Natural: Finn + Emma
This is by far my favorite, and since I have this in my own home, I know it’s great quality and it’s easy to explain and show all the features.
First of all, of the different wooden baby gyms I’ve included in this list, I think this is the most versatile. It can be used as a playmat, a tummy time mat, or as a full on baby gym, if you attach the arches (which is super easy to do).
I also love how it’s been designed to support baby’s development.
The foldable baby playmat part of this play gym is broken up into five different interactive play zones, each of which have been specifically designed to encourage your baby’s development. You can use the mat on its own – it’s awesome for tummy time – or hang the arched wooden bar pieces up to make it more of a traditional baby gym (better for when baby is on their back looking up at the ceiling).
- Learn to Focus Zone: This area has a flip up pocket with 2 slots, where you can slide in Lovevery’s high contrast cards, mirror cards, facial expression cards, or object cards. They’re super easy to switch up so your baby doesn’t get bored.
- Hiding and Finding Zone: This zone has a secret pocket which hides a bright green silicone teething ring. Fun and surprising, and good for developing a sense of object permanence.
- Exploring Colors Zone: A personal favorite, this section is quite beautiful, and hard not to be drawn to, with pretty watercolor-looking patterns and flexible fabric fingers to grab, each in a different vibrant color.
- How Things Feel: In this section of the play gym mat, there are 5 different textures, from a fuzzy, squishy red mop-like thing to a smooth satiny ribbon to little “french fries” that wiggle when you touch them. Great for exploring texture!
- Making Sounds: Finally, the sound are has two hidden squeaky buttons which your baby will be delighted to find, plus lots of crinkly paper inside for little hands to grab.
To use it as a wooden baby play gym, you just set up the arched wooden bars (made from FSC-certified wood from sustainable sources), which is extremely easy and quick to do, no tools required.
By doing so, you unlock more features, especially for young babies who are in the mood to lie around on their backs:
- Card Clips: This wooden baby gym has card clips where you can attach the Lovery cards, so when you’re baby is on their back, looking up, they have something to look at. Swap out the different options and mirrors to keep it fun and help their eye development.
- Hanging Toys: The arched bars double as a hanging toy bar, with 3 spots to hang toys from. The Lovevery baby gym comes with toys to get you started, including a cotton, high contrast and textured ball, a crinkle paper section on a silicone ring, and a wooden rings thing, which has a bell and also “clacker” pieces that make noise if your baby lifts up the centre circle.
From tummy time with newborns to more curious and active play with older babies, the Lovevery works up until 12 months or so. From there, it converts to a fort with the included play space cover – giving plenty of opportunities to use it throughout the early years. You can also put away the legs, and use it as a cute playmat in the nursery or elsewhere in the house.
One thing I like about Lovevery is everything is designed to stimulate cognitive development and motor skills through the different play zones, interchangeable toys and learning cards, and teething accessories.
Each station can be concealed to prevent overstimulation and encourage your baby to focus on one particular element. As your baby gets older, the different stations encourage baby-led organic play. And when they get even older, it can be used as a fort with the cover! (as you see in the photo below).
Our Runner Up
HABA toys is another reliable non toxic toy manufacturer, offering delightful baby products designed and made in Europe. While it looks simple, it is wonderfully designed to engage little ones and encourage reaching, gasping, and hand-eye coordination.
The colorful hanging frog entices your baby to reach up, and when she grabs the wooden disks she’ll be rewarded with a clicky-clack sound that delights babies. Sliding wooden beads along the sides encourage head-turning and rolling from side-to-side.
One of the cleverest parts is the adjustable height, ensuring your little one can use it while lying on the floor on a play mat, or while sitting in an infant lounger or car seat.
Made from solid beech and beech plywood sourced from sustainable forests.
Monti Kids toys are based on the Montessori baby care and teaching philosophy, but are suitable for all families – even those who don’t plan to use Montessori at home. Made from non-toxic kid friendly materials, it has a minimalist look to it that will engage your baby and look good in your living room.
It comes with 4 mobiles and 4 toys. The mobiles include a high-contrast black and white mobile and 3 shapes and movement mobiles. The toys include a newborn-sized rattle, and several toys that encourage reaching and grasping.
All parts are made with sustainably sourced wood and non-toxic paint, and all packaging is 100% recyclable.
Monti Kids is committed to creating safety-tested Montessori toys that include access to video guides and a community of Montessori educators. It offers the perfect introduction to the Montessori method for you and your baby. And if Montessori isn’t for you, it’s still a high quality and safe non toxic activity gym your baby will love.
The natural beech wood has been sanded down until soft and smooth, will blend beautifully in any nursery and looks pretty enough to be decorative. In a world of flashing and noisy toys, this sleek, simple design will not overstimulate your baby.
The A-frame is quick to assemble, sturdy but lightweight, and can fold away for easy storage. The hanging toys can be removed or added, and height of the toys can be adjusted. The wooden beads are both food grade and BPA free, and non-toxic paint is used on the beads.
The width between the legs is 19.7”, depth is 19.7”, and height from the floor to the bar is 17.7”.
The Best All Natural
The Finn + Emma is simple and elegant, this play arch has two wood teethers made from untreated Indian hardwood and two hand-knit rattles made from organic cotton. You can detach the toys at any time to bring them with you to keep baby entertained on the go.
It has a sturdy birch wood frame with an adjustable height to grow with your baby and contains no BPA, VOCs, heavy metals, or phthalates.
How to Choose the Safest Option (That’s Still Fun)
We get that it’s impractical to have 100% non-toxic baby gear, and certainly have our fair share of plastic toys at home.
However, in the very early days, and for products that your baby is going to get “up close and personal” with – either by spending a lot of time with (which is why we recommend non toxic cribs / non toxic bassinets and organic crib mattress for babies, and an organic toddler pillow, organic kids mattress, and non toxic nap mat when they’re older), touching directly, or putting in their mouths (i.e. safer baby bottles and non plastic sippy cups), we think there should be a higher standard, and parents should demand products made from totally baby-safe materials.
In our mind, an activity center qualifies for something your kid is going to get “up close and personal with”, which is why we spent a fair amount of time researching this post.
To start with, look for a product that is PVC, BPA, phthalates, and heavy metals free. For materials, we suggest you choose 100% organic cotton to ensure it’s free from toxic chemicals and residues, such as pesticides used during growing. EVA foam is also controversial, and probably best avoided for families committed to having as much non-toxic baby stuff as possible for their little one.
If you don’t want to go for a wooden activity gym, at the very least pay close attention to the baby gym toys attached to the frame. As your little one gets older or starts teething, they’ll likely chew on those toys – so you definitely want to ensure they’re safe.
For most families, we think the Lovevery offers a ton of value. For many babies, it will keep them entertained until they’re mobile. Older kids will love the clever play fort conversion. And the different play zones will ensure your little one has plenty of developmentally appropriate activities in those early days. As a runner up choice that’s a bit more affordable, we love the simplicity of the HABA.
Montessori families and those who want a ranged of hanging toys and mobiles should consider the Monti Kids choice. The high contrast mobiles and different toys will help your baby with a range of milestones – and provide a lot of fun, to boot.
And for families looking for an affordable choice that doesn’t compromise safety, it’s hard to go wrong with the HAN-MM.