Disclosure: I received a sample of the Tiny Love FlexiPlay infant activity gym and the Pack & Go Mini-mobile to facilitate this educational toy review. Any opinions are my own.
I can’t believe it but this week we celebrate Gavin’s 4th birthday. My head-strong, curious and funny little boy tells me every day, “Mom, I’m NOT a baby.” He’s right. The only thing left over from infancy is his “blankie.” We no longer own a stroller, he’s been in a full size bed for 2 1/2 years and enrolled him in hockey. While any baby making is off the table for our family at this current moment, we are patiently awaiting the birth of my best friends twins and I’m thankfully surrounded by infant cuteness having lots of co-workers who have recently become mothers or grandmothers.
I had a conversation this week with my best friend as she is carefully planning the arrival of her two little bundles of joy. While I’m not currently living with an infant in our home, I will never forget the hormonal tears of pain and joy creating my baby registry waddling the aisles of Babies “R” Us. I had older friends who were willing to pass on their second-hand gear and toys, and we certainly weren’t in a position to afford to buy everything new. I was extremely mindful of the cost of items I put on my baby registry. While I couldn’t decide on sheets or car seats or strollers, being an occupational therapist, an infant activity gym was a must-have for my registry. I knew first-hand the importance of “back to sleep and tummy to play,” as well as engaging babies with sensory experiences using brightly colored toys that appeal to a variety of senses (touch, taste, sight, and smell). However, we have a very small living area and 4 years ago, compact, foldable, and versatile products were just beginning to reach the toy aisles. So when Gavin was born, I opted for an activity gym that was smaller with far less play options to provide portability and save space.
Tiny Love has been designing whimsical and developmental infant play mats, activity gyms, and crib mobiles since 1993. Having worked with infants as an occupational therapist in their home since 2000, 9 years prior to Gavin’s birth, Tiny Love, because of their Gymini line, is the most recognizable brand to me in this area and has been for over a decade. When Tiny Love contacted me about reviewing their Flexi-Play, I loved the concept and the capabilities of such a unique toy. I can honestly say I haven’t ever seen anything like it for infants.
The Flexi-Play is recommended for children, newborn through 18 months. It retails for half the price of a standard infant activity gym mat and provides a lot of versatility in its design, which in turn gives infants who are learning to reach, roll, sit, kneel and crawl with a variety of play options, all of which you can see in the video below.
Other toys I found helpful when Gavin was little were brightly colored toys that could be attached anywhere – to diaper bags, high chairs, car seats, shopping carts, my coat, and as accessories to the basic activity gym we owned. Rather than having to many large play centers with “fixed toys” that couldn’t be removed, I loved being able to have these on-the-go toys.
For those of you looking for a baby registry addition or gift, the Tiny Love Pack & Go Mini Mobile folds up to easily fit inside a bag, clips on to all sorts of places and unlike a lot of baby toys that require batteries, this adorable mobile makes wind chime sounds when it’s activated.
Whether you are creating a baby registry for yourself, or searching for a gift for a friend or grandchild, spend some time in the toy aisle, considering developmental toys like these. Now that most people know the sex of the baby before birth, I see way to many people shopping clothing aisles instead of the toy aisles for gift giving. When Gavin was an infant, I was to sleep deprived and exhausted to do laundry, unless we went out I could have cared less about the outfit he wore that day. I remember being completely amazed how quickly infants wake up from their sleepiness to stop crying when they see something interesting dangling above them. Take it from me, watching a child grow, develop and come to life with your smiling face dangling a brightly colored toy in front of them is a priceless bonding and learning opportunity a cutesy outfit can’t provide.
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