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I bought this play gym before my son was even born. It visually appealed with both the structure being flexible and interchangeable, and being colourful.
There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to the toy bars. There are three positions available but can only be used when the sides are up which I do find a little sad as I think it put my son off a little as he got older with a slight feeling of entrapment. The toy bars can be completely removed too.
There are plenty of loops available to change positions of toys throughout. There are on both the mat and toy bars. It does come with a few toys and plastic connectors. Included is a sunflower mirror, musical bug, ladybird chew toy, water filled teething bumble bee and butterfly teether. I also have the bright starts bouncer so mixed and matched toys toys from here too. They also sell additional connector loops and teether type toys which I did not purchase but may for additional children.
On the musical bug - I never really used it on the play mat. The music is gorgeous and so soothing. We didn't have a mobile on his cot/moses basket so ended up putting this on. The music holds very dear memories for me of my newborn son falling asleep post early morning feed. I listened to this over the monitor every day for months! This has two options: continuous play and a motion sensor play. When it is attached to the play mat it plays when a baby say kicks the side triggering the sensor. It is pretty sensitive although found until my son was really kicking his legs he saw no benefit hence the use as a mobile. The music is gentle enough that it does not startle them when it goes off.
The sides have plastic "boarding" encased in the fabric sealed with velcro making it easy to whip out when it needs a wash post stomach expulsion! I put it on a quick wash and it came out no problem. I am not entirely sure of the washing instructions however.
I found the changeable sides great when my son was learning to roll over. I knew he wouldn't disappear when in it.
The patterns are bold is there is a variety on there. There is also a small section of crickle fabric. I do feel that the sensory aspect of this could be developed on.
My son is now 15 months old and we still have this out. He loves playing hide and seek with the sides up and quite often takes a cushion and blanket in there when listening to stories or having a general rest after his 5 mintues of madness!
All in all I do feel this product was worth the money. At the time however my husband and I did question whether it was worth the approximate £70 we paid for it.
I will definitely put this up for future children and the versitile aspect to the product was and still is, I feel, its biggest selling point.
My front room is currently covered in baby toys. Some are popular, and are played with by my son every day, and some come in and out of favour, depending on his particular mood. (All, however, are covered in dribble.) At six months, he is inquisitive and interested in everything, and his toys are a constant source of fun.
However, when he was first born, I really struggled to think of things to do with him. Being our first, I had absolutely no idea of what he would like to play, how often, which toys would be suitable, and so on. It turns out, of course, that for the first 6 weeks or so, he didn't play with anything much, but when he started to get interested in the world around him, I found it difficult to know what things he would like to play with. This play centre has been useful right from the start, as there are so many different parts to it, and so many ways of using it. It has always had something to keep my little boy occupied.
We purchased the Bright Starts Play Place before he was born, instead of one of the more usual play gyms. Our main reason for buying it was that it could be used in many different positions and configurations, depending on the age and ability of the child using it, as opposed to a regular playgym which generally only has one way of use. Ours was purchased from Mothercare, and was reduced to £55 from £70, I think either because the box was damaged or was an old style box, can't quite remember.
The play centre consists of a well padded, colourful mat, rectangular in shape. It is made of a satiny material, and so is very easy to wipe clean, or indeed machine wash if need be. It's four sides can be folded up or left down, which lets you create a 'box' to keep baby in one place, or expand the play area if you want. There are also hard plastic boards provided, which slot inside the sides. This makes them more stable when folded up, and can be removed when folded down for comfort. When folded up, the sides are held together by strong velcro, so nothing fiddly, and you get used to putting the sides up and down very quickly as and when needed.
The mat itself is brightly coloured in a jungle type theme. It has lots of interesting pictures on, which my son loves looking at and generally slapping with his hands. There are some extra leaves and petals sewn on top which can be flapped, scrunched and investigated, and they also make a crinkly noise to attract your little one's attention. Great for tummy time!
The centre comes with two bars, similar to those that come with a play gym. However, these are removeable and can be attatched to the centre in many different positions. When my son first used the mat, we had both bars attatched across it at right angles. Later on, we moved them to go along the side of the mat, and if we're feeling flash, we'll attatch them in a cross shape so they meet diagonally. You can, of course, choose to use only one bar; sometimes having all 7 toys on the go is a bit much for my little boy.
The lighweight bars attatch by pushing the ends into fabric tubes that are stitched down the back of the sides of the mat. There are several different tubes, so you can put them in several different positions. Since this is the only method of attatchment however, they cannot be used if the mat is completely flat. It can be a little difficult to get the bars into the tubes on the first couple of goes, but once you've got the knack of doing it, it's really quick and easy. The bars are also slightly height-adjustable, as you can push them into the tubes completely, or just part of the way.
The bars have 7 toys that you can attatch by hooking a plastic hoop through a fabric loop. There is a musical bee, which plays suprisingly un-irritating songs on a loop. There are two different volume settings, and the option of nature sounds if the music does get too much. And an off switch! You can also set it so that the music comes on when your child whacks the bee, great for coordination.
The other toys that go on the bars are: a mirror (fabulous - my son will spend hours looking at himself and laughing), a fabric caterpillar, a squidgy water filled teether, a rattle, and two other teethers. All are in the form of a friendly insect. Our particular favourites, apart from the mirror, appear to be the butterfly teether and the caterpillar. The toys are also useful for attatching to prams and car seats, and are simple to detatch from the bars. You can also change them around, which I found useful when my son was learning to take swipes at the toys. Some were longer than others, so he would try hitting the easy ones first and as he got older, we swapped them for the smaller items. I did notice that one of the toys wasn't quite the same as the one on the box, but it was just a different style teether, so no problem.
All the toys and the mat itself are of great quality. The mat is also available in a pink version for any girly girls.
My son has always loved this toy, from the moment he was interested in playing with things. At first, he would lie on the mat looking at the toys and kicking his legs. We would have both of the long sides and one end side up for this. The musical bee really captured his attention and the music often soothed him if he was a bit ratty. And it didn't drive me to distraction either! He then progressed to hitting the toys.
After a while, he became less interested in the toys, and more so in pushing himself up the mat until he reached the end, where he was rewarded with a kiss and then promptly moved down so that he had to do it all over again! The moveable sides were great for this, as he could move up and down safely in the knowledge that he wouldn't come out and onto the laminate floor. Since the mat is quite shiny, it made it easier for him to move up and down.
Now, at 6 months, we tend to open the whole mat out and he uses it to sit on when playing with his other toys. The mat is very well padded and comfy, so if he tips over occasionally and I don't catch him in time, then he doesn't hurt himself.
The only down side to this play gym is that it can be a bit bulky to store. We try to put it down every night as I'm not too keen on the idea of the cats sleeping on it, and the mat does fold up, but it isn't what I'd call compact. If you're planning on keeping it up all the time then there should be no problems. It's 74cm x 53cm with the sides up (29" x 21") and 110cm x 92cm with them down flat (43" x 36").
(On the subject of cats, ours love the mat too and have been known to lie on it, and underneath it, obviously not when baby is on it. I'll often come into the room to see a lump underneath the mat, and almost expect to hear a nonchalent whistle - 'bet you can't find me, do de do de do...'. Maybe it's just our cats though, they're not the brightest! One walked round the room with it on her head once, unusual.)
I really really like this product. It has been the most useful toy purchased for our son, and unlike many other toys on the market for babies, will be well used for many months to come. It IS pricier than other play gyms, but I think in the long run, we'll get far more use out of it than if we had bought another gym. It is permanantly in use during the day, even if just for somewhere comfy for my little boy to play on. An absolute winner of a toy.
I have recently purchased this online for the new baby and have no idea if it is available in the uk to buy in stores as i purchased mine from amazon.com.
My reasons for buying this were quite simply that i fell in love with it the second i saw it, it is very bright and colourful with lots of things going on to keep baby entertained and the fact it grows and changes with your baby as they get older.
As with everything else i have brought i was desperate to play with it, i mean try it to see if it worked.
After getting it out of the box it is realy easy to put together, the picture above is the second stage of the developing changes this toy goes through.
The first stage of this toy you make the base up into a box which baby will lie inside just like it would a moses basket , there are two arches provided with this for the toys to hang from and there are 3 positions for you to attach it to, for this first stage you attach the two arches to the two bottom feet postition so that baby lies directly under the arches.
Stage two pictured above you can open the top of the box to give baby more room and move the arches back as baby grows to leave one by the babys feet and the other by the babys hands.
Stage 3 as baby starts to lie on there tummy and lift there own weight with there hands is to open the one side piece and leave the other side, top and bottom closed and attach just one arch to the one side for baby to play with and the mirror to the inside so it is head height for your baby.
The mat it self can be wiped clean or machine washed which is ideal as young babys are often sick on toys.
The lady bug toy provided with this to attach to the arch playes 8 songs and natural sounds lasting a total of 25 minutes before repeating it self so will keep the baby amused well. There is also a soft caterpillar, a rattle, mirror,a water filled teether shaped like a bee, 2 large links and 8 smaller links to adjust the height of the toys or to attach your own.
This toy is designed for babys aged 0 to 12 months so i couldnt resist trying it out on my friends 7 month old son when they came to visit yesterday afternoon, he loved it, he played for around 40 minutes on his own with this before he wanted any interaction from us and got to grips with it streight away, This is a great toy i would recomend to any one.
It requires 2 aa batteries to play the music.
8.5 walls easily reconfigure for baby's development: Newborn, tummy time, crawling and sitting. Electronic lady bug has dancing lights, 8 melodies and nature sounds providing 25 minutes of continuous play. Toy bars attach in a variety of ways and allow toys to adjust to baby's reach.