“ Brand: Tomy / Type: Activity Gyms „
When my children were tiny money was a bit tight and I went out of my way to buy non-brand toys with the maxim that colours were colours and were interesting independent of a particular character. However, as time went on I came to the realisation that some of the joy of a toy is the adult's emotional reaction to it as well as the babe's. Other adults visiting found it easy to join in play if they had a character to relate to and inane conversation was easier to maintain through a toy or character we knew something about! So, I spent a lovely afternoon recently playing with my goddaughter in her Winnie the Pooh 100 Acre Play Gym!
**What is it?
The play gym works on several levels. Initially you have a soft play mat, useful for visiting or for hard or over fluffy(!) floors. Your small babe can lie here to have a kick about and independent stretch.
When tiny tot gets fed up with the wriggling under a blank ceiling you can add the arches of the play gym. The arches are made of strong plastic arms which you feed into cloth tubes and attach together to form an arch shape. There are loops on the material onto which you can clip soft Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger figures. These figures are brighter in colour than the mat and light blue arches and so are distinctive and attractive.
When lying around play has lost its appeal, you can bring on the inflatable nest. The idea of the nest is that babies have some support for early sitting which is really useful at the point when they are interested in the world around them but are unable to roll or manoeuvre themselves about. At this stage many children demand to be carried all the time to give them a better view of the world - the nest supports a more propped up position whilst still giving more freedom than a bouncy chair or car seat. This will allow you a little time off (although I would still remain in view) or at least give your arms a rest whilst you play together.
Don't expect to get the ring set up immediately though as it takes some puff to get it firmly inflated, after which it's not just your baby who will need the lie down!
The plastic inflated ring-nest is sturdy and comes with a cloth cover to add comfort and stimulation. The ring is supportive and plush and my goddaughter has even been known to drop off to sleep whilst nestling against it. There are lots of features for small fingers to explore, from squeakers, and mirrors to iridescent bees, a crinkly butterfly, and a hiding Piglet. These are useful for interactive play between you and your child and also for the child to discover as he/she begins to roll within the nest.
The under mat is vital here. Without it, my older goddaughter tended to push hard with her feet and although never had an accident she was able to slide the ring along a wooden floor without the mat and I was worried she had the power to go over the top of the ring. This is the point at which we decided the ring was outgrown, but it had certainly served with many hours of entertainment.
The ring cover is machine washable and is again made in natural light colours. It makes a pleasant change on the eye from all the garish bright reds and yellows of many of the other toys and a more relaxing rather than over stimulating environment for both babe and adult. After all, once you have gone to the trouble of blowing the ring up you are not likely to deflate it too regularly so this may be a feature of your front room for a while! The cover is elasticated and needs to be pulled taut under the ring to prevent it from slipping off.
The blurb on the box described the ring gym as useful for travel and I suppose it would be particularly useful if visiting a babe free house or hotel as it has a variety of play options and a defined baby space.
The hanging figures themselves can be detached from the frame and used independently as teddy type toy figures. Here again, the fact that the figures are well known helps the adult interact as they have some pre-defined notion of the toys' character. Even great uncle Terry will spend a moment making Tigger bounce to the ceiling and back while you nip to the loo (at last!!)
Amazon provide the following useful info:
Length: 48.5 centimetres
Height: 48 centimetres
Width: 9.5 centimetres
weight: 2.2 kilograms
batteries required: No
Model Number: 1497
Spare rings can be purchased for £8 from the Tomy website if you should manage to puncture or lose yours. The ring is sturdier than your standard inflatable toy, however, so puncturing is not too likely. Good to know though!
The ring gym is suitable from birth and though will set you back around the £50 mark (amazon, mothercare, toys r us) it is an enduring and varied toy.
Bought early enough your babe will get many different uses from this developing toy. Only downside is that they don't make them in adult sizes!