I’m always conflicted about spending money on newborn toys. Sure there are the cute, squishy blocks and the rattly shakers, but my kids usually seemed just as happy with a ladle and a plastic bowl. But there is one newborn toy that I’ve definitely found useful – an activity mat. Also known as a play gym, play mat or baby gym, these devices usually consist of a mat, some kind of bar system that goes over the mat and detachable toys.

For the last two weeks I’ve been testing out the newly-released Fisher-Price play gym called the Luv U Zoo Deluxe Musical Mobile Gym, and my 3-month-old gives it two gurgles and a grin. The Luv U Zoo comes with a circular mat that is lightly padded (though I wouldn’t recommend using it directly on a hardwood floor), colorful (without being obnoxious) and is decorated with letters, shapes and animals to amuse your little one. Three bars connect to the center unit which includes a rotating mobile function, lights and music (4 AA batteries required). Around the bars and on the sides of the mat, there are hoops to attach any of the 5 detachable toys which include a mirror, rattle, plush toy and other “chewables.”

I love that the Luv U Zoo provides a variety of types of stimulation and can be used to teach the child about cause and effect, object permanence (there’s a butterfly hidden behind the elephant’s ear) and even more advanced skills like letters, shapes and animals.

The Luv U Zoo is also great for tummy time and can even provide entertainment in the stroller (the detachable toys can be hooked to the sun visor of a car seat or stroller). Plus, the whole thing is washable – a must-have to remedy the spit-up phase.

Visit www.fisher-price.com to learn more about the Luv U Zoo ($60) or to see Fisher-Price’s entire collection of activity gyms.


Disclaimer: I received a sample of this playmat for the review.

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