I love babies. They are cute, and they coo and cuddle and lay wherever you put them. Then they start to grow which leads to crawling and standing and walking and Where did he go?! moments. My three sons all had the nerve to go and grow up from being babies. Suddenly, no longer could I plop my angels down on a playmat with a few toys and expect them to stay there. They’d be on the move, on the prowl, looking for fun things to entertain themselves with or shove into their mouths. This, dear mamas, is the time that activity centers become a godsend.
I have owned a number of activity centers with my three boys. A good basic one kept my tots entertained for more than a few minutes, allowing me to scarf down some breakfast without being worried that they had crawled off to “explore” the toilet brush scrubber. Some of the more advanced ones I have owned have actually taught my children something while they were being entertained. And let’s not forget the development goals that nearly all activity centers help to improve. My sons got to practice their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and even get a jumpstart on their ABCs and numbers, thanks to activity centers.
So what to look for? First and foremost, I recommend choosing one with multiple activities to help keep your kid entertained for more than a minute. After all, your toddler’s attention span barely gets him through an episode of Doc McStuffins, right? While choosing a “cute” or “cool-looking” center may play into your decision, I can tell you from experience, that even if it’s ugly, if it lets you sit on the couch with a glass of wine uninterrupted for five minutes, it’s a winner. And, don’t discount an electronic activity center, just because it needs batteries. A lot of them have cool additional features like cause-and-effect lights, songs, or teaching basic words in multiple languages.
Ready to start shopping? Here are the best activity centers for toddlers
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