Skip Hop Explore And More Amazing Arch Activity Gym Review
Hello and welcome back!
Today I am discussing my review and opinions on the Skip Hop Explore And More Amazing Arch Activity Gym. Wow, what a mouthful that name is! I want to talk about why I bought it, how I feel about it and whether I think it is worth the money. This is not a sponsored post, I did my research and bought this play mat with my own money and I am in no way associated with Skip Hop. They just have a lot of my money!
When I had Isla, we were given a Bright Stars play mat. It was fine, but Isla never really seemed to interested in reaching for the toys and generally seemed bored with it. She was never a fan of laying down in general, but it was hard to tell if she didn't like laying down or if the mat just didn't entertain her. So I just gave up and never used it. She hated her exersaucer, didn't like her mat and seemed more interested in sitting in her bounce chair and looking at the world. So into storage it went.
She has been a little far behind with her physical milestones like crawling, rolling etc and I wondered if it was because I had stopped using the mat. I know you shouldn't compare your child to someone else, but my friends baby is super physical and is younger and it made me wonder what I could do to help Isla. When I was at their house, I saw their play mat. It was this mat and it just blew my mind. After doing some research, I realized how cool and versatile this mat is and wondered if it would help enough Isla to roll and enjoy being on her belly. So for Christmas, I decided to buy the mat. It retail for about 120$ CAD, which to me is expensive. But I decided that because I am expecting a second and the fact that this mat is versatile and designed to grow with the baby, the price would be worth it if it lasts for a while.
So let's talk about what made this mat so appealing to me. Most commonly, play mats consist of a frame that has hanging toys that can be removed, rearranged or left to hang over the baby. Unlike most mats, this Activity Gym has interactive toys that can be for multiple age levels, but are always entertaining. I've had 6/7 year olds play on this mat which proves that it can be fun for anyone! In the middle of the frame, there is a large mirror. Isla LOVES seeing herself and think that it is absolutely hilarious. But what makes this even better is the phone slot on the back of the mirror. You can slide your phone in and capture moments as the baby plays. It's so precious to have photos of the baby seeing themselves and laughing at their reflection. The mirror is completely baby safe and is not made from glass so you do not risk any injuries to baby. Plus it can turn and spin around, which helps with their motor skills.
This mat has 7 toys around the mirror. 3 different spinning toys. On the left of the mirror, there is a clear plastic ball with plastic confetti inside which makes a fun rattling noise. Above the mirror there is a solid plastic ball with a motion sensor flashing light. And to the right there is a spiral/ windmill spinner. This is designed to help with baby's dexterity and helps to teach them how to move/ spin toys. Like other mats, there are two hanging toys, a bee with plastic confetti in its belly and a musical hedgehog. Our hedgehog has never worked and I actually had no idea that it was meant to make noise until I was recently reading the box! So I am in the process of having it replaced with a new one. The customer support team has been relatively helpful but I found I was moved between different contacting systems to actually be assisted so we will see what happened.
There are two other toys that take up the most space on the frame, on the left there is a pull string owl, I thought that Isla would NEVER be strong enough to pull the cord to make the owl make its noise, but after showing her how to do it it has become her favourite part of the mat. And now she has started to mimic the noise of the owl both when playing with it and randomly. On the right of the mirror; there is a fox that is meant to move to sound. I personally haven't ever used this toy because I keep forgetting to get batteries for it but Isla is entertained by slapping it/ moving it herself so I'm interested to see how she likes it if I do put batteries in it for her.
One of the main selling points was the frame itself, most play mats have one position, where you lay the baby under it and leave them to stare at whatever is hanging in front of them. Designed to keep the baby entertained, it makes sense but doesn't really leave you many options. That's where this mat is different. It is designed to be used in 3 or more ways. Like other mats, you can place the frame above the baby's for when they are laying on their back. This gives the baby the chance to play with the hanging toys, pull the string for the owl and reach for the other toys that are stationary and higher up. The second placement is to place the frame to the side. There are two button on the sidebar that you push at the same time which causes the frame to buckle and fall down. It can only go one way, so I made sure that all of the toys are facing the right way when the frame is on the side. Please remember that you should take baby off the mat when you move the frame from each position, just to avoid any accidents.
You may be wondering what the point is to have it on the side. The reason for this is to give the baby toys for when they are on their stomach. The mat comes with a half moon cushion which can be used for tummy time and placed under baby's chest. This gives the baby something to reach for and in our case has helped encourage Isla to move forward. She HATED tummy time for most of her life and at 10 months, she has started to army crawl and pull herself forward as well at sitting independently and using the frame to pull her body up to attempt to stand.
I really believe that this mat has played a big part in her learning these new skills. If you lay baby on their back with the frame behind their head, they will look to see the toys and will flip them self over to get to the toys. The final option is to give baby toys to play with when they are sitting. Because of the height of the toys, it is a fun way for baby to teach them to sit and hold themselves up. When I am trying to help Isla's sit, I use the mat to keep her entertained and give her things to do to keep her sitting. She topples over, rarely, but she is so happily distracted and I find this toy keeps her occupied.
Having multiple options for toys and having each toy designed to teach different skills and encourage different behaviours has helped Isla so much and I'm glad to have this mat from the beginning for the next baby. Although this mat is pricey, I am really glad that I purchased it. Like I said before, it is going to grow with her and help her learn so I think it's worth it. The only thing I don't like is how hard/ impractical it is to fold down. This mat is HUGE and takes up a lot of space. Unlike other mats, you can't just fold it up and put it away. You have to disconnect the pieces and take it apart to make it small enough to fold. I have to just leave it up all the time in my living room because I use it regularly throughout the day and taking it down over and over again is really pointless to me.
After buying this mat, I never use our bounce chair and the change in her physical ability is ridiculous . Other than the fox and the hedgehog, it's awesome to see that the items work from the day you get the maybe and it only takes a few batteries to have it all working. There are so many options for toys and it takes a while for her to get bored.
I know I usually end with this but all in all I really like this mat. The price is definitely a little extreme for me but it's worth the investments if you intent on using it regularly and for a long time. Like I said, having a second child on the way was a big reason to take the plunge and buy the mat. If I try can entertain both of my children, I won't complain. She isn't bored anymore that is pretty impressive for a 10 month old!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading. Let me know if you have purchased this playmat, or whether this review has helped you make a decision as to whether you’re going to pick it up for yourself! Like I said, I’m not sponsored by Skip Hop in anyway, I truly wish I was because I LOVE LOVE LOVE their stuff. This is my personal opinion in the mat and I am so happy with this purchase.
Thank you again for reading, I hope you have a wonderful day and I’ll see you in the next one!