Activity tables for babies are referred to by a number of names, including play table, sensory table, saucer table, and interactive table. The idea behind them is to engage your little ones in a fun and enjoyable way while also learning physical movement activities that will help them develop and grow.
There are a number of options for activity tables on the market, but we’ve made your decision easy by outlining the best ones below. Here, you can find the best activity table for babies available on the market.
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|Name||Height (inches)||Our Rating|
|Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Around The Town Learning Table||15||9.4 / 10|
|LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table Activity Center||15.6||9.4 / 10|
|Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy and Friends Learning Table||18||9.4 / 10|
|Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center||18.5||9.4 / 10|
|Bright Starts Around We Go 3-in-1 Activity Center Zippity Zoo||28||9.4 / 10|
|VTech Magic Star Learning Table||14.9||9.2 / 10|
|VTech Sit-to-Stand Learn & Discover Table||17.7||8.8 / 10|
|Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table||15||8.6 / 10|
|WinFun Letter Train and Piano Activity Table||13.3||8.6 / 10|
3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy and Friends Learning Table
4. Skip Hop Explore and More Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Center
For something that will grow with your baby, first being used as a sit-in play station and eventually turning into a play table for your pre-schooler, look no further than this activity center. It can be used from about 4 months of age, when your baby can hold their head unaided, and is designed to keep them sitting in a secure upright position whilst playing with the toys.
The toys can be clipped onto the table wherever you feel is appropriate, in line with your baby’s development. For example, when your little one is very young, you might just put a few toys within easy reach of them, but as they learn to twist and move, you can put them at various points around the table.
The 360 degree swivel chair will assist your little one in moving around to grab their toys, thus strengthening core muscles. The adjustable footplate bounces to let them strengthen leg and foot muscles that will help them with learning to stand, cruise and walk.
The musical piano has three modes – piano mode, song mode and sensor mode – and it can be used both on the footplate and on the table top.
The discovery window lets your baby see the piano when it is on the footplate and helps them understand cause and effect.
5. Bright Starts Around We Go 3-in-1 Activity Center Zippity Zoo
This activity table has been designed to support both fine and gross motor skills. When the seat is attached, your baby can walk or run around the outside of the table and rotate in their seat in order to play with the toys that are on it. This exercises and strengthens both core and leg muscles, which will help with learning to stand and walk.
Fine motor skills are developed thanks to the multitude of toys to play with, including the dolphin to slide, rattle to spin and penguins to push down.
The piano exposes your child to musical noises, as well as providing the chance to create their own music with realistic piano sounds. Once your baby is able to cruise, you can remove the seat to allow them to stand at the table to play.
There’s no need to worry about how the table will remain upright whilst your baby is moving around it because the base is weighted, which acts to balance out the motion of the seat as it is moved around the base.
6. VTech Magic Star Learning Table
Suitable from 6 months of age, the VTech Magic Star Learning Table will keep your baby amused with the six different play areas, including a steering wheel that makes realistic car noises and drives the teddy bear around the alphabet.
There is an interactive xylophone that teaches basic colours, shapes and early music skills, whilst the interactive toy phone teaches numbers and early conversational skills. The page in the book can be flipped to let your baby listen to different nursery rhymes, including ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘The Alphabet Song’.
The removable legs allow you to use this activity table in a variety of ways regardless of your baby’s developmental stage. The bright colours and noises will keep your baby engaged, whilst the volume control lets you decide how loud your baby’s interactions are.
The language selector gives far greater control over when you introduce your little one to another language, unlike some activity tables that just randomly insert different languages into a baby’s play.
The VTech Magic Star Learning Table also has automatic power down, which means that it switches off after 45 seconds of not being used, in order to save battery power.
7. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learn & Discover Table
Your baby gets to learn to tell the time, as well as recognise colours, numbers and letters thanks to the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learn & Discover Table. The clock face in the centre of the table features the times of the day, as well as pictures to help your baby recognise which activities they might do at that time.
The interactive book tells your baby about letters on one side and words and shapes on the other, whilst the interactive telephone encourages early conversational skills and number learning. The colourful piano exposes your baby to early music education and has realistic electronic keyboard sounds that allows him or her to listen to different songs and create their own music.
The removable legs let you use this activity table with younger babies on the floor, to encourage crawling. An automatic shut-off feature means that the activity table switches off after 60 seconds of inactivity to save power. It also has a volume switch giving greater control over the noise created during play time.
8. Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table
For a multi-lingual activity table that provides early learning in English, French and Spanish, look no further than the Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table. The language selector lets you decide which language your baby learns, which is ideal for any parents who worry about confusing their baby with random language selection. The volume control located on the underside of the table allows you to operate it at a high or low setting.
There are two modes on this activity table, discovery / learning and music, which are activated by flipping the picture book located in the centre of the table. During discovery mode, your baby will learn a number of things, including colours, numbers and shapes.
Music mode exposes your baby to a variety of musical sounds and songs, including realistic sounds of musical instruments, such as the flute. The shape buttons provide context for learning colours and shapes, e.g. “green star”.
9. WinFun Letter Train and Piano Activity Table
The WinFun Letter Train and Piano Activity Table will help to teach your baby their alphabet and expose them to early language recognition. The train and train track that are located in the centre of the table have the alphabet very clearly printed on the track. As the train is moved around the track, it trips the little nodules that then play the alphabet song.
In the centre of the track are interactive shapes that teach your baby the name of each shape, the colour of each shape and also the name and sound made by the animal that is on each shape. The piano exposes your baby to realistic electronic keyboard sounds and allows them to get creative with making their own music. The colourful flowers can also be pushed down to play interesting tunes.
A volume switch allows you greater control over the level of sound that is made during play time and some of the toys can even be played with whilst the table is switched off.
What are activity tables?
Activity tables for babies are usually made from a tough, non-toxic plastic that allows them to be hardwearing and durable. They contain fun buttons, pulleys, levers, bright colors, sounds, lights and more that are all designed to engage your infant and make them want to explore further.
They are typically intended for little ones between the ages of about 9 months and 2 years, however there are ways that they can be used before 9 months and many toddlers continue to enjoy them until they are about 3 or 4 years of age.
Whilst toddlers will enjoy standing at their activity table to play with the variety of stimuli available. Many activity tables have removable legs that allow you to use them with infants that are not yet standing, cruising or walking.
Most activity tables will include easy educational songs, numbers, letters, shapes and bright colors, whilst some now offer multiple languages to expose your child to language learning from an early age.
Types of activity tables for babies
Standard activity tables tend to be square or circular in shape, with a variety of lights and buttons to pull, twist, push and generally play with, located on the top of the table.
These tables often have removable legs and are usually made from tough plastic, as mentioned above. These are easy to use and normally the most affordable activity tables on the market.
However, not all activity tables follow this same design; some are made entirely of wood, others are made from a combination of wood and plastic, and some tables do not have removable legs.
Like with some types of highchairs, you can get some activity tables that are designed to grow with your little one. They will often have a built-in chair that can support your baby in an upright position whilst they are small, thus allowing them to engage with the activities.
Once your baby starts cruising, standing unaided and walking, you can usually adapt the table to remove the chair and use it solely as a sturdy standing play table.
Ways to use activity tables
Obviously, the most common way in which to use an activity table is by having it in the upright position for your toddler to play standing up. This has the benefit of encouraging them to walk around whilst holding on to the table, otherwise known as cruising.
A child who is already steady on their feet will benefit from learning how to navigate their way around the table, stretching across to access fun buttons and lights, or finding the optimum position to stand in, making it easy to reach their favorite activities.
These are all referred to as gross motor skills, which start to be developed from a young age and can be supported through the use of an activity table even as young as 6 months.
If your little one is sitting, but not crawling or cruising, then remove two of the legs from the table so that it is propped up at an angle and place it near them. Most activity tables also come with a seat pad for toddlers who can’t yet crawl.
You can choose to put the table in front of your baby, or to the side of them; both options encourage your baby to stretch and reach out with their hands. Putting the table to the side of them also encourages them to twist and turn their upper body towards it to play.
You can also take all of the legs off of the table and place it out of the reach of your crawling baby, thus helping them to strengthen muscles by moving across the floor. Even for babies that aren’t yet fully crawling, placing the table top slightly out of their reach will help encourage them to shuffle on their stomachs in order to get to the table.
Fine motor skills are developed through the use of an activity table because there are a variety of activities that have to be manipulated using the thumb and forefinger or the entire hand. Hand-eye coordination is also improved because your baby has to learn to connect the movement they see with what they are doing with their hand.
Benefits of having an activity table
There are numerous benefits associated with owning an activity table for your baby, including:
- Physical development –as mentioned in the previous section, activity tables are not only fun, but can be used to improve your baby’s physical development. They can be used in this way from when your little one is crawling to when they are walking. Both fine and gross motor skills are developed through the use of activity tables, which is very important during this crucial developmental stage of their lives.
- Intellectual stimulation – depending on the type of product you buy, it can be a fun way help your little one get an early start on learning their numbers, letters, shapes, bright colors and more, as well as introducing them to fun music and other languages. It has become well known that children who are surrounded with plenty of intellectual stimulation are far more likely to have higher IQs than those who aren’t. So, having an activity table around will further support these efforts.
- Gives you a break – whilst there is no doubt that you enjoy spending time with your little one, playing fun games, reading and sing-along songs, it can also get quite tiring. An activity table is incredibly engaging and will hold the attention of most babies, giving you a much-needed break when you have other things, or perhaps children, to tend to.
Things to consider before buying an activity table for your baby
When deciding what activity table to buy for your baby, you need to give consideration to the following factors:
- Type – by this, we mean do you want one with removable legs? Is the aesthetics of the table important? Do you care about the material it is made from, such as wood or plastic? Do you want one that can grow with your child? Make sure to keep all these questions in mind when choosing which product you want to buy, as you’ll want the table to be a fun, educational tool for your child’s development as their height increases.
- Stimulus –this is perhaps the most important consideration because children’s activity tables can vary in regards to the stimulation that they can provide your baby. Nursery rhymes, color recognition, shape sorting, cause and effect, language learning and more, are all things that can be learned by your baby in a fun way when using the activity table. Shop around and select the one that best fits your needs when it comes to the stimulation it provides.
- Other children – perhaps you have twins who will need to share, or your baby has an older sibling that might also want to play with the activity table. Something that you need to consider is the height and appropriateness of the table for any siblings that your baby might have. If you want them to be able to share the table, then you need to think about the size of it, ensuring that both little ones can fit easily around it to play.
- Size – do you live somewhere small where you need to be able to pack the activity table away when not in use, or do you have a dedicated baby play pen or play center? The size and height of the activity table will need to be considered when you make your purchase to ensure that it can be appropriately and safely used by your baby. If size is an issue, consider getting a table with an adjustable height feature. This also factors in when considering how easy to clean the table is – the larger the table, the more crevasses and space you’ll have to keep clean.
- Cost – there are activity tables to suit every need and budget, you just need to decide how much you are willing to spend on it. If you only plan to use the table for the first year or so of your baby’s life, then you won’t want to spend a lot of money on it. If, however, you want something that can last for a few years and grow with your child, then it is worthwhile investing a bit more money in one. This can then be handed down to younger siblings.
Risks and warnings
It is important to ensure that the activity table you select for your baby is appropriate to their age, i.e. don’t choose something with lots of easily removable items if you plan to use it with very young infants.
You also need to ensure that when it is in use, the activity table is located somewhere suitable and safe so your little one can enjoy endless hours of fun.
If your baby is new to cruising, standing or walking, it is worthwhile ensuring that the table is surrounded by cushions or other soft items, such as teddies, to protect them should they fall over. Regardless of any cushions or safety features you employ, be sure to always monitor your child when they’re playing on their activity table.