Well hello there, handsome play gym [insert cheeky wink here].

At almost seven weeks old, my baby girl was beginning to ‘wake up’ and realise that there are interesting things all around her. Yup – it was time to get her a play gym.

Now, at this point, we hit a few play gym-shaped obstacles. Our specifications were simple: it’s going to be in our living room for a long time, so it needs to look good AND stimulate Ada’s senses (no doubt, as a byproduct, it will also stimulate Janet the Cat’s senses, but that is beside the point), yet we seemed unable to find one that we liked the look of.

After trawling through endless play gyms that just didn’t tickle our pickle, we came across the Skip Hop Camping Cubs Activity Gym (available from Kidly for £75). The first thing you need to know is that it’s a tipi. Yes: a TIPI. That’s worth at least fifty Cool Points already (who wouldn’t want a tipi in their living room?!). It’s very well themed with various North American critters suspended at different heights to entertain your baby: a musical raccoon teether; a bear rattle; a turtle mirror; and a flashing firefly (‘flashing’ as in ‘lights’, not as in… never mind).There is also a bear cushion to lay your baby’s head on to offer support, and the mat – which, by the way, has a crinkly sun and a lift-the-flap surprise – tells a story through well-themed pictures.

I feel at this point we need to talk about the boring bit – washing. Ada’s left the contents of her stomach on the mat of this play gym more times than I care to remember, and Janet the Cat truly believes that we’ve bought her an elaborate new den to hide in by night, so you’ll not be surprised to hear that our mat has endured a 30 degree wash cycle many, many times. It easily separates from the ‘sticks’, and it washes very well. When it comes out of the wash it’s almost dry because of the lightweight material; drape it over a chair for an hour and it’s dry and ready to go.

At 6 months old, Ada’s now sitting up independently, which means she can reach the dangly critters more easily. She’ll happily entertain herself in there for enough time for me to catch up on First Dates get a few important jobs done. I’ve also been known to remove a dangly critter from the play gym and attach it to my baby carrier when we’re out and about to keep Ada entertained – multiple uses, you see: thumbs up.

Downsides. This is a tough one. I suppose the price may seem a bit steep at £75. There are definitely cheaper play gyms out there. However, it has been worth every penny to us, as the super-cool tipi has become a fitting addition to the decor in our living room whilst providing hours of entertainment for our baby (and apparently a place of night-time respite for Janet the Cat. Sigh).

So, if you’re looking for a play gym with a difference – buy this one!


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