The Best Activity Centers and Toys for Your Baby Registry

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Planning entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers is easy, but what about activities and toys for babies under 1?

The Best Activity Centers and Toys for Babies Under 1

Luckily we’ve got everything you need to keep those babes entertained – starting with newborns up to early walkers.

If possible, make sure you are prepared before baby arrives so you don’t have to wait around for the packages to arrive in the mail. However if your little bundle of joy is already here, don’t  fret! We’ve got all the info about  toys for babies under 1 in short, easily digestible pieces for simple comparing.

These are all great items to add to your baby registry. And remember if you’ve chosen the best baby registry, you can snag anything that hasn’t been purchased with a great completion discount!

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links.  See our disclosure policy for more details.

Activity Centers

Activity centers are gifts that entertain your baby and allows you to accomplish some necessary things around the house (taking a shower, throwing in a load of laundry, or eating a sandwich!). 

Make sure you have some sort of baby holder or activity center for each floor of the house, preferably for each room you’ll be spending large amounts of time. 

Rainforest Activity Gym

An activity gym is one of the must-have toys for babies under 1! They engage your baby’s senses through colors and textures and are a perfect spot for tummy time too.

This one is very popular and for good reason. It has 10 fun toys with multiple places to attach them, makes music, and lights up. With so many options for repositioning toys, this activity gym can be an exciting place for your baby to explore over and over.

Another reason moms love this mat is that it is machine washable!


Skip Hop Baby Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat

The Skip Hop Baby Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat is one of the most adorable activity gyms out there! The idea of this set is the same as other gyms out there, baby lays on the mat and can watch and interact with the hanging toys. 

One major bonus of this model is that because of its high profile, it works even when baby is sitting up so you’ll get more use out of it. Not to mention it’s sleek design that makes a statement! 


Exersaucer

An exersaucer is great way to keep your baby busy while you’re busy. 

They are best for babies who can sit on their own until they are able to walk. Also, they are excellent for keeping a newly mobile crawler safely contained and happy.

Baby sits in a swiveling seat surrounded by exciting and fun toys. 

This one offers a great value as it has 11(!!) activities to occupy your little one and 3 height settings to grow with them.


Jumperoo

A Jumperoo is similar to an exersaucer in many ways. Baby is seated surrounded by toys to engage them. The big difference is that these have springs allowing baby to jump up and down while playing. 

Jumperoos are also best for older infants around 6 to 12 months old.

The Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo is very popular and babies seem to love it! The seat swivels all the way around allowing baby to play with multiple bright and colorful toys. There are also 3 adjustable height levels to grow with your little one.


Jolly Jumper

A doorway jumper is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a baby seat that hangs from a doorway where they can jump and play.

While they don’t have all of the toys like the exersaucer or jumperoo, they have a few definite benefits. First, they take up way less space, essentially none. They can be placed on any doorway with molding and are easily removed and put away. Second, they are generally less expensive. if you’re working with a tight budget or tiny apartment, a doorway jumper may be the perfect solution!

The original and most common is the Jolly Jumper which you can even get in a free standing model. It also claims to be safe for babies as young as 3 months old to use.


Baby Care Play Mat Foam Floor

The quality of this play mat is amazing and it’s super soft to protect babies from falling. But the best part is that it’s adorable.

Jo has the one with the roads/farm, on the other side is the animals with the alphabet. Her kids love flipping it to the different sides to play. In fact, she’s had it for 4 years and it’s still in great shape! A definite MUST for any play area.


Bouncer

Bouncers seats make a perfect place to set your baby where they are safe and happy so you can get stuff done. 

Babies like being a bit upright and kicking the hanging toys. Bouncer seats are generally also lightweight and easy to carry from room to room making them a great distraction whether you’re cooking or showering. 

Rachel really like this one because it’s easy to clean, inexpensive, and her baby loved it. 

**It’s important to note that bouncer seats are not for sleep and you should stop using it when your baby can sit up on their own.


Infant-to-Toddler Rocker


The Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker is a cool concept because it’s essentially a hybrid between an infant bouncer seat and a rocking chair that can be used by older children. 

The transition in how it can be used for many years as your child grows is definitely a huge plus. It provides many of the same calming features provided by the bouncer (self-rocking, vibration, toys). The only downside is that it’s not as snuggly as babies aren’t hugged in the hammock-style that is often associated with traditional bouncer seats. 


3-in-1 Around We Go Activity Center

This activity center is pure genius. When Jo’s kids were young, we had a learning table like this, which was cool but definitely had limitations. The kids couldn’t use it until they were a little older and able to stand assisted comfortably. Before that, they would accidentally pull the table over or fall down when trying to play. 

The solution? The Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Center. Before kids can sit up on their own, it has a little seat kids can use to play with the toys and stretch their legs. As their legs develop, they can circle the table in the seat. When they’re comfortable with standing, you can remove the seat and use it like a regular activity table. Genius!!


Toys

Honestly you don’t have to worry about registering too many toys for babies under 1, trust me people will buy them anyway. However there are a few essentials you should definitely have before baby arrives. 

Vulli Sophie la Girafe



The Sophie teether is an absolute classic that is loved by all kids. It’s made of 100% natural rubber and the paint is all food-based. Babies love all the different parts for chewing and soothing sore, teething gums. 


Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy


Jo swears by this baby toy and it’s her go-to shower gift for all new moms. It may not look like much, but to babies it’s magic.

It’s usually the first toy babies are able to play and interact with because of the multiple easy-to-hold thin “rings”. The bright colors and playful rattle hold babies attention. Seriously one of the best baby toys!


Activity Spiral


These activity spirals are awesome and have sooooo many uses. You can attach them to the crib railing, stroller, car seat handle, shopping cart, and more to keep baby entertained and engaged. 

Our personal favorite is the SHILOH Baby Activity Spiral Wrap because it’s super colorful and the animals are adorable. 


Lamaze Baby Toys


Lamaze makes some of the cutest and most functional toys for babies under 1. My personal favs are Captain Calamari and Mortimer The Moose.

But what makes them so great? Aside from the fact that they look adorable and have classy names, each toy has a clip to attach to a booster chair, carseat, stroller, etc. Each one of the animal’s “appendages” is a different color with a different texture or noise – so baby is constantly discovering new things. 


Linking Toys


These toys aren’t only classics, but they’re super practical. Personally we love the Bright Starts Links because they’re fun colors and textures. You can use them to attach toys to a stroller, activity gym, high chair, etc. 


Calming Centers

While you may think this “calming centers” category doesn’t belong in an article about play and activities, hear us out. 

If you’re getting ready for bed or nap time, then the “activity” you want is wind-down time. That’s where you turn to these soothing and calming options. 

Many parents let their children relax and ultimately nap in these, although they are not technically approved for extended sleep. We’ll let you decide what you’re comfortable with. Of course, if you have any questions please direct them towards your pediatrician. 

Fisher-Price Snugabunny Cradle ‘n Swing


For Rachel, the swing was an absolute lifesaver. Her babies loved this swing

It has 2 recline positions, multiple swing speeds, and can swing 2 different ways. The mobile, mirror, and music also kept baby’s interest. Our favorite thing is that the insert is machine washable for the inevitable blowout diaper.

Babies can be finicky, but if your baby loves the swing then it is worth its weight in gold.


Compact, Space Saver Swing


Jo also loved the idea of a swing, but lived in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment when she first became a mom. The solution? A compact swing design

The Ingenuity Cozy Kingdom Portable Swing is absolutely perfect. For starters, it takes up a fraction of a footprint required of a traditional swing. It swings at different speeds and has two reclining positions. When not in use, it folds almost flat for easy storage. 


The mamaRoo



The mamaRoo almost creates its own category entirely. It’s a bouncer, swing, activity center, and more all in one! It has a sleek, modern design and new models are blue-tooth enabled so you can control sound/volume and motion/speed from your smart device. 

The motion options with the mamaRoo are extensive, and include choices like “kangaroo” for bouncing and “car ride” to mimic those soothing vibrations. It also has different reclining options and visual stimulation hanging from the top.

The Best Activity Centers and Toys for Babies Under 1

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About Author

Jo & Rachel

Jo and Rachel first had the idea for 'The Moms At Odds' in 2016 when our babies were turning 2 and we realized that we were very different parents.

As a mom, Rachel immediately felt this strong connection to her son and instantly decided she wanted to become a stay-at-home mom. Though Jo obviously loved her son as well, she counted the days until she could go back to work and interact with other adults.

They both struggled over getting their babies to sleep and while Jo believed in sleep training, Rachel looked for alternatives like dream feeding and no cry methods. As time passed and their children grew older the differences started to really add up – pacifier use, drinking during breastfeeding, organic foods, screen time, diaper brands, and on and on.

During this day and age, it’s so easy to look at our parenting differences as a bad thing. After all, we’ve all seen jokes and articles about “Mommy Wars” over one subject or another. Instead, we choose to embrace our differences and show you that in many areas there is no wrong answer. What works for one family may not work for another, and that’s perfectly fine. We can still all get along and raise perfectly healthy, beautiful children.

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