From September 2010 to March 2011 every day for us was a rainy day. Esther and William, born 3 months too soon, are classed as having Chronic Lung Disease because of their early dependence on oxygen therapy and so we had to stay in hibernation through the winter months. We could not attend baby classes, make friends or see family. We had to stay home to keep healthy and we relied on our toys to keep us sane!
This winter we will go back under lock and key again, from September to March, and we would love to spend our time testing and reviewing toys for Toys R Us. We are certain that we are the family you are looking for to become toyologists testing your baby and toddler range.
Our favourite toy by far since entering this world almost 10 months ago is the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym.
We bought this for Esther and William before they were born. Their nursery and playroom has a jungle theme and this fitted right in with its colourful animal visuals and great animal sounds. It was easy to set up and looked so inviting with its different toys hanging from loops on the rainbow arch and the silky playmat underneath. We could not wait to get the babies home and let them use it.
At first Esther and William were too small at just over 4lbs to use the toy in the conventional way and so we had to improvise. The gym lends itself to adaptation and because of this is a great resource for premature babies who are often very small. They loved lying together on the soft mat and having quiet time. They enjoyed lying on their backs and watching the lights, listening to the jungle sounds and they loved hearing Mummy sing along to I Went to the Animal Fair! Over and over again! The music does get a bit annoying especially if you forget to turn it off when you have finished using it. Thankfully though the gym does have two audio modes allowing you to have sounds played only when the baby moves a toy. This meant that the gym was able to be used in our house everyday for over 6 months without too much tension or too many headaches.
As the babies became able to play more and interact with the gym we made sure that the toys hung low enough for the babies to reach. We found that adding other toys of our own helped them engage at this stage. They really enjoyed lying beneath the archway and bashing rattles, squeezing squeakers and brushing plush toys with their hands and feet.
At this early stage they also had some of their soft animals join them under the gym and it was in this way that Esther first started babbling. A very proud Mummy moment facilitated by this fantastic rainy day, every day toy!
As the babies continued to grow they began to use the gym as it was designed to be used for active play on their backs and on their tummies. Sometimes they used the gym alone and often times together as it was big enough for them both to lay beneath and play with the different visual and auditory toys. The gym could keep them actively engaged for between 15 mintues and half an hour, enabling me to have a well deserved cup of tea and actually drink it while it was still warm!!
For weeks and weeks we have used the gym in conjunction with the Jumperoo for a little circuit of independent play and the babies love it.
As the twins got older again the gym has once again been reinvented in its use and design. Often now it has things that can be chewed hanging from it or cushions around it so that Esther and William can sit at the gym and play. It is often now seated on a playmat so that William in particular can crawl to it and roll around it. This really is such a versatile play thing for babies from birth till at least a year in age.
Under the gym the babies have learned to grab, to bash, to hit, to grasp, to babble, to roll, to be happy on their tummies, to grip, to move to get an object they desire, amongst other skills. They are also beginning to understand cause and effect. They play independently, with each other and with adult intervention. They play on their tummies, their backs and sitting up. This is a resource that they really enjoy and will come back to willingly time and time again. It is a safe, sturdy and hygienic toy as it can be washed and dried over night ready for play the next day.
This is a toy that we as a family wholeheartedly recommend to buy at birth and allow it to grow, evolve, adapt and develop alongside your baby to meet their changing needs.
At £54.99 it may seem like quite an expensive purchase but you really do get your money’s worth and more.
Please watch this video to see how our Rainforest Gym has benefited Esther and William and how much they have enjoyed it during the first precious months of their life.
You can buy this play gym from Toys R Us and we really hope that you do and that you will get as much from this fantastic toy as we do.