The Best Baby Activity Center

Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N' Play Piano

Our Top Pick for 2016: Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N’ Play Piano
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $109*
*Price at time of publishing. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Choosing an activity center for your baby is a huge decision. This unit will help you teach your baby skills he or she will need to interact with the outside world. No pressure. Luckily, there are plenty of units available in nearly every price point like our favorite pick, the Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N’ Play Piano. Some units are relatively flashy and offer music, noises and character voices in various languages; others offer a place where baby can feel calm and relaxed. No matter what type of unit you choose, there are plenty units to keep your baby both happy and occupied.

Table of contents

amazon-available
amazon-available
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10.3 pounds
12 pounds
20.9 pounds
30 x 30 x 31.5 inches
30 x 26 x 25 inches
30.5 x 33 x 29 inches
9 AAA batteries required
3 C batteries required
3 AA batteries required
Plastic
Plastic
Plastic
Battery life: 8 hours
Battery life: 60 hours
Battery life: 20 hours

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N’ Play Piano

Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N' Play Piano Gold Pick

Buy it on Amazon for $109*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N’ Play is one of the most versatile activity centers on the market. It features a snug seat for baby to bounce, a colorful keyboard to tap with feet, plenty of toys at eye level and tons of songs to keep baby entertained.

The Superstar Step N’ Play is recommended for children between the ages of 18 and 24 months; yet the versatile design allows for play through ages three or four. The seat can be removed when it becomes too small for baby. The standing area gives toddlers enough room to dance and play.

The base was designed to keep the attention of both babies and toddlers. Flashing lights and microphones protrude from the unit near eye level, and a light-up keyboard sits conveniently close to baby’s hands. The comfy gray seat swivels around 360 degrees to offer access to both sides of the unit. Whimsical musical instruments and pictures are featured on the seat, like colorful electric guitars, microphones, keyboards and musical notes. The unit also features a mirror, plenty of light-up animals and colorful balls that roll on hand-level tracks.

The colorful base features purple, blue, yellow and green keys to help baby learn to recognize colors from an early age. They keyboard at baby’s feet is easy to reach and plays both notes and various songs. There are a large variety of “instruments” for baby to play, including a trumpet and two microphones. The unit is not gender specific and is tailored to both girls and boys. The batteries (not included) can last up to 60 hours of continuous use.

The Superstar Step N’ Play comes with a one-to-two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The unit weighs only 12 pounds, so it is easy to carry and set up—yet not to light for baby to tip over. It’s only 30 x 26 x 25 inches, so the unit doesn’t usurp the entire room. The 360-degree seat can hold up to 25 pounds. The large array of activities equate to extra enjoyment and interaction.

The seat in this unit is one of the most exciting features. It not only spins around 360 degrees, but it also slides side to side. Baby can walk, dance, hop and jump along the keyboard. Not only is baby continuously entertained, the Step N’ Play offers the opportunity for exercise and muscle development. Though many users mention the seat sticks at first, babies have no trouble learning to easily slide the seat along its full range. Whenever baby completes a step, the keyboard lights up and encourages baby to keep dancing. The Superstar Step N’ Play has plenty of songs, so baby will never become bored of the tunes. The interactive lights and toys also encourage baby to play.

The Certified Frustration-Free packaging materials ensure adults can enjoy the unit as much as baby. This unit was created for continual play and grows with each child. Once baby has outgrown the Superstar Step N’ Play, the seat can be easily removed. Toddlers can then continue to use the unit, dance on the keys and experiment with the hand-level instruments.

Musical instruments and toys are securely fastened to the unit, so there’s never a worry of losing toys or choking hazards. The seat is heavily padded (far more than most saucers and jumpers), so baby can enjoy hours of comfy fun. The keys are easy to reach and play a variety of songs for continued enjoyment. The songs are so short and offer so much variety, even adults can enjoy the music. Whenever baby plays the keys on the footboard, the “keys” at eye level light up for continual interaction.

Parents claim they’re not sure who has more fun—baby, Mom or Dad! Babies who are difficult to keep entertained even love this unit because of the versatility and variety of toys, songs and lights. The seat height can be adjusted to fit nearly every baby length. The volume switch allows for soft play when adults need more quiet time and loud play when baby needs a little extra entertainment.

The three C batteries needed to power this unit are not included. Once the unit has been assembled, the Step N’ Play does not break down for easy transport or travel. Some of the musical instruments are on drawstrings that are not long enough to allow baby to “play” the instrument. Baby can easily reach the power switch (that looks a lot light a light-up toy), so the unit is easily switched on or off without an adult’s knowledge.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center

Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center

Buy it on Amazon for $109*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun is a great way for baby to interact with the outside world and gain a natural curiosity. The colorful unit was designed for optimal play and features plenty of adorable animals and toys. Since the unit can be modified for several developmental stages, it grows with baby until 24 months of age.

The back play setting features colorful birds, butterflies and caterpillars. The exersaucer features whimsical animals, such as monkeys. The stand-up table features frogs and a water table.

This unit is made of plastic for comfortable use and durability. The unit offers three-in-one play and grows with your child. The play mat is perfect for babies, ages zero to four months. The unit can then be transformed into an exersaucer that is perfect for ages four months to walking ages. Finally, the unit can then be transformed into a table unit that appropriate for children up to 24 months. The unit can be easily folded, stored and transported. It lays flat and has a handle for convenient carrying.
The exersaucer offers plenty of toys for kids of all ages. The unit was designed specifically to achieve 10 milestones in development. The exersaucer seat can be adjusted in one of three heights and locks into place. The pad can be removed and thrown into the wash when needed.

When baby is ready to stand, the activity table can be assembled. The tray was designed to ensure your little one can easily reach toys and activities. The toys can be removed and enjoyed separately. The amazon theme piques interest in the outside world and features colorful animals.

The unit includes 11 toys that are appropriate for ages zero to 24 months and can help baby achieve developmental milestones, including fine motor skills, tactile development and exploration with the outside world.

The unit can be easily cleaned with water and a mild soap.

The Evenflo Exersaucer was created for little ones from zero to 24 months. The colorful base features a jungle theme, mat for baby, plenty of activities and several height options. Since the unit is only 10.3 pounds and features a convenient handle, it can be easily transported and disassembled. This unit is only 30 x 30 x 31.5 inches, so it doesn’t take up too much room in the home. The 360-degree seat and comfy pad allows for plenty of playtime. The unit features tons of activities. It transforms for back, standing or sitting play and grows with each child.

The unit grows with baby, so you won’t spend extra money on toys for various ages. The 360-degree seat allows baby to spin and enjoy toys from the back to front. The table is lightweight, easy to carry and stows away easily. All pieces are easy to wash, and cloth parts can be thrown into the washing machine. Parents love the various lights and songs. The variety of sounds means parents don’t easily feel annoyed with the loud noises. The large variety of toys and animals ensure baby will not easily grow bored.

The unit needs nine AAA batteries to function that are not included. The base is relatively light and can tip over during mat time. The seat’s swivel function can be a little stiff at first, yet most babies adapt easily. Some of the toys don’t stay in the base unit easily and need a little force to stay put. Some parents find the base to be confusing to assemble. Yet most parents agree that the time spent assembling the base was worth the frustration because the end result was so entertaining. Some parents found the blue chameleon toy to be slightly annoying.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

Baby Einstein Activity Jumper

Buy it on Amazon for $80.98*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Baby Einstein Activity Jumper is a great budget saucer for babies. This jumper features colorful toys and stuffed animals and has several sound settings. One of the best features of the Baby Einstein is the language settings; parents can set up to three languages to allow baby to get a sense of English, Spanish and French. This unit is easy to assemble and store. The plush toys keep baby occupied for hours while the stretchy seat allows baby to play and jump unencumbered.

Toys feature a friendly plush sun, several colorful rings and a mirror. The overhead bead chaser keeps baby’s attention for several hours. Other fun toys include a colorful bird and a silly monkey.

The seat has five height settings—which means baby can easily grow with the jumper over several months. The stretchy seat helps baby work out core muscles and gain strength in the legs and back.

Toys include a flashy piano that lights up and plays classical tunes. The jumper also helps baby learn verbal skills and can be set to up to three languages: English, French and Spanish.

This jumper is perfect for little ones from age 4 to 18 months. The colorful base features a playground and street scene with friendly characters that provide fun learning tools. The Baby Einstein Activity Jumper comes with a one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty. It weighs only 20.9 pounds, which makes storage and transport easy. The entire unit folds into a flat mass and can be stored under a bed or in a closet. The entire unit is only 30.5 x 33 x 29 inches, so it doesn’t take up too much room in the playroom, living room or kitchen. The stretchy seat is extremely comfortable. It rotates 360 degrees, so baby can easily reach all the toys. Babies love the large array of colourful toys that can hold a child’s attention for hours on end.

The Baby Einstein Activity Jumper has a secure seat that locks into place. There’s plenty of extra padding that is super stretchy for extra support and comfort. The seat also rotates 360 degrees, so baby can always reach every toy. The seat rotates easily, and most babies have no problems learning how to maneuver the seat after a few tries.

The battery life averages around 20 hours of uninterrupted use. The hassle-free packaging makes set up a breeze. Parents love that the unit isn’t too large or cumbersome but comes with plenty of extended tables for additional learning. Parents love the low price of this unit and that it still comes with tons of activities. The three language setting can introduce baby to several languages at an early age. Babies love the large selection of toys while parents love the strength training their baby gets in just under an hour. Parents also love the easy assembly of this unit and how easy the unit can be stored.

Three required AA batteries are not included. The piano music box can break easily, but Baby Einstein’s customer service will send out a replacement part—no questions asked. The toys can’t be taken off the unit, so toys aren’t interchangeable—though there are extra loops added to the unit, so baby’s favorite toys can be added. While the height can be adjusted, the jumper does not convert to a table for use after walking ages. The music needs to be reset every few minutes by an adult.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym

Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym

Buy it on Amazon for $59.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Skip Hop Treetop Friends gym is one of the most popular gyms on the market for tummy time. This unit is easy to assemble (less than two minutes) and is made with a blend of cotton materials. Most parents love the calming colors and lack of overstimulating bells and whistles. The pad is very comfortable and can be thrown in the washing machine for easy cleaning.

This product features plenty of activities to keep baby occupied. It offers a variety of fabrics to help baby learn about the outside world. It includes crinkly leaves and a squeaky flower. The tree trunk on the mat also features a mirror to encourage tummy time. The mat also helps to promote tummy time with a comforting pillow. This product is appropriate for babies from birth to walking ages. The toys include 17 activities that help baby’s mind develop. The oversized mat ensures baby will never roll away from the play area.

The “gym” features adorable pictures of whimsical woodland scenes. The 13 loops can be used to hang included toys or some of baby’s other favorite toys. The plush owls are comforting to baby fit in with the theme. The entire unit can be machine washed. The nature graphics help baby connect with the natural world—before even stepping foot outside. The two-minute assembly time is great for parents on the go. The mat meets and/or exceeds safety standards.

This gym is perfect for all children until walking ages. The colorful and plush tree scene features happy animals and imaginative stories. The product comes with a whopping 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. Skip Hop is so invested in their products that they are willing to back them for an entire 10 years. The product only weighs three pounds, so set-up, storage and transport is super easy. The plush linen mat is extremely comfortable for baby and works well with both tummy and back times. There’s plenty of fun to be had with so many toys, plush animals and a mirror to inspire baby’s creativity.

One of the best features of this product is the 10-year manufacturer’s warranty—practically non-existent with other gyms. Parents are drawn to this gym because it doesn’t feature overstimulating music, sounds or battery operated toys. In fact, most parents love the simplicity and easy care of this product. The whimsical tree scene is printed on a linen and cotton blend that is soft against baby’s skin. The toys all make different noises; some rattle while others ring. The colors are subtle enough to relax baby but are vibrant enough to spark baby’s imagination.

This toy is only appropriate for the first year or so of baby’s life Though it does an amazing job of encouraging tummy time and personal interaction with the world, it won’t grow with the child. Many parents also wish that the mat was a little plusher—but agree that the existing one is fine on carpets. Some parents commented that they wished the toys hung a little lower; others felt the high-hanging toys helped stretch their babies’ arms. The warranty is very generous at 10 years, yet it does not cover “damages resulting from airlines or airport staff” or “damages caused by normal wear and tear”.


Pre-purchase considerations

Ease of Assembly

If the unit isn’t easy to assemble, you’re probably going to want to return it. All of the units on this list offer hassle-free assembly.

Interactive Toys

One of the main reasons for these toys (other than to keep baby entertained when parents are busy) is to entertain and educate baby. All units should be highly interactive. Yet for a toy to be interactive, it doesn’t necessarily need tons of sound or flashing lights. Make sure your baby won’t feel bored with the unit after a few minutes of play.

Ability to Grow with Baby

Let’s face it: these units aren’t necessarily inexpensive. If you’re throwing down upwards of $100 to $300 on a unit, you should consider purchasing a unit that can grow with your child. Most of the units on this list promote tummy time, leg strength and creativity.

Easy to Maintain

The unit becomes worthless if it cannot be easily maintained. Make sure fabric pieces can be washed easily—either by hand or machine wash (which is preferable). Make sure the plastic parts of the unit can be wiped down with water and gentle soap.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Luckily, there are plenty of options for baby when it comes to an activity center. Parents can rejoice that manufacturers have thought of everything—from creativity to cognitive learning habits. There are plenty of units available in every price range, too. Which means you don’t need to spend a fortune on an activity center to keep your baby happy and occupied.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Family Fun Pack, Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step ‘n Play Piano Walker Review, YouTube, March, 2014
  2. Daft Daddy, Product Review: Little Superstar Step N’ Play Piano by Fisher-Price, July, 2012
  3. Kids Playing Tools, Fisher-Price Little Superstar Step N’ Play Piano Review, November, 2015
  4. Two of a Kind, Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Active Learning Center Review and Giveaway, December, 2009
  5. BabiesRUSCanada, Blog: Evenflo Exersaucer, Triple Fun – Life in the Amazon Review, YouTube, November, 2015
  6. Two New Parents, Baby Einstein Musical Motion Jumper Full Review, YouTube, August, 2013
  7. The Wise Baby, Activity Gym Reviews, September, 2012
  8. The Jenny Evolution, SkipHop Tree Friends Gym Review

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