Compact Flexible Fun
- What: Tiny Love Gymini Monkey Island Play Mat
- When: Birth and beyond
- Why: Easy to store, simple set up, babies love it
- Where: Amazon
My kids have outgrown almost all their infant toys, yet I still own this Tiny Love Gymini Monkey Island Activity Gym activity mat. That’s partly because I love it so much and it has sentimental value. But at ages two, four, and six, they still play with it. That, along with the compact storage, makes it easy for me to hold onto it.
My youngest still likes to set up the mat and lay under it, despite the tight squeeze for a toddler. My four year old likes to pretend to be a baby and lays on it making babbling noises and batting at the toys. My six year old plays with it because they do.
Each of them loved that monkey from the first day they saw it and it’s never changed. The monkey lights up and plays a brief song, which entranced them as infants.
The mat is so compact I could easily carry it in one hand while holding my infant with both hands. I could move it from room to room, and set it up with one simple snap. Undoing the snap meant the arches folded flat, and I could stick it behind just about any piece of furniture to keep it out of the way when not in use.
I’ve been known to fold it into a suitcase for traveling as well. The lightweight fabric adds very little weight or bulk and the arches curve enough to fit into a suitcase without even having to remove the toys. If you want more cushioning (like when I used it on our hardwood floors instead of rugs or carpet), add a blanket underneath.
The arches have several snaps, so you can position them at the correct height for your infant – overhead or off to either side. That means the mat works great for tummy time, too, as the crinkly toys and textured surfaces attract explorations. And if your kids love the monkey or any of the other toys as much as mine did, they come off and can go almost anywhere with you.
The mat goes into the washing machine in the common occurrence of urp. And the small green pillow that came with the mat worked great for propping my kids up for tummy time. Once they moved on from that, I used it repeatedly on airplanes. It provided the perfect amount and height of support to breastfeeding on airplane armrests.
Sadly, the newest version from Tiny Love doesn’t feature the fabulous singing, light up monkey. But I suspect kids will love it almost as much. If not, you can always track down the Monkey Island version secondhand.