Babies are curious. They love new sights, sounds, and textures. You can let them explore by dumping out all your kitchen cabinets or playing in the toilet (ew!) but why not try a baby activity table? It has plenty to keep your baby interested, builds essential cognitive skills, and maybe, just maybe, will keep your baby out of your kitchen cabinets once and for all. Hey, we can dream, right?
We’ve put together a list of our top picks for a baby activity tables. Also, if you’ve got questions, we’ve tried to answer anything you might want to ask in the buyer’s guide below. Let’s take a look.
Activity Tables With a Seat
If your baby isn’t walking or standing, they’ll need some support as they explore the table. Activity tables for young babies are often designed around a central seat that the baby can bounce and move as they explore. Your baby gets crucial independent time in a protected space.
1. 3-in-1 Around We Go Activity Center
- great for walking development
- three developmental toys in one
- sturdy support
- 6 to 36 months
Most activity tables are centered around the seat, but this innovative design gives your baby a greater range of motion. An outside seat connected to wheels allows your baby to move around the table to explore. It helps them exercise their legs and work on important balance and motor skills.
Activities include a music center with colorful, easy to press keys that play sounds, an animal center with penguins that pop and a whale that slides, an open tray for smaller toys or snacks, a spinning ball, mirror, and a few other things that baby can manipulate.
Traditional seat activity tables allow baby to build leg and core strength by bouncing and spinning, but this table allows babies to use their legs for movement. Children who are cruising, or walking by holding on to larger objects, benefit from the design because they can practice those movements while playing.
Babies may outgrow the seat quickly with a weight limit of 25 pounds, but parents can remove the seat when that happens, and allow a toddler to walk around the table without the support. The legs are sturdy and resist toppling for that purpose.
Watch Out For
One downside is that the seat strap and material can sometimes dig into a toddler’s skin if the toddler isn’t wearing clothing or the toddler is built a certain way. Make sure to test it out for a small amount of time so that you can determine if it will cause any sore spots.
2. Fisher-Price 2-in-1 2-in-1 Sit-to-Stand Activity Center
- machine washable seat material
- plays fun music and sounds
- encourages cause and effect thinking
- for children 9 to 36 months
Fisher-Price’s activity center is a classic center-seat designed table with a Safari Theme. Babies and toddlers are supported by a middle seat that spins around so that the baby can reach everything on the table.
The table includes several different activity centers including music, spinning toys, a colorful slider, a “seesaw” toy, and mirror. There are lights and sounds to encourage baby to explore and to give instant feedback. Baby can learn important cause and effect by manipulating the toys and receiving feedback instantly. As baby grows, parents can adjust the height of the table to accommodate growing legs.
When toddlers get too big for the seat, the table can be converted to a walk around by adding a ramp toy in place of the seat. This addition extends the life of the toy beyond baby years into busy, older toddler exploration. They can still play but have a bit more freedom and some new additions to the table to keep their interest.
Watch Out For
Some of the taller toys may be in a poor position for some children. If baby is at the right height, taller pieces might be in the way of other parts of the table and cause the baby some frustration. However, for older toddlers not tied to the seat, these do add visual interest. You might want to remove pieces that are in baby’s way.
The pad and seat are machine-washable, and the legs remove for storage if you decide to put the table away for any reason.
3. Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Active Learning Center
- multiple growth stages
- encourages physical development
- 0 to 4 months (playmat)/ 4 to walking age (exersaucer)/ walking age to 24 months (activity table)
- bright, fun colors
Evenflo’s Exersaucer gives kids a play area that covers multiple growth stages. While babies are very young, the play mat provides stimulation for the baby whether laying on his or her back or doing tummy time. When the baby can hold up his or her head, the play mat transforms to an exersaucer with a middle, spinning seat. Toddlers who have mastered walking can use it as an activity table.
It has 11 different activities to help baby develop things like hand-eye coordination, cause and effect, explorative play, and motor skills. Toys can remove for play on the go or for easy cleaning. Some sounds and lights respond to manipulation, encouraging babies and toddlers to explore. Parents can remove toys if they are overwhelming, but there’s nothing to cover the hole the toy leaves behind.
Cleaning And Storage
The exersaucer has a handle and folds up smaller than most brands on the market. It makes traveling with it easy if it’s impossible for you to leave it at home. The seat pad is washable, and it adjusts to three different heights to grow until your baby is ready to leave the seat.
The activity table assembles in an S shape, making it much more interesting for a curious toddler. They can walk around, but it has a more extended surface area, encouraging them to walk, balance, and explore.
Watch Out For
When you’re transitioning from one form to the next, it can take some time for assembly. While it isn’t hard to do, there are a lot of pieces that have to be assembled so it might take more time than some of the others. Also, some of the removable toys are easy for your child to get out although none of them are choking hazards.
Musical Activity Tables
Musical activity tables add an element of exploration. Music helps children develop hearing skills, connect causes and effects, encourage fine motor skills, and early critical thinking. Some have seating while others are an activity table style.
4. Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table
- lots of music sounds
- good for small spaces
- two play modes for learning and creativity
- suitable for ages 6 months to 36 months
Baby Einstein’s mission is engaging children in activities that encourage them to explore and satisfy curiosity. Their music table is an activity table style without a seat. Children can sit or stand in front of the table and manipulate the sections for sounds and lights.
When your baby starts out, he or she can play with the activity center directly on the ground. The piano keys teach numbers and colors, but children also have a drum, guitar, and French horn feature. Three languages are available, English, French, and Spanish.
There are two modes, discovery and music mode. In discovery mode, the baby is introduced to concepts such as color or number. In music mode, your baby has free reign to create music, push buttons, and see where things go. There’s plenty to encourage your toddler to explore and imagine.
Watch Out For
The toddler table has only three legs, so if your toddler is the type to climb on things, it’s very prone to toppling. Make sure your toddler never tries to sit or stand on the table.
5. VTech Magic Star Learning Table
- English and Spanish options develop baby’s brain
- good for curious toddlers
- helps introduce baby to early math and literacy concepts
- suitable for ages 18 months to 4 years
The VTech learning table grows with children. The flexible legs turn the baby table into a toddler activity table. It has six activities for your baby to explore, including music, a telephone with numbers, electronic flip book with nursery rhymes, and steering wheel with gears.
Activities And Development
VTech covers a range of developmental skills. Children can push buttons to enjoy the instant feedback of lights and sounds. They can learn numbers and colors along with nursery rhymes. The movable parts help develop fine motor skills.
Two languages are available, English and Spanish. The star button plays music and sounds for comfortable play. Other functions include real numbers with the telephone, which also encourages early dramatic play, and an interactive nursery rhyme book.
Watch Out For
The legs attach to make it about 15 inches tall, but there are only three. Make sure your toddler doesn’t try to sit or stand on the table, or it may topple over. Otherwise, the table has a wide range of functions beyond music and integrates other concepts such as early math recognition and colors along with the musical sounds.
6. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table
- floor toy converts to an activity table
- fun music activities
- early literacy and math activities help brain development
- suitable for ages 6 months to 36 months
LeapFrog’s music table has many sounds and colorful decorations, so a toddler has plenty to play with. It comes with over 70 songs, learning activities such as numbers, letters, shapes, and colors, and multiple musical instrument sounds.
This table converts from a floor toy for young babies to an activity table for toddlers. It’s colorful and encourages children to manipulate the pieces, teaching early math literacy, cause and effect, and early critical thinking. It also instills a love of music with many different songs including children’s classics such as Old MacDonald.
There are plenty of actions for developing fine motor skills. Children learn to associate what they read with what they hear. It’s available in two different languages, English and Spanish.
Watch Out For
Although it’s lightweight and convenient for parents to move around, the plastic is a little flimsy for kids. Make sure your child doesn’t try to stand or sit on it.
7. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Around The Town Learning Table
- fun music and sounds
- excellent for encouraging dramatic play
- three different learning stages (Including early Spanish skills!)
- suitable for 6 months to 36 months
The Laugh and Learn table is another Fisher-Price option that uses music to teach early concepts. The table is centered around a little town, and each side is a fun place to visit. There’s a market, zoo, farm, and Puppy’s little home.
The table teaches concepts such as early literacy and math skills. It has nine different lights that respond to different buttons as well as over 120 songs, tunes, and small phrases.
There are three distinct stages based on your child’s developmental stages. The first is for ages six months and older. It includes lights and sounds and plenty of hands-on activities that develop motor skills such as pushing or spinning.
The second stage begins to teach your child words in Spanish, find numbers and shapes, identify animals and colors, and celebrate their learning. It’s suitable for ages 12 months and over.
The third stage is intended for older toddlers. It encourages full imaginative play. Children can pretend that they’re going with Puppy to the market or that they’re headed to the zoo. With fun phrases to encourage listening comprehension and dramatic play, the table helps children make full use of blossoming imaginations.
8. Playskool Rocktivity Sit-To-Stand Music Skool Toy
- comes with a microphone
- has a Spanish mode, which is good for brain development
- suitable for ages six months and over
- sturdy plastic
Playskool’s music table is a sturdy table with two different modes. Music mode allows children to explore music and sounds, creating their own tunes or singing along with included ones. Learning mode introduces children to colors and shapes as well as early math and literacy skills. You can also switch learning mode to Spanish so your toddler can begin early bilingual skills.
There’s a microphone included, and songs feature kid-friendly versions of popular songs. The legs attach to turn the floor toy to a toddler’s activity table. It has four legs, so it’s more sturdy than others on the list.
Watch Out For
One downside is that both the volume control and the language switch are located on the top of the table right where little fingers can reach it. If your child is using the table away from public spaces, the volume may not bother you.
It’s colorful and exciting. Children have plenty to do either with the independent mode or learning new concepts. It teaches cause-effect and early critical thinking skills as well as literacy and math skills. Children can learn without realizing they are.
Wooden Baby Activity Tables
Sometimes you don’t want sound. Sometimes, the thought of buying another set of batteries for another loud, sing-song table makes you want to run to the woods and never return. If you’ve had your fill of lights and sounds and batteries, a wooden table can satisfy your child’s curiosity without any of those things.
9. ALEX Discover Sound and Play Busy Table
- shape is good for multiple children (hello, siblings!)
- suitable for 18 months to 15 years (according to the manufacturer)
- beautiful wooden design
Alex’s play table is an ultra colorful, wooden top table with six different activities. Children can make music and sounds with the xylophone, guide beads through the maze, open doors, and spinning gears. Around the edge of the table are brightly painted letters to teach early letter recognition.
It’s shaped in a way to accommodate more than one child at a time, and the activities face all directions, so everyone has something to do. The design is fun and bright, encouraging children to explore and imagine as they manipulate the pieces.
It won’t lead your children with songs or directions, but it’s excellent for periodic play with your child. You can point out the bright colors, letters, or other decoration features to practice these skills with your child.
Watch Out For
One downside is its awkward height for children who are just learning to stand and walk because they don’t want to sit down. It’s just a little too low to play with while a child is standing up and it’s tempting for a child to stand or sit on top of it. Make sure you supervise your child’s play so that he or she doesn’t receive injuries.
That said, it should fit in with most household decor, so you shouldn’t have any trouble using it in your house’s public spaces. Since it isn’t noisy, it fits right in.
10. Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center
- beautiful design packs a lot in a small space
- four different areas (good for sibling play)
- suitable for 12 months to 5 years
Manhattan Toys has outdone themselves with this sophisticated, wooden activity table. It includes four different quadrants with different activities. Children can stand at different points at the table and explore everything it has to offer.
There are plenty of things to move and manipulate. Children can move toys through tracks at the base and also on some of the walls of the divisions. They can manipulate the small bead tracks, turn gears, and open doors to see what’s inside.
It’s very colorful and should give you plenty of opportunities to start going over concepts such as color, shapes, or animals. There are no lights or sounds, so you don’t need any batteries.
Watch Out For
It’s very light, so if your child is using props to pull up, it won’t support the weight and will probably tip over. The design makes it difficult to assemble unless you have the right tools to get to screws blocked by pieces of the toy.
It’s best for older children who have mastered standing up and won’t pull the toy over. It should keep your child interested through several years of exploration.
With so many choices, how do you know which table is the right one? There are a few different things you should consider when investing in your activity table.
How Old Is Your Child?
Some of our wooden tables may look beautiful, but the reality is their design is a little too old for young children. If you want to get started helping your child develop, you may want an option that begins as a floor toy or even a floor mat. This style can distract your child if they don’t enjoy tummy time, encourage visual and motor skills, and encourage development through engaging sights and sounds.
As babies grow, leg additions encourage them to stand or pull up. As your child gets taller, you can adjust the height to encourage standing.
If your child is a little older but still needs support, activity tables that begin as seats that twist and move as your child explores can help with muscle tone and core strength. After they master standing and walking, you can convert the table to a full activity table.
What Do You Want To Accomplish?
Activity tables aren’t all the same, so the one you choose depends a lot on what you want your baby to learn. Music tables teach early tone recognition and help develop critical thinking skills as a child manipulates the pieces.
Other tables teach early literacy and math skills by encouraging children to listen and learn. They can push buttons that say words or numbers, count sounds or lights, and learn to identify symbols for both disciplines.
If you want your child to develop skills for cause and effect, general activity tables are a good idea. They have an assortment of activities and pieces to help with fine motor skills and learning what happens with specific actions.
Some grow with your child, transforming from simple floor toys to elaborate toys for toddlers. Tables with added toys or pieces that can be adjusted help refresh the toy as your child’s mind grows.
What Kind Of Materials?
Sure everyone loves wood, but plastic tables have pros as well. Plastic is excellent for tables where you need something durable but light. Plastic offers options for better and easier cleaning as well. Most plastic resists staining and is easily wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Plastic also gives you the broadest range of options for interactive sounds and lights. Plastic tables frequently come with songs and sounds that encourage listening skills, lights that teach cause and effect, and a host of other fun features.
The downside is that plastic is often too light for some toddlers who like to stand or drag toys around. It’s durable regarding keeping colors bright, but plastic pieces can break or come apart easier than you’d like. Also, plastic rarely lasts from one child to the next.
Wooden toys are highly durable and meant to last. A wooden activity table is likely to become an heirloom in some cases, passed from child to child. However, wood can be cumbersome and less forgiving in accidents.
Make sure the wood you choose is solid and doesn’t have any toxic off-gassing. Composite wood or pressed woods sometimes have chemicals with a strong smell. Any paint used for decoration should also come preferably from a natural source, but at least shouldn’t have a strong smell.
Wooden tables don’t have a lot of options for lights and sounds, which may or may not be a plus depending on your tolerance for noise. Wooden tables do provide more quiet, open play, and maybe a plus for common areas where you don’t want excess noise.
How Do I Use A Play Table?
There are many ways to get full use from your new activity table.
If it has floor toy capability, you can either lean it up against a wall or place it on the floor. Varying how your child interacts with the toy encourages physical development of their core, head and neck muscles, and eyes. Standing the play table on its side encourages babies to develop midline awareness. Midline awareness teaches baby where his or her center of gravity is and where the middle of the body is. This helps later with balance and control. Playing on the floor encourages core strength through tummy time.
You can use cushions to encourage baby to pull up and stand if they’re still too unbalanced to use the legs. If your table converts to an exersaucer, now is a good time to start using that feature. Your baby can practice lower leg movements and support by manipulating the seat, or by pulling up on the cushions to reach the table.
If your baby is ready, use the legs and wedge the table against another surface to help support your baby’s movements and pulling up. You know that he or she is fully supported, but the child has a little more freedom to move around. This can transition to positioning away from the supports, so baby has complete freedom to move around. From there, place the table near another surface to encourage walking.
An activity table can help your baby develop essential skills and satisfy curiosity from a young age. They can explore while learning new concepts and keeping away from your kitchen cabinets. Whether you choose something specifically musical, something with a lot of learning features, or a quiet wooden table, your child will build skills and engage in play.
What’s your priority for your activity table? Is it movement, development, or open-ended play? Let us know what you think in the comments below.