Mamas- and papas-to-be try their best to figure out what to buy and register for the impending babe. But all the vocab that goes with the toys and contraptions can be a bit confusing. From activity mats and bouncers to play yards and jumpers, we've broken down the tyke terms.

  • Activity Center: These large, stationary toys provide parents with an entertaining place to put an infant that is on the move. Activity centers often have a suspended seat that allow tots to “stand,” sit, or jump in place, while spinning their way around 360 degrees of toys, teethers, and musical instruments.
  • Activity Mat: Activity mats are designed to facilitate tummy time for infants and newborns, featuring toys, mirrors, and noisemakers to encourage tots to spend more time on their bellies.
  • Baby Carrier: Baby carriers allow parents to tote their tots while keeping their hands free for other activities. Baby carriers come in many forms, including slings and more intricate contraptions that can be converted to carry tots on mama’s front, hip, or back.
  • Baby Seat: Designed for babies that can hold their heads up on their own, baby seats provide parents with a portable place to seat tots throughout the home.
  • Bouncer: Bouncers, or bouncy seats, provide a place for a newborn to rest when needs to free up her hands. The lounge-like seats often have the ability to vibrate and play music to help soothe a lil one, while some have activity bars to entertain a slightly older tot.

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  • Jumper: Baby jumpers come in several styles, but each provide the similar benefits for lil ones. Jumpers allow tots to strengthen their leg muscles while seeing what their bodies can do. Stand-alone versions offer babies the opportunity to play with a variety of toys while they jump and spin and while doorway jumpers attach to the door jams to create a more portable version that can be taken to grandma’s house or on vacation.
  • Play yard: Play yards, formerly known as play pens, are collapsible, mesh-sided cubes that provide an enclosed area for parents to place tots and their toys. Many of today’s play yards can be converted into travel cribs and changing tables for newborns and infants.
  • Swing: Baby swings come in a variety of styles these days. From traditional swings that move from front to back to papasan swings that move both from front to back and side to side, this often large piece of equipment can truly be a lifesaver from day one.