It was one of those first few days home from the hospital with my newborn baby that I remember thinking, "What am I supposed to do with her?"
I figured out how to feed her, and I knew to give her plenty of naps, but it was those wakeful moments in the day — that grew longer and more frequent with each passing week — that left me feeling paralyzed. This was crucial time for early brain development, and I was squandering it!
As an anxious, do-gooding millennial mom, I would plop her down on the rainbow-colored, safari-themed play mat I'd gotten at my baby shower and scatter a bunch of plush toys around her . . . and then search Google for answers. Often, the results were overwhelming. One day, I'd panic that I hadn't been doing enough to boost her, say, fine-motor skills and then submit her to a baby grasp-the-rattle boot camp, and the next day, I'd freak out about how someone like me, with no experience or background, was supposed to introduce gross-motor or language or sensory stimulation.
After just a week, I'm already trying not to feel guilty about the amazing things my baby (and I!) could have done with this mat months sooner.
Turns out, Jessica Rolph had the same frustrations when she was a new mom. "I was dissatisfied with the toys we had, and then I thought about the play mat," she told POPSUGAR. "It has so much potential to be a platform for learning for the first 12 months, but I wasn't happy with what was on the market."
So she created her own, The Play Gym by Lovevery ($140), which was designed by a team of experts and pediatric neuroscientists.
It debuts today, but I've already given it a test-drive with my second baby, who's 8 months old. After just a week with it in our living room, I'm already trying not to feel guilty about the amazing things she (and I!) could have done with this mat months sooner. Unlike my previous play gym, which I now realize was the definition of overstimulation, this one is exactly what a baby needs at each stage of the first year of life.
It's playtime with purpose, grounded in science. (Plus, the sustainably sourced wooden legs and gorgeous watercolor design are tailor-made for Instagram.)
You might still be thinking, "It's just a play gym!" I promise you this one is so much more — it's both beneficial for babies and profoundly helpful for today's eager parents. Read on to better understand why.