Originally published November 1, 2017, updated March 29, 2022
I would wholeheartedly recommend the Oribel PortaPlay Convertible Activity Center to anyone looking for an aesthetically pleasing, developmentally appropriate and reasonably priced baby activity center for their little one.
We began using the PortaPlay when my newly 6-month-old started showing increased interest in the objects around her. It was important that we offered her something that encouraged fine-and gross-motor skills and included exploration and play with educational toys. This activity center was the perfect find!
Having experienced a wide variety of activity tables, bouncers or exersaucers during my years in the child care industry, let me say that clicking together an activity center is rather self-explanatory. But, Oribel took that a step further by having the legs attached and ready to go when the PortaPlay comes out of the box. This is a huge win if you’re a little nervous that your handyman skills may not be up to snuff (or if you’re in a hurry to entertain your busy baby). Simply unfold the legs from underneath the table until they click.
The PortaPlay has three height adjustments to accommodate infants in the seat as well as older children using it as a play table. My youngest has always measured in the upper percentiles for height, but she still benefits from a folded blanket beneath her feet for stability. Regardless, she is able to utilize the rotating seat to explore whichever fun toy she chooses without assistance.
The PortaPlay comes with five removable, washable toys. (We received the Forest Friends version and adore it.) Rosie can play peek-a-boo in the mirror; she can make a squirrel pop up; she can push and spin leaves across a bar. Her current dilemma is that none of the toys reach her teething gums. But the design allows for the easy addition of other car seat toys, rattles or teethers, too, so my babe can enjoy the comfy bounce of the seat while still getting her teething on comfortably. One of my favorite parts is that none of the toys use batteries! There are clicks and pops and beads rolling around, but no songs and no flashing lights.
Now the deconstruction of play tables is usually much more frustrating than the simple clicks it takes to put them together. Oribel fixed that, too. The large grips on the toys and covers allow for easy removal sans pinched fingers and grunting. In fact, my 6-year-old was so amped to turn the PortaPlay from infant play space to art table that he removed all the toys by himself—by himself! So whether you’re transitioning from play space to art space or simply cleaning up spit-up, the PortaPlay can be disassembled with a gentle squeeze and re-assembled with a simple click. Also worth noting: The PortaPlay doesn’t have millions of ridges and grooves to catch bodily fluids and other grime, which makes cleanup super easy and is a huge plus.
The PortaPlay wins again with how compactly it can be stored. Instead of a large saucer across the base, it has four adjustable legs that fold flat underneath. All that is left is a lightweight, mostly flat disc. This means loading it in the car for a weekend getaway is totally manageable. It also means I can quickly store it in a closet during those times I like to pretend my house isn’t overrun with children (like on book club night or girls night). Additionally, because it has foldable legs rather than a saucer base, it is conveniently shaped for a one-handed maneuver through a doorway with a baby on my hip. This is helpful for moving from my living room to the kitchen … to the bathroom for a quick shower, etc.
Included Activity Table + Accessories
When your infant’s activity center days have passed, the PortaPlay can be used as a toddler table by replacing the seat with the included white wooden circle but leaving some or all of the toys in place. This would allow for a toddler to wander around the table and access the toys as desired. I don’t have any children in this age group currently, so what my preschooler and kindergartener were most excited about was that the PortaPlay “is a Transformer!” (From the mouths of babes, though.)
Simply replace the toys with flat covers, replace the seat with the wooden circle, adjust the table leg height, and you’ve got a table perfectly sized for older children. Oribel has developed a couple accessories to complement the play table and enhance its usefulness. (Note these accessories are an additional cost.) Coordinating child stools appropriately sized for toddler sitting keep my boys comfortable while they play. At $40 for a pair, they seem to be a reasonable addition.
The refillable art paper roll dispenser that clicks into the table has proven itself quite lovely as well. Because it becomes part of the table, there is no dropping it off the table, pushing it into someone else’s space, flipping it over and (heaven forbid!) wrinkling the paper, etc. The thoughtful design has allowed my boys to embrace some independence and keep their creativity flowing without my assistance. I think it is certainly worth the $30 to stretch the use of the PortaPlay even further.
Who Would Enjoy this Product
I only have positive things to say about this activity center and believe other parents would also love Oribel’s innovation and eye for design. Whether you’re looking for a safe place to put your child for a few hands-free minutes or wanting another option for age-suitable play that helps with developing things like fine motor skills (or likely, a combo of the two), the PortaPlay will offer you years of engagement, entertainment and use.
Oribel PortaPlay Convertible Activity Center, $129