Sometimes we take a break from home automation and speakers to tell you about a cool new thing in our baby’s life. Today, we’re looking at the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Step ‘n Play Piano activity center.
Now that our daughter (known as Peach on this blog) can hold her head up, she’s ready to sit in her Fisher Price 4-in-1 Step ‘n Play Piano! We love this musical activity center and best of all, she loves it, too.
The music is pleasing and there’s plenty to do, even with the audio turned off.
Step ‘n Play Piano short demo videos
Here’s my hand pressing and spinning the “drums”, changing the play mode to “Long Play”, and hitting keys while my 3-month-old watches.
Here’s “Long Play” mode, a 10-minute loop of songs (3 songs have lyrics, the rest are just synth goodness). While in “Long play”, you can still hit the keys and hear an audio reaction.
Finally, here’s a quick demo of the individual keys:
Why we love the Step ‘n Play Piano
There’s a lot to love about this musical activity center!
It took my partner about an hour to put it together (he surprised me with it when I woke up from a nap).
Mostly you just snap pieces together, but you’ll need a Philips screwdriver to open the battery compartment (and three AA batteries). The batteries install on the underside of the “drums” console.
If you get this before you give birth, go ahead an assemble it because even though “an hour” doesn’t sound like a time-consuming project, it will be when your baby is 8 weeks old and doesn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes and you will gaze longingly at its box, wishing it was assembled.
Use it early, use it for a long time
The “4-in-1” refers to this play center’s various configurations.
For your really little baby (like, 4 weeks – 12 weeks), you can use it like a tummy time mat. (Note that the mat itself doesn’t play notes – it’s the base of the play center that plays notes, and the mat just sits on top.)
Here’s a model baby showing us how it’s done.
Once your baby is comfortable sitting upright and holding up her own head (for us, that was around 8 weeks), she can graduate to the chair. At 3 months old, our Peach just kind of sits in the chair and looks around (she doesn’t pick up the toys yet) and every once in a while, she accidentally hits a note on the pad. Fun times, I tells ya.
Later, you can remove the chair entirely and let your kiddo stand in the middle where the chair used to be. Many reviewers say their 2 year olds play with the Step ‘n Play piano so we’re looking forward to a good 2+ years of use out of this thing (possibly longer if we have another baby). The design certainly seems rugged enough to hold up to some good hitting and banging, and it seems difficult to tip over, except by someone well over the intended age range.
Soft chair edge
The edge around the chair is firm but still pretty soft, which is great because at three months old, Peach is still prone to bashing her face into things. The chair spins easily, too.
We also have the Bright Starts Bounce Bounce Baby activity center and its chair has a harder edge and is more difficult to turn, so Peach can’t turn the chair around on her own in that one.
A great-sounding musical toy
All of this toy’s musical notes are electronically generated. There are some toys that click or clack but the notes and songs only play with three AA batteries loaded into the console.
Peach’s dad is very musically inclined so that’s a big part of why we wanted a musical toy for her in the first place. Specifically, we wanted a musical toy where the keys correspond to actual notes, not a full song that plays out. This is surprisingly hard to find, and it’s why we also bought a mini Casio keyboard to play with her instead of any of the numerous “baby keyboards” that play full songs when you hit the notes.
The big plastic keys (red, orange, yellow, green) and the touch-sensitive regions on the base (covered by the printed key mat) make up an F major chord (F A C F). In layman’s terms, this means they sound good when played together.
These “drums” play sounds, too.
Three play modes
Short Play – Press or spin the turntables to hear drum riffs. Press the piano keys on the upper rail or step on the piano mat to hear musical ditties. Press the music notes for sound effects.
Long Play – Plays approximately 10 minutes of music! Step on the piano mat while music is playing for fun lights. Press the piano keys, spin or press the turntables or press the music notes to hear more sounds!
Baby Makes Music – Spin the turntable to play drum riffs or press for drum sounds! Press the piano keys on the upper rail or step on the piano mat to play piano sounds. Press the music notes for more musical sounds.
Acoustic toys, too
There’s also a bunch of “acoustic” toys that don’t correspond to any digital sound. The little slidey piece and the plastic ball on the guitar don’t generate notes, the mirror is just for looking into, and the rattle makes a nice acoustic rattle sound.
Clockwise, from upper left:
- Shake the microphone (it’s a rattle)
- Slide the plastic notes (they click)
- Press the red, orange, yellow, and green keys to play notes or sound effects, depending on what mode the console is set to
- Console (removable, contains batteries): press the yellow button, spin the red one, change the audio mode
- Guitar: roll the ball, slide the slider
- Mirror: a warping fun-house mirror
- Plastic tabs: flip back and forth
- Tambourine: another fun rattle toy
The squishy seat sits in a larger plastic piece that glides along rails. There’s also a clear plastic tube full of little plastic balls to tumble, a snack tray, and some discs that slide along an elevated track.
The tambourine and “microphone” (it’s a rattle) detach from the base and click into the removable control console.
You can detach the rattle and tambourine like so:
And plug them into the battery-powered console, which is also removable:
Since we essentially live in two places, with regular trips to Grandma’s, this detachable portion is really cool. This is the same part that holds the batteries, and all the same songs play if you turn it on.
Just one drawback
It doesn’t disassemble easily, so don’t count on flattening it to put it away between play sessions. We keep it at our weekend place because there’s no room in our city apartment, but if it folded up we would totally bring it with us everywhere.
Other than that, though, this activity center is great – it’s a safe place to put baby down for a few minutes while you fold some laundry and it looks like it’ll be entertaining our little one well into her toddler years.