Fisher-Price's 'Purple Monkey' Kick & Play Piano Gym Review: This Baby Activity Mat Is Worth the Hype

“The songs were mine and my husband’s Spotify Top 5. All five.”

“Haunts my dreams.”

“About two years ago, I was at a friend’s house and the purple monkey song came on. I got a sick feeling in my stomach because it reminded me of the exhaustion and stress of having a new baby.”

“A very active group chat in my life: the monkey, the toucan, and the elephant!”

Even households are divided. “It’s pretty much the only thing that will occupy my daughter and keep her in one place,” says Brittany, who lives in Japan with her husband and eight-month-old. “‘Purple Monkey’ sounds like it could be a Kidz Bop version of a Taylor Swift song. I’m into it. My husband is not a fan.”

Says her husband Tom, emphatically, on a separate thread: “I leave the room when Britt puts our daughter on that. It’s the only one I can’t stand.”

The Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym is a certified hit with my six-month-old twins. Like most of the parents I talked to for this article, I was influenced by all the noise around it on social media. But for once, the hype was real. My kids ignored the more aesthetically pleasing activity centers I’d chosen for them, lying there with a bored look best described as “ennui” during tummy time. With the Fisher-Price gym, however, they were smashing their little legs against the piano with squeals of delight and the force of a UFC fighter.

My colleague Dan experienced something similar. “I respect any toy that can take that level of physical abuse from a baby off my plate,” he says. “Between the dangling animals, infectious tracks, and flashing keys, there was enough here to easily occupy my baby for a solid 15 minutes. And raising a baby is really just stringing together 15 minute blocks of entertainment until you drop.”

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The mat’s ability to keep newborns entertained for minutes at a time is valuable—really, really valuable when it allows you to pour a cup of coffee or pee—but that’s not what elicited such emotion from the parents I talked to. The mat’s viral success undoubtedly comes from the connection they feel to “Maybe.”

Written by Fisher-Price staff sound designer Jamie Hert, the song is intentionally nostalgic in sound: A spokesperson for the company confirms he used a ‘90s drum machine and digital bells to create the “retro vibe.” And if the lyrics (“Maybe you could be, a purple monkey in a bubblegum tree, and you could swing in the breeze. Then you could swing back to me…”) seem surprisingly deep, well, that was deliberate too.

“I was trying to lean into the emotional side of what it’s like being a parent and knowing their kids could become anything but hopefully they’ll always find their way back to the bubblegum tree (or home),” Hert says. When he first played the song to the broader audio team at Fisher-Price, he noticed a positive emotional response from several moms in the room. He had a good feeling then that it would work.

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