A baby play mat is a safe space for newborns’ tummy time and can become a permanent play spot. Here we take a look at the best baby play mats on the market in 2021.
Do Babies Need A Play Mat?
A play mat or activity gym is a convenience for parents and caregivers who need a break from holding their babies 24/7, especially newborns. Activity mats, bouncers, and swings are fun spots for the little one to chill while keeping happy and busy. Play mats offer different visual stimuli, sounds, and textures, in contrast with swings and bouncers which often include only one or two small plush toys. Play mats also encourage tummy time to help strengthen the neck and avoid flat-headedness that can happen if a baby lies on their back for too long.
What Age Does A Baby Need A Play Mat?
Babies can use a play mat from the newborn stage, provided they are comfortable lying on their back. A baby’s eyes begin to focus properly from around 1 month of age, and you may notice your baby starting to take notice of the toys dangling over their play mat. From 3 months of age, tummy time usually starts, although you should start with short sessions of just a few minutes until baby gets used to it.
From the age of 4-6 months, babies start rolling over and interact more with their play mat or activity gym. By the time baby is 9 months old, they will probably be crawling and not contained in their play mat anymore, but they may still find it a fun place to play.
What To Keep In Mind When Buying A Play Mat?
With all the features of baby play mats on the market, which are pros and which are cons? Bear these points in mind as you choose the best item for your baby.
How big is it?
If you have plenty of space in baby’s nursery or play room, then a big play mat will look great! But if you will be using it just occasionally, look for something small or foldable.
A thin, rug-like play mat may not be comfortable for babies to play on, and may not protect them if they fall. Thicker, soft foam mats provide better comfort but are often harder to clean and bulkier to store.
Machine washable is a plus
Kids are messy creatures, and there’s no point in being precious about their play mat. Find something that is easy to wipe clean. Bonus marks if it’s machine washable!
A nice design
When it comes to appearance, there is often a trade-off between a beautiful piece that matches your style and a colorful mat pattern that fulfills your child’s developmental stimulation.
Babies need bright, contrasting colors and patterns to encourage their eyes to focus, and items with modern designs might not fit nicely with your interior decor.
Mats that are made of tiles or have pop-out pieces are convenient for stacking away when not in use and can help older children practice their motor skills. Removable and exchangeable toys mean your item can grow with your baby.
Your play mat should be a safe place for your baby, and one aspect of that is being made from non-toxic materials. Some mats are made with PVC, formamide, phthalates, and other chemicals that we don’t want near our kids. Make sure your baby’s play space will be non-toxic through and through.
What Are The Best Play Mats In The Market?
Pehr Quilted Play Mat
This mat is great for newborns, providing a safe space to play without complicated visual or audio distractions. The Pehr mat is hand-screen printed and reversible with extra soft material for playtime or tummy time. It can also be stored almost anywhere. This machine-washable, quilted cotton, cozy mat is made with playful prints and beautiful patterns, and at 40 inches is the perfect size for newborns. Bear in mind, though, that older babies won’t be entertained for long on this mat.
Tiny Love Black & White Gymini Play Mat
The black and white contrast on this mat is ideal for stimulating babies’ vision. It includes a high-contrast book and a soft mirror to get baby’s attention and encourage them to practice focusing from an early age. The Gymini mat is also fitted with hanging toys, crinkly materials for sensory stimulation, and even a wind chime. Especially designed to support their mental development from day one, the Gymini encourages baby’s innate desire to explore. The adjustable play arches and movable toys allow for an adaptable environment.
Fisher-Price Kick + Play Piano Gym
This gym is from one of the brands that have stood the test of time. It’s budget-friendly, compact, and offers safe entertainment for your baby from birth. The gym features a keyboard that can be pressed with the feet or hands and can play music for up to 15 minutes, perfect for parents who need baby to be safely distracted for a few minutes. The mat has loops for attaching toys, offering more stimulation for baby and allowing you to change things up from time to time.
Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop + Play
For the budget-conscious, this pick is one of the best baby play mats you can score for under $20. It doubles as a bear-shaped comfy environment for tummy time and floor play. This cuddly friend also has baby toys including a mirror, rattle, and teether for the baby to explore.
The “Prop” in the name comes from the prop pillow, which helps support small babies who haven’t developed full neck control yet. The Prop + Play features satin loops and adjustable attachments, all the perfect size and effortlessly portable, making the mat easy to move inside the house.
Lovevery Play Gym
This play gym hails as the best baby play mat in The Bump Best of Baby 2019 Awards. Designed by baby development experts, the mat includes five different sensory areas designed for baby’s development. Interchangeable cards range from black and white images for newborns to faces and mirrors for older babies. The Lovevery even turns into a play tent. Its stylish design will look right at home on the living room rug and can grow with your baby from newborn days through toddler years. While expensive, many parents find it is well worth the cost in terms of longevity, as well as knowing that this toy is really supporting your baby’s development.
Skip Hop Baby Treetop Friends Activity Gym and Play Mat
This activity mat has substantial padding that provides a comfortable space for tummy time. It folds compactly and is made with eco-friendly linen materials. The Skip Hop Baby Treetop mat also features more subtle colors to blend in easily with most home decor, and is useful even for kids past the tummy time stage. A crisscross bar floats overhead with five plush toys attached, including one that plays lullabies. The mat’s varied textures and colors also encourage baby’s development.
Baby Care Haute Collection Play Mat
The Baby Care play mats boast a half-inch thick cushion that will not break an egg dropped from 10 feet. Its queen-size mattress dimensions and reversible patterns allow you to choose from a rug-like display to something more vibrant with animals and alphabets. This collection is relatively light and easy to move about, besides being comfortable for kids to sit or crawl on and easy to wash. As an added bonus, these Baby Care mats are waterproof and non-toxic.
Toki Mats Baby Play Mat
The Toki Mat is constructed from latex foam made from natural rubber, so you can be sure the little one plays with nontoxic materials. The covers are made of cotton and can be removed and washed in the machine. These mats use muted patterns and soft colors like gray, blue, and coral that fit well with the decor of your home.
Lollaland Play Mat
This reversible option looks like a rug on one side and features bright, stimulating graphics on the reverse side. The Lollaland mat is a large, roll-out mat that is well-cushioned and completely BPA-free. Made of multiple layers of easy-to-clean, water-resistant foam, Lollaland’s single-piece design means you don’t have to fumble with interlocking foam edges. Its textured, non-slip surface allows it to stay put on both floors and rugs.
Which Play Mat Is Best For Your Baby?
These mats are handy tools for a new baby. Infants can lie on their tummies to help them develop strength in their necks, backs, and arm muscles, which translates to successful motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
An activity mat encourages your baby to explore their surroundings and serves as a fun way to bond with the newest addition to the family. No matter the size, shape, and texture, play mats are a great way to introduce new experiences and help your baby’s development.
Table of Contents
- Do Babies Need A Play Mat?
- What Age Does A Baby Need A Play Mat?
- What To Keep In Mind When Buying A Play Mat?
- What Are The Best Play Mats In The Market?
- Which Play Mat Is Best For Your Baby?