When it comes to playtime for your growing baby, you don’t want them rolling around on a hard floor. Carpet is fine, but can still be uncomfortable. A play mat is great for your young bundle of joy to spend their playtime crawling and swatting and playing.
The best play mats for your baby are those which allow them to be comfortable while providing entertainment and education. Your baby is developing a range of visual and motor skills and play mats are a great tool to encourage the growth in these abilities.
But with so many options out there it’s hard to choose which is the best play mat for your baby. With anything, which mat you purchase is as individual as your precious baby. However, there are certain things that you should be looking for in any play mat.
There play mat is an area of entertainment for your baby and you want to make sure that he/she is going to be safe. Make sure that there are no choking hazards with the playmat and that it’s made from non-toxic materials. Avoid foam mats that contain PVC, Phthalate, lead or latex. You can choose a mat that is made from EVA, which is a safer alternative. But, the best option is a mat that chemical-free and made from organic material.
Another safety consideration is the thickness of the baby mat. When your little star is playing on the mat there is a possibility that there will be a head bang against the surface of the mat. You want to cushion that impact with a mat that has decent padding. The best size is at least 0.4 inches thick
Also, match the size of the mat with the age of the baby. Smaller mats are great for infants who aren’t that mobile, but when they get bigger and start moving everywhere you want to ensure that the play mat allows for them to play with their toys without leaving the mat.
Check the recommended age for the mat and also carefully read the manufacturer’s safety instructions. If in doubt about the safety of a play mat, buy one from a reputable company that has a great safety record.
Read the product reviews of people who have bought the mats online, or if your friends or someone you know has bought from a store, ask them their opinion on the mats they bought. Post a message on a forum asking for recommendations on baby mats. Never be scared to ask for advice. After all it’s your baby that we are talking about!
Your baby’s personal development
Play mats not only provide entertainment but also allow your bundle of joy to learn and develop a range of skills. The mats can be used to develop the sense of hearing, sight and touch. Plus, as the baby interacts with the toys hanging from the mat they are gaining motor skills as well as mental development.
You can allow “mat time” to teach your baby independence. That doesn’t mean you just place the child on the mat and forget about them. It means you can let him or her explore, play and learn while you observe. Babies start to develop a sense of self-awareness around the three-month-old mark so you can use this as the time to encourage self-learning while acting as an overseer.
Time to go shopping
Now you have an idea as to what to look for in baby mats, it’s time to jump online or head to your favourite baby store and buy a mat that will have your baby playing, giggling and cooing in delight.
Here, we will give you show you some of the best play mats available on the market.
The best baby mats
When you venture into the world of baby mats you will find that there are so many choices. You can have a basic mat for your baby to play with their blocks and toys on, mats that act as a gym with toys overhanging your child to encouraging interaction and toys that are a virtual immersion into sights and sounds.
It’s all about what you think is best for your baby (notice we said for your baby and not YOU as mats aren’t meant to be a child care centre). Considering what we mentioned above about your baby’s safety and development you are now armed with a checklist of what would be the most suitable play mat for your precious one.
With all that said, let’s go!
Want your child learning his/her ABCs and numbers while developing visual and motor skills? This mat set comes in bright pink and purple and made from EVA non-toxic foam. The pieces can interlock so that you have a secure mat and also you can use the pieces to build foam blocks. Such versatility in one mat! Your baby will be spouting out the alphabet and counting before you know it! That should make you proud.
This may look like a mere play mat, but don’t let that deceive you. It’s much more! It’s a playground that allows your child to explore and gain facial recognition with the mirror as well as engaging activities that will keep your baby entertained. There is also a teething ring for those wee ones who are entering that stage in their wee life. Being foldable and portable means that this mat can be taken anywhere with you and storing it away isn’t an issue.
BalanceFrom gives you a mat that is a visual delight. So many colours your baby will think they have just landed on a rainbow! The foam is lead, BPA and Phthalate free so you know it’s safe. Also, the surface is non-slip so baby isn’t going to have a tumble while playing, but if they do have that bump the 0.4-inch thick foam will cushion any “owies”.
This play mat has 18 activities so you can be sure that your baby isn’t going to be bored. So many things to play with and experience. The arches can be adjusted or removed so you can customise this mat to your heart’s content. With both visual and auditory stimulation, your little one is going to be developing so many skills and there is even a 36- page booklet for you to read on how to maximise your child’s development through the activities. It’s not just a play mat, it’s a learning experience!
With pandas on one side of the mat and an animal race car on the other side makes this a visual treat whilst your child learns visual and motor skills. The large size of this play mat makes it ideal as a small carpet for your child to play and explore on and it can be easily folded up when playtime is over. If there is a spill on the mat, don’t panic it’s waterproof! Just grab a cloth and wipe it clean.
No need to go on a safari hunt for this one! A cute giraffe play mat that is great for tummy time. The eyes are safely locked, so you don’t have to worry about them being a choking hazard. Made from soft plush, your baby will feel so snuggly playing on this mat.
Here your baby can choose to sit or lay on their tummy as they discover their own inner musical genius through the interactive piano that can be started with the press of a finger or foot kick! Your little one will delight in the sounds, visuals and seven toys this play mat offers. With over 70 different sounds and more than 25 minutes of music makes for one engaging and entertaining mat!
Here you can let your wee one go camping…inside! There are 17 activities that your baby can do whether he or she is sitting, lying down or having tummy time! With an adorable outdoor theme and a peek-a-boo flap, your wee one will be giggling and playing with delight!
Though this mat may not be the most colourful there is a reason: have a play mat that is gender-neutral and can complement your decor. The play mat doesn’t contain BPA, Phthalates, lead, latex or Formamide so you know that it’s completely safe for your little one to have fun on. Cleaning is as easy as wiping it down with a cloth. The edges are foldable so you can turn the mat into a box and with the ability to expand the size of the mat by adding additional pieces means you have a play mat that will last beyond babyhood.
It’s like your baby is starring in his or her own version of “Finding Nemo”, but cuter because your wee one is in it! The toys allow your child to grasp and pull, yet the toys don’t make a noise. If you are wanting a play mat that is adorable, yet basic, get this one.
For all the animal lovers out there, here is the mat for you! With a farmyard theme on one side and animal alphabet on the other, your wee precious jewel can learn the ABCs and Old McDonalds Farm while you exploring this colourful mat. You can choose from two sizes: Medium (72.8 x 49.2 x 0.4 inches) or Large (12.82.7 x 55.1 x 0.5 inches). When your child is done with playing, just roll up the mat and stash it away!
Okay. It’s pink. It’s ideal for your girl’s room (as long as she isn’t scared of bugs!). But a company with a name of “Soft Tiles” you can be confident that the mat is going to be comfortable (⅝ inches thick comfortable) for baby, as well as for you, grandma and grandpa when you want to spend quality time with your little one. If you want to expand the mat, just buy another one and interconnect it! A final point…you can buy mats for boys too. Check out the full range of mats.
Have a feeling that your baby is a Mozart in the making? With this mat and gym, your wee one can play with the five key piano as well as be entertained with the toys dangling from the repositional archway. Oh, and the four musical settings can be changed through Smart Saver technology so your child can develop their musical ability.
Time for candy! Five toys help your child grow and develop through touch, sound, sight and motor skills. The donut shaped cushion is nice a comfortable so your little one can lay and play with the overhanging toys. Just make sure your little one doesn’t develop too much of a sweet tooth!
For the wee astronomer in the making, this play mat will keep your young one entertained at night. With the built-in projector that splashes stars onto the ceiling of the room, your baby will be mesmerised and soothed into a good night’s rest. Also, the built-in piano encourages motor development by rewarding your baby with a note each time he or she kicks a key. There is so much more that this play mat has to offer. You need to check it out!
Bear hugs anyone? Not the scary kind, but the cute cuddly ones. This play mat is designed for those babies that want tummy time. With a baby safe mirror your sweet child will giggle and laugh as she or he wonders who it is staring back at them. The rattle and toys will keep your baby amused for hours. When it’s time for cleaning, just pop the mat into the washing machine and c you’ll be sweet for another round!
Your baby can experience water play inside. Don’t worry you won’t get wet (oh, okay you may a little bit as you need to fill this with water). It’s a fun way for baby to explore the ocean through the floating toys inside the mat. Made from durable PVC, this mat can endure the hardiest of treatment.
This reversible mat has an adorable dinosaur theme on one side and an equally precious giraffe theme on the other that will keep your little gem amused for hours. Plus, being 0.6 inches thick will make okay time comfortable. If you want to take the play mat with you when you are out and about it’s as easy as folding it up and slipping it into its carry bag. So convenient!
Let your bundle of joy have a ball of a time with this play mat that can transform into a mini ball pit! With a range of toys to play with (including teethers) there is no chance you baby will get bored, but if they do look a little uninterested, hand them the elephant that plays up to 20 minutes of music. Seems like this isn’t merely a play mat, it’s a mini amusement park!
Let a piece of summer come inside with this beach style play mat. Bright colours and a musical piano that has foot-activated keys offers plenty to keep your baby delighted. When he or she starts to get tired and in need of nap time there is piano music to help baby drift off.
So many choices
We have shown you a range of mats that are the more popular ones on the market. Yet, when it comes to choosing the right mat it’s all about your personal choice. Some mats are simply that, mats that don’t offer much other than cushioning for your baby while she or he plays with toys. Other mats are a visual and auditory treat that aims to develop your baby’s visual, hearing, cognitive and motor skills. Also, for those more musically inclined, you can grab a play mat that caters to the young musicians in waiting!
Remember, it’s about safety and what will meet your child’s developmental needs. Additionally, consider “future-proofing” by thinking beyond the baby years and into the toddler stage. Do you want a mat that will last and still prove to be entertaining while your young one grows for newborn into young child.
One final consideration is that of portability. Would you prefer a mat that stays in one room or that you can only use at home, or would you like something that you can take with you when visiting friends, on a picnic or at the beach?
Who thought choosing a baby mat would be a major task. It doesn’t have to be and we hope that we have made your decision a little easier.