Babies are constantly learning and developing. Studies show that a baby’s brain develops dramatically in the first few months of life. Parents can help that development through play such as tummy time. Tummy time on a foam baby play mat can provide infants with endless learning experiences. Depending on the play mat chosen, a baby’s senses of sight, touch, and hearing can all be stimulated.
Different Types of Foam Play Mats
There are many different mats on the market to choose from. We recommend assessing the following elements before choosing the best baby play mat for your household.
Size – Be sure to know the area you will be putting your mat. Measure it well and make sure the mat you choose will fit.
Portability – If you’re looking to move your mat to different locations in your house or bring to other houses, portability will be a factor for you. There are many options for mats and some have bags included which will help you store and carry the play mat.
Material – As any new parent knows, you will want only non-toxic materials around your baby. Be sure to read the materials used in the making of your mat.
Best Foam Baby Play Mat 2017
We will provide overviews of the following play mats available.
This reversible mat comes in many different designs and two sizes. The Large is about 7 feet by 4.5 feet. The Medium play mat is 6 feet by 4 feet. Both are ample sizes for you baby to explore the world on. Be sure to measure your space to ensure it will fit and won’t be too big or too small.
This mat rolls up easily so if you don’t plan on having it out all the time or need to carry it to and fro, this is a great option.
For those that are safety conscious, this mat by Baby Care boasts to be BPA free, EVA free, phthalate free, lead free, latex free, formaldehyde free, and mercury free. Many parents have complained of a toxic smell upon receipt of their playmat but the smell does go away after a few days of airing out.
The Lollaland play mat is a 4 foot by 6 foot mat that is soft enough for baby and keeps your floor protected. On one side of this mat there is a playful childrens themed design while the other is a more modern design. This makes this mat a great mat when your little one transitions from baby to toddler.
This mat is made from high quality materials that are both non-toxic and environmentally safe. It is made of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers – both not hazardous. As per their website, this mat contains no endocrine-disruptors, no heavy metals, and no formaldehydes. So parents will feel comfortable when placing both their child and themselves on this mat.
When baby is playing on this mat he will feel the many protective foam layers beneath him. This keeps both the floor and baby safe. This is especially important as your child starts to sit up and fall over, or stand up and fall over. Trial and error won’t be as painful for baby or nerve wrecking for mommy and daddy.
Since children are known to be messy, you will find yourself cleaning everything they touch. This mat included. It’s simple to clean with a wet cloth and soapy water. It should not be vacuumed since it may damage the surface.
Hape, a popular childrens toy brand, has a large baby play mat available that’s 70 inches by 59 inches. Like the others listed, this is a double sided mat which allows for play on a landscape with animals or a grid of numbers and letters. The numbers and letters make this a great mat for kids transitioning from infanthood to toddlerhood.
The Hape Baby Play Mat is one inch thick and provides a great cushion feel to kids just learning to roll, sit, or stand. You’ll feel confident with your child on this mat since you know there will be fewer bumps and bruises during this learning phase.
Since these mats are shipped rolled up, some mats take a while to flatten out. Some parents have had issues with the mat not flattening out as quickly as they would like. Keep this in mind if you plan on playing with this immediately after receiving it.
Unlike some of the other baby play mats, this mat is fabric and not foam. So we cheated a bit. But we liked the versatility of this option. Fabric makes the mat easy to transport by simply folding up. Since the mat is not made of foam, but rather just puffy fabric, this may not absorb the bumps as well but there are other added benefits of owning this play mat over others.
This mat is 40 inches by 40 inches. You can raise the sides of this mat to (try to) contain your little one. Some parents felt that this mat was best for babies that aren’t crawling yet since the sides don’t contain them once they start moving. The sides hold the accessories that come with this mat – a baby safe mirror, rattle, and teether. There are also peek-a-boo flaps which your kid will LOVE to explore.
You’ll be able to throw this mat in the washer which, depending on whether you like laundry or not, is a great bonus.
The Dwinguler mat is a popular item made in Korea and all over the world. It’s made of PVC like many of the others, non-toxic and complies with all CPSIA and European Toy Safety standards. Despite this, some customers have reported a chemical smell upon arrival that lasted a few days.
The mat features multiple foam layers which keeps it soft and cushiony for catching your little ones when they fall. The mat is double sided so if your little one gets bored of one side, you can flip it over for more engagement. There are multiple design options featuring everything from letters and numbers to scenes with railroads and streets.
These mats offer a lot of development opportunities as your child grows. The mat is quite large, 90 inches by 55 inches. When they are young infants it is a great mat for tummy time. Fast forward a few years and they’ll be using this mat as they run and jump around.
These mats are a bit pricier than the others so if your budget isn’t a large you may want to choose one of the other options.
How and When to Use a Foam Play Mat
Play mats are great for tummy time. Tummy time is recommended for the development of the head, neck, and upper body muscles in newborns and infants. These muscles are important building blocks of other gross motor activities such as rolling over and crawling.
As your child gets older, they’ll begin to interact and move around your play mat more. Introduce high contrast toys and position them so that they maximize your child’s learning options. For example, if your child is just learning to grab for objects, keep toys within arms length so they can reach for them successfully.
Remember to always supervise your baby during tummy time, especially when they are quite young.
featured image from flickr – PlaSmart Inc