What Is A Baby Play Mat?
A baby care play mat is also referred to as an activity mat or play gym. This is a “one-stop shop” for a baby’s playtime needs. The mats provide infants with sensory experiences including textures, sounds and sights as they crawl or sit. Mothers and fathers are sure to enjoy having one around the house especially when it is time to put an infant down for “tummy time.”
These mats are soft, vary in thickness and come in bright colors that keep both the body and mind engaged while maintaining a safe environment. Depending on the available floor space, choose one with the option of adding more toys.
Types Of Baby Play Mat
The variety of choices available when looking for a baby play mat can be confusing. The product price varies depending on the size of the mat and what it includes.
Tummy time mats
As the name suggests, this mat is designed to engage babies during tummy time. Tummy time helps to build strength in the arms, upper body and neck as the head is lifted and moved. A baby care play mat often includes toys above the baby to encourage turning over from the stomach to the back.
Ball pits can be used for babies older than six months to toddlers. Here, they can engage with colorful balls that are easy to grip. This helps babies improve their motor skills and learn the colors.
Babies who are just starting to explore crawling will find a puzzle mat to be an engaging, cushioned mat on which to play. Place the puzzle mat on any flat surface, and let the baby explore the world from the safety of the mat. Add any favorite toys to keep the baby engaged.
Another type of play mat is the activity gym. This baby care play mat comes with educational elements such as large ring attachments, toys, bolster pillows, mirrors and adjustable hoops that are designed to support a baby’s growth and development.
Benefits Of Play Mats
There are several advantages and benefits to be gained from investing in a baby play mat.
It stimulates a baby’s senses
Play mats often come with tools that serve to stimulate your baby’s senses. Vibrant colors help children learn to recognize hues. Rattling or squeaking sounds that come from the toys stimulate hearing, while the material of the mat provides sensory exploration of different textures.
It enhances cognitive development
Play mats are also useful in enhancing a baby’s brain development as movement education is magnified with the pull and push of toys, blocks and balls. This helps the brain develop further with each new experience.
It hones coordination and motor skills
A baby is constantly developing during the first year of life, and a baby play mat can encourage that development. Introducing a baby care play mat with numerous add-ons can stimulate hand and eye coordination and motor skill. A baby plays while learning to grasp, squeeze, pull and press the different toys on a floor gym mat. Because the mat is made from thick, super soft materials, bumps and bruises are not a worry.
Best Options For A Baby Play Mat
An infant or a toddler will benefit from having a play mat. Here are a few examples of play mats that are worth checking out:
Fisher-Price Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym
This play gym has a mini piano at one end that plays a tune when a baby kicks or taps the keys. The mat can be used for tummy time, sit-and-play or laying an infant back-down. The learning content changes as a baby grows. It can also be taken on the road.
Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe
Children are attracted to colors, texture and music. With this mat, choose from nursery tunes and Mozart. Each can be triggered by kicking the response pad. There are 15 different ways to stimulate a little one’s brain and motor skills. This pad mat is not waterproof, but it is machine washable.
Infantino Square Twist and Fold Activity Gym
This is one of the cheapest play mats available and comes with a mirror, dangling toys and a bolster pillow for a baby’s tummy time. This mat is ideal for travel since you only need to twist and fold it for easy storage. This can even be done one-handed. Also, toys that the infant has outgrown can be removed when they are no longer needed while keeping the mat for more play time.
Tiny Love Super Mat
This type of play mat is relatively large and easily fits two babies. It comes with a detachable mirror and carrying handles for portability. It is machine washable and can be used either indoors or outdoors.
Lollaland Play Mat
This reversible mat boasts either bright colors or a more muted pattern. It has textured, non-slip surfaces and can be easily rolled to move it from room-to-room. This is a durable, water-resistant mat is for those days when you change diapers. It works well on hardwood floors.
Baby Care Play Mat
Babies and toddlers enjoy playing on this two-sided mat. It works on all floor surfaces, rolls up easily and provides a layer of insulation. Choose from vibrant colors to pastels or a variety of images. The Baby Care Play Mat also comes in a rectangular or circular shape. It is great for rolling, sitting and crawling. The mat includes the option of overhead toys or not.
Folding play mat
This is a foam mat that folds easily for storage. Often, a folding play mat comes with a reversible and water-resistant surface which can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. It is hypoallergenic, does not have any off-gassing, and it comes with extra thick, non-toxic PE foam to absorb shock.
Organic cotton play mat
An organic play mat is for those that want to ensure that all baby gear is made from eco-friendly materials. Sizes differ, but these mats are ideal for tummy time, crawling, naps, play time and education. They often come with removable covers for easy washing. Some have the option of double padding to protect against falls.
A Last Word About Baby Care Play Mat Safety
Non-Toxic Baby Play Mats – Ensure that any play mat is free from toxic substances such as BPA phthalates, PVC and formaldehyde. Only buy non-toxic baby products. If the product does not document this information, do not buy it.
One of the most important things to provide for a baby play mat is a safe floor area. Keep in mind, the play area may change in size as a child begins to grow. Children’s toys change as they enter toddler play. Having a play mat is going to be useful during a baby’s first few years as it provides a place to sleep, crawl, sit and play.
Most mats come with add-ons that stimulate mental and physical growth which are critical during the childhood years. Whether you are looking for a mat with puzzle pieces or a large one to accommodate multiple babies, there are lots of options to meet the specific needs of parents.