What’s the best baby play mat?
Tummy time and floor play is essential to help your baby reach development milestones. A baby play mat is the perfect solution to provide a safe and comfortable area for your baby to play. A good play mat will also help to entertain your baby with sights and sounds.
Just like most baby product there are a lot of play mats on the market. The choice can leave you with buyer’s fatigue. Mama Union have written this guide to help you find the play mat that’s right for your family. The secret is knowing what features will offer most benefit to you and baby.
In this article we’ll discuss:
- 5 Best Baby play may reviews
- Benefits of a Baby Play Mat
- Baby Play Mat Buying guide
First let’s start with what’s available on the market with our top rated baby play mats.
5 Best Baby Play Mat Reviews
All of these play mats are great buys. The one you choose will ultimately come down to what you need from your mat. Use our buying guide below to help you decide what you need from your mat. As with any baby product the more money you invest the more feature you get. However you’ll find a baby play mat to suit all budgets in our top 5 picks.
LAMAZE Freddie the Firefly Gym
The Lamaze Freddie Firefly Gym is our best priced all in one play mat. The design allows you to use it as an activity gym, play mat and a tummy time pillow. It’s a soft design suitable from birth. The pattern is stimulating with a black and white contrast for young babies and colourful areas for older babies. The removable arch hold three toys which are useful as you baby grows. This includes high quality Lamaze teething toy, crinkly firefly and play mirror. Machine wash the mat for convenience when it gets dirty.
Ocean Baby Play Mat
The Ocean Baby Play Mat by Just4baby is our favourite budget pick. The mat is a circular shape with a criss cross arch design. Attach any of the 4 toys to your baby’s car seat or pram to play on the go. The toys are really high quality and engaging for baby. They include a vibrating fish, light up turtle, octopus teether and a flower mirror. We love the fun sea life print on the mat with peek-a boo flaps. The mat also has a soft curved dolphin cushion to support your baby’s head or chest during tummy time.
Fisher-Price Rainforest Gym
For an all singing and dancing play mat check out the Fisher-Price Rainforest Gym. The mat keeps baby entertained by reacting to their movements. When baby moves the mat shows flashing lights, plays music and sounds. This really helps baby discover cause and effect and develop their coordination. The activity gym is designed to suit both play when on their back and during tummy time. The 5 textured and sound toys dangle down low of the arches and encourage baby to reach over and touch. Prevent baby becoming overstimulated and allow quiet play with the volume control.
Tiny Love Super Mat Sunny
The Tiny Love Super Sunny Mat is a great large play mat. The quilt design has 8 activities to keep baby busy as they grow. IT includes sounds, hand-eye skills, grabbing toys, textures, peek-a-boo and a mirror. The size is perfect for older babies as you baby can roll around without rolling off the mat. It’s ideal if you have hard flooring and want to keep baby comfortable during play time. Use it in the garden on a sunny day. The material is not waterproof by is machine washable and quick to dry.
Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Gym
Want to invest in a play mat that can be used longer than the baby phase? The Bright Starts 5-in-1 gym is ideal from newborn to toddler. It’s quite pricey but it has so much included, you’ll more than get your money’s worth. Use the mat as a large play mat, activity gym, tummy time mat and even a ball pit. All the equipment is included in the price, even 35 ball pit balls. There are plenty of noise and visual toys to keep tour baby interested. The toys are detachable and can be easily used as pram toys if your baby becomes attached to them. It’s a great design if you have boisterous dogs who aren’t quite used to your baby on the floor.
Types of Baby Mat
A baby play mat is a soft area deigned for baby to play on the floor. It should have entertainment areas to keep baby busy. There are two different types of baby mats.
This type is a padded mat with arches over the mat. Most deigns have toys dangling from to arches. Activity gyms can usually be made into a standalone mat for baby. They are great for both lying and tummy time play. The drawback is they take up more room to store.
This is a simple play mat which has activities build into the fabric. This type of mat is great for tummy time activities and quiet play. Activity mats are easy to wash and store. They lack the additional toys that come with activity gyms.
Benefits of a Baby Play Mat
If your still not decided on buying a play mat for baby check out the benefits you can gain from a good quality play mat.
Baby play mats are a fantastic way to add tummy time into your baby’s daily routine. Tummy time is essential for build up your baby’s neck, chest, arm and back muscles. Other benefits of having moveable toys are coordination and skills such as grasping.
With lots of stimulation including colours, textures and sounds your baby’s sense will blossom. Sight and sound develop at a fast pace from birth. They are essential building blocks for milestones such as talking.
Your newborn will spend less time sleeping and more time learning about the world. A play mat it a great way for them to explore safely. You see them smiling and giggling as they interact with mirrors, toys and textures.
Safe Play Area
A baby play mat is a designated safe area for baby to play. It keeps baby comfortable with room to practice rolling around. You can explain to older siblings that the play mat is for baby only, or gentle play.
Convenient For Visits
Going to family and friends houses which aren’t baby friendly can be a pain. A portable baby play mat can give your baby their own area to play without having to lug around lots of toys.
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Baby Play Mat Buying Guide
If you have a few baby play mats in min but can’t choose it’s best to compare the features. We’ve selected the elements of a baby play mat that can differ. Make a list of what you want from your play mat and compare it against what each mat offer. The best play mat for you is the one which performs best for the features important to you.
- Baby – You may only want a play mat as an area until your baby is able to roll or sit upright. Small baby gyms are ideal for this age range.
- Toddler – If you want the play mat to last look for one with an age range over 6 months. Activity mats and convertible activity gyms are your best option.
- Frequent – For daily use you want a play mat which is durable and easy to use. Consider how easy the mat it to set up and clean.
- Occasional – If you’re buying a baby mat to use for visiting then look for one which is really portable. You might not want to invest as much as you would for one which you’ll use frequently.
- New – Your find that baby play mats have a price range of £10 to £80. Most designs will cost around the £40 mark. Higher prices mats often more features such as music and flashing lights.
- Second Hand – To get more features for your money you can opt for a second hand mat. Great places to look are at second hand baby markets, boot sales or gumtree. Buying from somewhere like Ebay may be costly with postage as baby mat can be bulky to send. Before buying do a quick internet search to check that the design has not been recalled form the manufacturer .
As with any baby product check that it has a CE or BS safety mark before buying.
- Non Slip – To prevent the mat slipping on smooth surfaces such a wooden floor. A non-slip fabric will help to grip to the floor.
- Non Toxic – The fabrics and materials used for the mat should be non-toxic and baby safe. For safety the material should also be certified fire retardant.
- Toys – All toys should be age suitable and without choking or strangulation hazards. Prevent little fingers getting caught or cut with clips or fastenings that are safe for use from birth.
Ease of Use
- Set Up – Most play mats are fairly easy and only require you to lay it out on the floor. Consider how easy it will be to move toys around or fold away after each use.
- Size – How much space do you have to use your play mat? Do you want a large area for baby to roll around on or are you tight for floor space? Remember to consider the room you have available in all the rooms you’ll use it in.
- Storage – For storing away consider how compact the mat will be. Does it have lots of arches which are awkward shapes? Larger sized mats will be bulkier to store away.
- Portability – Simple floor mats are more portable than activity gyms. For use out of the house they need to be as compact and lightweight as possible. Use detachable toy on your baby’s pram or car seat.
If your baby in uncomfortable on the mat they won’t settle. Choose a mat with these features to make it more comfortable for baby.
- Padding – A soft padded mat will prevent baby being uncomfortable on a hard floor surface. Look for an extra padded mat if you intend to use it on a wooden floor rather than carpet.
- Pillow – This is a great feature to support baby’s head when lying down or chest during tummy time. For babies with reflux it gives them a slight angle to ease the discomfort of the condition.
- Space – Newborn babies love tight enclosed spaces so they may dislike a floor mat at first. As they begin to more around more they will enjoy the space.
Regular cleaning will ensure a hygienic play area for baby. This is particularly important if you have pets or are using on the floor of a busy room in your home.
- Material – The mat part should be washed regularly as it will pick up dirt and the occasional baby vomit. Remember to clean any small nooks which can harbour dirt or food bits.
- Machine Wash – Throwing the mat in the washing machine is extremely convenient for parents. They usually dry very quickly without too much disruption to usage. Areas that can’t be reached with a hand wash or wipe down will be cleaned.
- Toys – Consider how easy the toys are to keep clean. If they are made from fabric can they be wiped down or machine washed? Other toys such as teether or plastics may be suitable for regular sterilising.
There is a lot of different designs you can choose from.
- Fabric – The fabric on a play mat can have a lot of surprises for baby. Textured fabric or inbuilt features such a mirrors, tags or squeakers are the best choice. Babies love a Peek-a-boo flap to make them laugh.
- Accessories – Most mats come with additional toys or activities to keep baby entertained. Most designs aim to include toys which stimulate sight, sound and touch. A variety of these toys is great for keeping baby entertained and exploring.
- Colours – Most mats have a theme to them with bright colours to keep baby entertained. Newborn babies love black, white and yellow pattern as these are easiest for them to see. You can also get neutral colours to match home or nursery room décor.