Parenting is fun, but it can be challenging, too. For instance, what if your arms are already getting tired, but your baby refuses to let you rest even for a minute? What you need, in this case, are play mats. Colorful and engaging, these handy mats create a safe arena where your baby can play and remain occupied.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best baby play mats to entertain your bundle of joy – and to give you that much-deserved breather.
Best Baby Play Mats
Play mats (also called play gyms or activity mats) refer to soft, brightly-colored mats where infants and young toddlers can safely and freely move about. Some even have an arch overhead, which features toys and other accessories to promote sensory play. Aside from encouraging curiosity, these inventive mats also promotecognitive, visual, and gross motor development in babies.
1. Best Overall: Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym by Fisher-Price
Retail Price: $49.99 (Click here to save up to 22%)
If you want a product that can capture your baby’s attention for hours, the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Piano Gym is a sure winner. Rendered in arresting colors, this musical gym features light-up piano keys and 5 repositionable toys. Even better, the learning content also changes accordingly to suit your child’s age and stage. Best of all, the play mat is also ultra-soft, thick, and machine-washable.
2. Best for Tummy Time: Treetop Friends Baby Play Mat and Infant Activity Gym by Skip Hop
Retail Price: $79.99 (Click here to check the latest promotion)
Tummy time is important as it helps your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles. At the same time, it encourages motor development while preventing flat spots on the back of your baby’s head. And when it comes to the best play mats for tummy time, the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Baby Play Mat and Infant Activity Gym takes the prize. Suitable from birth, it boasts 17 developmental activities, delightful nature-inspired graphics, and a supportive tummy time pillow. Above the outsized round mat, you will find an arch that holds five multi-sensory hanging toys, ensuring that your baby will never run out of things to do.
3. Best for Active Play: The Play Gym by Lovevery
Retail Price: $140.00 (Click here to check the latest promotion)
Babies spend a lot of time sleeping and feeding – and they will have to make up for that with some movement and active play throughout the day. With the Lovevery Play Gym, this will be a piece of cake. Featuring 5 development zones, this mat encourages learning while keeping your baby on the move. Furthermore, it is designed to grow with your bundle of joy and includes removable, age-appropriate accessories.
4. Best Extra-Large: Play Mat by Bammax
Retail Price: $59.99 (Click here to check the latest promotion)
If you are looking for an ultra-roomy activity mat, consider the Bammax Play Mat. It measures 70 by 77.5 inches, providing a safe, large environment where your baby can try to crawl, roll, sit up, and even walk. For comfort, it is also thick and durable, so you can feel confident that your baby is safe even after slipping or falling. You will also appreciate that this oversized mat is waterproof, non-toxic, non-slip, and effortless to clean.
5. Best for Travel: Meadow Days Super Play Mat by Tiny Love
Retail Price: $39.99 (Click here to check the latest promotion)
Need a reliable play mat when on the go? Look no further than the Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat. With this supersized and attention-grabbing mat, your baby will never run out of fun activities to do, as well as new things to discover and learn. You will also love that it features exciting textures to promote tactile and motor skill development. FInally, this play mat folds compactly, making it the perfect travel companion.
6. Best Foam: Baby Play Mat by Tadpoles
Retail Price: $29.99 (Click here to save up to 17%)
Foam play mats are a great choice because they are soft, safe, roomy, and low-maintenance. There are plenty to choose from, but our favorite is the best-selling Tadpoles Baby Play Mat. It includes 16 foam pieces with removable centers, which can be mixed and matched as desired. Once assembled, you get a spacious play mat that measures 50 by 50 inches, making it suitable for a wide range of activities. It also has a wallet-friendly price tag, to boot.
7. Most Stylish: Baby Play Mat – Haute Collection by Baby Care
Retail Price: $149.95 (Click here to check the latest promotion)
Who said that a baby play mat has to be boring or unpleasantly garish? This Haute Collection Baby Play Mat, for instance, is a sight for sore eyes. It is reversible and features minimalist, highly elegant designs on both sides, effortless coordinating with your home while keeping your baby busy. Being waterproof, this product is also a breeze to clean, so you can maintain a hygienic, germ-free play area for your bundle of joy.
Baby Play Mats FAQs
Why Should You Use a Play Mat?
Using play mats and gyms comes with many wonderful benefits. Aside from creating a safe, hygienic space where your infant could play and move about, there are other less obvious advantages. For one, they help improve your baby’s eyesight and hand-eye coordination, thereby increasing their ability to grasp things and introducing them to the world of tactile stimulation. These innovative mats also strengthen your child’s neck, back, and abdominal muscles, especially during tummy time. Last but not the least, they boost your baby’s cognitive development as well.
When Do You Use a Play Mat?
Babies can start using a play mat from birth, but those between 3 and 6 months will enjoy and benefit from it the most. After all, it is during this stage when they develop their hand-eye coordination and start grabbing at things. And once your baby begins to crawl (anytime between 6 and 10 months), then they will love the play gym even more.
What Age Do Babies Stop Using Playmats?
In general, babies use play gyms until 18 months of age. But, this is not fixed and largely depends on your child. Often, mats become unnecessary once babies begin crawling over or sitting upright. In any case, do not stress over it too much. Monitor your baby and you will know when the time is right.
The Best Baby Play Mats for Smarter, Stronger Babies
When someone says “must-have baby items,” play mats might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But, they are incredibly helpful – both for you and your baby. For one, they entertain and keep your baby occupied, giving you a few minutes of respite. Furthermore, they also do wonders in promoting your child’s development in several areas – from cognition to motor skills. And with any of the above products, all of these benefits are just within arm’s reach.