Play mat is an essential baby item that helps to keep your little ones busy and grow in a healthy and entertained way. It develops essential skills like creative and emotional skills, enhance their visualization and stimulate senses.
Before buying a baby play mat, one should be familiar with a few important factors like safety, comfort, size, material, portability, price and so on. Here we are providing all the information to let you know how to choose the best product for your baby.
What is a Baby Play Mat?
It is a padded mat which can be laid on the ground and perform various activities. Simply parents can lie down their little ones on play mat and make them busy with several activities like playing, learning, food feeding, etc.
This baby play mats can be available in a variety of designs like some feature hanging toys, several mirrors, different colors, swings and other sensory items that will entertain and educate baby. One can find play mats in a variety of different shapes and sizes in which the design range from simple to extravagant, some play music while others have consisted of puzzle pieces or plush toys attached to make your baby enjoy her time.
Types of Baby Playmats:
There are different types of baby mats available in the market. As this playmat is essential to provide safe and independent playing space for your baby along with promoting their emotional and creative development and self-discovery. Here are some different types of a playmat that used widely in the Indian market.
This is a basic type of playmat used for babies. It acts as a perfect foundation for the baby those who are exploring their environment or taking their first steps. You can easily place this playmat on a flat surface and allow your baby to play and enjoy with their toys. This extra thick mat will create a soft landing for the baby. Also, the textured piece on this soft puzzle mat will provide the baby with an early sensory interaction.
Teepee Baby Play Mat:
This is a popular baby play mat that used widely in India due to its multi-functional purpose of both playmats and gyms. It comes with four hanging toys and a large mirrored mobile that help to keep your little one engaged. During tummy time, the musical elephant’s ear acts as an additional fun source to your baby.
This type of baby playmat is best option for young toddlers to play why because it comes with sensory stimulation and fun activity. The 40 colorful balls in this ball pit playmat has convenient space for storage inside the turtle’s head. Also, the textured tether, rattle and grasping ring in this mat will make the kid to get occupied.
This playmat will help to promote a stimulating and engaging environment for the development of your little kid. This activity gym mats are unique and come with more advanced features like arches and overreacting hanging toys along with a prop pillow, mirror and repositionable.
Tummy Time Mats:
This is another best playmat for your baby that allows the baby to lay on their tummy while awake. The peddled bolster pillow in this mat will help in the healthy growth and development of your kid with its proper support. It acts as a perfect developmental mat why because it encourages the kid in reaching, grabbing and lifting the toys and thereby it helps to strengthen the child’s arm, tummy muscles and neck.
Foam Baby Play Mats:
This foam based baby play mats are basic mats with so soft and creates an extensive play area (supplemented with toys and rattle). This acts as an ideal place for the baby to practice rolling around, lifting their head, crawling, playing and walking.
Organic Baby Play Mats:
We can differentiate these playmats with the type of material used in preparing this mat. So, this organic play mats are considered as the best and natural ones. The mats are made from organic and non-toxic materials (mostly from the plant based form) which won’t cause any harm your baby’s skin.
Baby Play Mat Gyms:
This playmats help your kid to practice mobility and thereby helps for their healthy growth. This mat comes with a base mat and an overhead gym for the baby to play or learn things. It acts as sensory stimulation and increases the ability to grasp and hit a batter.
Quilted Play Mats:
Quilted playmats (or baby floor mat) will look similar to an activity blanket but it won’t come with any other sensory accessories. You can stuff this mat with toys and rattle to make your baby get entertained.
Twist and Fold Play Mats:
As the name itself says that you use the mat and fold (or twist) it after usage. It resembles like gym mats but the only difference is its storage. This portability of this mat will allow you to carry it (travel) to parks or playtimes along with your baby.
Factors To Consider Before Buying a Baby Play Mat:
The baby play mat will engage your baby for several minutes which help you to clear your household chores and other activities. So, you should be careful and consider these factors/features before investing in a play mat to grab a numerous cognitive and mental health benefits. Here are the factors to look out for when buying a playmat for your baby either online or offline in India.
The first and most important thing is comfort. Always ensure that the mat is well padded for the baby to make him/her feel comfortable on hard floors while playing or crawling or sleeping. Also, make sure that the place should be comfortable for the baby to doze off (sleep or a quick nap) but place your baby back into the crib.
The thickness of the baby playmats will play an important role, as it determines the safety of the baby. The thick and soft cushion of the mat will definitely protect the baby when learning how to crawl or stand up from falling down.
It is another important factor to consider. Although the baby mat is made with cushion but before investing you have to ensure that the mat is thick enough to cushion your baby’s fall or even if they stumble. A large size play mat will enable you to play along with the child to enhance the bond between you and your baby.
4. Non-Slip Materials
Always ensure that the play mat is made of using non – slip materials, so that your little one can move around comfortably or else it may result in slipping the baby all over and thereby getting wound on their skin.
Choose the one which you can fold the mat easily and carry with you to various places (where you go) like park or playdates. If you’re the one travelling a lot and intend to take your baby with you, then simply consider buying a travel (ease to fold and carry) play mat. Think whether you need to travel with it or just for indoors before committing to any of the play mats.
The mats will come with unique toys and accessories (like lights and music) that help the baby to keep them engaged along with developing their cognitive, visual and physical skills. All you need is to check whether the toys can be disassembled, repositioned during tummy time and there are washable or not to protect your loved one from health hazards. Be sure the toys or accessories (or any part of the playmat) won’t hurt your baby.
Purchase a baby play mat which features a variety of activities (like crinkly surfaces, rattles and other variety of textures) that help to develop and boost up your tot’s tactile, auditory and visual sense through playing. This also helps to keep them entertained for a longer period.
The play mat is safe to use for your baby only if it is made with non – toxic material (safe from toxins and chemicals). So, check whether which material is used in preparing the mat or else simply invest in organic play mat options. Also, check whether the mat can withstand the rolling and jumping of the baby without being worn out or depreciating soon. It should be sturdy in nature.
Although, most of the parents tempt to purchase an extra-large play mat but it is quite unnecessary because the baby can’t move around much. Carefully look out for the size to make your baby stay safe and play. So, opt for a play mat which is of right size and to transport it easily.
The market is flooded with different play mats in different shapes that comes with various prices. All you need is to keep your budget in mind and choose the best one that suits your requirements to make your baby happy.
When buying a baby playmat, it is must to consider how easy to clean the mat. This is because the toys and baby mat should be kept always clean and neat for your baby’s health. Although, some mats are waterproof which can be easily wiped off but other mats are machine or hand washable.
Choose the baby play mats which is featured with vivid and bright colors (or simply white and black colors) to withstand the baby’s attention and enhance their visualization skills. It also promotes the emotional and creative development of the baby.
Another important factor to consider is the need for arches in your baby playmats why because it helps in the brain development (or develop cross eye) of your baby. It makes your hands free with the hanging toys for the baby to play with it. But it is not ideal to carry (take away) the playmat along with you expect if these arches are detachable or the playing baby don’t need the arches again.
14. Gender Neutral
Gender specific has become a common factor to be considered before purchasing any item why because some look so boyish or some has feminal look while others are neutral. It’s best to choose the neutral one but check the description and color to know whether it suits for both girl and a boy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whenever your baby need more than being held or swaddling or rocking then it’s time to think about these baby play mat or gym. In general, the babies of 3 months and above (once they start to crawl) can start using these play mats which helps to develop the hand – eye co-ordination. This practice will entertain them along with stimulating their visual development and auditory skills. But at first, aim for shorter periods of time (tummy time) and as the baby grows and become more comfortable then you can simply increase the time period eventually.
*A baby play gym comes with various benefits that makes it as an excellent place for your little kid to get entertained. It boosts various vital areas of their development and provide stimulation.
*Whenever the baby begins to reach, grasp, turn and kick the object on the play mat, then it will develop their hand and eye co-ordination and motor skills. In general, these mats and play gyms made especially for kids feature objects and designs that make your baby will definitely reach there.
*It stimulates the baby’s senses by attracting the baby with its contrasting colors and also hone the auditory skills in which the sounds are produced when they squeeze, pull, rattle or kick the various toys and attachments.
*It provides an interesting fun diversion in their routine along with improving parent baby interaction to reinforce their language.
*It strengthens the baby neck and shoulder muscles and also prevent back of the head flattening.
*It helps the parents to take a small break for a short period to any necessary task like make a bottle or take a quick phone call but be sure that not to leave baby unattended.
*It boosts cognitive development by simply boosting knowledge of colors, sounds, shapes, patterns, imagination and self – discovery. It also helps for natural, inborn curiosity that helps a lot in problem solving and critical thinking (increase the brain power).
*It encourages movement and freedom why because the play mat is a safe place for your baby to kick, play and roll around and thereby gives freedom to make choice of kicking or exerting their energy apart from others. This both actions will help them to grow with confident and secure.
*The play mats are compact, lightweight and portable in which you can easily pack the play mat and attachments and set up almost anywhere you go.
In general, this play mat is used when the baby is of 4 months old, then aim for around 20 – 25 minutes a day and keep the practice up until the baby can roll over on their own.
Here are some manufacturers tips on how to clean the play mat and keep it look new long lasting without any damage.
*Wipe the surface with a clean towel or cloth, you can use a neutral detergent, if needed but avoid the usage of harsh chemical cleaners, as it may damage the surface.
*Avoid the usage of vacuum cleaners with bristle heads why because it may scratch the mat surface.
*Make sure that not to get the mat direct contact with heating elements, as it may cause damage to the playmat and also avoid leaving the mat in extremely cold or hot temperatures.
*Avoid the usage of pens, crayons and markers on the mat to prevent permanent stains.
*Don’t place any appliances or furniture on the surface of the play mats for some time why because this may lead to permanent compression. Also remember that this product may shrink or expand depending on the temperature.
*When you are not using this playmat, we recommend you to keep it in the original box to store it properly.
In these days, most of the playmats are washable but make sure to check the product description box before purchase whether it mentioned washable or not. If the playmat has electronic parts, then it can’t be washed. Also, if this mat has mirrors attached then it may be difficult to wash it in washing machine.
EVM (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam is considered as a safe material for use in the baby toys and play mats. Although, there is a risk of some potential for formamide exposure but it is negligible and not concerned. The play mat won’t give off a bad smell and also it is cushioning and soft that won’t make any noise or discomfort to your baby while playing.
In general, the playmat manufacturers often mention wipe clean or surface clean or sponge clean the mat. Most of the moms think that baby food, dried food and others will not be removed by this wipe or sponge clean. So, you can simply either go with hand wash or machine wash with an eco-friendly detergent. Give a gentle wash to your baby playmat and hang it to dry. Make sure to use a thoroughly dried playmat or else it may result in some health issues.
The playmats are made from either rubber, foam or cloth. Some are foam based which are made of EVA. Although, there is a little risk of using this EVA (having formamide that release toxins). So, use less of mats which are foam based and increase the usage of non-toxic BPA free material and feature foam cushioning.
Wondering why you need to invest in a baby playmat, then here are a couple of reasons that explains well on why to invest in a baby playmat. Go through these few reasons before purchasing.
Safety and Comfort – The toys and other accessories used in this playmat are free from choking hazards in which they are specially designed for infants with durable material. Also, keep you comfort to perform your regular activities by engaging the kid in the mat for a short period of time.
Sensory Stimulation – The bright colors and textured fabrics of the playmat will definitely stimulate your baby’s senses. They enjoy touching the soft stuffed animals, smooth plastic and seeing reflections in the mirror and other features will give the baby a sensory experience to know about their surroundings.
Portability – Who don’t want a portable folding baby mat to carry easily to wherever you go to meet your family, friends or relatives? As the mats are safer than most of the toys, so you can keep them engaged without any worries.
Development – It will enhance and boost the child’s development with its hanging toys, mirrors and other accessories. The baby pulls and grasp to learn all about their surroundings and get entertained.