Best Baby Play Mat Reviews in 2018
Baby play mat provides entertainment and the opportunity for physical and mental stimulation and development for your baby. They come with multiple toys of different colors and textures that your baby can explore and manipulate in a variety of ways. The arches that the toys hang from are usually plastic or wood. Some play mats have C-shaped pillows that support the head and neck of younger babies and help support older babies when they are laying on their stomachs. As your child starts crawling, you can fence in the play mat with a playard.
Baby play mat is made from either fabric or foam. Foam mats can be more durable, adhere better to the floor, provide better traction, and provide more cushioning. However, many people prefer fabric because of concerns over the chemicals in foam. Fabric play mat can bunch up as your child moves. The mat should be 1/2" thick, have a large enough area for your child to roll over, and the gym should be removable to make even more room. A good size would be 40" x 40" or about two times your baby's body length. Some foam mats are comprised of interlocking puzzle pieces. This provides the opportunity for expanding the size of the play mat as your child grows.
The toys with baby play mat should be attached securely. Pull on the toys to make sure they do not come off and that the gym does not collapse. The toys should also be large enough to avoid being a choking hazard. The playmat, the toys, and the gym should be easy to clean. Never leave a child unattended. Check toys and mats for any tears, loose pieces, or damage. Always use the playmat on the floor.
Physically, your child needs to stretch and strengthen his or her neck, back, arm, and leg muscles in all directions. So, the toys on a playmat should be hung in a variety of positions, except directly above your child's head. When placing the toys, think about your child reaching for them while laying on his or her side or stomach. Make sure the toy placement encourages your child to turn his or her head. Playmats also help develop hand-eye coordination. If you lay your child on the mat diagonally, your child can kick the leg of the gym and shake the toys. If your child starts to get bored, turn your child to another diagonal, so there are different toys to view.
When is the Right Time for Your Baby?
It is never too early for a playmat. The youngest babies will only be looking around at the contrasting shapes. They will only be able to see things 8" to 10" away from them. A baby's eyesight is not fully developed until they are around six months old. So having items with contrasting colors, especially black and white or primary colors, is important. Also having items that create noise, even crinkling, attracts and keeps a baby's attention. Babies also love mirrors, and the mirrors on playmats are safe.
Being able to arrange the toys to different heights is important as your child grows and develops better motor skills. As they get a few weeks older, your baby will reach out and hit the dangling toys with his or her hands or kick at them with his or her feet, especially if they rattle, jingle, or make some other noise. Three- to six-month-old babies really enjoy every part of playmats. As your child gets older, he or she really learns to interact with the toys. Your child will learn cause and effect by discovering that an action like squeezing the toy always gets the toy to make noise. If the mat has multiple flaps, your child will develop better memory by figuring out which flap reveals the desired feature. Your child will also benefit from your interaction in their play time.
Having a baby play mat that folds up for travel provides a clean environment and entertainment for your baby wherever you are. Many of it also come with travel bags.
Five Best Baby Play Mat
Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym provides dancing lights and up to 20 minutes of music or rainforest sounds with a volume control. The lights and music or jungle sounds are activated when your baby touches the butterflies causing them to spin. Your baby will develop an understanding of cause and effect when he or she realizes that touching the butterflies starts the music and the lights. This gym is intended for lay and play time and for tummy time play. There are links to attach the toys to the gym and to the mat. There are a total of 10 linkable toys and activities. The soft quilted mat has a silky border. The gym is 20" square x 32.5 high, and weighs 3.6 pounds. The gym requires three AA alkaline batteries. It is intended for newborns and up.
Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym
The Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym provides lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and take-along activities. The piano keys entertain even the youngest babies. As your child kicks the keys, music plays for up to 15 minutes. It includes a volume control. The keyboard helps your child develop his or her gross motor skills. It has an elephant clacker, a hippo teether, a rollerball frog, a crinkle zebra, and a mirror. Your child will move on to batting and grasping toys. When your child is ready for tummy time or sitting up, you can lay the arch down, and your baby can actually play the piano. The piano can also be removed and taken with you to entertain your child wherever you go. The mat is 17.9" square x 27" high, weighs 4.4 pounds, and is made of polyester. It requires three AA batteries.
Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym
The Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym offers six different pattern options: Pond Pals, Baby Animals, Safari Fun, Sweet Safari, Vintage Boy, and Lil Gems. All six come with a mat, a gym, a mirror, four toys, and a tummy time bolster. Although each version offers different toy designs, the toys offer four of these features: a teether, a crinkle toy, a jingling toy, a clacker, and a rattle. For easy portability, Infantino offers their exclusive Twist and Fold technology. A simple twist folds the gym's supports down. The gym offers four ways to play: lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and travel play. The gym is 29" square x 18" high, and weighs 2.2 pounds. The mat is made of polyester.
Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit
The Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit has easy pop-up mesh sides so that it can be converted into a ball pit as your child gets older. The mesh has reinforced holes in the sides, so that your child can pass toys through the holes. The mesh sides are not intended to be a barrier for your child. This gym comes with 40 balls that are stored in the turtle's head. For your newborn, it has four sea creature toys with a mirror, a teether, a rattle, and a grasping ring. This gym offers lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and ball pit play. It is 22" wide x 19" high and weighs 3.5 pounds. The mat, the gym, and the toys can all be wiped clean. Do not leave your child unattended just because it has mesh sides.
Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym
The Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym features a detachable electronic star toy that plays eight classic melodies for 20 minutes. Lights flash in time to the music. It also includes flash cards with real life imagery. The mat also has real life imagery to engage your child. There are extra loops on the gym arms for hanging more toys and loops on the mat to secure toys. It provides lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and travel play. The mat and gym fold up into a compact travel size. The gym is 25" square x 23" high and weighs two pounds. The gym requires three AA batteries.
All of the mats with these gyms are less than 30" which does not give your child a lot of room to roll. The Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym offers the most toys and the most places to connect them on the gym and on the mat. It is machine washable and folds up small to take with you. The most entertaining feature, the star, is detachable and can be added to anything. The Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym is designed to help your baby's development through all stages.