‘They’ tell us that babies need sensory stimulation on a continuous basis, but sometimes, us moms get so busy with running errands, working, and doing chores, we have no choice but to let our babies be while we take care of what needs to be done.
The problem is that when babies get bored, they fall into crazy crying spells, which takes up even more of our time, making mommy and baby very fussy.
This is exactly where the best baby play mats come in handy. They are there to babysit our tots while we run to the loo, wash some clothes, or cook dinner. Baby gyms can keep our babies occupied when we just don’t have any other option.
So what exactly is a baby play mat?
Baby play mats were designed to be a safe space for babies to explore their world. Some play mats come with hanging toys, other sports mirrors and things they can touch and examine. Some even feature music and moving lights. The fact that they come available in a huge variety is exactly why it’s so hard to pick the perfect product.
Do I need a baby play mat?
It’s true that babies are fascinated by the smallest things, like empty toilet paper rolls, making it quite normal to ask if your baby needs a play mat. While play mats are not an absolute essential you just have to have in the nursery, they are nice to have items, and every so useful!
Babies aged three months and older do best with play mats, so if you have a newborn, you don’t need to rush to purchase one, but you can never start exploring this avenue too early on.
How do I choose the best baby play mat?
Although they all look different and come with different price tags, baby play mats do not differ all that much. What you see is basically what you get, but there are some things you need to look out for to find the one that best suits your baby’s needs as well as your budget:
1. Comfort - first and foremost, comfort is an essential aspect of investing in the perfect baby play mat. You need a well-padded mat that will provide your baby with optimum comfort during play time.
2. Non-Slip - because you just can’t afford your baby to fall down, you need a play mat that has a non-slip grip.
3. Colors - babies love bright and vivid colors that grab and hold their attention for a few minutes at a time.
4. Variety - ensure that the play mat you are investing in features a variety of interesting auditory, visual, and tactile toys, which will help stimulate baby’s senses as he plays. You’re looking for a mat that sports something musical, vibrating toys, a rattle, surfaces that crinkle, and rough and smooth surfaces.
5. Size - the play mat you are purchasing has to be big enough for baby, but it also doesn’t have to be room-sized since babies don’t move around that much.
6. Portability - the whole idea of a play mat is that it should keep baby busy while you can’t, this is why you need a portable mat that can travel along with the family to keep baby happy when the adults get busy.
7. Material - essentially, you’re looking for a baby play mat that’s made out of non-toxic materials, but if you can afford it, opt for organic materials wherever possible.
What are the best baby play mats?
We’ve rounded up three of the best baby play mats currently available on the market. Go ahead and check out our recommendations to help you narrow down the field of play.
1. Fisher Price Kick and Piano Gym
The Fisher Price Kick and Piano Gym is super adorable, and it features all the must-have items to keep baby interested. The colors on this mat are bright, and the fact that this mat is so comfy makes it worth every cent spent. With five toys baby can reach for and an arching mirror above baby’s head, this mattress offers great value for money. Another perk of the Kick and Piano mat is the fact that it plays music for up to 15 minutes, rewarding baby with a song every time they achieve something on the mat.
- Very stimulating for babies
- Features bright colors and engaging activities
- Big and comfy
- Made with lead-free polyester materials
- Can only be spot-cleaned, not machine washed
- Uses 3xAA batteries, which could become a schlep to replace
2. Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe Lights & Music Play Mat
Tiny Love’s Gymini Super Deluxe Lights & Music Play Mat is a cute and cuddly (not to mention fun) baby playmat with an adorable jungle theme. We love the fact that this mat is wide enough to provide the child with enough space to roll around and explore his world. It sports plushies hanging from the arch and also comes with musical features. The mat sports a sound-based reward program, playing a particular tune every time baby achieves something, which is great for developing their motor skills.
- Easy to clean, can be machine washed
- Features an array of entertainment stations for baby to engage with
- Very portable
- Very reasonably priced
- The materials used for this mat are not organic or non-toxic
- Might not be as durable as the Fisher Price play mat
3. Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym
A lot of baby play mats are just blankets that have entertainment stations attached to them, but the Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Activity Gym features pop-up sides, which is especially great at keeping toys where they ought to be, on the mat! The walls also act as a safety barrier to keep baby secure while your eyes focus on some other task for a minute or two.
Other than the security walls, this mat features plus animals, sensory toys, musical stations, and a shoot for balls to go through. Babies love this mat, and so will you, but your budget might not be crazy about the idea.
- Comes with soft, sturdy walls to keep toys on the mat and also to keep baby secure
- Versatile mat can be converted to a ball pit for older babies
- Made from high-quality materials
- Features a broad range of entertainment options for baby
- Much more expensive when compared to our other two picks
- Musical station runs off 3 x AAA batteries, which might become expensive to replace
The best baby play mat can be a fun and handy item to have around the house throughout the infant stages of your child’s life. It won’t only stimulate your baby; it will help you get so much more done without feeling guilty about the fact that your baby might be bored.
Sure it’s not an essential, but a baby play mat is one of the best accessories to have around the house as an optional extra, and we hope that this post has clarified the point in case. We hope that you’re now armed with all the information you’ll need to make the right choice and invest in the best baby play mat!