It’s not long before newborns begin to engage with their surroundings, using their senses to discover the world and make crucial developments such as co-ordination, motor skills, logic, self-awareness and physical strength. With smaller and cheaper toys, this can still be achieved, but it will take you longer as boredom might set in quickly with these toys. Whether you call them an activity play mat, playmat, play gym for babies, an activity gym for babies, an activity floor mat or a combination of these words, it all equates to the same thing – activity mats for infants are a great way to ensure your baby has lots of fun and learns while you can take a break to do other things.
Activity mats and play gyms can help with this stage in their development with stimulating toys as well as space for tummy time to help build neck and arm strength. All our recommendations are suitable from birth, though many feature hanging toys that tend to be reachable by hand or kicking foot from two to three months of age.
You will, however, still be able to find some of the cheaper mats, but they will only have limited tools and toys that can really be used for improving the development of your baby.
But before we dive into the best baby play mat and activity gym, there are a few things that you will need to consider when it comes to buying the most suitable mat for your little one.
- 1 What is a Baby Play Mat?
- 2 Why You Should Have a Baby Play Mat?
- 3 What to Look for in a Baby Play Mat
- 4 Best Baby Play Mat 2018
- 4.1 Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym Review
- 4.2 Tiny Love Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym Review
- 4.3 Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym
- 4.4 Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym Review
- 4.5 Baby Care Play Mat Foam Floor Gym
- 4.6 Bright Starts Charming Chirps Activity Gym, Pretty In Pink
- 4.7 Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym Review
- 4.8 Buyer’s Guide
- 4.9 Important Features Of Your Fun Baby Play Mat
- 4.10 Baby Play Mat – An Asset To Mom, Dad And Family Too
- 4.11 More from my site
What is a Baby Play Mat?
Play mats for infants are basically a padded mat that goes on the ground that has some type of activity for the baby to do while laying there.
There is a huge variation on what this might be – some baby play mats are full of hanging toys, mirrors and other things for them to touch, swing and examine. Others also have music and lights.
The play mat is not that thick, but it is adequately made for your baby to play on it comfortably. With play mats, there are usually a huge variety of toys that can be chosen from.
There are simple and basic activity centers with dangling toys hanging from them, and then you will also find some of the most sophisticated designs with lights and added music centers to help improve the mind of your little one as well.
The lights are usually ideal for improving eye movement and coordination as well as keeping your baby entertained for longer.
They range from being quite simple to quite extravagant and it can be overwhelming picking the best play mat for babies as there are so many choices. Hopefully, this guide will help!
Also keep in mind that baby play mats have many names – they are also often referred to as activity gyms for babies, activity play gym, activity blanket for babies, activity gym… the list goes on and on but these are all essentially the same thing. So whether you are looking for the best play mat, best activity gym, best play gym or the best floor mats for babies – the answer is the same and you should find it here!
Why You Should Have a Baby Play Mat?
There are so many things to buy with a new baby and you may be wondering if you need a play mat at all.
I wouldn’t say they are absolutely essential – of course you and your baby will survive without one.
However, they are so useful. Babies need to be held a lot and anything that can give you some time to wash some dishes, get dressed or have a shower is a big winner in my book – a baby play mat will help make all of that possible!
A play mat works best for babies aged from 3 months until the start crawling – at that point you can expect them to start crawling off the floor mat for babies to reach other things. A newborn play mat can seem useful but it’s not really necessary until they have developed some hand eye coordination.
What to Look for in a Baby Play Mat
In the modern day, it can be expensive to raise a baby and ensure that they get the best of the best. Every parent tries always to give their children the best they possibly can, but sometimes that just is not possible.
We have selected a few features that we feel are important, but you can mix and match these features in your activity gym to save you some extra cash and also allow you to get the best possible play mat and gym activity center you can afford.
The padding will give you a direct indication of the comfort and the durability of the play mat. The better the mat is padded, the more comfortable the mat will be for your baby.
Many mats are layers upon layers of soft plastic with air pockets in between, but there are also foam padded mats, which are generally much more durable.
We recommend bright and vivid colors to make the mat more attractive to your baby. The more color incorporated in the mat, the better your child will develop their understanding of color as well as their eyes.
Having a play mat and activity gym which can be easily folded will be ideal for traveling and carrying along. As we have already mentioned, you will be able to do unexpected nappy changes and have a comfortable platform.
4. Activity Variety
The more activities your baby has to choose from, the longer it will take them to get bored and start wandering somewhere else. A wider range of activities will also help the child develop their sensory skills, especially the sensory motor skills to a better extent.
Some babies are larger than other, and some also grow at a much faster rate. By having a larger mat, you will be able to use the mat for extended periods of time; you will also have better durability.
The materials are important for two reasons. First, they should be non-toxic to the baby. Thus meaning that they will not harm the baby in any instance or when the mat gets hot.
The second reason for checking the materials is to make sure that your little one cannot slip and fall. Babies tend to sit upright and fall a lot, but this will be frustrating to your little one if the play mat is really slippery.
This is more for the luxurious and expensive play gym mats, but you will need to ensure that the babies cannot get access to the electronics and especially the areas where the batteries are put in.
This can be really dangerous for the baby, but the added addition of lights and music will keep them entertained for much longer.
Best Baby Play Mat 2018
Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym Review
If you’re looking for an activity mat for infants that isn’t too “in your face”, and doesn’t have endless flashing lights and sounds, then this is a great choice to go for. There are over 15 activities to support your child’s development, and the quilted, soft material provides a comfortable place to rest.
There are five toys dangling overhead from the cross bar, and for all-important tummy time. There is also a bolster pillow which adds extra comfort. The mat can also be used as a changing mat, if you remove the overhead arches, so you get two for one in terms of your cash.
Tiny Love Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym Review
As the name would suggest, this particular Tiny Love play mat is packed with lights and music to engage your little one, and is a great choice of elephant play mat, because it features all the favourite wild animals on it as decoration, such as giraffes, zebra, elephant, and lion.
The Tny Love Gymini also has a large mirror to keep your baby entertained, and a plastic rattle. This is a great choice of play mat for newborn children, as it is packed with music and sensory developmental fun. The mat plays popular nursery music, and is colorful and engaging, supporting motor skill development, in terms of stretching, reaching, twisting, rolling, etc.
Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym
The Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym is operated by three AA batteries, and it is different than most of the musical play mats. Most musical play mats will make noises, but this play mat will make different noises with each kick on the different notes.
The music can be adjusted and can be allowed to play for up to 15 minutes or as short as a few seconds, depending on what the baby prefers.
Overhead, the baby will be entertained by five toys to choose from and play with. These toys can be replaced with others as your baby grows older, but the five included have been added to help the baby develop many of their sensory skills.
The mat is also a little thicker in design and will be perfect for the baby to lie down on. Since children love to roll over on their tummies, this mat will give them the ideal opportunity to play while on their tummies. The toys can be removed and placed on the mat to make the playing easier and more comfortable.
We highly recommend this mat for any babies to play on. The added mirror will also allow the child to see themselves and this strengthens memories when they get older and leads to a happier child.
Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym Review
If you’re looking for a play mat you can use for travel, this Infantino play mat is the ideal choice to go for. The mat folds up easily and is compact, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
There are four toys in this Infantino activity gym which are linkable and can be mixed and matched, depending on what your little one prefers, as well as a pillow which pops up to support your child during tummy time, and for extra comfort.
There is also a large mirror, and overall if you are searching for the best activity mat for babies, this is certainly a contender, as it is gender neutral, meaning you can use more than once if you have more than one baby!
Baby Care Play Mat Foam Floor Gym
The Baby Care Play Mat Foam Floor Gym has been constructed from foam and is extremely comfortable for any baby to play on.
The mat is also one of the safest for children, and it has been tested by the European Toy Standards EN71, thus meaning it is really hygienic and also easy to simply wipe down after use.
The play mat is incredibly soft, and it has been tested with an egg: the claim states that an egg dropped from 10 feet will not break on this mat, thus meaning your baby can jump and play to their heart’s content.
Furthermore, the mat provides good insulation to the child and has been tested to be slip resistant. We strongly recommend this mat for the quality and durability that it will provide to the user.
However, it is also quite expensive and unfortunately, you will need to purchase a separate activity center for hanging the toys on.
Bright Starts Charming Chirps Activity Gym, Pretty In Pink
The Bright Starts Charming Chirps Activity Gym is obviously more of a girly choice. The brand has also been supporting breast cancer in women and with every purchase of their products; you will also be donating money towards fighting breast cancer.
The mat itself is very durable and comfortable for your child to play on. It also plays four different melodies and will require three batteries for this feature to work.
There are various toys also hanging overhead for your child to entertain themselves with, and we believe that these toys will be perfect for moving to the cot and even the other hanging activity gym centers.
This is the cheapest play met activity gym on our list, and we highly recommend it for all parents. Breast cancer is a huge problem in the world and the more we can give to support the fight against it, the better the chances someone else will have a child of their own.
Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym Review
There are countless play gyms for babies on the market, but this one stands out because it is so engaging. We know that Baby Einstein is a big name, so you are instantly reassured you are dealing with quality, however the busy nature of the mat means your little one will certainly be entertained for a good portion of time.
There are six activities on offer for entertainment in this Little Einstein play mat, as well as music and dancing lights. There is a star-shaped toy which can be detached, with lights, and eight melodies, as well as a plush dog toy, a rattle, image cards, and a frog rattle, with a water-filled teether. Basically, this is an action-packed farm play mat.
It is so vital for moms, dads and family to research and choose very carefully when purchasing every item for their precious baby. There are many items which need to be purchased for the new addition to the family and it is crucial that all items chosen are of the highest standards and quality for baby. There are many important factors to consider to ensure the best quality baby play mat at the most reasonable price available. This buyers guide is intended to help you to establish which factors you may wish to consider when finding the type of baby play mat you wish to purchase.
Important Features Of Your Fun Baby Play Mat
Whilst reading reviews written by parents, grandparents and family there are some key features apparent in the process of choosing their perfect baby play mat. It is most important to them that the play mat is soft and comfortable for baby to lie and move around on but that it is also non-slip so that as baby develops and learns to move around more he or she will not slide about, become unstable and fall on the mat. In many product reviews parents and family report that baby always loves bright, vivid and attractive colors to hold baby’s attention and help develop their sense of sight. Musical chimes, rattles, teethers, vibrating toys and various crinkly, smooth, soft or slightly rougher textured materials all help baby to develop his or her auditory visual and tactile senses, always learning whilst playing.
Ensure A Strong Interactive Element To Your Play Mat
Baby will always love a play mat which provides interesting and fun interactive elements. The loops and rings which often have soft toy animals attached to them should be both detachable and adjustable so that they can be altered for baby to be able to reach up and play; baby can become frustrated eventually if the toys cannot be touched and explored.
The toys should be bright and immediately attractive to baby, perhaps having stripes, spots or other interesting shapes for baby to explore. The musical elements of the mat or toys should be enough to stimulate and hold baby’s attention for a period whilst not being too loud, repetitive and intrusive as to overstimulate baby and quite possibly do the same to mom, dad and family too! The development of baby’s response to sounds and music is so very important as humans can listen and respond to different types of music well before they learn how to speak. Indeed, babies may sing along to songs as part of their speech development process and enjoy doing so too.
Baby Play Mat – An Asset To Mom, Dad And Family Too
Parents also suggest buying a play mat which is extremely versatile and can be used both inside and outside of the home. This mat should be waterproof or easy to wipe down and the material should not be too thin, preferably padded for baby’s comfort. There must be no loose threads or small objects which baby could put into the mouth and possibly choke on. All mirrors and objects must be baby safe also. A larger play mat can be used by an older toddler or child at the same time as baby, always under adult supervision, and baby may happily learn to crawl, roll, play and have lots of fun with his or her brother or sister, developing useful social skills along the way.
A really worthwhile baby play mat should also offer positive attributes for mom and dad! These should include that the mat is easy to clean, durable and preferably can be machine washed on a gentle wash cycle. The play mat should be uncomplicated and quick to assemble and equally easy to fold up, light to carry and store away when required. The mat should be made of excellent quality materials which are durable and do not become damaged or worn easily. It is most important to mention that according to many product reviews parents and family are prepared to pay a little more for a good quality product which will last much longer and provide baby with many hours of happy learning experiences and entertainment.