Baby Essentials

The 7 Best Baby Play Mats To Make Tummy Time Safe & Fun 

Updated on 11 minute read

Do Babies Need Play Mats?  

While play mats aren’t a requirement, they make a nice addition to your list of baby essentials. Play mats offer your little one a comfy and safe place for playtime.

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Experts recommend tummy time to help build strength in your baby’s neck, arms, trunk, and shoulders. Strengthening these areas helps in their development and reaching milestones such as rolling, sitting, and crawling. (1)

Even if you have carpeted floors in your new baby’s playroom, nursery, or living room, a playmat provides them with their own comfy space.

Activity mats for babies can also help improve their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Other gym mats have an activity center with hanging toys in bright colors for added fun and stimulation.

 

Are Play Mats Safe For Babies?

Tummy time mats can be safe for babies, but it depends on the material. You’ll want to choose non-toxic options.  The right mat will provide a soft and comfy play space. 

Area rugs can also be a good option, but those with non-slip bottoms are preferable, so your baby doesn’t hurt themselves when they’re mobile.

Many kids’ play mats are made of soft foam or laminated plastic. Check the manufacturer’s product description for non-toxic foam materials and BPA-free* plastics. 

*BPA (bisphenol-A) is a common material used for plastic manufacturing that can affect your child’s development, including their behavior. Additional research also suggests possible links between BPA exposure and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. (2)

Our Top 7 Recommendations For The Best Baby Play Mats

  • Lovevery The Play Gym ($140) – Non-toxic, organic cotton baby play mat with five Montessori-inspired development zones, an activity center and hanging toys, plus a play space cover to convert into a play fort for toddlers
  • Little Bot Ofie Mat ($159.95) – Non-toxic, single-foam play mat with neutral colors and prints to suit nurseries for boys or girls; reversible mat with different designs on opposite sides
  • Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat ($49.99) – Budget-friendly, easily portable baby play mat with bright prints and cartoons
  • House of Noa Little Nomad Play Mat (prices start at $119 for the 4 x 6 feet) – Water-resistant, premium cushioned, non-toxic EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam play mat with rug-like prints; expandable mats with puzzle-styled tiles to easily fit any floor space or size
  • Bammax Play Mat ($99.99) – Colorful, foldable, and reversible play mat with two different patterns on each side; portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat ($69.99) – Baby play mat with a removable activity gym, hanging toys, and canopy; plays melodies from around the world, and some portions light up
  • XdeModa Baby Play Mat ($74.99) – Hypoallergenic, waterproof, skid-proof, and reversible baby play mat with vibrant design on one side and modern contemporary prints on the other; portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use

 

Continue reading to learn more about each baby play mat.

 

Lovevery The Play Gym

(source: lovevery.com)

 

Price

  • $140

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Non-toxic, organic cotton baby play mat with an activity center and hanging toys, plus a play space cover to convert into a play fort for toddlers
  • Capabilities: Features five Montessori-inspired development zones with different activities to encourage exploration and learning, with four detachable activity toys and four sets of cards
  • Reversible: No
  • Cleaning options: Machine-washable activity mat; wooden and plastic parts wiped-cleaned with a damp cloth

 

Includes the following:

  • Organic cotton high-contrast ball
  • Batting ring
  • Organic cotton teether
  • Silicone teething rings without PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Black and white card set
  • Mirror card set
  • Common objects card set
  • Faces card set
  • Play guide
  • Play space cover
  • Card set clips

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Eco-friendly, sustainably sourced wood
  • Safety: Free from fire retardants, PVC, and other toxic materials
  • Play gym: Yes
  • Other extra features: Mouthable pieces made of silicone, 100% organic cotton, and other non-toxic materials

 

Key Features 

  • No tools are required for assembly or takedown
  • No batteries required

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 23.9 x 50 x 47 inches
  • Warranty: Not indicated
  • Quality/safety certifications: OEKO-TEX certified fabrics (testing for toxic and harmful substances) and FSC-certified*, sustainably sourced wood

 

*FSC means Forest Stewardship Council

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some parents complained that the gym was “too boring” for their babies.

 

Little Bot Ofie Mat

(source: littlebotbaby.com)

 

Price

  • $159.95

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Non-toxic, single-foam play mat with neutral colors and prints to suit nurseries for boys or girls
  • Capabilities: Can be rolled up for storage
  • Reversible: Yes
  • Cleaning options: Vacuum-safe and wipeable with a damp cloth

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)
  • Safety: Free from heavy metals, BPA, formaldehyde, phthalate, formamide, fire retardants, PVC, or EVA foam 
  • Play gym: None

 

Key Features 

  • Reversible mat with different designs on opposite sides

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 6.5 ft x 4.5 ft x 1.5 cm
  • Warranty: Not indicated
  • Quality/safety certifications: Third-party US-certified labs

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints on Amazon that this play mat easily stains and turns yellow

 

Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat

(source: tinylove.com)

 

Price

  • $49.99 (price on Amazon)

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Budget-friendly, easily portable baby play mat with bright prints and cartoons
  • Capabilities: Promotes senses, fine and gross motor skills, imagination, and creativity
  • Reversible: No
  • Cleaning options: Machine washable

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Cloth
  • Safety: BPA-free toys
  • Play gym: None

 

Key Features 

Includes the following:

  • Peek-a-boo tree
  • Mirror
  • Tiny ring for attaching additional toys
  • Crinkly fox tail
  • Easy-grasp carrot teether
  • Shiny satin ribbons
  • Corduroy peek-a-boo pocket
  • Large button and soft handle for easy carrying

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 59.06 x 39.37 x 0.79 inches
  • Warranty: Not indicated
  • Quality/safety certifications: ASTM standards (American Society for Testing and Materials), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), and CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints that the stitching unraveled after they washed this product in the washing machine

 

House of Noa Little Nomad Play Mat

(source: thehouseofnoa.com)

 

Price

  • 4 x 6 feet: $119
  • 4 x 8 feet: $169
  • 6 x 8 feet: $229
  • 8 x 8 feet: $299
  • 8 x 10 feet: $349
  • 8 x 10 feet: $399
  • 10 x 12 feet: $499

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Water-resistant, premium cushioned EVA foam play mat with rug-like prints
  • Capabilities: Expandable mats with puzzle-styled tiles to easily fit any floor space or size
  • Reversible: No
  • Cleaning options: Wipe clean spills with a dry cloth or wash with mild soap and water but make sure to dry completely before using again

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Premium quality, non-toxic EVA foam
  • Safety: Free from phthalates, toxic dyes or inks, BPA, PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances), PVC, formaldehyde, latex, and heavy metals
  • Play gym: None

 

Key Features 

  • Puzzle-style playmat available in different sizes (with the same tile sizes) for easy expansion

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 24.8” x 24.8” per tile (total product dimension depends on what you order)
  • Warranty: 365-day limited warranty
  • Quality/safety certifications: ASTM F963 (for US toy safety standards), EN71 for European Union toy Safety testing standards, CA65 Prop 65 (California), and CPSIA

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Limited options of where you can buy this product
  • The puzzle edges must be set up properly to avoid tripping hazards.

 

Bammax Play Mat

(source: bammaxstyle.com)

 

Price

  • $99.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Colorful, foldable, and reversible play mat with two different patterns on each side
  • Capabilities: Portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Reversible: Yes
  • Cleaning options: Waterproof and can be easily wiped clean with a wet or damp cloth

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Non-toxic XPE (cross-linked polyethylene foam)
  • Safety: Free from latex, BPA, phthalates, lead, and formamide
  • Play gym: None

 

Key Features 

  • Thick (0.61 inches) for extra cushioning during tummy time
  • Double-sided non-slip design for added safety
  • Fun, educational prints for early learning 

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 77.5 x 70 inches
  • Warranty: 180-day warranty, with a 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Quality/safety certifications: ASTM and CPSIA

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints about this product easily getting scratched or damaged

 

Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat

(source: kids2.com)

 

Price

  • $69.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features:  Baby play mat with a removable activity gym, hanging toys, and canopy
  • Capabilities: Plays melodies from around the world, and some portions light up (requires batteries)
  • Reversible: No
  • Cleaning options: Machine washable

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: ‎60% fabric and 40% plastic
  • Safety: Meets and exceeds US safety standards
  • Play gym: Yes

 

Includes the interactive toys following:

  • Plush fish
  • Ring rattle
  • Sand dollar teether
  • Shell mirror
  • Crab bead chaser

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 19 x 32 x 32 inches
  • Warranty: One year
  • Quality/safety certifications: Independent and accredited third-party laboratories; meets or exceeds all applicable US and international safety standards

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints about the product being too flimsy to stay up after a couple of uses

 

XdeModa Baby Play Mat

(source: xdemoda.com)

 

Price

  • $74.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Best features: Hypoallergenic, waterproof, skid-proof, and reversible baby play mat with vibrant design on one side and modern contemporary prints on the other
  • Capabilities: Portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Reversible: Yes
  • Cleaning options: Wipe-clean with a damp cloth

 

Materials & Safety Features:

  • Material: Hypoallergenic, odor-free XPE
  • Safety: Free from phthalates, BPA, lead, and formaldehyde
  • Play gym: None
  • Other extra features: Portable and comes with a carrying case

 

Other Specifications & Special Features

  • Dimensions: 77 x 70 x ½ inches
  • Warranty: 100% money-back guarantee
  • Quality/safety certifications: German TUV (Technischer Überwachungsverein) and American CPC (Children’s Product Certificate)

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Some complaints that this product tears or gets damaged easily

 

Summary & Recommendations

These baby play mats can be a fun-filled, safe space for your little one. They can be a nice addition to your baby’s nursery or provide a comfy spot for tummy time in your living room.

Here are our play mat recommendations to help you pick the best one for your baby:

 

Choose Lovevery The Play Gym ($140) if:

  • You want a non-toxic, organic cotton baby play mat 
  • You prefer a baby play mat with five Montessori-inspired development zones
  • You want one with an activity center and hanging toys
  • You like the play space cover that converts the play mat into a play fort for toddlers
  • You want a machine-washable play mat with organic fabrics

 

Choose Little Bot Ofie Mat ($159.95) if:

  • You want a reversible mat with different designs on opposite sides
  • You like that it’s vacuum-safe and wipeable with a damp cloth

 

Choose Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat ($49.99) if:

  • You prefer a budget-friendly, easily portable baby play mat with bright prints and cartoons
  • You want one that promotes senses, fine and gross motor skills, imagination, and creativity
  • You like a machine-washable play mat

 

Choose House of Noa Little Nomad Play Mat (prices start at $119 for the 4 x 6 feet) if:

  • You want a water-resistant, premium cushioned EVA foam play mat with rug-like prints
  • You prefer expandable mats with puzzle-styled tiles to easily fit any floor space or size (from 4x 6 feet to 10 x 12 feet or to any configuration)
  • You don’t mind that this isn’t machine-washable

 

Choose Bammax Play Mat ($99.99) if:

  • You want a colorful, foldable, and reversible play mat with two different patterns on each side
  • You need a portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • You like that it’s waterproof and can be easily wiped clean with a wet or damp cloth

 

Choose Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat ($69.99) if:

  • You prefer a baby play mat with a removable activity gym, hanging toys, and a canopy
  • You like one that plays melodies from around the world and has some portions light up
  • You want one that’s machine-washable

 

Choose XdeModa Baby Play Mat ($74.99) if:

  • You prefer a hypoallergenic, waterproof, skid-proof, and reversible baby play mat with vibrant design on one side and modern contemporary prints on the other
  • You need a portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • You don’t mind that it isn’t machine-washable

 

Features To Look For In Choosing The Best Baby Play Mat

Safety (Check For Toxicity, Materials, Third-Party Testing, & Certifications)

Like other products that touch your baby’s skin or mouth (and potentially get licked or bitten), it’s best to choose non-toxic baby play mats.

If possible, choose those made of organic cotton or similar materials, and check that they’re free from harmful chemicals such as BPA, PVC, heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalate, formamide, fire retardants, or toxic EVA foam.

 

Quality

Check product reviews on online shops and inspect the baby play mats. High-quality products can last longer and are generally safer for babies to use.

 

Design

Many baby gear manufacturers create products that match your baby’s nursery theme or style.

 

Cushion: How Thick Should My Baby’s Play Mat Be?

It’s good to pick a play mat at least half an inch thick to provide a comfy, safe cushion for your baby during play and tummy time.

 

Size

It depends on your needs or the size of your baby’s room. Many play mats provide just a small space around your baby, while others can be spread or expanded to fit your baby’s nursery floor.

 

Quick Clean Up

New parents might be surprised at how easy it is for babies to make a mess on their play mat. Be prepared for drools and spit-ups even if you have already burped your little one.

Have some burp cloths on hand to wipe their face and quickly dry up the mess.

 

What Type Of Play Mat Is Best For Your Baby?

It usually depends on your needs and preferences. Foam, puzzle-style play mats are usually cheap, soft, durable, and easy to clean, but some parents are worried that these can have undeclared toxic materials.

Organic cotton play mats are chemical-free, but they are more prone to easily getting dirty from messes (like drool and spit-ups) than those made from other materials.

 

Portability

If you love to go out with your baby, portable play mats are ideal. Bonus points if it’s outdoor friendly. 

 

Storage

It’s also good to choose play mats that can be folded and stored if you don’t like them taking up space in your baby’s nursery or the living room.

 

FAQs

How Can I Make My Baby’s Tummy Time More Enjoyable?

Depending on your child’s age, you can make their tummy time more enjoyable by adding age-appropriate toys that they might find interesting.

A child-safe mirror is also engaging to babies.

If they have a favorite toy, consider putting this a little further away from their reach so they can try to reach for it. (1)

It also helps to vary the toys or interesting elements you place on their play mat during tummy time.

 

What Age Should My Baby Go On A Play Mat?

You can introduce your baby to tummy time the first day you bring them home from the hospital or birthing facility. 

They can start slow at one or two minutes for around four to five times a day. You can slowly increase this to a few more minutes until they’re comfortable on their belly for 10 minutes, still at around four to five times a day. (1)

As their muscles develop and their strength increases, your baby will eventually enjoy up to 90 minutes a day when they turn four months old or older. (1)

 

Can My Newborn Use A Play Mat?

Yes. Newborns can rest on the play mat. They can also enjoy tummy time of around 1-2 minutes up to four to five times a day.

Also, always ensure they’re awake and supervised at all times.

 

How To Keep Play Mats Clean

It depends on the play mat’s material and the manufacturer’s cleaning suggestions. In general, cloth or fabric play mats might be machine-washable or hand-washed, while foam and similar materials can be spot-cleaned with a damp cloth.

Always clean up spills and messes to avoid spreading them on the play mat and damaging the material.

 

Should I Let My Baby Crawl On The Hardwood Floor?

Babies can safely crawl on the hardwood floor if they can control their heads and movement. 

However, it might be best to use baby play mats or other soft materials such as an area rug to protect their head, mouth, and other body parts from injury.

 

Other Baby Play Mats To Consider

  • ALZIP MAT Folding Play Mat
  • Baby Care Milestone Play Mat
  • Baby Care Play-Mat Haute Collection
  • BalanceFrom Kid’s Puzzle Exercise Play Mat
  • Berry Lane Baby Play Mat for Infants
  • Black and White Foam Tile Playmat
  • Bright Starts Disney Baby Finding Nemo
  • Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play Mat
  • Childlike Behavior Oranges Playmat
  • Costzon Toddler Foam Play Mat
  • Fisher-Price Kick ‘n Play
  • Foam Tiles by Wonder Bebe
  • Forstart Baby Reversible Play Mat
  • Gathre Mini-Mat
  • Hape Reversible Town & Jungle Baby Activity Foam Foldable Play Mat
  • Infantino Jumbo Baby Activity Gym and Ball Pit
  • Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym & Play Mat
  • KUDOSALE 3-in-1 Baby Activity Gym
  • Lollaland Play Mat
  • Melissa & Doug Deluxe Multi-Vehicle Activity Rug
  • Padded Midi+ Playmat
  • Pehr’s Life Aquatic Play Mat
  • Premium Stylish Foam Floor Mat
  • Ruggish LULU Memory Foam Reversible Play Mat
  • Ruggish Romy Play Rug
  • Sassy Stages STEM Developmental Play Gym
  • Skip Hop Baby Gym Farmstand Grow & Play
  • Skip Hop Baby Treetop Friends Activity Gym/Playmat
  • Skip Hop Playspot Geo Foam Floor Tiles
  • Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Gym
  • Sweet Jojo Designs Shabby Chic Mat
  • The Rambler Playmat
  • Toddlekind Marine Blue Foam Playmat
  • Toki Mats Rainbow Stamp Playmat
  • Uanlauo Foldable Baby Play Mat
  • Wander & Roam Reversible Foam Playmat
  • Wee Gallery Explore Organic Playmat
  • Yookidoo Baby Play Gym

 

 

 

References

(1) https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2015/09/the-importance-of-tummy-time

(2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331

 

 

 

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