Choosing the Best Baby Play Mat

Let us help you choose the best baby play mat for your little one!

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How to Choose the Best Baby Play Mat

Baby play mats have been around for years, providing infants with early stimulation and core strengthening tummy time, and providing parents with a bit of a break.  Infants are a handful!  It can be difficult to keep their attention for a length of time, and all parents know the wailing and howling that ensues when a baby isn’t sleeping or eating and is just plain bored (yep, even babies get bored!). But choosing the best baby play mat can be difficult.  Let us give you a hand!

What can a play mat do for your baby?

Play mats are a great way to keep your baby’s attention, with colors, lights, and singing toys that they can bat at, grab, or pull.  This is a great tool for when baby can’t sit up unassisted yet.  Even babies need exercise!  They need to stretch and move those little arms and legs, and explore what their bodies can do!.

Let your baby have some fun and wiggle all that energy out! The best baby play mats allow your baby lay on their belly or on their back, and begin to explore their own physical abilities (kicking, scooting, rolling over, reaching, and grabbing), as well as cause and effect, from as early as a few weeks of age!

What to look for when choosing a play mat

Image result for best baby play mat 2017

Most play mats have similar features such as a cushioned, colorful mat that may be texturized for baby’s stimulation, and toy bar that may include mirrors, rattles, and toys that sing or light up, which hang over your baby directly in their line of sight.

Some play mats, however, have unique features which may include a foot bar with toys that sing for baby to kick, a cushioned pillow for baby’s head or belly to provide a slight incline, or even the capability to hold water to create a special playtime experience with textures and shapes inside the mat.

Choosing a play mat is simple with our handy list of the best baby playmats.  Simply decide what features you want for your baby, explore the color, size, and feature options, and decide on a budget.  Most playmats are very affordable, and you can find one to fit any budget on this list!

Here’s Our List of the Best Baby Play Mats!

Compare and choose a play mat with this helpful table:

Product NameImagePriceFeaturesRating
Bright Starts 5-in-1 Play Activity Gym **EDITOR'S CHOICE**$$$$Converts from play mat to ball pit,
Engaging toys,
Grows with Baby


Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym$$$Easy fold and storage,
Portable,
Easy to clean,
Toys and peek-a-boo mirror included,
Plush prop-up pillow

Bright Starts Play Mat, Cuddly Crocodile$$Space-saver,
Plush prop-up pillow,
Teether rings and toys,
Prop-up activity center,

Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym$$$Motion activated lights and music,
Easy to clean,
Removable ring toys,
Easy to store,
Portable

Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym$$Overhead toys,
Foot-kick piano toy,
Piano converts for sit-and-play,
4 ways to play,
Grows with baby,
Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Mat$$$Textured mat for sensory development,
Extra large,
Easy to store,
Easy to clean,
Stimulating toys
Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play$Perfect for newborns,
Prop-up activity center,
Mirror and teething toys,
Tactile development,
Sensory development,
Extra support for newborns and tummy time
Skip Hop Vibrant Village Smart Lights Activity Gym$$$$Idea for visual development,
Bold, contrasting colors,
Light show in toy arches,
Plays music,
Stimulating toys,
Textured mat,
Prop-up pillow
Skip Hop Baby Infant and Toddler Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat$$$$Whimsical, themed design,
Soft, textured supports,
Mesh printed background,
Textured mat,
Light up and singing toys
Kleeger Inflatable Baby Water Mat$Water play for sensory development,
Easy to assemble and clean,
Can be used in tub,
Water-filled mat with toys inside

 

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym

Best Baby Play Mat

A classic look with a modern twist, this play mat is a perfect toy for your baby.  Curious about the “twist”?  It’s simple: this playmat folds and travels easily with a simple twist and fold!  The top of the toy bar features a simple knob: push down to lock the toy bar into place, then twist and pull up to fold the mat for storage or travel!

This mat provides three ways to play: overhead discovery, tummy time, and sit-and-play.  Jingling, soft animal friends and colorful teething rings hang in baby’s view, and a peek-a-boo mirror helps baby to learn social skills and facial recognition.  The mat also includes a soft bolster for tummy time to help baby prop up.

This simple play mat is just too cute, not to mention convenient and affordable!

Pros
  • Portable
  • Easy storage
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Small
  • No musical elements


Bright Starts Play Mat, Cuddly Crocodile

Best Baby Play Mat

How adorable is this little mat!  While it may not have all of the frills, whistles, and bells, this mat is affordable, adorable, and is sure to keep baby entertained!

With a focus on tummy time, this play mat comes with a plush, adorable bolster pillow with an attached teething ring.  Crinkly crocodile friend will help your baby prop up and use his or her arms to move, push, and reach.  The prop-up activity center offers a peek-a-boo mirror, squeaky and crinkly fabric toys, and a ring rattle.

This no-fuss, low cost, charming play mat is sure to delight your little love!

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Space-saver
  • Perfect for Tummy Time
Cons
  • Baby outgrows quickly
  • No musical elements


Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym

Best Baby Play Mat

This mat has many fun friends to keep your baby company and encourage him/her to explore and discover!  In overhead play mode or in tummy time mode, your baby has lots of fun activities to engage in, with lights, music, textures, and rattles.

The “star” of the show is the star on the mat!  This toy is quite versatile, and full of fun with motion activated flashing lights and melodies that play for more than 20 minutes.  This toy is sure to become baby’s new favorite, and can go with baby wherever he/she goes; attach it to your crib or carrier for endless fun!

This mat is easily removed from the toy bars and machine washable.  The mat also folds up for easy storage and portability.  The toys are easily moved and interchangeable.  Mix it up and customize it for a new experience for baby every day!

 

Pros
  • Customizable/interchangeable toys
  • Easy to clean
  • Portable
Cons
  • Assembly can be difficult


Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym

Best Baby Play Mat

You won’t believe how affordable this play mat is!  It’s loaded with fun features to keep your baby engaged, giggling, and playing!  A space-saver, this mat is easy on the budget and covers all the play mat bases!

This mat grows with baby, from lay-and-play to tummy time, then to sit and play.  The piano toy adjusts to different modes of play as well.  For lay and play, baby can kick, or reach for the piano in tummy mode.  In sit-and-play, the piano can fold down to an elevated, flat position like a traditional keyboard. It can also be removed to take with your baby on the go!

The toy bar features a hippo teether, elephant clackers, roller-ball frog, and peek-a-boo mirror.  The toys can be rearranged on the fabric rings to change up baby’s view.  This mat enhances fine gross motor skills, action-reaction knowledge.

Versatile, convertable, rewarding and customizable, this play mat has it all at an incredibly low price!

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Convertable and customizable
  • Space saver
Cons
  • Batteries use up quickly


Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Mat

Best Baby Play Mat

The height of simplicity, this extra large play mat is colorful and visually stimulating, and while it does not offer many features, it’s perfect to bring baby’s favorite toys along to play in any room or even outdoors.  The mat is soft and easy to fold and store, and is textured for tactile and motor skill development.

The mat includes a mirror to encourage facial recognition skills, a peek-a-boo tree, carrot teether, and crinkly fox tail.  It also has a felt ring to attatch baby’s favorite toy to. The large size of the mat makes it perfect for playdates!

Pros
  • Extra-large
  • Portable
  • Easy to clean and store
Cons
  • Minimal features
  • No musical elements


Bright Starts 5-in-1 Play Activity Gym

Best Baby Play Mat

**EDITOR’S CHOICE!**

This playmat is truly functional, and grows with your baby from infancy into the toddler years!

The sturdy, cushioned walls of this playmat fold down for a large, flat surface area to use as a playmat during newborn stages.  Then, once baby begins to scoot and wiggle, the walls can be folded up to prevent baby from scooting too far.  Finally, when baby begins to sit unassisted, the walls transform this playmat into a ball pit, so the fun continues even into toddlerhood!

Fun, engaging toys keep baby entertained for hours and help baby explore textures, sounds, and social skills.  This mat includes a cute mirror, teething toys, crinkling fabrics, bead chasers and more, along with 35 colorful balls, and a cute bag for ball storage, and to help baby develop put-and-take skills.

This adorable mat is our Editors Choice!  Practical and worth every penny!

Pros
  • Safe
  • Grows with Baby
  • Multiple ways to use
Cons
  • Difficult to clean
  • More expensive vs standard playmats


Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play

Best Baby Play Mat

This play mat is perfect for newborns and infants!  Soft and plush, this mat includes a gusset-lined prop pillow that can be used for your newborn to lay and snooze, or to prop your baby up for tummy time once he/she begins to roll over and hold their head up on their own.

This mat is ideal for smaller spaces and comes with crinkle toys, teether rings, a self-discovery mirror, and satin loops at the edges for tactile learning and self-soothing.

An adorable find, this beautiful mat is machine washable has all the basic necessitites to soothe and enteratin your infant.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Perfect for newborns and tummy time
  • Tented character head
Cons
  • No musical elements


Skip Hop Vibrant Village Smart Lights Activity Gym

Best Baby Play Mat

This vibrant and unique play mat focuses on baby’s early visual development with bright colors that pop on a black-and-white canvas.  Ideal for overhead play, tummy time, and sit-and-play.

The arches play music and include bright colored lights that flash in two modes: visual tracking for baby to follow, and a bright, flashing light show.  Hanging toys include rattle rings, teethers, squeaker with tactile ribbons, and a baby-safe mirror.

The puppy prop pillow with crinkle ears and high contrast artwork on the mat make tummy time a visually stimulating and attention grabbing experience.  This unique mat makes learning and developing at an early age fun for parents and for baby!

Pros
  • Unique
  • 17+ activities
  • Perfect for early visual development
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Stains easily


Skip Hop Baby Infant and Toddler Camping Cubs Activity Gym and Playmat

Best Baby Play Mat

This play mat features a whimsical outdoor design and a scenic printed mesh backdrop.  The supports are unique, soft, and offer a wood-grain pattern to complete the outdoor design.  Perfect for an outdoor-themed room!

The plush tummy time pillow offers additional support and hanging forest friends provide baby with sensory development and fun.  Toys include a light-up firefly, mirror turtle, and a musical raccoon with a wooden teether.  The mat is textured and features a peek-a-boo felt flap.

This charming play mat encourages baby’s developmental milestones, and is an adorable addition to any room!

Pros
  • Whimsical outdoor design
  • Soft supports and toys
  • Four ways to play
Cons
  • Expensive


Kleeger Inflatable Baby Water Mat

Best Baby Play Mat

Give your baby a unique, stimulating experience with this water-filled play mat!  The border inflates, and the mat fills with water for baby to press, move, and explore!

Inside the mat are little fish friends that encourage cause-and-effect learning as baby uses hands and body weight to manipulate the fish and move them along in the water. Air bubbles under the surface add to the water play fun. This mat can also be used during bathtime!

Enhance your baby’s motor, sensory, and cognitive skills with this fun, vibrant mat!

Pros
  • Water play for sensory stimulation
  • No batteries required
  • Easy to assemble and clean
Cons
  • Must watch for holes
  • Limited features


Safety Considerations

Play mats are relatively safe as it is, but there are still things to consider to prevent injury or harm to your baby.

  • Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations for age, use, and assembly.
  • Always check to be sure that toy bars and other attachments are secure, and that there are no loose parts or rips.
  • Do not use without adult supervision.  Anything can happen!
  • Consider placing a foam mat under the play mat if it is too thin, to avoid bumps and bruises to the head, arms, and legs as baby learns to support his/her own weight.

 

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