The 10 Best Baby Playmats to Buy in 2020

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Table of Contents

As a parent, one of the most important things you can do to help your baby develop is providing them with safe and stimulating environments to play and learn. Thankfully for parents, there are a ton of great playmats available that make this easy.  The right playmat can not only entertain your baby and inspire their creativity, but it can also help them develop crucial skills and help strengthen their growing muscles. We’ve put together a list of our top 10 favorite baby playmats for 2020. Keep reading to see what we found.

Picking a Playmat for Your Baby

Baby playmats come in all shapes and sizes and have all kinds of different activities for your baby to enjoy. By understanding your needs and where you will be using your baby’s playmat, you will get a better idea of which kinds of mats you’ll want to look at for yourself. Here is a small sample of some of the more common types of baby playmats you have to choose from.

  • Water Playmats: Usually made of clear plastic and filled with water and floating toys, water playmats offer a unique sensory experience and a chance for your little one to play with water without making a mess.
  • Tummy Time Playmats: By the time they are three months old, your baby should spend about 1 hour of every day lying on their stomach. This helps them develop motor skills and core strength.
  • Activity Gym Playmats: The most common kind of playmat that we reviewed, activity gym playmats usually feature hanging toys for babies to play with while lying on their backs.

Choosing the Best Baby Playmats for 2020

We believe that very young children learn best through play. In order to make our list, a baby playmat must be beneficial for the development of your baby. Here are the criteria we used when reviewing baby playmats.

  • Size & Portability: Playmats can be as small as a few square feet or as large as an entire playroom. Make sure you don’t buy a playmat that takes up too much space.
  • Age Range: Especially for the first few years of their lives, children develop so quickly, and they can suddenly grow bored of activities that are no longer challenging or engaging enough. By choosing a playmat that matches your baby’s age and level of development, you’ll make sure they get the maximum benefit from playtime.
  • Activities: The entire point of a playmat is the activities that your baby enjoys while on them. Some playmats come bundled with lots of toys for babies to enjoy while others simply provide a good space for other activities.
  • Development: In order to receive high marks from us, a playmat must have a positive effect on your baby’s development. For each entry on our list, we will explain how the playmat contributes to your baby’s growth.
  • Fun Factor: No matter how many benefits a playmat can provide your child, it can’t do anything if they refuse to play with it. We believe every entry on our list is fun enough to be played with again and again.
  • Batteries Required: Especially for playmats that light up or play sound, not having the right batteries can ruin the fun. We will let you know what batteries are required and if they come included with your purchase.

Top 10 Best Baby Playmats for Kids 2020

1. Best Overall Baby Playmat: Skip Hop Treetop Friends Play Mat

Why we like it: Our favorite overall baby playmat and activity gym, the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Play Mat is packed with fun activities and friendly woodland creatures.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 36” (W) x 19” (H)
Age Range: 4 months-18 months
Batteries Required? No
With a charming cast of adorable animal friends, the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Play Mat creates a friendly environment for your baby to play and grow. Featuring soft linen and a supportive pillow for tummy time, this playmat is comfortable and is packed full of activities. We also like how easy it is to assemble this playmat. This mat is easy to set up in under two minutes.

Activities: With five included toys, the Treetop Friends playmat from Skip Hop features seventeen different developmental activities. There are thirteen different hooks to hang the toys on and all kinds of interesting textures on the surface of the mat. There is also a mirror, squeaker flower, and built-in nature sounds.

Development: Featuring activities that stimulate many different senses, the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Play Mat grows with your baby to support their developmental needs. Simply playing with this mat will help your infant develop sensory and motor skills. We also believe the friendly art style of this playmat and included toys will inspire creativity and exploration.

Fun Factor: There is so much for babies to see and do on the Treetop Friends playmat. The calming nature sounds are a delight and babies like playing with the removable animal friends even when they are not lying on this playmat. One downside to the number of activities available on the surface of this mat is that there isn’t much free space for lying on the mat.

Verdict: The Skip Hop Treetop Friends Play Mat is a good option for parents looking for an infant playmat with a lot of activities. The mat is easy to set up and features adorable animal toys as well as seventeen activities that support your baby’s development. The included tummy time pillow is a welcome addition.

Pros
  • Nature-inspired playmat with a lot of activities to support your baby’s development
  • Comes with 5 hanging animal friends toys
  • Assembles and disassembles in less than two minutes
  • Includes a tummy time pillow
Cons
  • There is not much empty space on the playmat

2. Best Value Baby Playmat: Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym

Why we like it: A musical playmat unlike any other we reviewed, the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym has three stages that become more complex and interactive as your baby grows.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 27.01” (L) x 36.02” (W) x 17.99” (H)
Age Range: Newborn- 3 years
Batteries Required? Yes, 3 AA batteries are included.
With 4 different ways to play, the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym is suitable for all developmental stages from birth to 36 months. With 5 fun and unique toys that can be repositioned in several different ways, this playmat and baby gym is sure to keep your baby entertained for years. The Fisher-Price brand has an excellent reputation for making high-quality baby products.

Activities: The most distinctive feature of this playmat is the large keyboard with 5 giant keys that light up and let your little one play music and sounds. Not only can these buttons be pressed, but they are also plenty sturdy enough to be pushed and kicked as your baby develops their gross motor skills. This piano has three modes of operation depending on your baby’s stage of development. There are also 5 other fun toys offering a wide variety of colors and textures.

Development: As your baby grows, the operation of the Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym changes to help your child’s development. Fisher-Price calls this their “Smart Stages” technology. At level 1, the toy operates mostly autonomously, with a 20-minute program of playful music and lights. At level 2, pressing each key plays animal noises and short instrumental songs. When set to level 3, pressing the piano keys plays songs that begin introducing colors, shapes, and numbers.

Fun Factor: With fun flashing lights and sounds, the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym is sure to keep your little one’s attention for a long time. The sounds and songs played by the piano were fun, not too annoying, and did a great job teaching colors, shapes, and animals. We also heard that babies love the 5 hanging toys that come with this set. Unfortunately, this set is not as fun for parents at first, as assembly can be a bit of a chore.

Verdict: The Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym lives up to the lofty expectations that come with the Fisher-Price brand name. There are lots of activities that will help your baby develop and hold their attention for years to come. Just make sure you set aside a few hours to set it up properly.

Pros
  • 4 different configurations to adjust as your baby grows
  • Fisher-Price Smart Stages technology
  • Wide age range
Cons
  • Frustrating to assemble

3. Best Premium Baby Playmat: The Play Gym by Lovevery

Why we like it: Developed with painstaking attention to detail, The Play Gym is the collaboration of some of the world’s top baby development experts.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 44” (L) x 38” (W) x 24” (H)
Age Range: Newborn+
Batteries Required? No
Most parents naturally assume that when it comes to playmats for their babies and toddlers, the more stimulation a mat provides, the better. While it is certainly effective to provide your baby with a wide selection of stimuli in order to help them develop their cognitive abilities, there is also a good deal of evidence that overstimulation can have a negative effect on the development of your baby. That’s why we appreciate that the Play Gym by Lovevery not only offers 5 development zones featuring varied activities for your baby, but it also allows parents to conceal individual sections to prevent overstimulation.

Activities: The Play Gym is more expensive than most of the other baby playmats we reviewed, but the huge amount of activities offered easily justifies the price tag. A winner of multiple parent choice and design awards, this mat offers 5 development zones featuring a huge variety of different colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. The Play Gym also comes with an organic cotton Montessori ball and teether as well as a wooden batting ring. Both of these toys are removable.

Development: The well-thought-out design of The Play Gym has not gone unnoticed. This playmat received the 2018 Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Every part of this playmat is intentionally designed to improve the cognitive, visual, and motor development of your baby. The development activities on the playmat are designed to teach focus, promote curiosity, and help babies explore.

Fun Factor: Not only is there an impressive amount of fun activities crammed into each side of this playmat, but the included parts also let parents convert the mat into a play fort. This feature is a huge hit with toddlers.

Verdict: While The Play Gym by Lovevery is far more expensive than a lot of the other baby playmats we reviewed, the focus on your baby’s development and unique features make this a great premium pick for parents who want to spare no expense on their baby’s development.

Pros
  • A huge selection of activities to keep little ones engaged
  • Converts into a play tent with included cover
  • Sections conceal to prevent overstimulation
Cons
  • Much more expensive than other options we reviewed

4. Best Water Playmat: Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water Mat

Why we like it: Made with high-quality plastic and featuring colorful graphics and cute floating toys, the Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water Mat is our favorite water-filled activity mat for babies.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 26” (W) x 20” (L) x 2.5” (H)
Age Range: 3 months+
Batteries Required? No
Little kids are fascinated by water. That’s why the Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water Mat is one of our favorite mats for helping babies between 3 and 12 months spend time lying on their stomachs. Tummy time is crucial for preventing delays in the development of motor skills. Simply filling this playmat with water makes the shapes inside come to life and dance, making this mat endlessly interesting for your little ones.

Activities: Made especially for newborns, the Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water Mat will captivate your little one with its colorful graphics, interesting texture, and fun floating toys. Pressing down on this mat is a satisfying feeling and sends the objects inside whooshing through the water. This playmat will keep your baby riveted.

Development: Playing with this aquatic playmat will help your baby’s sensory development and motor skills. Indirectly manipulating the objects inside the mat is a great demonstration of cause and effect, which helps with early logic development. Tummy Time is important for babies to develop their core muscles that will allow them to sit up straight and walk in the future.

Fun Factor: During your newborn’s first year of life, one of their favorite activities will be experimenting with new and unique feelings and sensations. This mat is a great way to provide your baby with an interesting sensory experience with zero mess. One negative about this mat is that because it is filled with water, it is prone to getting musty and moldy over time, especially when not emptied and cleaned regularly.

Verdict: Thanks to the great price and high-quality BPA free plastic, this colorful aquatic playmat is an easy buy for parents of newborns looking for a great playmat for tummy time. However, it can be difficult to clean and is prone to mold after repeated use.

Pros
  • Our favorite water playmat for tummy time
  • Clear graphics and bright colors
  • Six water toys inside this mat
Cons
  • Can get moldy after repeated use

5. Best Playmat for Tummy Time: Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play

Why we like it: Especially helpful for babies who resist being placed on their stomach, this playmat is our top choice for helping infants with tummy time.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 36” (L) x 32.5” (W) x 5” (H)
Age Range: Newborn+
Batteries Required? No
Just as cozy as a big bear hug, the Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play is one of our favorite options for newborns who resist being placed on their stomachs. The unique prop-up design helps babies who are still developing the muscles required to sit up and turn on their own. We also appreciated how easy it is to take this playmat along when traveling. There are also a variety of interesting toys that come with this mat including a baby-safe mirror.

Activities: One of our favorite parts about this playmat is how well the toys are placed on top of the propped up section of this mat. In the first year of their life, it is important that your baby spends at least a few minutes a day on their stomach. This helps them build essential core muscles that will be required for their development.

Development: Not only does the Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play playmat provide a safe and comfortable place for your baby to lay down and play, but the addition of a propped-up section also encourages them to be active during tummy time. This will help your baby develop their gross motor skills and coordination. The included matching prop pillow also works well.

Fun Factor: While there are not as many activities as some of the other playmats we reviewed, this playmat does include three detachable toys including a rattle and a mirror. Removing these attachments make this playmat easy to clean. Weighing less than one pound, this playmat is exceptionally easy to carry with you.

Verdict: Thanks to a low price and a unique design, the Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play is a great choice for parents looking for a fun and convenient playmat for their babies. We especially recommend this mat for babies who become fussy when they are placed on their stomachs.

Pros
  • The unique design props up to make tummy time easier
  • Three detachable toy attachments
  • Great price
  • Matching prop pillow included
  • Light and portable
Cons
  • Does not have as many activities as other playmats we reviewed

6. Best Large Baby Playmat: Bammax Play Mat

Why we like it: Nearly large enough to cover the floor of a small playroom, the Bammax Play Mat creates a great surface for babies and toddlers to engage in active play. It also makes a great picnic blanket.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: Open: 77.5” (L) x 70” (W) x 0.6” (H), Folded: 35” (L) x 15.7” (W) x 5.9” (H)
Age Range: Newborn+
Batteries Required? No
One of the largest playmats we reviewed, the Bammax Play Mat is extra thick and provides nearly 36 square feet of space for playing and relaxing. Even with the large playing surface, we were impressed by the portability of the Bammax Play Mat. Weighing only 5 pounds and folding up compactly, this mat is easy to take anywhere you go. This mat is waterproof, making it ideal for eating and drinking. This playmat works really well as a picnic blanket.

Activities: While this is one of the largest baby playmats we reviewed, the Bammax Playmat does not come with any accessories or toys. However, with a thick foam base and glossy surface, this mat provides a great surface for any kind of toy. One side features a design with a car track that is perfect for playing with toy cars.

Development: Having a large area with a soft surface gives your baby a great chance to explore the way their body moves with little risk. The fact that the mat is large and waterproof makes it ideal for messy activities. The colorful illustrations and car track pattern encourages imagination and inspires them to engage in pretend play.

Fun Factor: You’ll love pulling this playmat out again and again. It folds and unfolds quickly and easily, and the playing surface is large, soft, and waterproof. This makes it perfect for all kinds of fun activities. It also makes clean-up a snap.

Verdict: A little more expensive than some of the other playmats we reviewed, the Bammax Folding Play Mat provides a massive surface for all sorts of fun activities. The soft foam protects your baby and the rigid surface makes it perfect for playing with blocks or toy cars.

Pros
  • One of the largest playmats we reviewed
  • Waterproof
  • Makes a great family picnic blanket
Cons
  • No included toys or accessories
  • More expensive than other playmat options

7. Best Portable Baby Playmat: Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym/a>

Why we like it: Best for babies under 12 months old, the unique twisting design of this playmat from Infantino makes it remarkably easy to carry with you on the go.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 29” (W) x 10.8” (H)
Age Range: Newborn- 1 year
Batteries Required? No
A great pick for parents on the go, the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym is a light playmat that is easy to fold up for storage or travel. Suitable for kids between birth and one year old, this polyester playmat features lots of colorful fabric patterns and four detachable toys that hang from above. We especially liked the detachable baby mirror that can come along in the car or in the stroller.

Activities: The Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym playmat offers your baby many different ways to play as they grow. The playmat can be configured for tummy time, for babies lying on their back, or for babies who are old enough to sit up and play. The four toys that come with this playmat are colorful and feature a variety of fabric textures to keep your little one engaged.

Development: By exposing your baby to a wide variety of textures and sounds, you will encourage your baby’s creativity and help them develop sensory and motor skills. We like the included soft tummy time bolster, though the lack of activities on the surface of the mat can make it difficult to keep some little ones engaged while lying face down.

Fun Factor: Thanks to the great selection of toys included with this playmat, babies have a lot of fun playing on the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym. Even better for parents, this playmat is exceptionally easy to fold and take with you on the go. This makes this playmat an excellent choice for parents who travel often.

Verdict: Weighing only three pounds, the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym is perfect for parents who are looking for a fun portable playmat. Your baby will outgrow this playmat by the time they reach their first birthday, but thanks to the excellent price and great assortment of activities, we have no problem recommending this playmat highly.

Pros
  • Best portable baby playmat we reviewed
  • Suitable for tummy time, overhead discovery, or sit-up play
  • The large detachable baby mirror can be used in the car or stroller too
Cons
  • Your baby will outgrow this playmat by their first birthday

8. Most Comfortable Baby Playmat: Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Mat

Why we like it: As comfortable as it looks, the Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Mat is lined with several different fabrics for a plush sensory experience for your baby.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 36” (L) x 36” (W) x 19” (H)
Age Range: Newborn+
Batteries Required? The singing lamb requires 5 LR44 batteries (included).
With a cushy, oversized surface, the Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Mat from Skip Hop is one of the most comfortable playmats we reviewed. Great for both rest and stimulation, this cloud shaped mat features multiple textures to soothe your baby and assists in their sensory development. We were also impressed with the quality and the variety of the hanging toys included. This is a premium playmat and that is reflected in the price.

Activities: Our favorite part of this baby playmat is the five included toys. There is a sheep toy that plays music when squeezed, a star that lights up with colorful LED’s, a cloud-shaped squeaker, a bird rattle, and a sun-shaped baby mirror. On the surface of the mat itself, there are six different fabrics that are plush and pleasing to the touch.

Development: The included tummy time pillow is cloud-shaped and very comfortable. Unfortunately, because there are no activities on the surface of the playmat, infants lying on their stomach only have different textures on the mat to keep them occupied. While this is fine for some babies, it might not be enough to keep your baby entertained.

Fun Factor: The toys included with this playmat are some of the highest quality playmat accessories we reviewed. We’re not surprised that babies have a blast playing with this set. In addition to the five toys included with this playmat, additional toy options can also be ordered as add-on items.

Verdict: The Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Mat is a great option for parents looking for a comfortable place for their babies to play and grow. The included toys are adorable and a big hit with parents and babies alike. We also liked the soft color palette and believe it creates a relaxing environment for your baby.

Pros
  • Most comfortable baby playmat we reviewed
  • Great variety of toys included
  • Cloud-shaped tummy time pillow
Cons
  • Lack of activities on the mat itself

9. Best Puzzle Playmat: Tadpoles Soft EVA Foam 36 Piece ABC Playmat

Why we like it: One of the most unique baby playmats we reviewed. With lots of giant foam puzzle pieces, the playmat itself is the toy.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: Each square is 12”, the set measures 36 square feet
Age Range: Newborn+
Batteries Required? No
Made from 36 huge puzzle pieces, this giant EVA Foam playmat helps teach ABC’s while providing a safe place to play. Not only is each tile that makes up this 36 square-foot playmat made from premium, non-toxic foam, each one also features a removable letter or number. While it’s not the most portable playmat we reviewed, we can see this being a perfect fit for lots of different playrooms.

Activities: Not only does this playmat provide an ideal surface for all kinds of baby activities, but the entire mat is also an activity in itself. With a total of 96 foam pieces, toddlers will love taking apart this mat and putting it back together again. Each of the main tiles features a number or letter that can be removed. There are also 24 border pieces that give the playmat straight edges.

Development: This playmat is a great introduction to letters and numbers. Removing and replacing the foam puzzle pieces will also help babies and toddlers develop fine motor skills. As your little one gets older, the pieces of this mat can be taken apart and put together in creative ways. Unfortunately, with so many pieces, this creates the potential for a pretty big mess in your child’s playroom.

Fun Factor: The 36 Piece ABC Playmat from Tadpoles is definitely one of the most unique playmats we reviewed. Toddlers who love puzzles are guaranteed to have a blast with this larger-than-life puzzle playmat. While the unique puzzle design greatly increases the fun factor, it does make this playmat much less practical than most of the other options we looked at.

Verdict: This unique playmat is a toy in itself. While it’s far from the most convenient choice, especially for parents on the go, this playmat is a great option for parents furnishing a playroom with lots of floor space. We also think the price is reasonable. Make sure you have plenty of room to store the tiles when not in use.

Pros
  • Extra-large foam playmat is also a giant puzzle
  • Helps babies and toddlers begin to recognize letters and numbers
  • Soft and durable EVA foam is non-toxic
Cons
  • Can create a big mess when taken apart
  • Not a good option for parents looking for a portable playmat

10. Best Sesame Street Baby Playmat: Sesame Street Friends Activity Gym

Why we like it: Featuring 9 friendly faces from the beloved children’s show, this is a value-priced playmat with lots of fun activities.

Editor’s Rating:

Size: 30” (L) x 30” (W) x 18” (H)
Age Range: Newborn-12 months
Batteries Required? No
Featuring beloved characters from one of the world’s most famous streets, the Sesame Street Friends Activity Gym from Bright Starts is an affordable playmat with 4 included detachable toys that your baby will love to play with whether they are on the mat or not. The Sesame Street Friends Activity Gym is also one of the most affordable baby playmats we reviewed.

Activities: Of the four toys included with this playmat, the Elmo rattle is easily the favorite among kids. Also included in this set is a cookie shaped rattle, teether, and a baby-safe mirror. Each toy features a different texture and makes a different sound when shaken. While the playmat itself features 9 of everyone’s favorite residents of Sesame Street, there is only one type of fabric. This means that this playmat lacks some of the tactile stimulation of some of the more expensive options we reviewed.

Development: Recommended for babies between 0 and 12 months, the Sesame Street Friends Activity Gym does an excellent job of keeping your baby entertained and active while positioned either on their back or stomach. Using this playmat will help your baby develop sensory skills and develop core strength that will help them to sit up on their own. Unfortunately, the mat itself does not feature as much padding as other options.

Fun Factor: For over 50 years, the gang on Sesame Street has been singing and dancing on TV screens across the world. The characters are immediately recognizable, even by very young children. Studies have also shown that kids are more likely to form a connection with a toy when it features one of their favorite characters.

Verdict: For parents looking for an affordable playmat, the Sesame Street Friends Activity Gym is a great choice. We like the colorful mat featuring the most recognizable Sesame Street Characters and learned that the Elmo rattle is a big hit with kids everywhere. We would have liked to see more activities on the surface of the mat itself.

Pros
  • Colorful playmat starring Sesame Street characters
  • Elmo shaped rattle is a big hit with babies and toddlers
  • Great price
Cons
  • Not very much padding in the mat
  • Lack of activities on the surface of the mat

Baby Playmat Buyers Guide

New parents are often surprised by how much time they end up spending on the floor with their newborns. This is why a high-quality playmat can come in handy. Not only can they make any floor surface suitable for your baby, but they also often feature built-in games and toys to keep your baby occupied while they sit or lie on it. They can, of course, being their own toys to the environment too.

Playmats Keep Your Baby Safe

Because your baby is still developing their muscles and immune system, it is not a good idea to spend much time lying on the carpet or a wood floor. Instead, a playmat provides a clean environment for your baby to play and also provides additional support for your baby’s growing body. Cushioned playmats can be made from a wide variety of materials and provide a good environment for your baby to experiment with their body and develop their motor skills.

Playmat Materials

Depending on their purpose and design, baby playmats come in a variety of different materials. Here are some of the common materials found in top-selling baby playmats. All materials used in baby products are required to be rigorously tested to ensure they are non-toxic.

  • Foam: Like the foam used in gym or yoga mats, lightweight foams like PVC or EVA are a great way to provide a lot of support without being very thick or heavy. This makes foam ideal for larger mats made for more active activities. A large foam playmat even makes a great Picnic blanket.
  • Plastic: Especially for playmats that fill up with water, plastic is often used because it is waterproof, durable, and smooth to the touch.
  • Fabric: Most playmats that are designed with comfort in mind are made out of a fabric like cotton or polyester. Fabric mats are often made from a combination of fabrics in order to provide babies with more sensory stimulation.

Cleaning Your Baby’s Playmat

Because your baby’s body is still developing their immune system, it’s important to keep their playmat sanitary and free of unnecessary germs. Also, babies can be messy so it’s best to be prepared to clean up after spills, spit-up, or any other mess your baby makes on their playmat. Here are some tips for keeping your playmats looking like new for a long time.

  • Foam and plastic playmats are best cleaned with a mix of vinegar and water. Vinegar is a gentle disinfectant and can break down stains. Our favorite way to use this solution is by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water in an empty spray bottle. You should allow the solution to stay on the playmat for about 2 minutes after spraying before wiping it off.
  • Most cloth playmats are machine washable. If there are cloth components that cannot be placed in the washing machine, a soft cloth with a mixture of warm water and mild soap or detergent is your best bet.
  • Playmats that contain water should be completely drained and stored dry. Even a small amount of leftover water can cause a playmat to grow mold and become ruined.

Playmats Help Your Baby Develop

Because there is such a wide variety of playmats that offer different activities and features for your little one, there are a huge number of potential benefits to your baby’s development. We recommend that parents don’t just buy one of the playmats on our list, but instead consider buying two or three in order to provide a wide range of experiences and developmental benefits. Here are some benefits parents can expect from the playmats on our list:

Gross Motor Skills:

Just like adults head to the gym to move our bodies and get stronger, playmats and activity gyms help your baby develop their gross motor skills. This is one of the major benefits of tummy time and is a good way to help your baby begin to sit up and take their first steps as early as possible. Did you know that studies have shown babies who learn to walk earlier tend to be more successful in life?

Self-Awareness:

A common feature of many of the baby playmats that made our list are that they come with a non-breakable mirror that lets your babies spend time looking at themselves. Most babies recognize themselves in a mirror by the time they are 5 months old and will begin playfully making faces at themselves by the time they reach 9 months. These are important steps in developing a sense of self.

Sensory Stimulation:

For the first year of their lives, the most effective developmental activities for babies involve sensory stimulation. That’s why so many baby playmats feature a variety of toys, textures, sounds, and colors that are designed to engage as many of a baby’s senses as possible. Once your baby reaches teething age, most playmats with activity gyms even allow parents to hang teething toys from above.

Reaching and Grasping:

When babies are first born, they move entirely by reflex. This means they have very little control over their own bodies. For instance, the reflex that makes babies grab on to a finger pressed into their palm is called the palmar grasp reflex. By providing them with something to grab within arm’s reach, many playsets encourage the development of conscious movement, which usually starts developing at around 5 months.

Cognitive Benefits:

By providing toys and activities that your baby can play with by themselves, you will help them begin to learn cause and effect through their own actions. This eventually turns into the building blocks of logic. For example, the first time a baby triggers the lights and sounds of a hanging play gym toy, it may inspire them to experiment to see if they can repeat this effect.

Visual Development:

Babies are nearsighted when born, so objects that are far away can be hard for them to see. The optimal visual range of a newborn is between 8 and 12 inches from their face. This is why most playmats with activity gyms are designed to place visual stimuli in this range, encouraging babies to look closer and begin recognizing details.

Hand-Eye Coordination:

Playmats help babies develop fine motor skills by providing lots of different objects to touch and manipulate. Playmats include lots of different shapes and materials that will encourage babies to reach out and grab. Learning to manipulate an object with their hand is an important part of your baby’s early development.

Tummy Time

One of the most common uses for a baby playmat is tummy time. Just like adult bodies need to exercise, physical activity is the key to making sure that your baby’s muscles are developing properly. By placing an infant on their stomach, it requires them to lift up their head in order to avoid an uncomfortable face-plant position. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should begin tummy time on the same day that they come home from the hospital.

Unfortunately, especially for the first few weeks where many babies will not have the strength needed to make themselves comfortable during tummy time, many babies will resist tummy time and insist on screaming the whole time. For babies that are especially resistant to tummy time, we recommend the Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play playmat.

No matter how your baby reacts to tummy time, it’s important to be consistent and gradually increase the amount of daily tummy time until you reach about 1 hour per day once your baby is three-months-old. Here are some more tips for making sure tummy time is a success.

  • When you first bring your baby home, you should try to have tummy time three times a day, for three to five minutes each time. Sessions should become more frequent and longer as your baby starts enjoying them more.
  • Use a playmat designed with tummy time in mind. Several of the playmats we reviewed even come with support pillows just for tummy time.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Experts say that the best time to do tummy time is after your baby wakes up from a nap and after a diaper change.

IMPORTANT: Never put your baby to sleep on their stomach. This has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome. (SIDS)

Baby Playmat FAQ

Why does my baby need a playmat?

Because their immune and muscular systems are not properly developed, infants should not lie on the carpet, tile, or wooden floors. By using a playmat, you are creating a safe and sanitary play area.

What is the best play gym for infant development?

The winner of the 2018 Parent’s Choice Gold award, The Play Gym by Lovevery was designed by baby development experts. It is our favorite premium baby playmat.

What is the best playmat for tummy time?

Because of the unique propped-up design of theBright Starts Tummy Time Prop & Play , we highly recommend it for any baby who gets fussy when placed on their stomachs.

Final Thoughts

A playmat is a safe space for your baby to begin learning life’s fundamentals. It creates an area in your house you can dedicate to building up your baby’s self-awareness, motor skills and early cognition. Playmats have a wide variety of opportunities built into them, so enjoy perusing our list and picking out the mat you think your baby will get the most out of.