The Best Baby Play Mats for Tummy Time and Beyond Are Thoughtful, Fun, and Actually Quite Pretty
Getting your child the best baby play mat is an important early step in helping them explore the world. That's because having the right mat for playtime can ensure that they enjoy their tummy time, making it more enjoyable for you as well. Daily tummy time activities are important because they help babies develop their neck, shoulder, and back muscles while improving motor skills, according to Arunima Agarwal, M.D., a board-certified general pediatrician in New York City. "It's also important to prevent the head from getting flat (positional plagiocephaly)."
What to Look for in a Baby Play Mat
While Dr. Agarwal says you don't need anything special or fancy for tummy time, there are a few things parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for when shopping for play mats.
"The surface should be flat and firm," she tells Parents, adding that your mat doesn't need to have any fancy decor on it. "Babies are naturally curious, and this position allows them to see and experience the world in a new way."
Best Baby Play Mats
- Best Foam: Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym & Play Mat
- Best Extra-Large Mat: Infantino Jumbo Baby Activity Gym and Ball Pit
- Best With Lights and Sounds: Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat
- Coziest: Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Gym
- Best Musical Activity Mat: Fisher-Price Kick 'n Play
- Best Play Mat With Tent: Lovevery the Play Gym
- Best Tummy-Time Theme: Skip Hop Baby Gym Farmstand Grow & Play
- Best Disney: Bright Starts Disney Baby Finding Nemo
- Best Foldable: Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat
- Best Nontoxic Floor Mat: Uanlauo Foldable Baby Play Mat
- Best Round Mat: Sassy Stages STEM Developmental Play Gym
- Best for Outdoor Play: XdeModa Baby Play Mat
- Best Stylish Play Mat: Sweet Jojo Designs Shabby Chic Mat
- Best Mat-and-Seat Combo: Yookidoo Baby Play Gym
How to Make Tummy Time More Enjoyable
If you're looking for ways to make sure your baby gets the most out of tummy time, Dr. Agarwal suggests positioning their playthings a bit out of reach.
"You can place a toy a little further away from your baby, so they may try to reach for it," she says, adding that the most important thing you need to remember for a successful tummy-time experience is to make sure your baby is always supervised while they're using their play mat.
This should come as a relief to new parents: Dr. Agarwal says there's no harm in taking a break when your baby doesn't seem that into play time at the moment.
"If your baby is uncomfortable or crying a lot, then do it again later," she adds.
Below are the best baby play mats to set you and your baby up for tummy-time success: