10 Best Play Mats for Babies

In this article, we’re going to explore the best play mats for babies, focusing on basic floor mats rather than play gyms with all their added accessories.

If you’re also on the hunt for a play gym, see this related article: 9 Best Play Gyms For Babies

best play mats for babiesTummy time on a play mat aids physical development

From the moment your baby's tiny fingers grasp at the world around them, they're on a quest to explore, learn, and develop.

Providing them with a safe, comfortable space for their adventures of discovery is essential and a soft but tough play mat is exactly what’s needed.

Here’s what I’ll be covering as we search out the very best play mats for babies.

9 Benefits of Floor Time For Your Baby

We buy play mats to protect our little ones from hard, cold floors or rough carpets so that they can lie, roll, crawl, and sit in comfort without hurting themselves.

It all starts with tummy time, that important practice of laying your little one on their stomach for brief periods each day while they're awake.

I thought it might be helpful to offer you a quick rundown of the benefits of floor time for your baby for you to keep in mind as you evaluate the many different play mats available and choose the best one for their current stage of growth and development.

Here's why spending quality time on the floor is a vital part of your little one’s early development:

1. Muscle Strengthening

Floor time encourages your baby to lift their head, push up, and eventually roll over. These movements help strengthen their neck, back, and core muscles, laying the foundation for future motor skills like crawling and sitting.

2. Cognitive Stimulation

As your baby explores their surroundings during tummy time, including patterns, pictures, and textures on their mat, they're engaging their senses and building cognitive connections. This sensory-rich experience supports brain development and enhances their ability to understand the world around them.

3. Visual Development

Being on the floor allows your baby to focus on objects at different distances, helping to improve their visual tracking skills. This visual stimulation is essential for developing hand-eye coordination and depth perception.

4. Preventing Flat Head Syndrome

Spending time on their tummy helps prevent the development of flat spots on the back of your baby's head. This condition, known as flat head syndrome or positional plagiocephaly, can be reduced by providing regular tummy time.

5. Speech and Language Skills

When you engage with your baby during floor time, they listen to your voice, watch your facial expressions, and learn to communicate through nonverbal cues. These interactions lay the groundwork for language development.

6. Gross Motor Skills

As your baby reaches, kicks, and explores during floor time, they're refining their gross motor skills. These movements are crucial for coordination, balance, and eventually more complex physical activities.

7. Independence and Exploration

Being on the floor empowers your baby to move and explore their environment independently. This freedom to move encourages curiosity and a sense of accomplishment.

8. Enhancing Digestion

Gentle movements and being on their tummy can aid your little one’s digestion and reduce discomfort related to gas and colic.

9. Bonding and Interaction

Floor time provides a wonderful opportunity for you to connect with your baby on their level. Engaging in eye contact, talking, singing, and playing together creates strong emotional bonds and fosters healthy attachment.

best baby play matsA soft, protective surface to explore the world from

Selecting the Perfect Play Mat

What to Consider

To ensure you find the perfect match for your baby, consider these key factors:

  • Safety First – Your little explorers' safety is paramount. Opt for play mats crafted from non-toxic materials such as plant-based inks and designed to meet safety standards, providing a worry-free environment for play.

  • Size and Portability –  Whether you're creating a cozy corner at home or venturing out on a family trip, the play mat's size matters. Look for a balance between spaciousness and portability, allowing your baby to explore wherever you go. Or consider having two play mats – one for home and one for when you go out and about.

  • Design and Themes –  Prepare to be spoiled for choice with an array of fun designs and themes. From animal kingdoms to undersea adventures, vibrant visuals captivate your baby's imagination and keep them engaged. Think about which colors and themes they most readily engage with to ensure interest from the start.

  • Washability and Maintenance –  Your baby’s play mat is bound to get dirty on a regular basis so choose one that’s easy to clean and maintain, saving you precious time and ensuring a hygienic play space. Think about the types of activities your little one will be doing on the mat. If you intend to allow food and liquids on it, a waterproof, wipe down mat is a no-brainer.

10 Best Play Mats For Babies

1. UANLAUO Extra Large Foldable Play Mat

Dimensions: 79” x 71” x 0.4”

Material – XPE foam

This well-cushioned, extra large play mat offers an extensive space for your little one to roll and crawl, with room for family to play alongside them. It’s made from high-density, anti-scratch XPE foam which is stated to be a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to EVA foam. It’s non-toxic, odorless, resistant to tearing, and waterproof. With a different fun design on each side, it offers plenty of sensory stimulation and learning. One of the sides is printed with a height ruler, enabling you to measure your baby’s growth.

2. Gimars XL Thick Foldable Play Mat

Dimensions: 79” x 71” x 0.6” Material – XPE foam Another large play mat but this one is also extra thick which makes it a great choice if you have particularly cold or hard floor surfaces. It’s one to seriously consider if your little one tumbles over easily from a sitting position or is learning to stand so needs a soft landing to cushion their falls. Tough and waterproof, this Gimars play mat has a different colorful design on each side, one side having textured letters and numbers to aid sensory and cognitive learning.

3. VividvibebearPas Premium Foam Crawling Mat

Dimensions: 10 sizes from 36” x 36” x 0.8” to 79” x 71” x 0.8” Shapes: Square, rectangle, or hexagonalMaterial: Soft foam and organic cottonIf your baby likes a soft surface to move around and play on, this could be the right play mat for them. It comes in a wide range of sizes, 3 shapes, and 5 lovely pattern designs. Whilst it isn’t the thickest mat out there, it’s ideal for laying on a carpeted floor. It’s not waterproof either but is easily washable and, because it’s lightweight and folds up reasonably small, it’s very portable.

4. LuckyDove Large Reversible Play Mat

Dimensions: 78” x 59” x 0.4” or 78” x 70” x 0.4”

Material – XPE foam

Another nice thick play mat. It’s so comfortable, that you’ll be borrowing for yoga. This mat has an adorable alphabet design on one side and cute animal pictures on the other giving your baby lots to explore. Raised letters and numbers provide extra sensory and learning experiences. Like most play mats, It comes with a carrying case for easy storage and portability to use anywhere. Being 100% waterproof, it’s also easy to keep clean.

5. ProSource Alphabet & Numbers Interlocking Play Mat‎

Dimensions: 75” x 72” x 0.37” Material: EVA foam

If you’re looking for a play mat to get your little one familiar with letters and numbers, and to use as a teaching tool as they grow, this is a good choice. It’s made of high density EVA foam and comprises 36 interlocking letter and number tiles and 24 border pieces. Your baby will love the bright colors and be eager to explore. It’s soft, durable, and easy to clean, and is recommended for use on wood or tile floors rather than carpeted areas.

6. Babebay Reversible ABC Playmat

Dimensions: 79" x 71" x 0.4"Material: XPE foam

Of the three alphabet play mats featured in this review of the best play mats for babies, this one is my favorite. It’s large, thick, soft, and waterproof. Each letter of the ABC design has two corresponding pictures and words, the images being simple and very cute. It also has a raised alphabet feature for tactile interest and neatly bound edges. The design on the reverse side is in neutral black, white, and grey colors, perfect for times when less visual stimulation is wanted or you prefer your baby to play with their toys undistracted by the colorful ABC pattern. A really lovely play mat.

7. SPRINGSPIRIT Cushioned Play Mat

Dimensions: Three sizes – 36” x 36” / 50” x 50” / 72” x 59”

For an ultra-soft play surface, this cushioned mat won’t disappoint. With three sizes to choose from it’s easy to match it to your baby’s need whether it’s as a general floor mat or for use in a playpen. There are four colors and delightful designs from which to make your selection. With a plush microfiber quilted top surface, soft foam interior, and non-slip bottom, it washes well and dries quickly. It packs away into a small neat bundle for easy storage and carrying with you out and about.

8. Infantino Play Mat with Pop-Up Sides

Dimensions: ‎59” x 59” x 0.24”Now for something a little different that might be just the mat to fit your needs. This play mat has pop-up sides to keep your baby safe and secure and prevent the escape of roll-away toys. When your little one needs extra space to roll and crawl around, just lower the side, and away they go. The double-sided boho-inspired print gives the mat a stylish look, and it’s lightweight and easy to fold away when not in use. If spills occur, a quick wipe down will have it clean and fresh in a matter of moments.

9. Splashin'kids Water Play Mat‎

Dimensions: 6.54” x 6.49” x 1.9”Material – PVC The final two mats in my list of the best play mats for babies introduce a completely different style of mat. Whilst water play mats are small compared to floor cover mats, they are a whole lot of fun for your little one and wonderful for sensory stimulation and early learning. Just fill the outer ring with air and the inner mat with your desired level of tap water and it’s time to play. Ocean themes are the most popular design and this bright mat hides within it six colorful underwater characters for your little one to move around to make them swim. I can hear their shriek of delight already.

10. QIUXQIU High Contrast Water Play Mat

Dimensions: ‎5.98” x 5.55” x 1.93”Material – PVC

The high contrast black and white design of this second water mat is ideal for very young babies whose color perception is very limited. They will benefit from this particular type of visual stimulation to aid the development of their vision. The mat includes five colorful floating shapes to help with the development of color perception and to train their focusing skills. Fill it with cold water in the summer and warm water in winter for your little one’s comfort. Fun playtimes are pretty much guaranteed.

7 Tips for Parents

Supporting Your Baby's Growth Through Play Mat Interaction

So, you’ve reviewed the very best play mats for babies and chosen the perfect match for your little one. It’s now time to get down there on the floor with them and actively support their growth and development.

Here are some great ways to make the most of play mat time, helping your baby to thrive, and, of course, creating some very special memories.

1. Be Present and Engaged

Your baby's favorite playmate is you! Sit or lie down next to your baby on the play mat and engage with them. Your presence, eye contact, and soothing voice create a sense of security and connection. Share laughter, smiles, and precious bonding time as you explore and play together.

2. Encourage Exploration

Babies are naturally curious. Place engaging toys and objects within their reach, and let them explore at their own pace. Gently show them how different toys work, inspiring them to investigate on their own.

3. Follow Their Lead

Pay attention to your baby's interests. If they're reaching for a certain toy or showing curiosity about a particular texture, give them more of that. Follow their cues to create an exciting play experience.

4. Mirror Magic

Babies are fascinated by their own reflection. Include a baby-safe mirror on the play mat. This not only entertains them but also encourages self-recognition and social interaction.

Here are two designs I recommend:

5. Spark Conversations

While your baby may not fully understand your words, they're captivated by your voice. Describe the colors, shapes, and textures around them. Narrate their actions and reactions, fostering language development.

6. Sing and Dance

Music and movement go hand in hand with play. Sing lullabies, nursery rhymes, and your little one’s favorite tunes. Gently rock and sway with them, adding a rhythmic dimension to play mat time.

7. Rotate Toys

To keep things fresh and exciting, introduce new toys and items to the play mat regularly. This prevents boredom and encourages continued exploration. As your baby develops, sometimes place toys just out of reach to encourage them to reach out, later pulling themselves forward, then crawling to grab their toys.

Don't forget to capture these precious moments through photos and videos.

Final Words

Playtime, and especially tummy time, is going to be extra special for your baby with their new play mat. Take inspiration from my list of the 10 best play mats for babies and have fun choosing the ideal mat for your little one’s needs.

Do check out the related pages below for articles on a wide range of baby learning toys suitable for use on your play mat.

SAVE to PIN to your Pinterest board!

And join me on Pinterest

10 best play mats for babies


About Jacky Spear

Jacky Spear passionately promotes learning toys for child development. With 30+ years of teaching experience, she understands the power of play in engaging and nurturing children, including those with special needs. Drawing from personal experience in both the school and home environment, Jacky helps parents to select the best learning toys to unlock their children's potential and create a lifelong love for learning. Learn more about Jacky >>

Related Pages