Baby playmats have become a very important and popular part of the baby’s growth and development. They are imagined as a toy that will be interactive, and that will help the baby develop its skills faster.
Baby mats are definitely worth buying if you want something soft and interactive for your baby to lay and play on. They are great for baby development and easy to use. They aren’t worth it if you have plenty of toys already and you may also find that they don’t last long enough for the expense.
Within this article, I am going to talk about the pros and cons of using a baby mat, what you might experience or feel towards them and how you can save money on them so you can make an informed decision as to whether you think a playmat would be good for your baby or not.
What Is A Baby Playmat?
Baby playmats are specially designed mats with a lot of interactive toys that will help the baby to develop its motor and visual skills. Baby playmats are something that has been a perfect gift for new parents for ages now.
These mats also come in a more “advanced” form of a baby gym, where above the mat you can find some toys hanging. They are very useful because they keep the baby occupied.
Usually, baby playmats have various toys that can be very educational for newborns and are often coloured in many different colours to keep the attention of the baby high at all times.
Sometimes it feels like the baby could stay on the playmat the whole day, and if you see that your kid is intrigued, let it explore and have fun while you focus on other activities you need to finish.
Do Baby Playmats Help With Baby Development?
Besides being very entertaining, baby playmats also have several educational and development benefits. Some studies have shown that baby playmats can help in a baby’s development by targeting and affecting certain areas of the brain.
First of all, the baby’s cognitive functions are being developed this way. When the baby is around four months old, it starts to learn the basics of logic and realize the cause and effect principle.
This means that in the period from four to eight months old, the babies realize that every cause affects them. This is certainly demonstrated in the fact that loud noises and toys entertain babies at that age.
This is because they have learned that a kick of a toy, for example, would produce a dangling sound they find entertaining. The first time it happens, it is done by accident, but babies realize what the effect will be and they start repeating the thing they did (they keep kicking the toy, knowing that it will produce a certain sound).
Baby playmats also help the babies to develop their vision, since babies are born nearsighted. This means that objects that are too far away may appear blurry to the baby. Because of the bright colours on the playmat, the baby will start developing in-depth vision, which starts to happen when the baby is around four months old.
Playmats can also help develop the baby’s motor skills since they require the baby to move around to reach something they want. Parents have noted that using a playmat has helped their baby develop muscles, start rolling, and get up much faster.
If the playmat has the upgrade in the form of an arch where you can attach various toys, usually you will find one mirror attached as well. This mirror plays a great role in the process where the baby becomes self-aware.
Babies will interact with their image in the mirror and slowly will become aware of what that image actually represents. This is important for the baby since it is also a form of practising interaction.
On the playmates, babies can also practice and stimulate their sensories by touching and grabbing surfaces with different textures. A baby is usually ready to explore its senses when it starts teething and gets an urge to put objects in its mouth to see if it feels relief or not.
With sensory stimulation, one of the great replacements for the playmat is letting the baby play with your skin and hair. By touching your face and feeling different textures of your skin at your face and hands, for example, the baby is diving into the world of sensory exploring.
What Age Can You Use Playmats?
Technically speaking, there is no restriction saying that newborns can be placed in a playmat straight away, but it is not very likely that newborn babies will benefit from it in any way. It is best to introduce the playmat to the baby when it starts rolling in bed and moving around, showing interest in its surroundings.
That is the time when a baby can use the playmat to explore all the features it has to offer. That time is usually when the baby is around three to four months old. You can easily test if your baby is ready for a playmat – just put it on it and see if it interacts with the toys.
If the baby is showing attention to the toys and tries to grab and reach them, then you should keep on with using the playmat. On the other hand, if the baby is showing little or no interest at all, it might be a good idea to wait a little longer.
Your baby will tell you on its own when is the time to stop using the playmat. Usually, when the babies are around nine months old, they start crawling. At this stage, the playmat is no longer of interest, and the baby will crawl away from this toy by itself.
What Are The Advantages Of Use A Baby Playmat?
There are a lot of advantages and a lot of medical research that can tell you the good and the bad but these are just some light hearted helpful things you might not have thought about yet.
- they are great for baby development in both eye muscle, body and muscle movements and cognative learning
- they are handy to have when you want to have 10 minutes sitting down without a baby attached to you
- they can be a great way to let your baby have freedom and movement
- they are fun for your baby to play on and play with
What Are The Disadvantages Of Using A Baby Playmat?
Along with the positives there are also negatives, there are plenty of medical research papers and articles that may have more serious health information but I wanted to point out some practicaly tips that you might not have thought about and might help you decide for or against a playmat.
- some playmats only last 6 months so it can be a lot of money to spend on something for such a short space of time
- You can often get plenty of toys for young babies that do the same things
- You can make your own from toys and a nice blanket
- They are often bulky and take up a lot of floor space – so not ideal if you are tight on space
How Much Are Baby Playmats?
The price of a baby playmat you will be getting solely depends on the brand and the extra features that are included in the product. Some products are simple, waterproof mats, while others give you the possibility to attach a gym on top and add certain toys.
When looking for a playmat, it is always better to go for those that have all kinds of toys that will tickle the baby’s imagination – musical toys, a mirror, rattles, etc. It is important for the playmat to be beneficial to the baby, not to just provide a soft surface for the baby to be on.
One of the things that you need to take into consideration is how much space you will have for the playmat, and to choose one accordingly. There are some small playmats on the market that will fit any space, but some of them are actually taking too much space, so make sure to check that beforehand.
Most of the existing playmats are waterproof, meaning that the material is completely water-resistant or water-resistant for some time. This window will allow you to grab a tissue or a towel and wipe off any liquid from the playmat.
Generally, studies have shown that you should always go for the playmat that has high contrast in colours, meaning that colors that are on the opposite of the color scheme are present on the playmat (black and white, for example).
And lastly, make sure to check if the playmat has any extra feature available – maybe it is rollable and thus easily transportable, or you can easily attach and detach toys from it.
|Fisher-Price||Tiny Love||Fisher Price Kick N Play Piano Gym||Red Kite Peppermint Trail Ball Play Gym|
|Dimensions||27”x36”x18”||34.6”x17.7”x31”||N/A||82 x 82 x 51 cm|
|Color Scheme||Bright or colored; patterned||Subtle – grey and white tones||Bright Coloured||Pastel & Bright Coloured|
|Extra Features||The attachable gym at the top, with musical toys||The attachable gym at the top, with 18 building activities||Lay & play; Tummy time; Sit & play; Take-along play, removebale keyboard and 15 minute of music||Converts into a ball pit|
Adjustable with age
comes with balls and toys to play with
comes with travel bag
|Price (on Amazon)||££||£££||££||£|
Of course, there are many more on the market with a number of features, age ranges and selling points that you might be interested in. I would definitely say to do your research and find out what you want to pay, what you want the mat to have before buying one as you may find it doesn’t have what you would like nearer the time or when you come to use it.
Are There Any Baby Playmat Alternatives?
The alternatives for baby playmats are usually upgraded play gyms. This means that this type of product will go further and offer some extra functionalities. For example, most baby playmats are just that – a play mat, while some of the extra features may be the presence of a baby fence, for example.
The more you go and add products to the existing baby playmat, the more you are going away from the core of the product itself. All these upgraded products can serve as an alternative to the playmat.
If you are looking only for a surface to put your baby onto, a simple blanket will do the work. However, a blanket cannot be beneficial for your baby’s development in any possible way. This is why a baby play mat actually doesn’t have a replacement in that means.
The good thing about all the upgraded playmats is that you can use the toys from the playmat even after the baby outgrows them. This is a cool feature, meaning that your baby will be entertained by toys long after it stops using the playmat itself.
How To Save Money On Baby Playmats?
It can be rather easy to save money on a playmat if you are not too demanding when it comes to all the features a playmat must-have. A simple playmat can cost you around £30- £40, on average.
The more features you add, the more it’s gonna cost, so make sure that you stay rather humble with your requests if you want to save some extra money.
On the other hand, babies cannot destroy the mat itself, so it is really durable. Also, the material is usually water-resistant, so it won’t be damaged by accidental spillings.
Buy Second Hand
Buying baby stuff second hand is the best way to save money, you can simply look at the brand and style you want in the shops and then simply look on places such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace or eBay to find some great second-hand deals.
You can often find them for much cheaper than RRP as the previous owner will just want rid of the item and want the space back in their home.
Ask For As A Gift
If you are creating a list of things you would like for your baby and you have friends and family who are wanting to buy anything for the baby you can always ask people to buy you a playmat. Whether it is a couple of people put in for it or simply one person buys it.
This can be a great way of getting the item you want and making peoples shopping trips easier by simply giving them a list.
Borrow From A Friend
One way to save money is to borrow a playmat from someone you know. There is nothing wrong with using a playmat that has already been used. If some of the toys are broken, they can be easily replaced. You can even put the toys you like.
Many people whether friends or family may have a playmat they no longer use or have a friend who has one they no longer need and so you may be able to get one that way.
Shop In The Sales
If you prefer to have a brand new mat then you might want to shop the sales and look for vouchers and coupons to get the mat you want for a reduced price. You can set up alerts for retails stores to your emails along with alerts on Amazon to notify you when the playmat you want is discounted or in a sale.
That way you can snap up the playmat you want without having to pay full price.
Are Baby Playmats Worth Buying?
Baby playmats are worth buying 100%. This is because the playmat itself has so many benefits to the baby’s development (as already described in the text). Your baby’s visual, cognitive, motor skills will develop faster with a playmat.
However, if you are occupied with the baby and you are already having many activities that encourage the baby’s development, then you might feel like the playmat is unnecessary. Make sure to think wisely and take all the benefits into consideration before making a final decision.
Even the basic playmat will do the work and keep the baby occupied and intrigued, and at the same time, encouraged to explore the world around itself.
You may find baby playmats unnecessary as they only last a short time (most of them anyway) and so you may decide to use a blanket or rug along with toys to stimulate your baby and create your own activity area instead. This is great if you aren’t looking to have another item in the house or