Having a baby is a steep learning curve. Not only are you figuring out how to take care of them, you are navigating all the gear that comes with them. Example: playmats.
For those that are new to this parenting game, a playmat is, well, a mat that you lay on the floor for your little one to play on. It’s a space for your baby to learn to move their little body, and as they grow up, it provides cushioning from the tumbles that come with starting to crawl, stand up, and eventually walk.
There’s a playmat for every style, budget, and space out there. Here are seven we love that do more than simply look cute (because why skimp on function, we say).
The developmental playmat
Image source: Etta Loves Instagram
UK brand Etta Loves partnered with an eye movement expert to create this playmat that’s decorated with high contrast patterns (by artist Keith Haring) to support your little one’s visual and cognitive development during their first year of life. The patterns will apparently also encourage your baby to use their back, neck, and shoulder muscles, which is part of learning to roll and crawl. Impressive, no? We love that one side of the mat is black and white while the other is packed with color, so you can switch up looks.
The ‘throw in the washing machine’ playmat
Image source: Nook Sleep Instagram
No one has time for fiddly spot cleaning – especially after having a baby, when you’re dealing with any number of unidentified liquids and stains on the regular. So a playmat, like this one, that you can throw in the washing machine is a goddamn godsend. It’s also portable, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and made using BPA-free recycled water bottles (bonus). Plus its handy size (it’s 40” wide) means it fits in most nursery, playroom, or living room spaces too.
The playmat that transforms into any shape
Image source: House of Noa Instagram
While you might have grand visions of your little one playing quietly on their playmat, the (exciting) reality is that once they start to crawl and move around, they’ll want to explore their surroundings. This playmat is your solution: it’s made up of a series of non-toxic foam tiles that can be taken apart and fashioned into any shape or size mat, in any location. So you can run it down a hallway, put a few tiles in the kitchen, or set up a play area in your home office; whatever you need. And did we mention it looks like an expensive AF designer rug?
The ‘take anywhere’ playmat
Image source: Hugomat Instagram
Kids love to play – at home, at the park, at their grandparents’ house – so a playmat that you can take with you on the go might be useful. This one has a foam interior and machine-washable quilted cover, folds up in half for easy transport, and has carry handles. It even has a handy little pocket where you can stash a diaper or two.) It’s the ultimate convenience.
The activity gym playmat
Image source: Lovevery Instagram
Some playmats also come with an activity gym (which, for the newbies, is a structure that sits over the playmat with toys dangling from it). Lovevery partnered with child development experts to create this play gym, which is made from sustainably sourced wood, includes interchangeable toys for every stage to foster your little one’s brain development, and can even transform into a fort as your child grows. Wow.
The ultra-padded playmat
Image source: Design Skin USA Instagram
The tumbles that occur once your baby starts to crawl, stand up, and walk can be intense – and scary for mom and dad. An ultra-padded mat might take some of the stress out of this. Not only is Design Skin’s mat thick (like something you might find at a gymnastics studio) it’s foldable, so you can stack it like a bench, prop it up like a tunnel, and easily pack it away. Fun! Its customer reviews are glowing.
The water-resistant playmat
Image source: Gathre Instagram
Remember what we said about unidentified liquids? For the sake of convenience, you might want a mat, like this one, that’s water resistant. It’s made of bonded leather, so looks and feels premium, but it’s not going to soak up water (or baby vomit) and is easy to wipe down. You can use it as a play mat, yes, but because it’s super thin, you can pop it under your little one’s high chair to catch flying food, take it to the park, use it as a tablecloth, and so much more. It comes in a range of sizes and colors, and even a padded version, too.
We hope this inspires you, mama. Tell us what playmat you choose, or if you’ve got any other mats that you love!