A BABY play mat is an all-in-one baby toy that gives baby a place to lie down and offers entertainment for little ones.
As newborn babies grow, they tend to need a bit more stimulation in between their naps and feeds and a baby activity mat does it all for them. We’ve chosen the best of the bunch using our own knowledge and expertise, as well as including the play mats which were ranked highest by satisfied parents.
A baby play mat will give you some hands-free time to make a cup of coffee or sort through the washing.
The essential parenting kit is also your baby’s first educational toy: it can help develop their motor skills, their vision, their coordination and grasping ability.
- Here are the best baby swings to buy now, if you're looking for extra entertainment.
A play mat can also teach them about cause and effect: if you push something hanging on the baby play mat, it will move.
It can also help baby with their neck-strengthening tummy time exercises.
There are a myriad of different baby play mats out there, depending on your budget, your aesthetics and how many activities you want to pack into one toy.
Some baby play mats are stylish and colourful, perfect for providing baby with a soft space on a hardwood floor, while others are all-singing, all illuminated, toys.
It’s worth keeping in mind that many play mats are designed to grow with baby, transitioning from newborn mat to older baby toy and beyond.
Here are the best baby play mats to give your little one some excitement – and you some much-needed hands-free time.
1. Best musical baby plat mat
- Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano gym, £38.99 at Amazon – buy here
This baby play mat has toys dangling overhead as well as a musical piano that babies can kick and tap away at.
Suitable from birth, it works for babies lying on their backs or tummies, or sitting up. The piano is removable for on-the-go baby entertainment.
2. Best play mat for padding
- Jaycee Baby padded play mat, £85 at Jaycee Baby – buy here
This 5cm thick, padded play mat is perfect for the rough-and-tumble babe, with two patterned sides (one with texture and crinkly bits designed for babies, the other a racetrack map for slightly older children to play on).
It’s wipe clean and machine washable and rolls up for easy storage and portability.
3. Best for newborns
- Taf Toys Musical Newborn Cosy Gym, £69.99 at JoJo Maman Bébé – buy here
This Taf Toys musical play mat has padded drawstring edges for newborns and then converts to a baby gym, with movable arches and four multi-sensory toys – including a light-up musical one – to stimulate baby’s development.
One potential downside? Your pet pooch may try to have a go thinking it’s a vastly superior dog bed.
4. Best for colours
- Baby Einstein Bold New World play mat, £39.99 at Amazon– buy here
While the Baby Einstein Nautical play mat is another bestseller, we like the Bold New World play mat, which takes into consideration a newborn’s developing vision with the crisp black and white graphics and cool panda pattern.
Includes a support pillow for tummy time training, an adjustable canopy to grow with baby and over 20 minutes of musical tunes for entertainment.
5. Best for baby-to-toddler
- Infantino Grow with Me Playtime Gym Teepee, £54.86 at Amazon – buy here
Every child, boy or girl, loves a den. Which is why Infantino’s teepee play mat is such a worthwhile investment.
For babies, it entertains with a hanging toy mobile, while older children will use it as a hideout for their toys and friends.
6. Best value baby play mat
- Lamaze Spin & Explore Garden baby gym play mat, £35.00 at Argos – buy here
You don’t need a mat with music and lights to entertain baby; this colourful, animal and garden-themed flower mat from Lamaze does the trick with rattles, crinkles and squeaking sounds, different textures and bright, stimulating colours.
Babies can even spin around on the central ladybird. Whee!
7. Best all rounder
- TinyLove Into the Forest Gymini Deluxe, £44.95 at Amazon – buy here
Ticks every box in a baby activity play mat, from the colourful sounds-and-lights bird to the sweet animal motif to the removable and adjustable arches that grow with baby.
One of the dangling toys is a teether – which should helpfully occupy your little one from about six to 18 months.
8. Best multi-tasker
- Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Mat, £80 at Amazon – buy here
Sure, this Bright Smarts baby play mat gets great reviews from parents.
But all you need to know is this: it converts to a ball pit as babies get older. Enough said; you’ve just won parent of the year.
9. Best for stimulation
- Skip Hop Vibrant Village Smart Lights Activity Gym, £90 at Amazon – buy here
Colours and lights and sounds, oh my! Skip Hop’s baby play mat is great to look at with cool graphics and light-up arches.
Features cute hanging toys and – our favourite bit – a sausage dog pillow to help those tummy time play sessions.
How do you clean a play mat?
It's important that you clean your baby's play mat regularly.
Each product will have its own care instructions which you should follow, but generally, its recommended to use an anti-bacterial wipe or spray to banish bacteria.
What age do babies play on play mats?
Your baby will usually be able to start using a play mat from six weeks to two months.
Each product may differ though, so be sure to read the instructions.
We’re all about helping you find the best products at the best prices, so follow the link if you want to check out more of Sun Selects’ recommendations.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best baby play mats? Check out Sun Selects' dedicated parenting section to get the best items at the best prices.
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