From the experts at Studio Belize® - Design studio for children's products:
Babies love movement. It is important for their development and a natural need. Turning the little baby body, grabbing surrounding toys, Tummy time and starting the first crawling attempts. In order for babies to be comfortable while lying down and not hurt themselves while moving and crawling, a soft pad is recommended. The play mat, also called a crawling mat, is usually one of the first children's products that young parents purchase.
"The play mat should be skin-friendly, safe & appealing".
The play mat can be placed virtually anywhere, makes hard floors comfortable, protects the baby from cold ground or parquet, serves as fall protection when climbing and most importantly, provides both the baby and the parents with plenty of space to play and cuddle. They come in all sizes and made of different materials. Some parents prefer decorative play mats, others plain mats. The materials of the play mats can also be natural or artificial and differ in their compatibility for the baby's skin.
Before buying a crawling, children's, baby or play mat, it makes sense to be aware of the most important purchase criteria and product features.
Pikler triangle with slide
- Play mats for children: what size?
- What properties should have children's mats?
- What material should a play mat be made of?
- Which play mat design should I choose?
- Extendable playmats for children
- FAQ for crawling mats
What to look for when buying a play mat or crawling mat?
1. Play mats for children: what size?
The size of the children's mat should depend on the desired use as well as the desired period of use. Small baby blankets are usually only of a fairly short period of use. They serve as a comfortable base for babies as long as babies are not mobile.
When babies start to crawl, a larger play mat makes sense. If the crawling mat is to be used for a longer period of time, a mat should be chosen that can also be used for playing outside or for a picnic on the beach during vacation. Here, larger play mats or even expandable or growing children's mats in an elegant design are helpful. If it is already clear where at home the play mat will lie most of the time, it makes sense to measure the area of the children's room or even the play area in the living room and to know the size requirement for the play mat.
2. What features should have children's mats?
The function of the play or crawling mat, as well as its weight, depends on its thickness and material.
Play mats should have the following properties:
- Free of harmful substances
- Washable / wipeable
- Insulating (protection from cold ground)
- Comfortable for baby & parents
- Long service life
- Attractive design
- Expandable in size
- Foldable / rollable
- Easy to transport
- Fulfillment of conformities
- Provide fall protection
- Underside with anti-slip function
3. What material should play mats be made of?
The simple and cheaper crawling mats made of artificial foam and without a cover, are usually available in a thickness of 1 cm. Here, the baby's skin comes into direct contact with the chemically produced foam mat.
The higher quality play mats usually have a denser core and mat covers made of vegan artificial leather or natural materials (e.g. organic cotton). PU leather is particularly durable, easy to wipe clean and also has an anti-slip function.
The mats made of foam or the core of mats with covers are mostly made of PE foam, plastics such as PP (polypropylene), EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene copolymer).
If crawling mats without covers are used, where the child's skin comes into direct contact with the artificial foam or plastic, parents should make absolutely sure that the play mats do not contain plasticizers or other harmful substances.
Even if these mat foams are OEKO TEX certified, there is a risk that toddlers will bite off pieces of the mat if parents are ever not looking and swallow them. This cannot happen with sustainable play mat mats with compatible covers.
The better choice are certainly children's mats with covers made of compatible materials such as GOTS certified organic cotton or even OEKO TEX certified materials. The skin-friendly covers protect the babies and toddlers from harmful substances and allergens from the plastics. The covers also prevent children from biting off and swallowing pieces of the mat.
Play mats for children that contain PVC, lacquers or plasticizers can be hazardous to health and should be avoided at all costs.
4. Which play mat design should I choose?
Here, tastes are different. Basically, it certainly makes sense for parents to ask themselves if they value natural materials, skin compatibility and the sustainability aspect. Then children's mats with appealing covers are recommended. These come in many different designs and patterns. They ind usually more stylish and contribute to a more pleasant atmosphere in the home than the artificial foam mats without covers.
If the parents do not attach so much importance to the sustainability aspect, the foam mats without cover are also possible, they are usually available in quite colorful and playful patterns.
5. Expandable play mats for children
There are children's m ats and crawling mats with different structure available on the market. Thus, there are rollable or foldable play mats or even the interlocking puzzle mats.
The construction of the play mat should be reasonable and practical. If the children's mat should not lie in one place all day, it should be quickly movable or dismountable.
6. FAQ for play mats:
What is a play mat?
A play mat protects babies & toddlers from injuries while playing and crawling, as well as from cold and uncomfortable surfaces. They are foldable, rollable or can be put together. Additionally, play mats serve as fall protection.
What to look for when buying a play mat?
Since babies and toddlers like to put things in their mouths and suck off objects, parents should make sure that children do not come into contact with harmful substances or bite off and swallow parts of the mat or mat foam.
Which play mat is the best?
The best play mat pleases you, is made of vegan faux leather or natural materials, provides protection and comfort for you and your child without being a danger to your child.