As a new mom, you may feel like you never want to put your baby down. Then you have a 16-year-flash-forward vision to you carrying your baby girl to her first prom and — after a good cry about how quickly your baby is growing up — you realize it’ll be healthy for you and the baby to have some alone time for the baby’s development.
You can create a safe, clean place for the baby to play on the floor by adding a foam play mat. Putting them down is a good way for the baby to improve his or her hand-eye coordination and to give you five minutes hands-free to try and clean up the kitchen.
Then you start shopping for mats, and you shudder at the thought of how UGLY they are. You didn’t spend hours working on decor pre-pregnancy, only to not give a sh*t once the baby showed up.
Lucky for you (not so lucky for moms 5+ years ago), stylish foam play mats do exist. And the best thing is that most of them now roll up when you need to vacuum or have the girls coming over for wine night. Also, they are not so ugly that you can’t let them be used or seen. Your fellow mom friends will love the functionality of your play mat, while they too put the kids down for a quick breather.
This 6.5×4.5-foot mat is non-toxic, padded, and looks like the area rug you’d been wanting. It has a one-piece design, giving it an added advantage over foam floor puzzle mat options, where unidentifiable goo always seems to seep into the seams.
As you’re in the midst of shopping for the best foam play mat, you probably will feel a pang of guilt for putting your decor needs ahead of the toddler’s. This soft, quilted mat is a nice compromise, featuring map artwork that’s fun for the toddler and that’s not too ugly for display. It measures just shy of 4×4 feet.
We normally try to avoid foam tiles with a puzzle edge. Spills leak between the cracks, and the little monsters — who can’t figure out how to put away a toy — somehow can pull these mats apart in the 3 seconds your back is turned. But for those who need a baby play mat in a large size, this kit covers 25-plus square feet at dimensions of 6.5×6.5.
If you and your husband can’t agree on a modern play mat design, this 7x4ish-foot reversible model is the answer. Use the gray pattern when you want to match the decor, and use the colorful side with artwork of a road and buildings for when dad wants to play with the baby. (After all, when you were making your pros/cons list about having a baby, this is the guy that wrote “playing with the baby’s toys” as a pro … and you went ahead and procreated anyway.)
Want to feel like a super mom when you’re taking your baby to various events? Pull this portable 3-by-3-foot mat out of the diaper bag and you have an instant cuddly place to play. You’ll be able to see the look of instant jealousy form on every mom’s face in the near vicinity. (Just hope some other mom doesn’t have the 4-by-4-foot size in her diaper bag, or she’ll out do you and become super mom, and you’ll become the forgotten sidekick.)
Baby play mats with large sized options are great for giving the baby plenty of room to play, but it’s a pain in the ass to try to store a huge mat. (Not as big of a pain in the ass as your husband pretending to sleep through the 3 a.m. feeding for the fourth straight night, but it’s close.) This mat has a fold-up design that simplifies storage. Fully laid out, it measures almost 5×6 feet with 0.4 inches of thickness. But when folded up, it’s a fraction of the size. It’s also reversible with cute and subtle animal drawings on both sides.
You may like the idea of giving the baby stimulating toys attached to a play mat, but you hate that those mats always seem to have overwhelming purples, pinks, and whatever that color that is supposed to be orange actually is. (Let’s just hope that color isn’t last week’s jar of partially digested butternut squash baby food.) This mat, about 3×5 feet, has a mirror, a teether, and a crinkle toy, all with black and white colors that should fit in with any decor.
Even if you choose a stylish foam play mat, it doesn’t have to bore the kid to the point where he or she would rather take a nap … or watch Teletubbies. This 3-foot diameter fun playmat has arched arms over the top, allowing you to hang toys and keep them busy, at least for a few.
To remain stylish, baby play mats in large sizes need to look more like cool area rugs than kids mats. This 6.5×4.5-foot mat pulls off that trick, using subtle colors and a reversible design with different patterns. In fact, it looks so much like an area rug that you may keep it around even after your kids no longer require padded floors.
Puzzle, yes, but this design was so interesting that we had to place it on the list. It has edge pieces that attach vertically to the 2×2-foot tiles, providing a tiny fence to keep the baby’s toys from rolling away. We have to mention that if the crawling baby builds up steam, he or she may plow through that “fence” like Godzilla tears down power lines, so don’t rely on it to keep a mobile toddler in place.
If you just can’t bring yourself to put your decor’s needs ahead of giving your child a play mat with fun colors and artwork, this Winthome mat gives you the best of both worlds. Let your baby play on it and take in the stimulating colors and drawings. Then when play time is over, roll up the 4.9-foot diameter portable mat, and it becomes a tote bag with built-in shoulder straps. You even can store a few of the baby’s toys inside the rolled-up fabric. A play mat that cleans up after itself? Your living room decor will never look better.
Perhaps you constantly feel guilty about letting your toddler play and sleep on the floor at your house because you feel your cleaning skills are inadequate (thanks a lot, MIL). Don’t feel like you’re putting your baby at risk each time he or she naps or plays on the floor. Use this easy to clean mat that has an organic front and an incredibly comfortable design for nap time … for baby or mom. It measures almost 5×5 feet and is 1 inch thick for plenty of padding.
If your baby’s modern play mat looks like it’s been out in the rain after he or she plays on it for an hour, this 6.5×4.5-foot Little Bot waterproof mat is the answer. It won’t soak up whatever mystery liquid the baby places on it like cloth mats do. (Please, for the love of God, let that mystery dampness be drool or a spilled sippy cup of water.)
Still trying to find a stylish foam play mat that resembles a rug? We found a modern play mat that actually IS a rug. The V-mix crawling rug is offered in several solid colors and sizes ranging from 3×6 and up. It’s soft and cushioned. It’s also reversible for when the inevitable “accident” occurs 2 minutes before your friends show up with their kids for a play date. (Crisis #129 of the day solved successfully.) PS-great for yoga, this may not only be for the babes.
OK OK, we said you wouldn’t be embarrassed by the designs of any of these baby play mats. But for our last choice, we’re going to break our rule. This mat, which is available in two sizes 4×6 and up, has silly drawings and bright, almost overwhelming colors on both sides, but it is waterproof and non-slip, which is perfect when the toddlers are just learning to crawl and walk. (Maybe you have friends who don’t understand color schemes in decor, so they’ll think this mat fits in perfectly with your living room. Don’t laugh. It could happen.)
Looking for more cool baby gear? After all, babies always need more stuff. We’ve put together the best baby gear products to help you out.