Best Baby Play Mats

The Best Baby Play Mats for Tummy Time and Beyond Are Thoughtful, Fun, and Actually Quite Pretty

Getting to those first milestones is so much more enjoyable on these parent-approved mats.
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Getting your child the best baby play mat is an important early step in helping them explore the world. That's because having the right mat for playtime can ensure that they enjoy their tummy time, making it more enjoyable for you as well. Daily tummy time activities are important because they help babies develop their neck, shoulder, and back muscles while improving motor skills, according to Arunima Agarwal, M.D., a board-certified general pediatrician in New York City. "It's also important to prevent the head from getting flat (positional plagiocephaly)."

What to Look for in a Baby Play Mat

While Dr. Agarwal says you don't need anything special or fancy for tummy time, there are a few things parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for when shopping for play mats. 

"The surface should be flat and firm," she tells Parents, adding that your mat doesn't need to have any fancy decor on it. "Babies are naturally curious, and this position allows them to see and experience the world in a new way."

Best Baby Play Mats

How to Make Tummy Time More Enjoyable

If you're looking for ways to make sure your baby gets the most out of tummy time, Dr. Agarwal suggests positioning their playthings a bit out of reach. 

"You can place a toy a little further away from your baby, so they may try to reach for it," she says, adding that the most important thing you need to remember for a successful tummy-time experience is to make sure your baby is always supervised while they're using their play mat. 

This should come as a relief to new parents: Dr. Agarwal says there's no harm in taking a break when your baby doesn't seem that into play time at the moment. 

"If your baby is uncomfortable or crying a lot, then do it again later," she adds. 

Below are the best baby play mats to set you and your baby up for tummy-time success:

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Best Foam: Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym and Play Mat

This play mat/gym comes with a plush mat that is soft enough for even young babies to play on comfortably. The mat is outfitted with removable crossing wooden bars that dangle toys above your baby's head while they play on their back. The mat is reversible and machine washable, and once the wood bars are removed, it folds up easily for storage and travel. 

To buy: Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym & Play, $67.99 (originally $84.99); amazon.com.

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Best Extra-Large: Infantino Jumbo Baby Activity Gym and Ball Pit

If you're looking for a mat that will grow with your baby, you'll love this four-in-one activity set, which Parents magazine named Best for Baby in 2021. In addition to being a great mat for tummy time, this activity center transforms into a ball pit as your child gets older. It also has toys that babies can play with on their back, or detach them to play with in the stroller, too. 

To buy: Infantino Jumbo Baby Activity Gym and Ball Pit, $45.45 (originally $69.99); amazon.com.

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Best With Lights and Sounds: Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat

There's a reason why this Baby Einstein gym has been a favorite for years. This play mat comes with a canopy and overhead toys, soft music that is set to a timer, and a range of soothing flashing lights that will keep your baby's interest without over stimulating them. 

"My daughter's hand mobility/coordination improved massively with the hanging toys," wrote one mom. "At first she would just stare at them, but now she reaches for them and hits them. She smiles a lot while on this mat. I also like how you can move the toys around. I even put them on her car seat to keep her entertained in the car and while on shopping trips."

To buy: Baby Einstein Neptune Under the Sea Play Mat, $59.87 (originally $69.99); amazon.com.

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Coziest: Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Gym

A Parents Best Toys 2016 winner, the Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Gym is as dreamy as it is fun for babies. The muted color choices create a soothing environment, while the hanging celestial themed toys are perfect for piquing your baby's curiosity. The mat includes musical sheep, a light-up star, cloud squeakers, a bird rattle and a baby-safe sunshine mirror, which can be rearranged on the removable cross bars. 

To buy: Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby Play Gym, $68.99 (originally $85); amazon.com.

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Best Musical Activity Mat: Fisher-Price Kick 'n Play

The Fisher-Price Kick 'n Play is an editor pick and a best-seller year after year because it comes with four different configurations to keep babies entertained from the newborn stage into early toddlerhood. The real selling point is the playable piano, which young babies kick without even knowing what they're doing, and older babies can bang on sitting up, when it's flipped to a horizontal position. The set also includes a mirror, teether, and a noise making panda, lion, and monkey. 

To buy: Fisher-Price Kick 'n Play, $39.88 (originally $49.99); amazon.com.

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Best Play Mat With Tent: Lovevery the Play Gym

You'll get an entire year of play out of the Lovevery gym. The mat goes easily from tummy time to an activity gym and offers a range of tactile, visual, and teething supports. It was crafted by child development experts with a baby's developmental needs in mind. This mat comes with removable toys in a variety of textures and colors (including the black-and-white infants see best) that you can also hide under flaps to teach object constancy. We also love the cover that can turn the mat into a tent for extended playtime options. 

To buy: Lovevery the Play Gym, $140; lovevery.com.

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Best Tummy-Time Theme: Skip Hop Baby Gym Farmstand Grow & Play

With three different ways to play, this farmstand gym promises hours of entertainment. Use it for tummy time, overhead play, and seated as your baby gets more comfortable. The food-themed toys and decor will be perfect for your growing baby who probably already puts everything into their mouth. This mat comes with 17 different developmental activities and five different hanging toys. One of the cross pieces can also double as a growth chart!

To buy: Skip Hop Baby Gym Farmstand Grow & Play, $76.99 (originally $85); amazon.com.

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Best Disney: Bright Starts Disney Baby Finding Nemo

Send your baby on the adventure of a lifetime without ever leaving the comfort of home. This Finding Nemo-themed mat features Mr. Ray (who lights up and doubles as a canopy), as well as Nemo, Dory, and more favorite characters from the movie. Though they probably have no idea what a movie is, your baby will love the overhead play options and the soothing music. You'll love being able to get in on the fun with the Dory finger puppet that comes included with every purchase. 

"[This is] the first thing we have found that she really enjoys at 3 months old," one parent wrote. The lights mesmerize her, and she just giggles and hits the toys. … She has already rolled over multiple times from back to stomach reaching for the mirror. This thing gives me enough time to put her down and actually eat lunch as a new mom! … That is a miracle!" 

To buy: Bright Starts Disney Baby Finding Nemo, $74.99 (originally $84.99); amazon.com.

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Best Foldable: Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat

This foldable mat is a great option for those looking for something that packs up easily for travel or storage. The flat mat is well padded so that your baby will be comfortable while taking in all of the sights of the farm, but it's thin enough to fold away neatly when you're done. There's plenty of visual and tactile stimulation, like ribbons and a mirror, all sewn into the mat to keep your baby interested while they develop those back and neck muscles. 

To buy: Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat, $44.28; amazon.com.

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Best Nontoxic Floor Mat: Uanlauo Foldable Baby Play Mat

This simple, nontoxic mat doesn't have the bells and whistles of the activity gyms on this list. It's all about providing your baby a safe, soft place to learn how to play, roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk. The mat comes with playful designs that your baby will enjoy looking at during tummy time or while they play with other toys, and you'll have peace of mind knowing that the non-slip mat is 100-percent BPA free. 

To buy: Uanlauo Foldable Baby Play Mat, $69.99; amazon.com.

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Best Round Mat: Sassy Stages STEM Developmental Play Gym

This round play mat is divided into six different zones that have patterns meant to stimulate a baby's brain based on their development in the first six months of their life, with a list of milestones for each section. (Plus, those month markers make an adorable backdrop for Instagram pics!) There are also 11 different activities to work on growing your baby's muscles and brain.

To buy: Sassy Stages STEM Developmental Play Gym, $72.99 (originally $89.99); amazon.com.

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Best for Outdoor Play: XdeModa Baby Play Mat

You can take the baby's playtime outside with this play mat, allowing everyone to enjoy the fresh air. The waterproof, skidproof, and nontoxic mat is also 79 inches long, so it can provide a safe and comfortable place for your little one to play and eventually learn to crawl. And it's easy to wipe clean when you're done. 

To buy: XdeModa Baby Play Mat, $67.99 (originally $75.99); amazon.com.

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Best Stylish Play Mat: Sweet Jojo Designs Shabby Chic Mat

If you're worried about baby stuff erasing your sense of style, go with a mat like this. This soft blush mat offers a safe place for your baby to enjoy tummy time while blending into your home's decor. Great for use in both your nursery or your living room, this is one mat you won't want to pack away when you're done. Perfect for tummy time and sitting activities when your baby is older. 

To buy: Sweet Jojo Designs Shabby Chic Mat, $32.99; amazon.com.

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Best Mat-and-Seat Combo: Yookidoo Baby Play Gym

If you're looking for a play gym that can also entertain younger babies learning to sit, the Yookidoo may be your choice. This mat has three different options: tummy time, back play, and partial elevation for sitting. One word of caution: Some parents have reported that the mat was unable to support their babies in the seated position, so never leave a baby unattended in it. When the mat is not in use, it folds completely flat for easy storage. 

To buy: Yookidoo Baby Play Gym, $89.95; amazon.com.