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Best Baby Play Mats

Updated August 2023
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Best of the Best
Infinno Inflatable Tummy Time Mat
Inflatable Tummy Time Mat
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Soft & Adorable
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A fun, inflatable mat that encourages play and builds motor, visual, and other sensory skills during tummy time.


Features a soft, inflatable structure that's perfect for tummy time. Colorful floating objects have a cute ocean theme that captures babies' attention. Sturdy material resists leakage and is free of BPA, lead, and phthalates. Quite affordable.


Although made without harsh chemicals, the play mat has a strong plastic odor that takes a while to fade.

Best Bang for the Buck
Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym
Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym
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Newborns, infants, and toddlers will go wild for this jungle-themed play gym.


Three different play options for lying on their back, tummy time, and sitting up. Take-and-play toys, dancing lights, and crinkly features keep baby entertained. Motion-activated or long-play music settings. Mat portion wipes clean or can be machine-washed.


Sometimes the toucan comes off a little too easily. Arches can make storage challenging.

Bright Starts Kaleidoscope Activity Gym
Bright Starts
Kaleidoscope Activity Gym
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Bright & Entertaining
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Animals, bright colors, and happy songs combine in an inexpensive mat that will entertain baby whether on the tummy, on the back, or sitting up.


This mat and detachable toys can be washed. The mirror can be adjusted so baby can use it while in any position. Babies also love the musical animals. Parents feel it's good quality, despite costing less than similar-style gyms. Several styles to choose from.


Won't fold up for transport or storage like some other mats. Battery can't be replaced once it's dead.

ProSource Kids Foam Puzzle Floor Play Mat
Kids Foam Puzzle Floor Play Mat
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Most Versatile
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A unique play mat that's ideal for babies but is also a fun choice for creative toddlers thanks to its removable puzzle pieces.


Stands out for the colorful puzzle design that comes in a choice of 16 or 36 interlocking tiles. Made of thick foam that provides nice cushioning for little ones. Water-resistant material wipes clean in seconds. Both sizes are available at affordable price points.


Some parents report their babies chewing on the puzzle pieces, which come apart quite easily.

Baby Care Reversible Play Mat
Baby Care
Reversible Play Mat
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2-in-1 Design
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This large mat by Baby Care is an excellent option for spacious nurseries or playrooms.


Features a large design that comes in 3 different sizes. Mat is reversible and has cute patterns on each side. Made of material that's waterproof and free of harsh chemicals such as lead, latex, BPA, EVA, and phthalates. Easy to clean.


Expensive. Noticeable chemical smell lingers for weeks or months.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best baby play mats

The reality of having a baby is that you can’t hold and entertain your child all the time. Setting your infant down on a safe, interactive baby play mat can be a real sanity-saver – plus, this frees up your hands to make dinner or send that important work email.

Babies need a lot of stimulation. Their little brains are developing and so are their motor skills. Play mats provide a range of sensory experiences from sight to sound to touch. Most play mats come with dangling toys, lights, or mirrors that your baby can grasp to practice hand-eye coordination.

Especially if you’re a first-time parent, choosing a baby play mat from the dizzying array of choices can be overwhelming. Our guide has all you need to know about baby play mats before you buy.

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Babies who are three to six months get the most enjoyment out of baby play mats, although they can be used by newborns and toddlers alike.

Types of baby play mats

Snap-together play mats

A basic play mat to cushion your child from hard flooring, a snap-together play mat has interlocking foam tiles that resemble large puzzle pieces. Each piece comes in a bright color or with fun image. These play mats are buildable, and you can cover quite a large surface area or just a corner of a room.

Activity gyms

Play mats are sometimes called play gyms or activity gyms. These mats have a hanging system on an arch or intersecting arches with suspended toys or other child-safe objects just in reach of tiny fingers. Plush or crinkly toys offer a variety of textures, and child-safe mirrors or light-up toys provide visual engagement. Babies can enjoy these features on their backs or sitting up.

Expert Tip
Never leave a baby unattended on a playmat.
BestReviews Baby and Child Expert

Musical play mats

Some play gyms also offer a musical component, like a large-keyed piano that a toddler can bang on either with feet or hands. These pianos will also play tunes, and you may find your little one squawking gleefully along. Musical play mats are great for teaching cause and effect and body awareness.

Tummy-time play mats

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends up to 20 minutes of supervised tummy time during awake, alert play time every day, and play mats are a great way to achieve this.

Most play mats have a brightly colored base with either patterns or images for visual engagement. Some are quilted or have sewn-in fabric animals to add texture and cushion. Placing your baby on her stomach will encourage her to build her head, neck, and trunk strength to prepare for crawling. Tummy-time play mats sometimes come with a special pillow for added support, which also relieves reflux-suffering babies.

Folding/travel play mats

Many play mats fold up for storage, but if you’re looking to travel with your baby’s play mat, either across town or across the world, look for one that comes with a sturdy travel bag.

Adaptable/transitioning play mats

Play mats with pop-up walls and fencing provide safety for your child as he transitions to crawling and toddlerhood. Other transitioning play mats may offer developmentally appropriate toys and features in an adaptable, three-in-one design.

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Expert Tip
Ensure that suspended toys are secure before placing your baby on the play mat.
BestReviews Baby and Child Expert

Key considerations


A baby can enjoy a play mat from birth through toddlerhood. There are certain features, however, that are more age-appropriate than others. If your baby is three to six months, a mat with tummy-time features is desirable until your baby can turn over on her own. At that point, a mat with a hanging system of toys will be more fun for her. Once she starts crawling, a mat with walls will keep your toddler contained in one fun-filled area.


Play mats have either fabric or foam bases. Look for foam that’s non-toxic – free from chemicals like BPA, PVC, and phthalates as well as latex and lead. Cloth play mats are commonly made from polyester and may also contain harmful chemicals. Organic cotton is the safest play mat material. Some mats are thinner than others, so if you’re placing the mat on a hardwood floor, select a fabric mat with cushion or padding.

Expert Tip
Only purchase washable playmats and spot clean or wash them regularly.
BestReviews Baby and Child Expert

Size and shape

Play mats are generally rectangular or oblong ovals. Play mats with activity gyms tend to be smaller, only two or three feet long with a slightly shorter width. The largest play mats are foam, and a snap-together play mat can be custom-sized for a desired area.


Not all play mats fold up, especially those with arches. If you want to take your baby’s play mat on the go (or want a mat that takes up less space in a closet), choose one that folds up flat. For traveling, choose a play mat that comes with a travel bag or carrying case.



Reversible play mats are generally fabric and have different patterns on each side to add variety.

Add-on toys

Add-on toys attach to an arch or intersecting arches over the play mat at different heights. These toys are either plastic or fabric, or a combo of both, and tend to be brightly colored. Fabric toys are often crinkly or squishy for when your child is old enough to sit up and touch them. Mirrors and light-up toys are popular attachments as well.

Easy cleanup

Machine-washable play mats make cleanup easy because you can pop them into the washing machine after a mess or spill. Waterproof play mats make it easy to wipe up spills and accidents.


Many baby play mats are themed. Ocean, zoo, and safari themes are just a few examples of a wide range of themed images and toys.

Expert Tip
Use playmats to encourage tummy time for five minutes at a time starting at birth.
BestReviews Baby and Child Expert


Play mats can cost as little as $14 and in excess of $100 depending on their features, level of interactiveness, brand name, and materials used.


For an entry-level activity play mat, expect to pay around $24. Foam tile mats start at $14 and go up to $40.


At this price point, you'll find activity play mats, including musical ones, which range from $40 to $60.


A state-of-the-art play mat made from quality materials or a transitioning three-in-one play mat can be purchased for between $60 and $100.


Play mats exceeding $100 tend to be from luxury, eco-friendly lines. These extra-large, rug-like mats typically don’t come with activity gyms or toys.


  • Never leave your child unattended on a baby play mat.
  • Select a non-slip baby play mat if you’ll be placing the mat on a hardwood or tile floor.
  • Be aware that a baby play mat with flame retardant contains chemicals that are harmful to little ones.
  • Bringing a baby play mat with you when you travel will ensure your baby has a clean, safe space to lie on.
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Baby play mats offer an array of visuals, sounds, and textures to keep your baby both entertained and developing.


Q. How is a play mat better than a bouncer or a swing to keep my baby occupied?

A. While bouncers and swings are great ways to keep your baby happy and keep your hands free to get some work done, they don’t offer the variety of stimuli that baby play mats do. Baby activity mats offer more toys and also more visual stimulation, both above and below, than a swing, which might come with a couple of toys, if any. Play mats tend to be more interactive, developing your child’s important motor and hand-eye coordination skills. Tummy-time mats also offer an important strengthening component that swings and bouncers don’t. Spending tummy time on a playmat relieves pressure on the baby’s head, helping to avoid bald spots or flat spots. 

Q. What’s the difference between a play mat, a play gym, and an activity mat?

A. Strictly speaking, a play mat is just the foam or cloth surface you lay on the ground. It is designed to be visually stimulating for a baby. A play gym is the mat plus an overarching system of dangling toys or toys attached to other parts of the mat. Play gyms will encourage babies or toddlers to work their developing muscles by reaching or kicking toys. An activity mat is a fabric mat with animals or flowers sewn into it that may squeak or crinkle or provide other sensory experiences other than sight.

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