7 Benefits of a Baby Play Mat (To Newborns, Crawling Babies & Toddlers)

Are you trying to justify the cost and benefits of baby play mat to your spouse or to yourself? 

Some can be quite expensive but they’re sturdy and are made of non-toxic, high-quality materials.

But again, some can be pricey. Especially those Instagrammable ones.

If you’re undecided and you keep thinking if you really need a playmat for your baby, then this article is for you.

I’m just going to be direct here. Yes, you need one. Consider it as a newborn essential, a necessity, rather than a want.

And if you’re looking for possible reasons or benefits of a baby playmat, keep scrolling.

Benefits of a Baby Play Mat To a Newborn or Older Baby

Provides a Safe Space

Especially if it has its own gate. Or if it’s a playpen that comes with a play mat. You’ll know your baby won’t get anywhere, especially if they’re already starting to crawl or cruise.

Playmats can also cushion your baby’s fall.

You won’t worry that much if they keep tripping and falling when they’re practicing how to sit up or stand independently. Plus your baby will feel safe enough to keep exploring and learning how to do those major gross motor skills.

Great for Traveling

Portable, foldable play mats can be great for vacations or visiting friends or relatives. They provide a safe, clean and cushiony space for your baby to stay in, play, nap, etc.

More Play Time Opportunities

Newborns can already do some tummy time right after coming from the hospital. 

They can also practice rolling over, crawling, sitting up and so much more, right on the playmat. 

Allows Freedom of Movement

It’s so much more convenient and spacious for a growing, active child to move around and explore their surroundings in a playmat, than in a crib.

Helps Develop Various Skills

It’s a wonderful way for babies to develop their visual, sensory and even cognitive skills if the playmat has some colorful illustrations, textures, and whatnot

Some baby gyms come with a playmat and that combination can provide so much in helping develop a child’s cognitive, fine and gross motor skills. 

A baby gym with its own playmat is so much worth it than just having a playmat but that’s another story.

Benefits of a Baby Play Mat To A Toddler

Provides a Safe Space

I still use our playmat for my, as of this publishing, 4-year-old daughter as she’s now in the “gymnastic phase.” 

I don’t know where she learned to do it, but she’s now tumbling, doing some cartwheels and other sporty moves where I’m scared she’ll break her neck or worse.

So thank god for playmats, where she can more or less, practice safely her gymnastic moves. 

Sets Play Area Boundaries

You can teach your toddler to play and put their toys only on the playmat. That way, you’ll avoid the all-too-familiar scene of toys scattered all around the house, which can give any parents a headache.

A playmat provides a visual cue for younger kids, gently reminding them of playing area boundaries and where their toys should stay in and stay out.

Highly Recommended Play Mats

I highly recommend these playmats not just because of how gorgeous they look, but also because of their non-toxic materials:

You can check out more details here if you want to know each of their pros and cons and if they’re worth getting.

FAQ: Benefits of a Baby Play Mat

Do babies need playmats?

Yes, babies need a playmat. It’s a safe space for them to do tummy time, practice rolling over and so much more.

At what age do babies play on playmats?

Newborns can already use or play on a playmat. They can already practice doing tummy time once they’re out of the hospital and have settled into your home.

Using it for newborns can also give your money’s worth, since this means, you can use it longer. As even older babies and toddlers can use a playmat!

What is the purpose of a play mat for babies?

It can have several purposes. It can be a safe space for your baby to practice and improve his developmental skills. It allows your child to have more freedom to move around and learn how to lift their head, roll, crawl, and other major gross motor skills.
 
It’s also convenient to bring along on travels and vacations, so your baby can have a safe and clean space to hang out in, take a nap, and whatnot.

Are PVC play mats safe?

No, PVC playmats are not safe. PVC is a harmful material and is toxic to babies. It can cause health and development problems.

Are foam play mats safe?

No, foam play mats are, unfortunately, not safe as well. 
They’re also usually made of PVC, which is a toxic material for children.

Helpful Tips on Choosing and Using Baby Play Mats

  • Consider your space

It’s probably best to get a portable, quilted rolling playmat if you have limited space. 

  • Get a foldable one

It’s easier to keep and store when needed. Portable, foldable playmats are also great to carry for traveling or on vacations with kids.

  • Choose a washable playmat

One that’s easy to clean or washable is ideal to have. Babies can spit, vomit, or worse, do poonamis, so it’s better to have a playmat that’s easy to care for and maintain.

  • Don’t get a puzzle playmat

They look cute but not so much when you’re cleaning them. 

Your kids can also learn how to take them apart and even put holes in them, avoid going through that hassle and just get a one-piece playmat.

  • Get a baby gym with a playmat

Baby play gyms have a lot of toys and accessories that can specifically target our baby’s development and help them reach their milestones.

  • Clean them regularly

They can last for years but only if you clean and maintain them properly. So take note of how to care for them. 

Your older kids and even future babies will still be able to use them if they’re in a good condition.

  • Pets can leave hair, imprints, etc.

If you don’t want your pets leaving their hair, imprints or scratching the playmat, then it’s best to put the playmat somewhere inaccessible to them.

Like the nursery room with a gate.

Or just get a playpen with a playmat.

If that’s not a priority or an option, then just learn to manage your expectations about having a pristinely clean playmat. You can also train your fur babies not to chew or scratch them.

Benefits of a Baby Play Mat: Final Thoughts 

If you have a tight budget and you can’t choose which one to get for your baby – baby swing, rocker, bouncer, baby play mat, etc. – I would highly recommend to just get a baby playmat.

Babies need an appropriate and safe space to explore and practice their gross motor skills, instead of staying in a baby swing or rocker.

Sure, these other activities & entertainment gadgets can help you distract and entertain your baby. Especially if you need to do chores, work, or cook.

But in my opinion, you can make do without them, if you have a playmat and some baby toys.

If you want a baby gym instead (as most come with a playmat), check out my list here of non-toxic baby play gyms..

You can also get a playpen instead, as most have a playmat plus an enclosure to keep a crawling baby or walking toddler safe.