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12 best play mats for babies to enjoy safe and happy tummy time

Rebecca Moore
·11-min read
<p>Although safe to use from birth, babies from three to six months old love play mats the most</p> (The Independent)

Although safe to use from birth, babies from three to six months old love play mats the most

(The Independent)

As any parent knows, one of the first things you do when you find out you’re expecting is prepare to baby proof the house. Be that gates on the stairs, or mats on the floor, every surface needs to be soft and safe for your little one.

Years ago that might have meant garish and mis-matched products, that didn’t necessarily match up with the decor of your house. But now we’re seeing a wave of far cooler baby brands come on the market that are as practical and safe as they are pleasing to the eye.

Read more: 9 best high chairs for babies and toddlers to keep mealtime mess to a minimum

We’ve become particularly intrigued by the range of play mats that are now on offer. Some are designed purely with newborns in mind, ideally to keep them safe before they start exploring too much. But others are made with longevity in mind – ideal for parents with both babies and toddlers.

From the mats we tested, all had devilish good looks and we think you’d be proud to show them off. We also wanted them to be comfortable underfoot, of a good size and ideally with the option to add on to as our baby grows and begins to explore.

Bonus points were given to mats that were purse friendly, could be easily wiped clean and could cover wooden and tiled floors as quickly as it could carpets.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Totter & Tumble the captain playmat

Arriving much like a rug or a roll of carpet, we were excited to unroll our play mat from Totter & Tumble. With the help of our four-year old-tester, we unravelled it and her first instinct was to lie down on it... a sure sign of how inviting it is. Soon enough we joined her, equally relishing in the comfort of this play mat. Made from 1.3cm thick memory foam, little ones are well cushioned and it gently moulds to you, which makes it great for yoga or exercise too.

But beyond practicality, we were swooning over the attractiveness of this one. We reviewed the captain play mat, which features diamond-like patterns on a soft, terracotta earthy background, which has been inspired by traditional North African kilim rugs and we love the softened rounded corners. Flip it over and there’s a trendy leopard print on a storm grey background – both effortlessly stylish, we still can’t decide which pattern we prefer.

The play mat feels incredibly tactile, making a soft, stylish space for babies, children and adults. The “compact” version will cover 185 x 125cm or upgrade to the “standard” which is a whopping 210x140cm. Of course, unlike the tile options, this isn’t portable, but trust us, it looks so good you won’t want to hide it away.

Buy now £140.00,

Stoy mixed solids foam puzzle play mat

Connect the nine pastel foam squares to create a delightful play space. The Scandinavian brand Stoy is big on play and by joining these together you have just shy of a metre by metre of coverage. Making a great place for a teddy bears picnic or tummy time, there’s also the option to add further pieces too to cover more space which we’d recommend for bigger kids. At £37 we were impressed by the thickness of the plastic foam tiles, which are soft and do the job for making a safe spot for babies.

Buy now £37.00,

Gus & Beau triangle playmat set, grey

Of all the tile style play mats we tested Gus & Beau’s was the thickest, meaning it felt like a dream underfoot. The EVA foam tiles are 1.4cm thick, and they feel durable enough for typical toddler induced wear and tear but also soft enough for all-day play. Easy to attach, you’ll also get edge pieces to finish the look, and we were impressed with how seamless these were – you’d think it’s just one piece.

There are seven patterns to choose from, we opted for the triangle play mat set in grey, but each one presents clean lines and minimalist colours which are the perfect fit for modern homes.

For £70 you’ll get six tiles (and edge pieces) which covers 120cmx180cm, and while we’re sure you won’t want to put these away you do also get a handy storage bag for travel. You can also purchase single or packs of additional tiles at a later date if you need a larger mat. We found six tiles the perfect size for a baby but you may want to upsize for bigger kids.

Buy now £70.00,

Skip Hop playspots foam floor tiles, 20 pack

We enrolled our four-year-old tester to help with the construction of the floor tiles, and there are certainly more pieces than she can count. There’s a whopping 40 triangles and 32 edge pieces packed away in the handy storage bag, and once laid out it covers 178cmx142cm which makes an extra large playing space.

This took the longest of all the products to put together because the pieces are in triangles rather than squares; having said that the triangle design really opens up the options in terms of patterns, as there are six different ways to lay these out. You can’t go wrong with the combination of grey and white triangles but we have to say our favourite pattern is the zig-zag. Once you’ve decided on your pattern, place the edge pieces around the sides to give a polished look.

Well-cushioned, the playspot does exactly what it says on the tin – well, bag – a safe place for babies to lounge, chill and play but is also large enough for older children to benefit from too.

Buy now £80.00, Amazon

Munchkin & Bear large speckled play mat

Once you get your feet on the 1.5cm thick foam core padding of this play mat, you won’t want to take them off. Arriving packed up like a carpet, we unrolled to find a super stylish play mat boasting warm, earthy caramel shades that will make the perfect addition to your home, whichever room it ends up in. Covering 200x140cm, this mat means business, and is ready for some serious playing (or relaxing, enjoying tummy time, or making a fabulous background for that lovely baby milestone pic).

Out of all the play mats we tested, we found this the comfiest underfoot thanks to its plush padding, and our four-year-old tester even commented on how “squishy” it felt. The speckled design continues on the reverse too, with a soft sandy cream finish – although we love the desert sand shade too much to flip it.

Buy now £129.95,

Tiny Love magical tales super mat

Parents might not thank us for this one, but babies will. Measuring in at 150x100cm, this monochrome style mat offers plenty of space for babies. It also boasts extracurricular activities for little ones to engage with, like the built-in, peek-a-boo game, an easy-grip star teether and tummy time mirror. It’s much like a comfortable duvet, offering plenty of padding and it’s portable too. The foldable mat is easy to fold and carry, using the incorporated carry handle, meaning it’s a doddle to put down and remove when baby’s tucked up in bed.

Buy now £37.98, Mamas & Papas

Toddlekind prettier playmats

There’s a play mat to suit every home with Toddlekind’s large range. First choose your series; Earth, Nordic or Persian, all offering a different pattern, then opt for your colour choice. We were impressed with this expansive selection.

We decided to test out an Earth playmat in “dove” (there are punchier colours available). The stylish stone-like effect looks great against wooden floor, but you can also create different shapes by rotating the clever spotted design. A standard size covers 120x180cm using six square tiles and edge pieces to complete the look, but the options are endless as you can easily scale up your play mat with large, extra large and playroom sizes available.

Buy now £179.99,

The Singing Ant spring green midi playmat

The Singing Ant’s artisan-inspired play mats are sure to bring spring delight into your homes. We tested the green colourway and the pattern is so pretty, confirmed by our four-year-old helper who said “it’s beautiful!”

We opted for the “midi” size which consists of four corner tiles and two edge tiles, which covers 170x114cm of floor space. We love the stylish rounded corners, which eliminates the need for additional fiddly edge pieces which are placed around the sides. It feels nicely padded underfoot, ready to face bumps and falls, but equally makes a great garden for our tester’s doll’s house.

This collection feels like it’s been designed with adult homes in mind, resembling a stylish rug you would purchase before children were in the mix. There are four Scandi-inspired unisex colour options, all with delicate floral illustrations which look so lovely on a wooden floor.

Buy now £85.00,

Little Green Sheep baby playmat

This circular quilted play mat from Little Green Sheep is the perfect size for those early months. Made from super soft 100 per cent cotton, at 120cm diameter it makes a soft surface for babies to chill and kick their legs out. There’s a non-slip backing to ensure it stays put, and you also get a cotton travel bag, which is handy for taking it outside or to the park.

While it will only be used for the first few months when your baby is happy lying on their back or during tummy time, it is the perfect size to place in a teepee once the baby days are over. It’s also machine washable for when those inevitable messy baby moments!

Buy now £49.95, The Little Green Sheep

Etta Loves animal print playmat

The soft organic cotton outer, with a comfy polyester padded fill makes this an undeniable cosy spot for your baby. But this play mat is actually far more scientific than that. Designed alongside a consultant orthoptist, it specifically supports babies’ visual and cognitive development throughout their first year.

The dalmatian pattern encourages babies to use their back, neck and shoulder muscles which is good preparation for the world of rolling and crawling, as they try to make more sense of the print before them. When they’ve reached the grand age of five months, their colour detecting abilities will be stronger, so you can flip the play mat over and watch them enjoy the funky leopard print, but beware your baby might not sit still for long. Not only do the play mats look great in your home and on the Insta grid, they’re wonderfully padded and can be popped in the washing machine.

Buy now £75.00, Etta Loves

Quut playmat

Part playmat, part puzzle but wholly fun, this newly released offering from Quut certainly got our four-year-old tester’s attention. There are four possible set ups for the play mat, and two of which can be placed up against the wall making that a soft finish too. Our tester enjoyed placing the shapes together and the result is a very sweet play mat in a lovely cloud shape.

Available in both dusty blue and pearl grey, there are ten pieces in total and the small cloud covers 145x90cm. Made from a soft but durable EVA foam, we turned our cloud into a wonderful reading corner, and it got two thumbs up from our tester.

Buy now £79.00, Yesbébé

Lolly & Kin medium mat

Less of a mat and more of a floor covering, this will transform your floor in seconds. Circular and double-sided, simply unroll the vegan leather mat to cover 137cmx137cm, plenty of space to sit with your baby or for a couple of toddlers to play on. It’s also a wonderful way to save your floor from a mess invasion if you place it underneath a high chair.

Made from three layers; the top and bottom are a non-toxic vegan leather and the middle is a thin foam layer, and while it’s the thinnest of those we tested, it is squishy enough to make a comfortable spot, yet thin enough to fold up. You can’t beat this mat on portability, and to make things easier we recommend purchasing the mat carrier for £12.

Buy now £85.00,

The verdict: Play mats

Needless to say babies and children, and adults alike will fall in love with Totter & Tumble’s the captain playmat , it’s something so stylish that any home would be lucky to have it. If you’d rather a tile option Gus & Beau’s clever triangle playmat set in grey comes highly praised.

We’ve also rounded up the 8 best toy rocking horses that will bring a nostalgic addition to your nursery