Baby on foam play mats

When it comes to child development, play is essential. Through play, children learn about their world and how to interact with others. Play helps them develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

One type of play that is especially important for children’s development is floor play. Floor play is any type of play that takes place on the floor, such as crawling, rolling, sitting up, and eventually walking. It gives children the opportunity to move their bodies in new ways and explore their surroundings.

One great way to provide your child with opportunities for floor play is to use a play mat. Play mats are designed to provide a safe, cushioned surface for your child to play on. They can help improve your child’s physical skills by helping them develop strength, coordination, and balance.


In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of play mats for child development. We’ll also provide a few tips on how to choose the right play mat for your child.

What is a Play Mat?

A play mat is a type of activity mat that is designed to provide a safe, padded surface for babies and young children to play on. Foam mats are a popular type of play mat, as they are soft and lightweight, making them easy to move around and store.

Baby play mats are a great way to create a safe, designated space for your child to explore and play. They can also create a focus area away from areas you don't want them to access.   

When choosing a play mat, it's important to consider the size, thickness, and materials to ensure that it is age-appropriate and safe for your child. 

Why Use a Play Mat?

All parents want what is best for their children, and that includes finding the safest possible products for them to use. A playmat is one such product that can help create a safe environment for your child to play in. 

Here are some of the benefits of using a playmat:

  1. Protection from the floor - Playmats provide a soft, cushioned surface for your child to play on, which can help protect them from the hard floor. This is especially important if you have hardwood floors or tile, as these can be quite uncomfortable for little ones to crawl or play on.  If they fall or slip, a soft play mat will protect their head, knees and hands from injury.

  2. Safe place to play - Playmats can create a designated safe area for your child to play in. This can help you relax, knowing that your child is in a safe place where they are less likely to get hurt.

  3. Stimulation and development - Many playmats come with built-in toys and features that can help stimulate your child's development. These can include things like lights, music, and different textures. These features can help your child to develop their senses and motor skills.

  4. Fun - Playmats can be a lot of fun for children. They provide a bright and colourful place to play and can help your child explore their imagination.

  5. Easy to clean - Playmats are usually made from materials that are easy to clean, which is important for keeping your child healthy. If your playmat gets dirty, you can simply wipe it down with a damp cloth or cloth.

Playmats are a great way to create a safe and fun environment for your child to play in. They offer many benefits that can help with your child's development and stimulation. If you are looking for a safe and fun product for your child, a playmat is a great option.

Different Types of Play Mats Available

Play mats are a great way to keep your little one entertained while giving them a safe place to explore. But with so many different types of play mats available, it can be tricky to know which one is right for you and your baby. Here's a quick overview of the different types of play mats available so you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

1. Activity Play Mats

Activity play mats are designed to encourage your baby to explore their senses and start to develop their motor skills. They usually have built-in toys and features, such as mirrors, crinkly fabric, and rattles, that stimulate your baby's senses and help them learn about cause and effect. They're also great for tummy time, as they provide a comfortable surface for your baby to lie on while they strengthen their neck and upper body muscles.

2. Soft Foam Play Mats

Soft foam play mats are popular for many parents as they offer a soft, cushioned surface for your baby to play on. They're usually made from EVA foam, which is non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals, making them a safe option for young babies. They're also lightweight and easy to transport, making them ideal for taking with you when you’re travelling or want to play outside and enjoy some nice weather.


3. Interlocking Puzzle Play Mats 

Interlocking Puzzle play mats are another type of foam mat that comes in large puzzle pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. This means that they are really simple to install and disassemble. With bright colours available, they can also be more visually stimulating for your child.  This type are usually thicker than standard foam mats starting at 20mm to 40mm.


5. Inflatable Play Mats 

Inflatable play mats are soft, padded surfaces that can be inflated and deflated as needed. They're usually made from PVC or similar material and can be filled with air using a pump. Inflatable play mats are great for taking with you when you're traveling as they're easy to transport and don't take up much space. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

6. Carpet Play Mats

As the name suggest, these play mats are made of carpet and come in circles, ovals, squares and rectangles.  They tend to be patterned and colourful and look fantastic.  Not as simple to maintain as alternative mats, carpet play mats may be more susceptible to stains and dirt. 

The Benefits Of Using a Play Mat

Play mats are more than just a place for your baby to play; they are an important tool in your child's development. A play mat helps your child learn about cause and effect, develops their fine and gross motor skills, and encourages them to explore their surroundings. In short, play mats are an essential part of your child's development. Here's a closer look at why play mats are so important for child development.

Play Mats Help Children Learn About Cause and Effect

One of the benefits of play mats is that they help children learn about cause and effect. When a child presses a button on a toy, for example, and the toy makes a noise, the child begins to understand that their actions can result in specific outcomes. This is an important concept for children to learn as they begin to explore their world.

The Development of Motor Skills

In addition to learning about cause and effect, play mats also help develop your child's fine and gross motor skills. They are strengthening their arms, legs, and back muscles as they reach for toys, crawl and roll around on the mat. This physical activity is essential for developing strong muscles and bones. 

Furthermore, as your child develops these motor skills, they will also be developing their coordination and balance. All of these skills are important for everyday activities such as sitting up, standing, walking, and running.

Provide a Safe Place to Play

In addition to helping children develop Gross Motor Skills, play mats also provide a safe place for children to play. When children are playing on the floor, it’s important that they have a safe place to land in case they fall. Play mats can provide this soft surface for children to play on without worry. 


Encourage Social Interaction

Playmats can also encourage social interaction. When children play on a play mat together, they can interact with each other and share toys. This social interaction is important for child development as it helps children learn how to communicate and share with others.

Exploring Their Surroundings

Finally, play mats provide a safe place for your child to explore their surroundings. With bright colours, interesting textures, and fun toys, play mats capture your child's attention and encourage them to explore. As they explore their surroundings, they will be developing their cognitive skills such as memory, problem-solving, and critical thinking. These skills are essential for later success in school and life. 

Choosing the Right Play Mat for Your Child

Now that you know the benefits of using a play mat, you may be wondering how to choose the right one for your child. There are a few things you should keep in mind when making your decision. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Size of the Mat - The first thing you'll want to consider is the size of the mat. You'll want to make sure the mat is large enough for your child to move around on, but not so large that it takes up too much space in your home. If you have a small home, you may want to opt for a smaller mat.

  • Material - The material of the mat is also important to consider. You'll want to make sure the mat is made from safe, non-toxic materials. Furthermore, you'll want to make sure the mat is durable and easy to clean. If you're looking for a mat that will last for years, you may want to opt for a mat made from high-quality materials.

  • Design & Installation - Interlocking foam mats come in a variety of designs. Some mats are simple and plain, while others are brightly coloured and patterned. You'll want to choose a design that you think your child will enjoy. If you're not sure which design to choose, you can always ask your child's opinion. Another factor to consider is how simple your preferred mats are.  Do they fit together or are they loose?  Are you looking for a permanent floor option or something you can take apart at the end of the day?

  • Price - Finally, you'll want to consider the price of the mat. You'll want to make sure you choose a mat that fits within your budget. However, you don't want to sacrifice quality for price. You may have to pay a bit more if you're looking for a high-quality mat.

These are just a few factors to consider when choosing the right play mat for your child. With so many options on the market, you're sure to find a mat that's perfect for your child.

Tips for Maintaining Your Play Mats

Once you've found the perfect play mat for your child, you'll want to make sure you take care of it. Here are a few tips for maintaining your play mat:

  • Clean the mat regularly - You'll want to make sure you clean the mat regularly. This will help keep it free from dirt and bacteria. You can use mild soap and water to clean the mat.

  • Inspect the mat regularly - You should inspect the mat regularly for signs of wear and tear. You'll want to replace the mat if you notice any ripped seams or damaged foam.

By following these tips, you can help maintain your play mat and keep it in good condition for years to come.

Final Thoughts

Play mats are an essential part of your child's development. They help your child learn about cause and effect, develop their fine and gross motor skills, and encourage them to explore their surroundings. With so many benefits, it's no wonder that play mats are a staple in many homes with young children. 

You may also be interested in reading:

Rubber Matting: An Essential for Safe Play

How to Create a Safe & Engaging Play Space

January 30, 2023 — Michael Geraghty