We all know those primary-colored, puzzle-shaped floor mats that you see in daycares and schools. While these may make sense in those locations, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to decorate my own home with one. Baby toys and gadgets have already taken over our house enough! However, when my increasingly active baby kept bopping her head on the floor, I was beginning to think I might have to cave in. But after shopping around some, I realized I wouldn’t have to sacrifice what was left of my adult home decor; baby companies have seriously stepped up their game and now there’s a ton of options for adorable play mats that will protect your baby’s head and compliment your home’s interior design.
We’ve assembled our top choices for cute play mats to help you in your search. These are just mats though. If you are looking for an activity mat, go here for our top picks. What’s the difference? These play mats are simply a padded floor covering, while an activity mat is more of an activity center – it still has the padded mat, but the focus is more on the toys and activities that hang overhead than on the mat itself. These mats can be used for all ages – they can serve as a comfortable place for adults, padding for stationary newborns, cushioning for clumsy crawlers and walkers, or as a functional play space for toddlers and up.
What to Look For in Play Mats
When searching for playmats (or any baby products in general), it’s important to take into consideration the safety features first and foremost. Safety is always #1, no matter how cute or functional the product may be. While playmats don’t typically come with any choking hazards, they might have other safety features (or lack thereof) that need to be taken into consideration, such as the composition of the materials used.
- Hypoallergenic. All mats should be free of any potentially harmful materials such as BPA, EVA, phthalates, plasticizers, lead, latex, and formaldehyde (among a list of hundreds of other potentially harmful chemicals…).
- Waterproof/water resistant. Everyone knows that the second a baby on a fabric they can’t spill on, they will automatically spill whatever they’re holding. It’s one of the known laws of the universe. Any mat should be some type of water resistant or waterproof so that spills are no big deal and are easy to clean up.
- Cushioned. The whole point of getting a baby mat (versus just using the floor) is to provide extra padding to protect your baby as they crawl, tumble, and topple over. Whatever mat you get, it needs to provide an adequate amount of padding so it can protect your baby.
- Size. Envision the space you’re planning on filling with your mat. Mats vary greatly in size and shape, so you need to take into consideration the size of the space.
- Non-Slip. Both the top of the mat and bottom should be non-slip – meaning that the entire mat itself shouldn’t move and the play surface shouldn’t be slippery so your baby’s feet will have better grip.
Quick Picks: Best Play Mat
Play Mats: Puzzle Pieces vs One Piece Design
There are two main design types you will encounter when shopping for play mats: puzzle piece and one piece. Both designs have their pros and cons, so ultimately it’s up to you to decide what is best for your situation.
Puzzle piece mats play off the classic primary colored foam mats that we mentioned earlier. Same idea, but different designs that look better in a house setting. Most of these even come with edge pieces so you can give your mat some clean edges instead of the jagged puzzle edges. The nice thing about these is that they are adjustable to the room size – simply order more for a larger space. Plus, you can customize the design on the rug by changing up the layout of the pieces. The downside is that they require assembly, and there are more crevices to clean because of the ridges between the pieces.
One piece mats look more like a rug of sorts and typically roll up for storage and transportation. This makes them easier to transport since you just roll it up instead of having to disassemble the pieces. They tend to be easier to clean with a simply wipe down (or some even have removable, machine-washable covers!) and most of them have really cute, printed designs and/or are double-sided. The con is that you are limited to the size in which the rug is available, so if your space is more compact or over-sized, the mat may not be the right size for the space.
Our Top Picks – Best Play Mats for 2022
Baby Care Play Mat – Haute Collection (Large Grey Sea Petals – Our Favorite
” I couldn’t be happier with this mat. It is amazing and a must have for babies.” -Melissa
The off white Marble foam on this play mat immediately caught my eye. It easily blends in with most modern design houses resembled a cute carpet that I definitely wouldn’t mind having in my house! Perhaps one of the best design aspects of this mat is that it’s double-sided – one side is has an elegant, floral, grey design, while the other has a fun pattern with various shapes and numbers. Its innovative cushioning is next level; the manufacturer claims you can drop an egg from 10ft and it wouldn’t break (I have not personally test this – if anyone has, please share!). It’s non-toxic and free from phthalate, BPA, lead, latex, formaldehyde, and EVA. The mat is waterproof, which means spills are easy to wipe up and the mat is easy to clean with baby wipes. The one-piece mat design (versus puzzle pieces) means there’s no assembly and the mats just roll up for storage and transportation. It also comes in 13 other designs, so there’s sure to be one that fits your home decor!
Toki Mats Organic Play Mat with Waterproof Cover – 100% Organic
“I absolutely love this mat for our family!”-Jamie
This organic, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic play mat is made of eco friendly materials and has a removable and machine-washable 100% organic non-dyed, USDA certified cotton cover. The removable cover is what separates this mat from the rest on this list – it’s super easy to clean because you can just remove it and stick it in the wash machine instead of having to bend over and wipe everything down. The plushly padded can be folded up in its own bag for easy storage and the cover has a protective, waterproof layer for spill protection. The cover is made of bamboo jersey fabric which is PVC-free, non-toxic, and really soft. Plus, there are plenty of cover designs to choose from to suit the ambiance of your house. It would be good to buy an extra cover too keep baby going with tummy time while you wash out the other.
Baby Play Mat Pure French Flax Linen Tummy Time Mat – Machine Washable
“Love this play mat! It’s nice and thick – we use it on our travertine floors and it’s perfect.” -Lindsay
This super comfy quilted play mat comes in 5 colors to match the theme of your home decor and it also comes in square or round shape. It’s woven from high quality 100% pure french flax linen that is machine-washable (by itself, delicate cycle). Cleaning couldn’t be any easier since you just stick the whole thing in the wash! It’s hypoallegenic, non-toxic, durable, and can also be used as a crib blanket. This mat is 47″ by 47″ and comes with a storage bag so you can even take baby to a picnic. The only downside is that it is a bit smaller than most other play mats, but it does still provide enough space for your baby to play and topple over safely.
YAY! Mats Stylish Extra Large Baby Play Mat – Top Puzzle Mat
“We love it! Super simple, and goes great in our home.” -Terri
This mat is a puzzle piece mat that uses six 2 feet by 2 feet puzzle squares to create a rectangular 6 feet by 4 feet play mat with a cool, modern design. Because it’s a puzzle mat, you can seamlessly expand the total area by purchasing more sets and there’s even edge pieces so you have seamless sides instead of jagged edges. The larger squares mean there’s less squares for assembly/disassembly, making them easier to pack up and clean. The mat is 100% waterproof so you simply wipe away messes with a wet cloth (plus some mild detergent if necessary). The foam is high-density, hypoallergenic foam that is 100% non-toxic and is free from lead, BPAs and phthalates. Yay! Mats believes in stylish, beautiful, and practical mats that are safe for baby while also accentuating your home’s decor.
Skip Hop Playspot Foam Play Mat – Grey/Peach – For The Creative Parent
“This is a must buy for all babies! I absolutely am 100% satisfied with my purchase.” -Danielle
This mat is another great example of a puzzle mat but it’s slightly more complex than the Yay! Mats play mat. There’s 40 foam interlocking pieces and 32 edge tiles so you can create a wide range of different designs. The pro is that this makes it super customizable (for size and design), but the downside is that it takes some serious assembly time and frequent disassembly for transport isn’t logical. That being said, all these tiles make a large, completely customizable play space that is easy to clean with baby wipes.
Let’s Review the Play Mats
There’s tons of play mats out there, all in a variety of sizes, colors, complexity, and designs. Our favorite is the Baby Care Play Mat – it’s super adorable designs are perfect for both baby and parent and their 14 design options means there’s sure to be a design that fits your style. We like how the mat is cleaned just by getting wiped down and there’s no crevices from puzzle pieces that can collect dust and crumbs. That being said, each mat on this list can be a great option for you depending on what you’re looking for. Whatever you decide, we hope our list helps you find the perfect baby play mat!