What is a playmat?
A playmat is a mat that babies lie on to play. They usually consist of squares (or at least something that has edges) and some toys along the length of the mat.
Playmats are designed to encourage free movement for babies who can't crawl yet so they can grow stronger, more aware of their surroundings, improve their motor skills and learn how to roll or crawl.
They may also be used as padding so parents don't have to worry about hurting themselves when they step on their baby by accident! Playmats come in all shapes and sizes, but none seem better than any other. As long as your child likes it then go for it!
Diverse types of playmats
There are two main types of playmats:
- Traditional playmats are usually quite thick, have a grippy texture on the underside to prevent slipping, and are quite large. They can easily fit into any room in your house.
- Mat bag carriers are thinner but much larger than traditional playmats. Their entire purpose is to be carried around with you wherever you go - perfect for when out and about or if you think your child may not take to it very well at first because babies don't like change!
Reasons to use a playmat
So, why do you actually need a playmat? Here are a few:
- Playmats allow your child to develop in their own time and space without you feeling like you're holding them back.
- They stop your baby from crying because they can't move around easily - therefore giving yourself more time before having to whip out the milk!
- Playmats are perfect for tummy time - important for developing strong neck muscles!
- Babies who have playmats are less likely to cry when placed on their back on a hard surface.
- Playmats enable you to spend more quality time with your baby. Once they start crawling, you can work on engaging with them and exciting new experiences and games will arise from this!
How old should my baby be before I use a playmat?
There's no age limit on how young they need to be before using a playmat, but there are some guidelines that will help ensure that everyone remains safe and the playmat remains useful.
Only use a playmat if your baby can hold their head up unaided. If they're not strong enough then support their neck with one hand while they lie on it. You should stop using a playmat once your baby starts to roll over because you don't want them to roll off! You also need to be able to keep an eye on them instead of being stuck in the kitchen where there are so many other things that could grab your attention.
Even though it's frustrating, try to avoid playing with them when they're on the mat - you could distract or influence them too much and cause them to learn incorrectly. Plus, that might make it less special for whenever you do let them lie on it!
You can stop using a traditional playmat once they start to sit because your baby will be able to support their weight and move around more easily. They probably won't want to, but you should remove the mat bag when they sit up for the same reasons.
3-4 months old: Up until about 3 months of age, babies only have the strength and coordination to 'bear crawl'. This is where they push themselves along with both arms while sitting on their bottoms. Some babies are strong enough by 3 months old though, so if yours has good muscle control then give it a go - see what happens! Just make sure you're there to catch them in case anything goes wrong.
If they roll onto their tummy, they may not have the strength to get back onto their knees and you could end up with a head injury. It's safe early on when babies haven't reached that crawling stage yet because there's no risk of anything going wrong! They're able to sit there and play by themselves and won't suddenly roll-off.
4-5 months old: Once your baby can crawl unaided, it's time to put the mat away. Why stop them from learning how to crawl right? Actually, playing on an uneven surface will mess them up so much that they might even forget how to use their arms because crawling demands such precise control. Also, remember that your baby probably isn't developmentally ready for it yet at this age.
6-7 months old: Once your baby can crawl, you don't need to take the playmat away just because they're able to move around while crawling! It doesn't matter if other kids their age are already exploring or doing sit-ups though because babies have individual timetables for how fast they learn things.
Just make sure that you put your baby on it once in a while so they don't forget how to use it - even if it's only every other day, that will be enough for them. If nothing else, perhaps encourage them by placing toys close to its edge and letting go of one end so they can 'find' it again.
8+ months old: By the time your baby is 8 months old, they should be fine with the playmat so long as they can crawl at all. If they still have problems then either put the mat away for a while or place it in an area that's easier to get onto - one where there are no stairs or things blocking their path. If you're worried about their safety then please don't let them lie on it unsupervised, but do encourage them to try it out because this will help them learn how to balance and move around freely.
Things to consider when choosing a playmat
As a parent, you're probably aware that you need to choose a playmat based on its age suitability. Whether or not this knowledge is useful depends on how well you know your child though. If they're over 8 months old and can walk, then a basic playmat is fine - anything with more bells and whistles will only confuse them.
If they're still crawling at 7-9 months old, make sure the mat has enough depth for when they start to pull themselves up. Some do but others don't so check before buying one. It's also important to test if their favorite toys fit in it because this will be required later too when playtime starts getting serious!
You should replace things like hanging mobiles or mirrors that hang from the corners too because they might damage the mat when your baby starts exploring their surroundings more aggressively.
If you want to include older children, don't think that a playmat will stop them from running around! They'll be able to follow them wherever they go so better plan for this or it could become frustrating. The same goes if you have younger siblings because they'll probably drag the mat around with them every time they come over!
Remember that there are plenty of options besides traditional playmats so use these instead if you find yourself in a pinch. You can also get rid of anything that's restricting movement but still keep it nearby in case your baby gets bored - just not right next to them all the time. If you're not sure if they're ready for a playmat then just lie them on it - there are things that you can do to block their path too if necessary.
Some of the best playmats for babies are freestanding, but others require bolts or screws. Whichever is your favorite will depend on the look and feel of your home so try not to be influenced by others unless you have access to all kinds of homes!
Also, remember that these mats will always need some sort of support behind them because they only work when placed against walls or furniture. Note down how much space there is around your baby's main toy area before buying one though - they might get in the way really easily otherwise!
At what age should your child stop using playmat?
Once your kid is old enough to stand up or crawl around on their own, they won't need a playmat anymore. Just make sure that they don't go anywhere without one because they'll be using it for quite some time! It's important to know how much space you have before this though - even if the mat is adjustable, it still needs support behind it whenever your baby isn't around.
If you can't decide now then please feel free to put all of these things aside, buy an ordinary blanket instead and lie them on it. If you notice anything special about your child during this time then please keep it in mind for future reference. You'd also want to take photos if possible so that you remember what their first playmat looked like later on. Playmats for babies is important to start off with, but it's even more important that you know what age to stop using one!
Once your baby is old enough to walk or crawl around unassisted, they won't need a playmat anymore. Please note down any special things about them during this time because you'll want to keep track of them later on. Playmats for babies is important to start with, but it's even more important that you know when to stop using one!
How to clean a playmat?
You should clean a playmat as often as you clean the rest of the house, but not overdo it if your baby keeps playing on it! The most common types are chenille, plush, and scratch-resistant. If these mats feel too restrictive for your child then just place them on top of another mat instead - this way they'll have more room to enjoy crawling around.
You can use the same product to clean a playmat that you use for the rest of your baby's toys. If they get dirty easily then try using soap or water before letting them air dry because mats can become really large when wet. It's important to keep them away from direct sunlight too so try to find indoor places with plenty of shade if possible.
It's also best to limit the amount of time that your child spends playing on their mat because there are things that might damage it. You could place it in front of windows during the day without any problems, but just take it down at night since this is when most accidents usually happen!
Safety for a crawler is very important. Some problems that might arise from a dirty/inaccessible playmat are:
- Toys get lost under them and become unusable for playtime action No toys = no fun
- Scratches on the floor caused by moving around the mat
- Wrinkled floor mats can cause trips and falls
- It may feel too restricting to a crawling child
- Not having direct access to sunlight will help keep harmful rays out of their eyes
- Toxic substances left behind from being on tops of carpets or other surfaces where they've been.
Cleaning a playmat doesn't have to be much different from cleaning anything either - just make sure not to use any water-based products during the initial wipe-down process.
For long-term storage try using a huge plastic bag or trunk to keep yours in - but make sure that you don't cover it up with anything too thick. Also, note that playmats are machine washable which makes them even easier to maintain! If you're not sure what the best way is to clean your mat then please get in touch with someone who can help instead.
No more crawling around with no toys - this is why it's important not to go overboard on cleaning! Also, remember not to cover it up with anything too thick while you're storing your playmat. If you need any help, please get in touch with someone who can help you.