The 10 Best Tummy Time Mats
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in February of 2016. These tummy time mats can help your baby develop strong head, neck, and shoulder muscles; promote certain motor skills; and can prevent the back of your baby's head from becoming flat. They are available in an assortment of styles and designs, and with engaging and stimulating toys to keep your little ones entertained. Be aware, though, children should never be left unsupervised on any of these. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 04, 2019:
Depending on the age of your baby and the size of your home, you may prefer a smaller or larger tummy time mat. If you are just getting your little cutie started with it and don't want something too big that will take up tons of floor space, you'll want to take a look at the Fisher-Price Kick and Play, Tiny Love Fun, Infantino Peek and Play, Splashin'kids Inflatable, and Skip Hop Hug-and-Hide. However, if you prefer something that provides your child with a lot of space to wiggle and roll around, consider the Bright Starts Your Way Ball Play, Giggles Foam, and Baby Mushroom Snug Square. This last one is even large enough for you to sprawl out on with your baby. Both the Fisher-Price Kick and Play and Bright Starts Your Way Ball Play feature hanging toy arches that make them engaging for infants lying on their back, so they can use them whether enjoying tummy time or not.
The Importance Of Tummy Time
Each of these positions puts pressure on the back of the little one's head, which can be an issue.
There is no doubt that remaining in just one or two positions all day long would be bad for an adult human, so it should come as no surprise that it's problematic for babies, too. Without tummy time, little ones would spend the majority of their hours lying on their backs, or reclined in a car or feeding seat. Each of these positions puts pressure on the back of the little one's head, which can be an issue. At this young age, an infant's skull plates are still prone to movement, so having her always on her back can cause them to shift in a way that creates positional plagiocephaly, or, what is more commonly known as flat spots. Tummy time gives your munchkin's head a break from that pressure.
It's also imperative that your baby has a chance to move her muscles in different ways. During tummy time, you'll notice she starts to wiggle her body from side to side and begins exploring various ways to activate her arm and leg muscles. This will aid in the development of her coordination, balance, and various motor skills. From there, your munchkin will become more curious and could explore the process of sitting up, which is vital for her postural control. Every part of tummy time also works to strengthen your cutie's neck, shoulder, and belly muscles. If your little one was just laying around all day, these body parts would be very weak.
Remember that your baby should only have tummy time while awake, and under your supervision. You never want a little one to accidentally fall asleep during tummy time, since that would leave her facing down, potentially covering her airways. Since you never know when this process will turn into crawling, you should also keep an eye on your munchkin so she doesn't wander off. Plus, tummy time can be a nice bonding experience. Try getting on the floor with your baby, in a similar position. You can make some very important eye contact and encourage her to keep up her good work.
What To Look For In A Tummy Time Mat
With so many adorable tummy time mats to choose from, you'll need to think about what you want your little one to get out of the experience on it. Sensory stimulation is important for a baby's brain development, which is why a mat with lots of different textures and toys is useful. Your cutie can run his fingers over the various patches of materials, play with the toys, and activate different parts of his noggin. Attached mirrors, or battery-operated accessories that move, will help your baby develop eye tracking skills, too.
With so many adorable tummy time mats to choose from, you'll need to think about what you want your little one to get out of the experience on it.
Thick padding is important to protect your munchkin's knees and joints. For cuties who are brand new to tummy time, you may want a mat that comes with a pillow. This will help prop the front of your baby's body up while he gets used to the idea of doing that on his own. If you're a parent on the go or even bring your munchkin to work with you — something smart CEOs should let mothers do — there are a few features that will suit your busy lifestyle, like a mat that folds up for travel and has a storage pouch. Some even have pockets for your baby's favorite items, as well as handles, making them double as bags and mats.
If you're concerned about baby rolling or crawling off, get a mat with sides that can be propped up, creating a little playpen area. For your own convenience, you may want one that is machine washable, since your baby will likely do a little drooling or who knows what else on it. Also, consider whether you want a bright mat with lots of patterns or a more muted item. The former is obviously entertaining for your little one, but if you feel like your home is being taken over by baby products, there are more subtle models that will blend into your decor. You can always have a quirkier one for the nursery and a more subdued one for the living room.
Other Items That Are Good For Baby's Development
There are a lot of items you can gift your little one to help her body and mind grow. The first couple of years of life are critical to proper development, so there's no such thing as giving your munchkin too many learning tools. Start by filling your home with the adorable sounds of a little one making music — baby instruments are wonderful educational toys. They help with hand-eye coordination, cause and effect learning, and are just a lot of fun for your cutie.
For some one-on-one time with your munchkin, get some books.
Pop-up toys are also good for teaching cause and effect. Your baby can push a large button or lever that causes a cute figure to appear, and as she does it repeatedly, hoping to see the character again, she'll learn that pressing the button produces the result she wants. Understandably, you may want a few quieter toys in the house, too, because listening to jingles and cartoon voices all day can exhaust a parent. Stacking cups are nice, classic toys that don't require batteries or have any speakers. At first, your baby will probably just bang them together but eventually, she'll realize that they nest inside of each other and will begin to enjoy putting them together and taking them apart.
Considering how much time your baby spends in her crib, adding a mobile is an easy way to engage, entertain, and educate her. You can have ones with toys that make sounds, have lights, contain little mirrors, and boast all sorts of trinkets to captivate your little one. For some one-on-one time with your munchkin, get some books. Reading to your baby is good for her — infants are capable of understanding more than you may think. Plus, simply hearing your voice and having you hold her while you read strengthens your bond with your munchkin.