Best Baby Play Mats of 2018

To build this buying guide, we gathered 8 baby playmats and put them to the test. We assembled them on hardwood floors, tile, and carpet. We walked on them, crawled on them, did some tummy time, spilled on them, and had our dog and cat walk all over them. Some were softer and more resilient than others, some had lower odor and off-gassing out of the package, some were more versatile in their inter-locking pieces, and some were made with higher quality manufacturing practices and the exclusion of toxic chemicals. Some were also safer for baby, only using larger parts that can't be placed fully into the mouth (more on that aspect later!). The playmats that met all of these criteria were the ones that came out on top for our list of best baby playmats for the year. For more details about our testing and conclusions, see the bottom of this page. Otherwise, here are the best play mats we found!

Baby Play Mat Comparison Table

 

Here are the Best Baby Play Mats of 2018!

1. Wee Giggles Non-toxic Extra Thick Foam Play Mat.best baby playmat 2018 wee giggles

Usually about $75 in the large size we tested (in black/grey/white colors, as pictured), or about $50 in a much smaller size that comes in a bunch of adorable colors like pinks, blues, greens, or black and white. This top-rated baby playmat has so many great things going for it, and received the most praise from our parent reviewers, our children, and from us! When we received the package, it became immediately apparent how large and high quality these foam tiles were. Each tile is about 24" x 24" square, and they are neatly packaged in a see-through plastic zippered bag with cloth edges and handles - even the packaging was cute. When we opened the packaging, we were impressed with two things. First, the tiles were really thick, like half an inch, making them super soft and cushioned. Second, the floor tiles had only a very mild odor, which is more than we can say for a few other play mats we tested. This likely has something to do with the fact that these mats are non-toxic, and do not contain BPA, phthalates, lead, latex, formaldehyde, or formamide. There are two ways to assemble the tiles together; the first way is to lay them all down on the floor, which makes a rectangular space that's about 5-feet wide and 7-feet long. The second way is to arrange the large square tiles on the floor, and use the edges as little walls to keep baby in a relatively contained space. The walls idea was great and well-executed, though it's not intended to keep the baby in that location, just better define a play space and keep balls and other rolling toys from quickly going out of baby's reach. In our hands-on tests, we found this Wee Giggles play mat to be well-constructed, super soft and cushioned, and really adorable with its gender-neutral greyscale animal prints. The animals were nice and large too, which means that when baby pulled them out they weren't small enough to fit all the way into a baby's mouth - we can't say the same for the little dots (in the holes of the number 8) on the alphabet play mat we tested! The slight texture to the mat was nice to make it relatively slip-free, and clean-up was easy with baby wipes or a damp cloth. A couple other things worth mentioning: you can buy multiple sets of these and connect them without any issues, the white portions can get dirty easily, and it is not reversible (the bottom is not textured like the top). Outside of that, the only other negative about this play mat is the price, coming in at around $75, which means that if you wanted to fill a normal-size room you might need to spend about $150. Overall, this is a fantastic play mat that will last you for several years of tummy time and play!

2. Baby Care Reversible Foam Playmat.best baby playmat baby care reversible

Usually about $110-150 in the large size we tested, or less than $100 in the smaller size. The large size is about 83" long (just under 7') and 55" wide (about 4.5'), and the smaller size is still pretty large at about 73" long (6') and 49" wide (about 4'). For reference, the large is about the same size as a queen mattress. These top rated playmats use an awesome concept: they are completely reversible, with one pattern on one side, and another pattern on the other. You can get two baby patterns, like shown in the picture on the right, or you can get a rug pattern (like chevrons, polka-dots, or floral design) on one side, and a baby pattern on the other. So there's some amazing versatility here. The one we tested had a blue moroccan rug pattern on one side, and an adorable alphabet and animal print on the other. When the moroccan rug pattern is showing, it looks like a normal area rug from a distance. Up close, of course, it's foam, so you won't be tricking anyone. When the baby rug pattern is showing, we were impressed by the cute patterns and texture. There are no interlocking blocks to deal with, no puzzle play mat pieces to fall out and get lost, so that's definitely a great way to design a play mat for parents who don't want to be reassembling and putting pieces back into the mat all the time. The foam itself is thick and soft for comfortable tummy time and play, the same thickness as the Wee Giggles play mat, at about half an inch. It arrives rolled up like a normal area rug, and it takes a couple days to get the corners to uncurl and settle down all the way - just let gravity do its job, just like with any new area rug. The odor was pretty mild out of the bag. The edges are tapered like a normal rug, rather than just a squared edge, which is nice. And it's waterproof and easy to clean - we used baby wipes to spot-clean it, but also took the vacuum cleaner right to it once to get rid of crumbs. You can't do that with the play mats with removable puzzle pieces, since they'll get sucked right into the vacuum. Like the Wee Giggles play mats, this play mat is also non-toxic and does not include BPA, phthalates, lead, latex, formaldehyde, or EVA; it does include PVC rubber. We found the foam cushioning super soft and absorbant, and over the course of a few months of testing, we found it to be durable and not prone to any color fading or scuffing. So there are no removable pieces, which on the one hand makes it easier to assemble, clean, and maintain, but on the other hand it isn't a toy like most other play mats, so kids won't have the fun visual and fine motor experience of popping out the shapes and putting them back in. Outside of that, the only other negative about this play mat is the price, coming in at about $100 to $150 depending on the size. Overall, we loved the concept of this reversible play mat, and also loved the softness, durability, and adorable patterns - definitely recommended!

3. Toydaloo Foam Alphabet Play Mat.best play mats toydaloo foam playmat

Usually only about $40, which is a great price for this baby essential! This is the classic alphabet playmat, with its bright colors, removable letters and numbers, and interlocking play mat construction. It is the play mat that my babies had when they were little, and we got many years of tummy time and fun play out of it! And my knees and elbows are grateful that we had it. This 36-square Toydaloo play mat uses interlocking 12" tiles, each with their own removable letter or number, along with 36 pieces of perimeter edges. This design makes the set completely expandable and versatile: you can spell names, make certain number sequences, or put it in virtually any shape you'd like! Because each tile is 12" x 12" square, it ends up covering about 36 square feet of space, which is a good size for a play area or living room: plenty of room for two parents sitting with a baby. Out of the package, assembly does take some time given just how many pieces there are, though fortunately it does come with the letters and numbers already positioned in each square. The odor is a bit stronger than the higher-rated play mats on this list, but it did go away after a few days. One strategy is to let it off-gas in your basement or on your deck for a few days before bringing it inside. It's worth pointing out that while it does smell a bit more than others, it is still non-toxic and does not contain formaldehyde, lead, and phthalates. The foam mat itself was decently thick, not as thick and cushioned as the Wee Giggles or Baby Care options, but pretty decent. The negatives about this play mat really have to do with the letters and numbers themselves. They are good at collecting crumbs and dust, some of the pieces (like the middle of the 6 and 9) are really small and could pose a choking hazard    about $110-150 in the large size we tested, or less than $100 in the smaller size. The large size is about 83" long (just under 7') and 55" wide (about 4.5'), and the smaller size is still pretty large at about 73" long (6') and 49" wide (about 4'). For reference, the large is about the same size as a queen mattress. These top rated play mats use an awesome concept: they are completely reversible, with one pattern on one side, and another pattern on the other. You can get two baby patterns, like shown in the picture on the right, or you can get a rug pattern (like chevrons, polka-dots, or floral design) on one side, and a baby pattern on the other. So there's some amazing versatility here. The one we tested had a blue moroccan rug pattern on one side, and an adorable alphabet and animal print on the other. When the moroccan rug pattern is showing, it looks like a normal area rug from a distance. Up close, of course, it's foam, so you won't be tricking anyone. When the baby rug pattern is showing, we were impressed by the cute patterns and texture. There are no interlocking blocks to deal with, no puzzle play mat pieces to fall out and get lost, so that's definitely a great way to design a play mat for parents who don't want to be reassembling and putting pieces back into the mat all the time. The foam itself is thick and soft for comfortable tummy time and play, the same thickness as the Wee Giggles play mat, at about half an inch. It arrives rolled up like a normal area rug, and it takes a couple days to get the corners to uncurl and settle down all the way - just let gravity do its job, just like with any new area rug. The edges are tapered like a normal rug, rather than just a squared edge, which is nice. And it's waterproof and easy to clean - we used baby wipes to spot-clean it, but also took the vacuum cleaner right to it once to get rid of crumbs. You can't do that with the play mats with removable puzzle pieces, since they'll get sucked right into the vacuum. Like the Wee Giggles play mats, this play mat is also non-toxic and does not include BPA, phthalates, lead, latex, formaldehyde, or EVA; it does include PVC rubber. We found the foam cushioning super soft and absorbant, and over the course of a few months of testing, we found it to be durable and not prone to any color fading or scuffing. So there are no removable pieces, which on the one hand makes it easier to assemble, clean, and maintain, but on the other hand it isn't a toy like most other play mats, so kids won't have the fun visual and fine motor experience of popping out the shapes and putting them back in. Outside of that, the only other negative about this play mat is the price, coming in at about $100 to $150 depending on the size. Overall, we loved the concept of this reversible play mat, and also loved the softness, durability, and adorable patterns - definitely recommended!

4. SoftTiles Foam Interlocking Play Mat.best play mats 2018 soft tiles

Usually about $120 for a 78" x 78" (that's 6 feet by 6 feet square) playmat. Like the Wee Giggles play mat, each of the tiles is about 24" wide. Unlike the Wee Giggles, they interlock with each other to form a square rather than rectangle, so the space is 36 square feet whereas the Wee Giggles is 35 square feet. When they arrived for testing, we were impressed by a few things. First, this play mat is thicker than any other mat on this list, coming in at about 5/8" thick, so it's thicker by an eigth-inch than the Wee Giggles mat. You might not even realize that the surface is thicker, but it's worth mentioning. Second, it's really soft. Maybe it has to do with the thicker tiles, or a different type of foam, but it was really cushioned and soft. So soft that our dog's claws actually scratched it pretty quickly, but that was our own fault! Third, the colors are bright and vivid. While we show you the pink white carnation color option in the picture, this SoftTiles playmat is available in about a dozen other bright and adorable colors, all using the same animal patterns. Fourth, the edges are tapered so they slope down to your floor along the edge, which is nice and lowers the risk of tripping when walking onto the play mat. Finally, we liked the animal patterns, especially given that there were no small parts to get lost or worry about your baby sticking in their mouth. But that being said, the animals were also a bit harder to pull out and put back in because some of them have thin and long parts (like the monkey's tail) - not a big deal, but worth mentioning. Out of the box there was a bit more odor than some of the other mats on this list, but nothing major. Note that these foam play mat tiles are non-toxic, free of formamides, BPA, and phthalates. Other than the odor and intricate pieces to put in/pull out, the only other downside is the price. About $120 for a 6 foot by 6 foot play mat? It's great, but we're not sure it's worth the cost - if you're going to spend that money, we prefer the Baby Care reversible play mat above. Overall, a great top rated playmat but a bit pricey for out tastes!

5. Hape Baby Folding Reversible Play Mat.best play mats 2018 hape

Usually about $70 for a playmat that's just under 5' x 6' (like 29 square feet).  for a 78" x 78" (that's 6 feet by 6 feet square) playmat. This is a very unique play mat for our list, as it is actually folding - it folds up into a pretty small package that's about the size of one of the tiles from the Wee Giggles or SoftTiles play mats. So it's much easier to fold up and put away than any other play mat on this list, and it has a pretty small footprint for storage (unlike the Baby Care roll-out play mat). Another cool thing is that it's reversible, with one sie showing green fields with animals and ponds, and the other side being more interactive with a road network that toddlers will love to drive toy cars around on. Like the other play mats in this buying guide, the Hape play mats are non-toxic, free of phthalates, and had no strong off-gassing when it was new. But it's down here on the list for a few primary reasons. First, it's much thinner than the other play mats on this list, coming in at about 1/4" thick. Second, the folding seams are flimsy and it never really has a nice flat surface, which is a bummer when toddlers try to drive cars around on the roads. Third, speaking of the roads, the pattern repeats itself every couple feet, making it a little repetitive. Finally, it's a bit pricey given the smaller size and these limitations, coming in at around $70. But if you're looking for a portable play mat that's easy to fold up, this might be a good bet for you!

Conclusions:

Soft foam floor play mats are a comfortable and fun baby essential, providing hours of tummy time, play time, and a soft crawling surface. Play mats can encourage the development of gross motor skills by providing a forgiving surface to build confidence and buffer any little falls while learning to crawl and walk, and be a perfect place for trying out new baby gear like toys and activity centers. Most of them also are like a giant puzzle, helping your baby develop some fine motor skills and the hand-eye coordination involved in pulling out shapes and putting them back in. A top rated playmat will provide a safe and rich sensory environment for your infant, while also making it more comfortable for you when you're sitting on the floor playing for hours!

We had a lot of fun buying and testing play mats, and we came to a pretty strong agreement about which were the best, and which were not so great. One of the things we did realize is that baby playmats tend to vary in safety, in terms of parts size and toxic ingredients, in size and cushioning, in price, and in function and durability. Another thing we realized is that if you're going to use a play mat on top of a rug or carpet, you'll want to do it only on really thin carpets or rugs. If it's too thick, then the play mat squishes into it in funny ways and contorts itself - and if it has interlocking pieces, they will pop up and out of each other as baby crawls across. So infant and toddler play mats are really best for either hard floors (hardwood, tile, linoleum) or really thin and dense carpeting (like berber carpets).

In addition to the top rated baby play mats reviewed above, we also tested out the Skip Hop Geo Playspot and were unimpressed with its quality and durability: it dented relatively easily and also tended to stretch itself apart along the joints. We were surprised given Skip Hop's otherwise stellar reputation for making awesome baby gear. Second, we also tested out the ProSource alphabet play mat, but were unimpressed that it contained formamide, a toxic ingredient used when making some EVA foams. Finally, we tested out the Exultimate Foam Play Mat, that we thought was adorable with its roads and buildings, but it was pretty flimsy and didn't come with any edge pieces so it looked very unfinished.

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