Once your baby starts to explore the world around them it is time to provide them with a safe spot where they can be as curious as they like! Hardwood floors are great from a cleanliness and durability point of view but they are not very kind to little bodies that are just starting to move.
Baby play mats are the perfect solution. They are a bit like a rug in that you place them on hardwood floors anywhere in your house. As your little one learns to crawl, shuffle and walk they provide a soft surface for them to land on. However, they are much easier to clean than a carpet. Baby play mats are very popular for nurseries but you can use them in any room in your house.
Some play mats come with attached toys (such as a baby activity gym) but others are made of pull-apart floor tiles. These are available as thin or thick foam mats. We have a selection here that are ideal for hardwood floors but there is nothing stopping you from using them on a carpet if you want to.
What to Consider When Buying Floor Mats
There are plenty of floor mats to choose from but as well as the design and colours there are some important features that you should look out for.
The whole point of a foam play mat is that it provides a cushioned surface. It needs to be soft for tummy time for young babies. Even babies who are still tiny love short supervised periods on their front having tummy time. As they get older, they need a safe play area that is baby friendly where they can roll, sit and crawl. Once they are up and standing on their feet, mats provide a great non slip surface for those early steps. So, they must be thick enough to prevent your baby from hurting themselves when they fall over.
Versatile and Multi-Purpose
Play mats are a considerable investment and, to make them a more affordable option, it's a good idea to get one that will adapt as your child grows older. To begin with, you can use foam mats as places to put a baby activity gym. As your child gets older, they become an activity mat and play space. Even older kids use them as a play area.
Reversible designs are useful, as it stops you from getting tired of them. Play mats made from foam floor tiles can be moved around. It is useful if you can fold up foam mats that are one piece when you are not using them. Play and go mats are the perfect option for travelling.
Easy to Clean
Floor mats for babies and young children must be easy to clean. There are some fabric options that are machine washable but these are more suited to baby care. The best baby mats for older children are waterproof and are wipe clean using a damp cloth. A baby's play environment can get very messy so these features are essential.
Safety and Eco-Friendly
The best baby floor mats provide a non-toxic environment for baby play and rest and so you should have a good look at the material they are made from. Look out for non-toxic materials that are sustainable. Also, look out for sloped edges and soft angles. There are lots of different types of foam so it is wise to do some research before you buy.
Design and Durability
This is a matter of personal taste. You may prefer a simple design in muted colours or a bold layout. Some have an educational theme but others are all about pure fun. If you buy one to suit your decor, don't forget that decors change quite often!
If you want your play mat to last, it is best if toys don't leave permanent indents in the foam. The foam tiles should also not be that easy to pull apart so that kids cannot lift them off and put them in their mouths.
5 Best Baby Play Mats for Hardwood Floors
#1 Best Play Mat for Young Babies
This is what you need to create a safe activity area in living rooms with hardwood floors for a young baby. The MiniDream Organic Play Mat features a super soft and luxurious zone. It is made from non toxic organic materials but can be washed in a washing machine. It comes with a small storage bag.
#2 Best Play Mat for Educational Design
For babies who love to play with cars and vehicles, you can't go wrong with the Play & Go Roadmap Thunderbolt Storage Bag. It's made from poly cotton that has been produced under world-class environmental stewardship standards. The design is loads of fun for car races and gathers all the toys up into a neat bag when the game is over.
#3 Best Play Mat for Travelling
This is a play space and play mat all in one. The play mat provides a colouring challenge for older children in the form of pictures of historic buildings so it is also very educational. The Play & Go Colour My Bag by Omy measures 140cm in diameter and is made from 70% cotton and 30% polyester. Because the design is printed on both sides it keeps kids amused for hours and comes with three markers to create a perfect travelling activity. When they are done, you can roll it up into a handy travel bag.
#4 Best Interlocking Foam Mats
Ideal for hardwood floors, the Toddlekind Playmat Kids Floor Mat Earth protects from bumps and falls without compromising on elegant design. They can be purchased as multiple sets and can be joined together. They come with 6 tiles and 12 edge pieces giving limitless layout possibilities. The tiles are made from non-toxic EVA foam that exceeds safety requirements in Europe and the US for your peace of mind. They can also be wiped clean.
#5 Best Colour Range Foam Mats
If style and gorgeous design are important for you, why not create a beautiful play mat using separate tiles. The Toddlekind Playmat Kids Floor Mat Nordic tiles are available in five subtle colours. They will cover that hard floor surface and feel padded under your baby's feet.
They have a cement effect background, accentuated with sharp white lines and are so attractive that many parents use them as a rug replacement. For your peace of mind, they are made from EVA foam which is not toxic and exceeds European and US safety requirements.
What is the best material for a padded play mat?
The best material for a cushioned floor mat is non-toxic EVA foam. This provides a soft surface under your baby's feet as they play. It helps to prevent injuries if they fall over. The tiles can be fitted together to make any shape and are often sold in packs. The eco friendly material is made without the use of harsh chemicals and is therefore less damaging to the environment.
How do you clean a baby floor mat?
The manufacturer will provide full instructions on how the play mat should be cleaned. Most can be wiped down with a cloth using plain, warm water. Some can be wiped with a dilute solution of a mild detergent like dish washing up liquid. You should not use harsh chemicals on a foam mat as it could damage the surface.