Do I Need A Playmat For Baby? – 4 Reasons To Get One

Do I Need A Playmat For Baby?

From the very beginning babies should have daily opportunities to exercise, work on developing their muscles, and experience new stimuli for their cognitive and visual development, too. A baby play mat offers an ideal safe space to develop these essential skills in a stimulating environment.

While a baby play mat is not a “must-have” baby gear item for parents (you could use blankets or household rugs instead), there are some great, affordable baby play mats which would be a wonderful investment for multiple children.

A baby mat has advantages over rugs and blankets (and a bare floor), too, especially when it comes to a child using it to learn to crawl or when baby starts sitting independently.

Read on to find out what are the benefits of having a baby play mat!

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or consultation.

What Is A Playmat?

A play mat is a mat for you to put on the floor for your baby to use for playing, sitting, rolling, crawling and more.

Most play mats are made of soft, washable fabric or easy-to-clean foam material that is small enough to carry from one room to another. Some are durable enough to use outdoors, and others are like ‘play gyms’ with bright colors and accessories to keep your baby’s attention and encourage movement like grapsing and reaching.

There are other playmats that come in different pieces and fit together like a puzzle, you can add as many or as few pieces as you like to crate different size baby mats.

Some of my favorite mats have fun designs that even preschoolers will enjoy using for their imaginative play or under a homemade ‘blanket fort’. A great baby mat can really grow with your child andmay end up being one of the most useful items o fbaby gear you own.

PRO TIP: Since your baby is probably going to put their face directly against the mat and maybe even chew on it (there is a phase when they chew on EVERYTHING), check out my list of best crawling mats that are made without toxins and nasty chemicals and are the totally safe for your baby.

What Is The Purpose Of A Play Mat For Baby?

Baby play mats have so many uses. From an educational, development or cleaning perspective, play mats have lots of benefits and provide a suitable surface for various activities.


Playmats offer more cushioning than the floor or regular household rugs, which is more comfortable for your baby to sit or lie down on their belly or back.


Baby gear should be regularly cleaned, but it isn’t convenient to clean your home’s carpet on a weekly basis. Instead of worrying about your dirty carpet, have your baby play on an easy-to-clean playmat, instead.

What Is The Purpose Of A Play Mat For Baby?

Development And Learning

Baby playmats act as an exercise mat for practicing neck control, rolling over and independent sitting. They can also serve as a foundation for an activity gym, which helps develop hand-eye coordination and exercise with kicking and grasping.

Colorful mats with interesting designs and textures is visually stimulating and promotes cognitive development.

Is Baby Playmat A Must-Have?

Yes… and no.

No, it’s not a must-have baby gear item for safety reasons. No one will ask to see your baby playmat before they release you from the hospital with your newborn.

On the other hand, you will likely use a baby play mat multiple times in a day and probably get more use out of it than a baby car seat! A high-quality baby play mat can go through multiple kids and offer fun for toddlers, too.

Parents sometimes need a rest, too. Put your baby on a soft mat, while you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Never leave your baby unattended, of course, but you can have a few minutes to sit and relax while your baby enjoys their little play gym on their comfortable baby mat.

When it comes to the items I recommend every parent have, a baby play mat is at the top of the list.

Do You Need A Playmat For Tummy Time

Do You Need A Playmat For Tummy Time?

No, you do not need a play mat for tummy time, but it is certainly helpful!

Here are some alternatives:

  • Clean, thick blanket
  • Large towel
  • Tummy time on a firm couch or bed (always within arm’s reach of parents, of course)

A baby play mat is firmer and won’t wrinkle and fold up as much as a blanket or large towel would, though.

Do Newborns Need A Playmat?

You should do tummy time regularly with newborns, but you could do this on a parent’s chest, or a thick blanket on the floor.

However, at 3 months old, it is a good idea to use a baby play mat for exercise, gross motor skills and cognitive development. Not only will it be a more comfortable experience, but it encourages exploration, too.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Playmat

There are plenty of benefits to using a play mat (and almost no cons!).


1. Playmats encourage baby exercise and may help babies start crawling earlier when used regularly.

2. Playmats are a great foundation for a play gym (Even if you don’t get a play gym, use a playmat for the development of muscles and important gross motor skills)

3. Mats with bright colors and interesting accessories like mirrors and different textures provide sensory stimulation (especially for vision and sense of touch).

4. Foam mats offer more support and cushion than blankets, and a more comfortable surface than hardwood floors.

5. Playmats are safer and cleaner than a carpet or hardwood floor.

6. Playmats are easy to move. Mom or dad can bring baby into the kitchen while they prepare dinner without worry, then back to the living room and place underneath a play gym with dangling toys for baby exercise.

7. Play mats are much easier to clean (and cheaper to clean, too!) than carpets or rugs. It is easier to wipe down the surface of a foam play mat after a spill or spit-up than it is to clean heavy rugs or thick blankets. Check out my article for tips on cleaning baby play mat.

8. Dangling toys at the corner of play mats encourage baby to reach and, eventually, crawl for gross motor skills development.

9. The designs of some mats are a fun space in and of themselves.

Check out mats that have different designs: race-courses, maps, scenery like farms or the jungle, alphabet or numbers.

These type of playmats offer endless creative fun for your kids as they grow. With such designs, your child will likely still be using it long after they have learned to crawl or walk


1. It is an extra cost (although there are very affordable playmats that run for under $25).

2. It is another item to clean on a regular basis.

3. Some baby playmats will not fit with all play gyms, so check the dimensions before purchase.

Reasons To Use Playmat Instead Of A Rug Or Bare Floor

Reasons To Use Playmat Instead Of A Rug Or Bare Floor

There are many reasons to choose a playmat over your home’s every-day rug or hard floor. Here are just a few:

Playmat Is Safer & More Comfy Than A Hard Floor

Within the first few months, your baby will start to roll. A soft playmat offers more of a cushion when babies roll over or accidentaly “bump over”.

Playmat Is Easier To Clean

Unless you’re having your carpet professionally cleaned every week, a baby play mat is cleaner than your carpet. Most are machine washable or easily cleaned with a sponge and disinfectant.

Even if you don’t wash your play mat every few days, you can easily spot-clean it. And believe me, you will need to!
Babies will spit up, have diaper explosions and make other messes on the play mat. And when you can easily wipe it down, you will be so glad that your little one did their mess on the play mat and NOT the carpet.

Playmat Is Moveable

You probably wouldn’t take your area rug outside and use it for a picnic, but you easily can with a play mat. Here are some of my favorite ways to use your playmat on the go (and they work for both babies and or an older child, too):

  • for outdoor sports events
  • for picnics at the park or back yard
  • beach days
  • play time in the backyard or balcony

Playmat Makes Exercise More Fun

Most babies don’t like tummy time at first, but you can make it more fun with a great playmat. Add in dangling toys, mirrors and toys that jingle or rattle (which teaches cause and effect).

When Can My Baby Start Using A Playmat?

You can start using a baby play mat with your infant from even the first weeks! Of course at first your little one will be using the playmat for tummy time only for a few minutes per day, but it may also come in handy for overhead play.

Ensure your playmat is in the safest place when using it with a newborn, and always supervise tummy time.

How Long Will My Baby Use Playmat?

How Long Will My Baby Use Playmat?

Your child may use a play mat all the way until they are around 2 years old – or even longer! Larger playmats, or ones with scenes or puzzle designs can be used until age 5 or 6 for independent play with preschoolers.

Some play mats are made of lightweight, but strong material that makes a great option for picnics, or a toddler’s napping space during an outdoor sports event.

You will likely get the most use out of your play mat during the 3-month thru 8-month old time. Around 8 months, your baby may start crawling – and then it’s a whole different ball game!

Wrap Up: Do I Need A Playmat For My Baby?

While a baby playmat is not an essential item to have when you come home from the hospital with your newborn, it is a great item to have with a growing baby. It makes tummy time more fun for parents and babies, and it creates a safe space that is easier to clean than your carpet.

I would recommend every parent have a baby play mat, especially by the time your little one turns 3 months old.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *