Tummy time sounds like a super cute event in a baby’s day, but most new parents quickly learn that little ones can get cranky during these sessions. And who can blame them? It’s hard building up those baby muscles! Of course, that’s the point: Babies need this daily practice to develop solid head, neck, and shoulder strength. Plus, it also helps hone hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as well as enhances brain development.
What motivates you to work out can work for your baby, too — no, we don’t mean the prospect of squeezing into skinny jeans. We’re talking about making it fun! Settle your baby down for tummy time on an engaging play mat designed to encourage him to explore. The best tummy time mats have bright and interesting graphics and pictures, sensory stimuli like rattles and textured toys, and even mirrors to attract their attention with their own reflection. You’ll also want to look for a mat with plenty of cushion for baby to squirm around on.
We’re rounded up the best tummy time mats so you can give your baby an awesome spot to build muscles strength and skills. From water-filled splash pads with floating toys to plush cushions with safari and meadow themes, you’ll find the perfect one to engage your child with fun in his mini “gym.”
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1. Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Water Mat
This water-filled play mat is a sensory delight, with eye-catching graphics that will make your baby feel like he’s up close with a fish tank. Babies ages 3 months and older will be fascinated by the bright colors and sharp contrasts and will try to catch and bat the six brightly colored toys as they float by. Simply fill the outer ring with air and the inner mat with your desired level of water, set it on the floor and let the fun begin. The splash mat folds easily when empty so you can store it or take it on the go
2. Baby Care Reversible Cushioned Play Mat
This reversible play mat gives baby a safe and hygienic place to play on their tummies, but it also does double duty! One side features adorable graphics of animals, letters, and numbers while the other side has a chic Moroccan pattern (other styles are available, too). So when tummy time is over, you can reveal a stylish rug. The large size (comparable to a queen-sized mattress) and extra-cushiony texture make it comfy for baby, and the hypoallergenic, waterproof, one-piece design makes it easy to clean. Plus: Each mat is made with 100% recyclable, non-toxic materials.
3. Bright Starts Prop Mat
Your baby will love to wiggle, kick, and play on this fun safari-themed mat. The bright, colorful frog bead chaser and leaf-shaped rattle are sure to keep baby smiling and encourage hand-eye coordination; plus, there are two links for attaching your baby’s favorite toys. And the removable prop-up pillow is just the right size to offer support during tummy time.
4. Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Play Mat
This play mat is extra-large and features plush padding to provide comfort for both baby and parent. Each area provides different types of fun stimuli — from a crinkly fox tail to an engaging peek-a-boo tree to a padded mirror — to help extend tummy time. Plus, a cute carrot teether provides healthy, natural development and soothing for baby. And when tummy time is done? Fold the play mat up quickly and easily for compact storage or travel.