It’s strange to think of your little baby hitting the gym. But, in a very real way, that’s exactly what they are doing when they use a play mat to develop tummy time strength, hand-eye coordination and those rolling skills.
Here are 6 key features to look for to make sure the play gym can live up to its name:
1. Tummy time incentives: Building that core strength and stability is a hard task for your little one, so all the extra encouragement they can get during tummy time really helps. Look for a play mat with toys that can be placed at eye-level when baby’s on their stomach. As they get the hang of a it, a pillow prop can help provide an even better vantage point.
2. Interactive toys: When it comes to fun toys, your baby won’t ask for much. Play mats with lights and music aren’t just fun for them to engage with—but they also help develop their understanding of cause-and-effect.
3. Elements to keep baby’s attention: Your little one is eagerly studying the world around them and the pictures or toys that go with their play mat aren’t exceptions. Go for a mat with high-contrast colors, varying textures and baby-safe mirrors.
4. Ways for you to play along: Get down on the ground level with your baby and explain everything you are seeing together. By showing them how the toys rattle, make noise or feel, you’re promoting their sense of curiosity.
5. Easy care and maintenance: With all that hard work your baby is doing on the play mat, it’s nice to give the padding a regular cleaning. For convenience, look for a mat that is machine-washable and toys elements that can be easily sanitized.
6. Modifications to grow with baby: Once your baby is on the move, many play gyms lose their appeal—but some play gyms can be modified to provide fun for months or even longer to come by transforming into ball bits or integrating more advanced problem-solving elements such as passing balls through netting.