These Baby Play Mats Will Entertain Your Little One (& Give You A Rest)

by Ileana Morales Valentine

Your sweet baby may be happiest in your arms, but having a soft, safe space to set them down is essential. The best baby play mat has built-in toys and is designed to stimulate your little one’s senses and encourage tummy time to help them get stronger. Bonus points for mats that clean easily.

Not all baby play mats are the same, and it’s worth looking for one with features that will engage your baby in age-appropriate sensory stimulation. Mats with high-contrast images are more visually stimulating, especially to newborns and infants who still see in black, white, and gray. If you want your play mat to fit in well with most home decor, modern baby play mats feature more neutral colors. Mats with varied textures on surfaces and toys are also appealing to babies. Parents will love any mats designed with quick assembly and takedown in mind, especially in smaller spaces. And some mats have extra padding or come with small pillows for a comfortable assist during tummy time.

Babies tend to spit up and drool, so the best baby play mats are machine washable. Keep in mind foam mats will call for spot cleaning, but they wipe clean easily.

Each of the baby play mats on my list can be used from infancy, but some are designed to also intrigue your little one as they become a toddler. For the most bang for your buck, you might want to invest in baby gear that lasts longer. Check the recommended age range to get a sense of how long your little one could use the mat. It's also always a good idea to pay attention to the size so that you can ensure the mat works with your space.

With all this in mind, below are the best baby play mats. Each one is highly rated, including several picks with thousands of reviews on Amazon.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

An Award-Winning Baby Play Mat That's Worth The Splurge

  • Dimensions: 47 x 38 x 24 inches

There are several wonderful play mats on this list, but the thoughtful design by child development experts — and the fact that is has earned numerous awards — puts it at the top of this list as the overall best baby play mat. It's also well-made with high-quality materials, including organic cotton, sustainably-sourced wooden legs for more stability, and the use of FSC-certified wood. Parents will appreciate the colorful yet not overstimulating aesthetic.

There are five zones, each one focused on specific developmental skills, and the areas can be covered to help your baby to focus on one at a time. Your little one will be encourage to explore with their senses and learn about sounds, colors, and object permanence with this award-winning play mat.

An included guide explains age-appropriate activities for sparking brain and motor skill development. The mat comes with removable toys, like a teether, learning card sets, a high-contrast clutch ball, and a cover that turns the play gym into a fort for older babies and toddlers.

The mat and cotton teether are machine washable, and the play mat takes just two minutes to set up or break down.

With over 1,700 reviews on Amazon, this Lovevery mat is not just a fan favorite, it's also the recipient of several awards: Red Dot Award for Product Design, Winner April 2018; Parents' Choice Gold Award, Winner May 2018; The Bump Best of Baby Award Winner April 2019; The Bump Best of Baby Awards: Top Playmat, 2020.

A helpful review: “To say that this gym is amazing is an understatement! I purchased the gym when my daughter was about 6 weeks old and I am so sad that I didn't do it sooner! [...] The fabric on this gym is a perfect texture so she doesn't get frustrated from sliding all over. The bars are sturdy and well made. The toys all have a purpose and are made of organic, high quality materials that I feel comfortable giving to my daughter. Most importantly? SHE LOVES THE GYM. We use the gym every single day. She will play for hours and at times it is the only thing that makes her happy. That alone is worth the investment. The deciding factor that pushed me to get the gym was the fact that [it] is exactly that, an investment. I wasn't getting it just for my daughter now but also for any children we have in the future. I know that this product is durable and will last. Hands down the best.”

A Classic Play Mat With A Nature Theme

  • Dimensions: 36 x 36 x 19 inches

The sweet nature theme of this baby play mat from parent favorite, Skip Hop, is easy to love with cute toys like an owl and a bird that can be hung from more than a dozen spots along the arches to keep baby interested.

Other toys include a crinkly leaf, a squeaky flower, and a mirror in the mat for interactive tummy time. The mat also comes with a tummy time pillow. The whole thing takes two minutes to assemble for play or disassemble for storage. However, this pick doesn't come with high contrast options.

With over 2,000 reviews, one parent commented of this highly rated pick: “placed my four month baby in the activity gym the first time and she was completely captivated by all the sensory details.”

The mat is machine washable, just remember to remove the mirror insert for the wash.

A helpful review: “We [have] been laying our 5 week old baby in this almost everyday for 15 minutes since we brought her home from the hospital. The animals are high quality, and each have some special quality that helps improve her sensory skills. Whether it's a bird with a rattle, an owl with ringing bell, or crinkling leaves on the mat itself. Everything is thoughtfully constructed, with great build quality. The mat has helped our baby increase her neck strength and body strength, and since she was a very small preterm baby it was important to give her tummy time right away. The pillow helped support her while we worked through tummy time. [...]”

This High-Contrast Play Mat With 18 Developmental Toys & Activities

  • Dimensions: 29.2 x 23.2 (no height listed)

A baby play mat with high-contrast visuals is especially appealing to infants, and it even comes with a black-and-white soft book for something motivating to look at during tummy time.

This pick features 18 developmental activities and (detachable) toys, including a mobile, rattle, wind chime toy, crinkly tree, and it even comes with a developmental guide for more play ideas. Babies can bat at the toys hanging from the arches, or they can be removed to use the machine-washable mat on its own. This highly rated mat is a winner of the 2019 National Parenting Product Award. Also, the more subdued color palette fits in more seamlessly with most home decor. Several reviewers say it's easy to assemble, though a time frame is not provided by the brand.

A helpful review: “What makes this product so great for my son's development is the contrast of colors. When he was very very little he was drawn to the black and white and [it] helped him concentrate a ton. The pictures to hang up on the legs of the mat helped him develop his neck strength during tummy time as it gave him something very intriguing to look at. He's now 6 months old and still enjoys this mat very much. We swap out some of the toys to keep it interesting and now that he's learning to sit on his own he's experiencing it in [a] new way! Very easy to take apart to wash the mat- spit up is inevitable. Comes clean every time! Enjoy this product so much.”

A Budget-Friendly Baby Activity Gym

  • Dimensions: 27.01 x 36.02 x 17.99 inches

With a 4.8 rating and over 11,000 reviews, this cult favorite is a particularly affordable baby play gym with lots of features to entertain your baby. Babies can be placed on the machine-washable mat for tummy time or laid on their backs to bat at the five soft toys, including a mirrored one, a teether, and a crinkly panda.

As your baby lays on the mat, they can kick at the keyboard, and the sounds will motivate them to move. The mat and toys have lots of bright colors and a variety of textures to appeal to babies, though a high-contrast option is not offered. Reviews are mixed when it comes to ease of assembly with some promising it's simple and others noting that it will take some time to set up.

Keep in mind this mat is narrower than others but the removable keyboard with light-up keys is likely to also interest a toddler.

A helpful review: “I bought this product for my 2 month old daughter and she loves it! Perhaps the best play gym I could have bought. As soon as I laid her down on it she just lit up, smiling and cooing very loudly. The mat is a soft material that is easy to wipe off in case of messes. The piano has different settings and the keys are easy to kick even for a 2 month old. I also like the fact that the piano removes so it can function as a toy for a toddler, extending the useful life. It was easy to put together and just required a screwdriver. If you are thinking of getting a play gym I highly recommend this one.”

This Foam Baby Play Mat For Crawling & Learning The Alphabet

  • Dimensions: 72 x 72 x 0.5 inches

As babies learn to sit up and crawl, they need a soft place to land. This alphabet play mat offers plenty of room with 36 thick, soft foam pieces featuring each letter of the alphabet and numbers. The padded area gives gives plenty of room for tummy time, rolling over, crawling, and sitting up with a soft place to land if little one falls over.

My 2-year-old loves practicing his letters and using the pieces to make big stackable cubes. To clean, just wipe the pieces with soap and water. This pick is highly rated with over 3,800 reviews, and it comes in other colorways, including a high-contrast grey and white one. One parent commented it's "great to teach alphabet."

A helpful review: "I bought this right before my daughter started crawling so she wouldn’t have to be on our cold tiled floor and now that she is pulling up and standing on her own, it has been a head saver. She has fallen several times and this provides so much cushion that she doesn’t even fuss, unlike when she falls on the floor. It’s super cute and easy to assemble. She now knows how to take the pieces apart, but it’s worth it for the safety it provides.”

The Play Mat That Adjusts To Four Positions (& Is Toddler-Approved)

  • Dimensions: 34 x 34 x 44 inches

My toddler loves forts, and I wish I'd had this play mat for babies and toddlers for him during the tummy time and crawling stages. This colorful pick creates a cozy spot for laying and playing, sitting up, crawling through a tunnel (the sides can be opened or closed), or playing peekaboo. This pick doesn't come in high-contrast colors, but most reviewers rave about how simple it is to assemble — one even says her child can assemble it themselves.

The tent comes with four plush toys that attach to a mobile with mirrors and a musical elephant. Both the mat and canopy are machine washable, according to reviewers.

A helpful review: “We bought this in lieu of a more traditional play gym because we wanted something that would grow with our LO and not end up collecting dust in a few months. So far it's been great and I like that the toys can be removed to play with individually. I throw the mat portion in the wash about once a week and it has held up well. The toys have taken a beating (and a slobbering) and are still going strong. I think our LO loves the mirrors the most at 5 months. The flaps of the teepee are also great for playing peek-a-boo, too!"

A Slim Portable Mat For Travel

  • Dimensions: 36 inches (diameter)

Whether you're at grandma's house or at the airport waiting to board a flight, a portable play mat offers a clean and safe spot for baby to move.

This pick is water-resistant and easily folds to keep the dirty side off of the clean side. Plus, it comes with a built-in pouch with a strap that can attach to a stroller or diaper bag. In a public restroom, this machine-washable mat is also handy to cover a changing table.

A helpful review: “This is a great little mat! I love the fact that it is compact and folds up into itself. I can snap it on the stroller or to my baby bag. This is perfect for traveling. My little one loves to sit and move around and this gives her the freedom to do so in public places. I chose this because it is waterproof. I was considering a few other options, but they were all fabric. I can spray this down and wipe it off easily.”

A Baby Play Mat That’s Also A Ball Pit

  • Dimensions: 44.5 x 21 x 30 inches

This one is a clear favorite with over 4,600 reviews because it's a fun play mat decked out in alluring toys that's also a ball pit. Fold up the soft walls and add the included 35 balls for a different sensory experience for babies and toddlers, or use this mode to simply keep in a baby who might otherwise roll off the mat and onto the floor. This one doesn't come in high-contrast colors, but most reviewers note it is very easy to assemble, and one reported that her 10-year-old child put it together.

As a play mat, it features 10 detachable toys, including teethers, a mirror, crinkle fabrics, and a light-up elephant that plays melodies. The machine-washable mat also comes with a small pillow that babies can be propped up on for added comfort and support during tummy time. One parent commented, "This is the best money we spent for our baby so far."

A helpful review: “My daughter was colic when born and very fussy. This would give us small breaks. Now that the colic is gone it occupies her for hours. She loves the mirror, lights, and sounds. Since it keeps her in like a 'ball pit' I don’t have to worry about her rolling out and onto the hard floor. The balls are easy to pack and [the] ball pit is lightweight and great for travel!”