The 5 Best Tummy Time Mats, According To Pediatricians
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While tummy time is “essential in the development of the chest, arm, head, and neck muscles,” according to Dr. Jarret Patton, board-certified pediatrician and best-selling author, that doesn’t mean babies always love to do it — after all, it’s pretty hard work! Luckily, the best tummy time mats can help to make the experience much more tolerable by catching your little one’s eye with vibrant colors and offering a variety of sensory experiences to keep your baby engaged. As with all baby products, safety is a top priority, so Dr. Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician practicing in Vienna, Virginia, advises that you should look for “a flat mat that has no loose parts or choking hazards,” and remember to always supervise your baby as they use it. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s suggested age range for the product as well to ensure it’s right for your baby.
When it comes to your little one’s entertainment, you choose between picks with music, non-breakable mirrors, hanging toys, or different textures, depending on what you’d think your baby would enjoy most. But you’ll also want to make some practical decisions when choosing a tummy time mat. For one, pay attention to how easy the mat is to clean — after all, babies can be quite messy! — and ideally choose one that’s machine washable, or at minimum able to be wiped clean. Some tummy time mats come with a small pillow to help prop up your baby, which Dr. Segura mentions can “make tummy time easier for younger babies and newborn babies.” Slightly older babies may enjoy a water-filled tummy time mat, which is both entertaining and beneficial for tots since it provides “a more unsteady surface to increase activation of their core muscles,” according to Dr. Segura. She suggests that these picks are “safe as long as there is adult supervision at all times.”
Many tummy time mats are designed to be utilized by your child in different ways as they grow, allowing you to get more longevity out of the product, so be on the lookout for that if you’d prefer a mat you can continue using over time. Some mats can transform into a ball pit, while others have overhead activity bars that are fun for your little one to interact with once they can sit.
These five tummy time mats are wildly popular on Amazon, with hundreds of positive reviews from parents noting that these picks have made a big difference when it comes to their little one’s tolerance of tummy time.
1. A Fan-Favorite Mat With Tons Of Ways To Entertain Your Baby
- Ages: 0 to 36 months
With more than 5,500 reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.6-star rating overall, this play gym from Baby Einstein is clearly adored on the site. And it’s easy to see why parents are into it. For one, the mat is packed with ways to entertain your baby — there are more than 70 sounds and activities, including a variety of detachable toys like a crinkle medallion, triangle rattle, textured music note, flash cards, and a mirror to excite their senses. The included piano is super fun for your baby to interact with; they’ll love kicking it, listening to the music (it plays 25 minute’s worth), and watching it light up.
Another reason this pick gets a lot of love on Amazon? The vibrant mat is meant to grow with your baby. In the infant stage, they’ll be able to engage with the mat while laying on their back and during tummy time — the included prop pillow helps to give them a little extra support, too. When your baby is a bit older, the overhead bar can also be played with while sitting up.
This play mat is machine washable, except for the toys and toy bar, which should be spot cleaned. Three AA batteries are required for this pick (but they’re not included).
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Very happy with this purchase! Bought it for my 11 week old grandson who is not especially fond of tummy time. We received it today and had so much fun watching his little face light up as he explored all the sounds and bright colors. The music and lights kept him mesmerized and entertained long enough to get a good little neck workout. The toy attachments are fun too. Definitely recommend this product!”
2. A Budget-Friendly Tummy Time Mat
- Ages: 0 months+
Baby gear can be pricey, but that’s certainly not the case with this tummy time mat from Bright Starts, which costs less than $30 — a total steal considering tons of Amazon reviewers indicate that it has transformed tummy time in their home from a dreaded experience to actually tolerable. Reviewers give this pick a whopping 4.5-star rating overall on the site, among 4,000 and growing reviews.
The tummy time mat comes with a variety of accessories to entertain your tot, including a baby-safe mirror, a rattle, and a couple of toys that can be hooked to the loops all around the mat. The included prop pillow gives your baby a little extra support when needed.
Choose from two seriously adorable designs featuring either a bear or a polar bear. This pick is machine washable, but the toys should be wiped clean.
(A quick note: while the mat does have a section that props up, Dr. Segura recommends sticking with flat play mats for tummy time, so use that feature at your own discretion.)
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Truly one of the best baby products I've purchased. It's designed especially for tummy time which most babies merely tolerate if not outright hate. I love the pillow which elevates their upper body enough to help them engage with the toys. And it comes with several rings for attaching the included mirror, soft rubber teether, round rattle and plush toy with crinkle paper. [...] Plus the mat is machine washable!”
3. A Convertible Montessori-Inspired Mat With 5 Zones
- Ages: 0 months+
With five different Montessori-inspired development zones that can be revealed and concealed as desired, this play mat from Lovevery will be a total blast for your baby, encouraging plenty of sensory exploration. Additionally, the mat features a variety of fun toys — like an organic ball and teether, a sustainable wood batting toy, and four interchangeable learning card sets — that can be attached to the adjustable clips around the mat. The entire thing even converts to a fort (using the included cover) for a cozy space for your growing baby and their little friends to play.
This pick boasts a knockout 4.8-star rating overall on Amazon, among 2,900 and growing reviews, with tons of reviewers commenting that, while the play mat is pricey, it’s absolutely worth it since it’s high in quality and actually looks quite stylish in the home.
This pick features components that are made of organic cotton and wood, the former of which is machine washable, the latter of which is not. The only other downside to this play mat? It doesn’t come with a tummy time pillow to support your baby, though other brands do sell those separately.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “After doing some research, we decided to spend a little more money and get this activity mat for our daughter. I do think it’s a little bit expensive, but the quality is great. And my daughter loves it! Money well spent. I never really liked other tummy time mats because images and toys on them just seem way to excessive. But I like this one because each section and toys have purpose & help baby’s development. Highly recommend!”
4. A Versatile Mat That’ll Grow With Your Little One
- Ages: 0 months+
If you’re hoping to get some serious longevity out of your child’s play mat, this one from Infantino is the way to go. The versatile mat can be utilized in a ton of different ways to accommodate your growing child’s interests and capabilities. For the tummy time stage, the mat has a prop pillow to make the experience more tolerable. Five toys attach to loops all around the mat, and they come in different shapes, colors, and textures that will help keep your baby entertained. A peek-a-boo mirror is quite fun, too. Once your child gets a bit older, they can sit and play with the overhead activity bar, and the entire mat actually transforms into a ball pit for your toddler using mesh fabric for the walls. It even comes with 40 balls! When your little one is done with playtime, the balls can easily be stored in the sloth-shaped storage area until next time.
The only downside to this pick? It’s spot-clean only.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I’m loving this baby gym so far. My little guy uses it every day. Each toy has something different about it which keeps him busy and can be hooked to the gym in a variety of ways. He likes to look at the mat pattern during tummy time. I can’t wait til he’s old enough to use the ball pit feature. It’s a great value for my money that this can be used during many of baby’s stages.”
5. A Wildly Popular Water-Filled Tummy Time Mat For Older Babies
- Ages: 3 months+
It’s safe to say that this tummy time mat from Splashin’kids is a good one, considering it has a whopping 22,000-plus reviews on Amazon (and a solid 4.4-star rating overall) to back up its awesomeness — and for less than $20 you really can’t go wrong! The mat is quite simple to set up; fill the outer ring with air (this creates some cushioning, which will be nice and comfy for your baby) and the inner section with water. Then this pick is ready for your little one to enjoy. Watch as your child is totally captivated by the bright colors and six toys that float throughout the mat. Made from BPA-free plastic, this pick is durable and likely won’t pop or leak water.
When not in use, this mat folds down to a compact size for easy storage. While this pick isn’t machine washable, all you need to do is give it a quick wipe down in order to keep it clean.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Love this product! I got it for my 4 month old who hated tummy time and I put her on this and she loved it! It is extremely sturdy with no leeks and a very strong plastic! My baby loves looking at the little foam animals in it! All in all a great product for your baby! Especially if they hate tummy time!”
Dr. Jarret Patton, board-certified pediatrician and best-selling author
Dr. Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, and board-certified pediatrician at Einstein Pediatrics