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Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2024
Updated on
March 28, 2024

Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2024

By Babylist Team
Babylist editors love baby gear and independently curate their favorite products to share with you. If you buy something through links on our site, Babylist may earn a commission.
Stimulating and safe, these activity gyms will keep your baby occupied while keeping you at ease.Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2024

Whether you call it a playmat, play gym or an activity gym, the idea is the same: a brightly colored and interactive mat for your baby’s play time. They come in lots of different sizes, shapes and themes and provide a safe, comfy spot for your little one to relax, play and work on their developing skills.

Do You Need a Playmat?

A playmat or activity gym can definitely come in handy. Let’s face it: even if we wanted to, we can’t hold our babies 24/7. Activity centers, playards and bouncers and swings are fun spots for your baby to chill while you answer the phone, use the bathroom or make dinner.

A playmat offers a variety of visuals, sounds and textures, whereas most swings and bouncers may only have one or two small plush toys. And playmats are perfect for tummy time, which helps babies:

  • Strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles
  • Develop motor skills
  • Prevent getting a flat head

When Do You Need a Playmat?

You can use a play gym from day one, but babies between three to six months old usually love one the most. During this stage, your baby is developing hand-eye coordination, so grasping for the dangling toys is good practice. Once your baby starts to crawl, they’ll move on to other toys (literally!).

How We Chose Our Best Playmats and Play Gyms

  • We analyzed results from Babylist’s Best Baby Products survey, which polled almost 3,000 Babylist users and asked them to share the baby products they love the most and why.
  • We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and personally researched and tested hundreds of baby products, including many playmats and play gyms.
  • We reviewed customer reviews from hundreds of real Babylist parents.

These are the playmats and activity gyms we think you and your baby will love.

Designed by Child Development Experts

This eco-friendly playmat was designed by child development experts to focus your baby’s attention on what makes the most sense for each developmental stage. There are toys and teething rings and lots of high-contrast pictures to look at, but you can hide sections so your little one won’t be overstimulated. It even comes with a guide that suggests mat activities based on your baby’s age, and there’s a Sensory Strands accessory (sold separately or as a bundle) to add more fun. And although this play mat is pricey, it converts into a fort for older babies so your little one can use it for several years.

Dimensions: 24” x 38” x 43” with mat zones closed; 24” x 50” x 47” with mat zones open

Far Out Fun

With over 17 developmental activities, this celestial-themed activity gym is packed with far-out fun. There’s a removable mirror, five hanging toys, music, textures and a moon pillow for tummy time play.

Dimensions: 38”L x 38”W x 19”H

Lights and Music

What really sets this smaller play gym apart is the piano keyboard that plays notes and music when your baby kicks or pats the keys. It’s perfect for teaching cause and effect, and we’ve yet to find a baby who wasn’t completely enthralled by it. (Adults maybe not so much, but what can you do.) Five toys attach overhead for when your little one is on their back, or you can hook them to the mat to make tummy time more entertaining. When your baby starts sitting up, you can detach the keyboard so they can still pound away at the piano keys to hear short songs about animals and learn about colors, shapes and numbers.

Dimensions: 27” x 36” x 18”

Pared-Down Pick

This pared-down baby gym is great if you’re into timeless-looking toys. Set this on a blanket you already own and your little one can swipe at the brightly painted wooden toys that hang overhead. Just be sure to keep an eye on older babies—they can be strong enough to topple this over.

Dimensions: 21.75” x 17”

Just Right for Newborns

The black-and-white contrast on this playmat—perfect for stimulating babies’ vision—is just one of the many features of this play gym designed to support newborn development. The gym has 18 skill-building activities including a black and white book, a soft mirror, hanging toys perfect for reaching and grabbing, a crinkly peek-a-boo tree and so much more. It’s just the right spot for your little one to stretch out, relax and play.

Dimensions: 34.6” x 17.7” x 31”

Soft and Simple

If you prefer a more neutral design, this play gym with birch wood arches and 100% cotton muslin fabric (the same as the brand’s signature muslin swaddle blankets) makes a good choice. It’s eco-friendly and has plenty of toys and features to capture your baby’s attention and encourage their sensory exploration. It also comes with a tummy time pillow and a small mirror

Dimensions: 45” x 45”

Mess-Free Water Play

Water play captivates babies, but it’s not always the most practical sensory activity—or the neatest. This unique play gym includes a removable water mat for mess-free play. The mat works for floor play or you can even place it on your little one’s high chair tray. There are also five sensory toys, chimes, high-contrast patterns and lots more.

Dimensions: 20.5” x 31.5” x 31.5”

Modern Play

Made from wood and natural cotton fabric, this play gym is just as beautiful as it is functional. The quilted rainbow mat provides a cushioned spot for your baby to relax and explore. A bunny, panda and koala hang from the pine wood frame and are removable for fun on the go. And the mat is machine washable for easy cleanup.

Dimensions: Gym frame dimensions: 22.5” L x 22.5” W x 18” H; mat dimensions: 22” L x 0.5” W x 34.5” H

Sensory Surprises

This playmat stimulates baby’s visual development with its reversible design. One side features a high contrast black and white patter which is ideal for birth to four months. The other side features an engaging, colorful print that encourages babies to push up (and use their neck, shoulder and back muscles) to get a better look. We love that it’s machine washable (because babies, drool and spit up) and it rolls up for easy storing when not in use.

Dimensions: 39” diameter

Having a Ball

While not the most understated of play gyms, there’s something to be said for how many ways your baby can play with this versatile gym. It’s a play gym! And a ball pit! And a music and light show! And there are tropical toys! This fun, grow-with-me activity gym will captivate your little one from the baby days through toddlerhood.

Dimensions: 38”L x 38”W x 19”H
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