8 Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2023
Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2023
January 5, 2023

Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2023

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Stimulating and safe, these activity gyms will keep your baby occupied while keeping you at ease.Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2023

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 mats, 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 love it 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!).

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

Fun with Friends

This activity gym brings in cute animal friends to add to the fun. There’s a crisscross bar overhead with five plush toys attached and lots of varied textures and colors that encourage development. There’s also a pillow just right for tummy time.

Dimensions: 36” x 36” x 19”

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) 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

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 attach 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 play mat—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”

Easy to Store

This rollable mat is a good choice if you need a soft spot for your baby and toddler to play but don’t have a ton of storage space in your home. The soft, cushioned play space is reversible and features a playful kid-friendly pattern on one side and a more modern one on the other. It’s easy to wipe down after a mess and just as easy to roll up and tuck under a couch or in a corner.

Dimensions: 86” x 52”

Simple and Stylish

This simple, stylish playmat is a lovely and uncomplicated play space for your little one. It’s hand-screen printed and reversible and comes in several modern, playful prints. The extra-soft material is perfect for play time, tummy time or anytime your baby needs a soft place to relax.

Dimensions: 40” diameter

Natural Materials

If natural materials and fair trade practices are high on your list, then you won’t mind splurging on this wooden play gym from Finn + Emma. The cotton is 100% organic, the dyes are eco-friendly and non-toxic and the gym is made in a fair-trade setting that focuses on social and economic independence for local people. This simple gym is height-adjustable and works well for tummy time or for when your little one wants to play on their back. The wooden and knit toys can be popped off for play on the go.

Dimensions: 22” x 18” x 30”

High Style

Baby gear doesn’t have to scream “baby gear.” Little Nomad uses subtle, hand-illustrated patterns and neutral colors like gray, beige, and rose to create seamless, interlocking playmats that look just like real rugs. (And beautiful ones at that!) The mats are non-toxic, wipe clean and come in a wide selection of shapes and sizes.

Dimensions: Mats range from 4’ x 6’ to 10’ x 12’; custom sizing also available
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