7 Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2019

Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2019

April 29, 2019

Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2019

Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2019
Stimulating and safe, these activity gyms will keep your baby occupied while keeping you at ease.Best Play Gyms and Playmats of 2019

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, but they all have small toys to stimulate and delight your little one.

Do You Need a Playmat?

Need may be a strong word, but an activity gym can 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 (you have to at some point!) 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 by:

  • Strengthening their neck and shoulder muscles
  • Developing motor skills
  • Preventing back-of-the-head flattening

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. 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

We asked thousands of real Babylist families about the products they love the most, now that their little one has arrived. We took the top products they shared with us and added our own research and insight. Here are the playmat picks we think you and your baby will love.

The Musical Playmat

Why We Love It

What really sets this smaller play gym apart is the piano keyboard that plays notes when your baby kicks or pats the keys—they love learning cause and effect! 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.

What Babylist Parents Say

“My six month old still loves this kick and play piano play mat. Not only does it have toys dangling for her to reach for, but it also challenges her to use her legs to kick and create music! Now she can sit up and hit the piano keys with her hands. It’s a very versatile playmat and the music is great stimulation for her as well!”

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth to 36 months
Additional batteries required?: Yes, 3 AA batteries

The Versatile Playmat

Why We Love It

The Skip Hop mat provides a soft, quilted spot for your baby to play with dangling plushies overhead. When it’s tummy time, use the included bolster pillow to support baby’s chest. You can also remove the arches to use the quilt as a diaper-changing mat or later, as a soft place for your baby to sit and play with toys on the ground. Although it’s on the pricier side, many parents love the subtle but sweet design and colors of this particular play gym.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Not sure what we would do without this play gym. We often take the animals off and clip them to other things for an instant toy-on-the-go. She’s learned about textures, how to grasp, how to focus and follow toys, how to shake and crinkle.”

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth and up
Additional batteries required?: No

The Pared-Down Pick

Why We Love It

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.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth to 18 months
Additional batteries required?: No

The Easy-to-Travel Playmat

Why We Love It

Besides playing with crinkle toys, dangling plushies and a rattle, your little one can kick on music as well—either Mozart or nursery tunes—with this activity mat. Babies love checking themselves out in the big, attached mirror, and parents appreciate that this gym folds flat. With a sturdy travel bag included, it’s perfect for traveling or stashing in the closet but don’t expect it to last through multiple children.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Great for entertaining baby before they are mobile. We use it all the time.”

“My little one just loves it and can spend time on it. Nothing to add!”

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth to 12 months old
Additional batteries required?: Yes, 3 AA batteries

The Developmental Playmat

Why We Love It

This eco-friendly playmat is designed 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 although this play mat is pricy, it converts into a fort for older babies so your little one can use it for longer.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth and up
Additional batteries required?: No

The Colorful Playmat

Why We Love It

The sweet-treat theme, sorbet colors and five dessert-shaped toys that dangle overhead make this activity mat hard to resist. And the popsicle-shaped pillow it comes with? Beyond adorable and perfect for propping up your baby during tummy time.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth and up
Additional batteries required?: No

The Precious Playmat

Why We Love It

This dreamy, seascape-inspired mat features adorable sea creatures, rattles and squeaker toys to stimulate your little one’s senses. We like that it’s not only adorable, but machine washable too.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Birth and up
Additional batteries required?: No

Choosing the Right Playmat or Gym for You

A playmat or an activity mat is a fun way to keep your little one entertained. Your baby will most likely be intrigued and occupied by any of the choices you select. Think about the style and price range that’s important to you. Soon, you’ll see how magical time playing on an activity mat can be!

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