PLAY MAT SHOPPING: THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST
Congratulations! You’re having a baby, and you have an exciting journey ahead of you.
After baby, a play mat is a perfect addition to your home because you (and your child) will spend a lot of time on the floor. With a multitude of firsts to look forward to, here is a guide for buying your first play mat.
Let’s take a look at the essentials in more detail.
[ ] Safety: Will this play mat protect my child?
Toddlekind is known for its stylish play mats, but when designing its products, Toddlekind Founder, Samantha Bruckner made safety her number one priority. Safety covers two key criteria which share equal importance.
Children’s playmats should be non-toxic, and protect your child from hurting themself.
Children's products can put infants and young children at risk of injury or worse if they’re not manufactured with the utmost concern for safety. To address safety issues and potential product recalls, rigorous safety and testing requirements are set by government regulations.
Like any children’s product, play mats have these standards in place but the standards will vary based on country. France is known to have the strictest standards for foam play mats worldwide, so Toddlekind elected to adhere to these for its European testing.
[ ] Non-toxic
Questions to ask: What is this play mat made from? Does it have toxins?
Everyone wants to keep their family safe from exposure to harmful chemicals. However, there is a difference between a company telling you their product is not toxic, and it being genuinely non-toxic.
To find out if a play mat is non-toxic, find out what it is made from. Materials can contain different chemicals, and depending on where they are manufactured, and the testing completed, the levels of those chemicals will vary.
Have you ever noticed toys - including play mats - have an age on their packaging? For example, 3+ years. This symbol tells you the suitability of the product age-wise, but also gives you an idea of the level of testing completed.
With interlocking play mats, a lot of companies will test their product for age 3+ years because the regulations are less strict.
Toddlekind tests all of its play mats for age 0+ months because the regulations for this category are the strictest. This is why Toddlekind is proud to share that their play mats exceed safety regulations.
Countries across Europe, and the United States, require proof that a product meets all applicable safety rules. Certification is a legally binding document with severe penalties for non-compliance. Regulations are put in place to ensure that products produced outside of your region meet safety and industry standards.
For children’s products, third-party testing is mandatory, and there is a range of other requirements that aim to protect consumers from the risk of harm.
Evidence of compliance for meeting government regulations can only be issued by a third party. All good companies will happily provide you with details of the testing and compliance either on their website, or if you contact them directly.
Toddlekind's Prettier Puzzle playrug (Anchor)
The second key element of play mat safety is protection.
[ ] Protection
Questions to ask:
Will this play mat protect my child?
How much cushioning does it offer?
Will it slip and slide on the floor?
Does it provide insulation from cold, echoes and noise?
When shopping for a play mat to protect your child from bumps and tumbles look for something soft, thick and shock-absorbent. Ask yourself what sort of material you want your child’s play mat made from, and go from there.
When considering whether a play mat will offer enough protection, make sure you think about the size of the play mat.
When it comes to play mats, size matters.
In a previous blog, we discussed “what is a play mat?”, and established it is a floor covering that protects your child … and in turn your floor.
You want to make sure your little one can lay (or play) safely and comfortably on the play mat without rolling or crawling off. Though both are inevitable, the larger the play mat the more protection between your baby and the floor.
Buy a play mat that your child can grow into, not grow out of.
Toddlekind's Prettier Puzzle playrug and Leaf mat (both in Sandcastle)
Toddlekind’s customers often purchase a Prettier Puzzle Playmat (or play rug) and then layer it with one of the organic cotton play mats. The fabric play mats offer somewhere soft for your baby to lay during a nap or tummy time. As they grow, they can enjoy playing on the puzzle play mat with their toys. Crawling, rolling and tumbling to their hearts’ content, and your peace of mind.
You can layer play mats based on the age of your child.
Look for: easy to clean, waterproof, stain resistant and easy to pack away.
[ ] Practical and Functional
Question to ask: How easy is this play mat to clean?
Children are messy. From spitting up babies and weaning infants to curious toddlers and busy teenagers, each stage will bring a new level of mess. So, you need a play mat that is easy to clean.
Whether your play mat has been the victim of a poonami, or had a drink spilt on it, the two main criteria you are looking for are:
- wipe clean or washable
- doesn’t stain
If you purchase a fabric play mat, you should be able to machine wash, or wipe clean with a cloth. Before making a purchase, take a look at the care instructions and make sure you are happy to follow them.
Question to ask: Is it easy to pack away and transport?
You may want to pack away your play mat when you have guests visiting, or take it with you on holiday or to visit family. Is the play mat:
- ... durable enough to continue using it, either if more children come along, or for the whole family to enjoy for years to come?
- ... stylish and something you would be proud to have in your home?
Question to ask: Does it provide insulation?
Something people don’t often consider when shopping for a play mat is that play mats offer insulation.
Foam play mats like our Prettier Puzzle playmats are warm, cushioned and provide insulation from cold floors, echoes and noise. They help maintain a comfortable temperature regardless of the season. But also as your baby becomes a toddler and play gets noisier the play mat helps manage noise and echoes.
[ ] Durability
Question to ask: How durable is this play mat?
No matter the product, the word “durability” is thrown out a lot. But what does it mean when a company tells you its product is durable?
Play mat durability means the product will withstand repeated, daily use for many years.
A durable play mat should give you years of use, either if more children come along, or for the whole family to enjoy for years to come. When your child outgrows the need for a play mat, you could move it elsewhere in the home. To help make a play mat long-lasting, it should be waterproof and easy to clean (or wipe-clean).
[ ] Style
Question to ask: Do I want a play mat that fits in with my home?
When it comes to children’s flooring, Toddlekind has you covered. Its stylish play mats are well-known in the market for bringing stylish designs and serenity into your home.
The Prettier Puzzle playmat is about effortless style. It adds glamour to your play space and your home. You can even change the tiles around to create different looks.
We talked about purchasing a durable play mat that will last you years. So, a question to ask yourself is: would I be happy to use this elsewhere in my home once my child no longer needs it? Does it offer multiple uses in my home?
If you would like to learn more about play mats, catch up on some of our other posts from this series ...
The two most common play mat styles?
Complementing your decor play mats?
Play mat material choices: The pros and cons
Play mats: How are their materials made?
Images (order of appearance):
Prettier Puzzle playmat: Berber (Storm) and Sandy lines (Seashell)
Prettier Puzzle playrug (Anchor)
Prettier Puzzle playrug and Leaf mat (both in Sandcastle)
Prettier Puzzle playmat Sandy lines (Stone)