Best Baby Play Mats and Gyms 2019

by Adrina Palmer |

Baby gyms and play mats are a good tool for baby’s development, but which one should you buy?

Tummy time is an important developmental milestone in your babies life. Lying on their stomach and exploring the world around them will help them to master their senses and use their eyes, ears, and hands to manipulate the world around them.

Providing the best baby play mat or baby activity gym for your child will help them engage with their surroundings.

All the research is here waiting for you, saving you precious time reading review after review and searching for all the pertinent details. Pick one of these best play mats and move on to holding your precious bundle of joy with all the hours you saved!

Best Baby Play Mats and GymsWhy It Is BestMom Rating
Infantino Twist and Fold Activity GymVintage Appearance, Pillow, Twist & Fold Function♥♥♥♥♥
Fisher-Price Rainforest Music and Lights Deluxe GymQuality Brand, 10 Functions, Washable♥♥♥♥
Bright Starts Kaleidoscope Activity GymAffordable, Multiple Designs, Fun♥♥♥
Baby Einstein Play GymOcean Design, Removable Toy, Pillow♥♥♥♥
Tiny Love Meadow Days Super MatSoft, Colorful, Non-Toxic, Mirror, Folds♥♥
Cusphorn Kids Teepee MatTons of Patterns, Cotton, Non-slip bottom♥♥♥
Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Play GymPiano for Music, Good for Exercise, Adjustable Toy Bar♥♥♥♥
Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball PitColorful, Grow with Baby, Turns Into Ball Pit♥♥♥♥♥
Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Play GymThree Stages, Fun Design and Bright Color, Versatile♥♥♥♥♥

The 9 Best Baby Play Mats and Baby Activity Gyms

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym

Image of the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym, Vintage Boy

Why do I love the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym? Because it looks more like a quilt my grandma made than another primary color toy to ruin my decor. Even the crazy color combinations seem to have been picked out by grandma with care for a gender-neutral toy every baby will go gaga for! With a pillow and a sturdy bar base, this will be your new favorite baby toy sure to please baby.

What I Love:

Material: Think 1970s polyester, because it’s as durable as the powder blue suit in your granddad’s closet but a whole lot easier to clean.

Price: The price is middle ground and well worth it for the aesthetics alone.

Appearance: Like I said, this adorable play gym looks like a handmade quilt stitched with love. It even comes with a matching pillow, just like grandma would make.

Washable: Like most mats, wash this cute mat on low spin cycle and air dry.

Function: With four linkable toys and two crisscrossing bars overhead baby will spend hours – more like minutes but who’s counting? – reaching for toys or looking in the mirror from the comfort of a pillow and plush mat. The orange base for the bars makes folding and storage a cinch with a twist lock.

What I Don’t Love: 

Quality: The collapse feature can be problematic, maybe a little oil will help, if not you can always use duct tape. The toys may need a little duct tape to keep them on the plastic loops.

Thickness: You may need to place a blanket under this mat for added comfort as the thickness runs a little thin.

Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym

Image of the Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym

Most moms are aware of the tried and true brand Fisher-Price and they will not be let down by the Fisher-Price Rainforest Music and Lights Deluxe Gym with bright colorful animals, a sturdy mat, and an all-around entertaining toy for your little one. With ten different features, this mat is the Rolls Royce of play gyms. This name brand mat may actually be too busy, which is why I ranked it lower on the list, also it plays music and no parents want yet another musical toy cluttering their home.

What I Love:

Material: Made with Polyester, this mat will stand up to the test of drooling babies.

Appearance: Jungle animals are so cute, which Fisher-Price highlights in the mostly green and brown toy decorated with a zoo full of critters.

Washable: As with most polyester items your child’s playmat can go in the wash on gentle and dry flat.

Function: Tweety the bird plays up to 20 minutes of music, great fun for baby. Tons of hanging toys and bright images for your child to squeal over while settled on their belly including a spinning ball, mirror, a braying zebra, and rearrangeable links on the criss-cross bars.

What I Don’t Love: 

Disassemble: Taking this toy down for storage or travel is no easy task. Maybe have a different mat or form of entertainment on hand for travel.

Price: Try not to cry when you see the price tag, at least until you exhaust every method of couponing online.

Batteries: Yes, the cute bird detaches for more fun but he also needs batteries (which means more money) to keep tweeting his incessant tune.

Thickness: Some babies do not mind a hard surface, but picky babies may need a blank under their caboose to properly enjoy this toy.

Bird: Back to the bird again, this top-heavy toy may not stay perched on his nest like a good little bird should.

Bright Starts Kaleidoscope Activity Gym

Image of the Bright Starts Kaleidoscope Activity Gym

With Bright Starts Kaleidoscope Activity Gym your baby will love tummy time and rolling over to reach for all the fun toys. Mom’s will love the affordable price and ease of use, plus the unique pattern fun for babies without being an eyesore. Favorite toys can be added to the built-in loops while your little gal stares at her adorable reflection in the mirror.

What I Love:

Price: Bright Starts has the most affordable price on the list with all the fun!

Appearance: With multiple designs, you can pick for gender or go neutral with a green, red, and black pop of color fo this traditional play gym.

Washable:  Toss the toys and the mat into the washer for good clean fun on low. I would suggest air dry.

Function: The crossing bars over top the mat support several detachable toys and a mirror, everything with fun designs to please your little one. The bars come off for easier storage.

What I Don’t Love: 

Quality: While the cheapest on the list, this mat isn’t the highest quality and may only last for one or two babies.

Batteries: This adorable mat requires batteries, which is annoying considering how many toys need batteries. Not just any batteries but LR44, the expensive, tiny batteries.

Sounds: The owl toy makes sounds which is why batteries are necessary. One more noisy toy to irritate moms and dads. After only a few hours the owl may lose his tune and forget to play.

Baby Einstein Play Gym, Nautical Friends

Image of the Baby Einstein Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym

Known for introducing classical music to babies, Baby Einstein branched out to toys including adorable ocean inspired play mats. The Baby Einstein Play Gym brings the ocean to your baby without a house full of sand. The bright blue mat and colorful bars will delight your child along with the notorious Baby Einstein turtle.

What I Love:

Material: The fabric is not listed but we do know is this item is not made of toxic material like PVC or foam.

Price: With the slightly hefty price tag – although this mat costs less than the Fisher-Price brand – I would suggest placing the mat on your baby registry for someone else to pay for you!

Appearance: If you adore all things ocean and want your baby to follow in your footsteps buy them this blue based mat. Decked out in starfish, turtles, and whales this mat will turn your baby into a serious ocean addict.

Washable: Throw the mat into the washing machine on gentle cycle and air dry for best results.

Function: An multi-functional, musical star can be removed from the criss-cross bars for entertainment on the go. Plenty of developmental toys attach to the mat for a mini scuba-dive session for your baby.

What I Don’t Love: 

Batteries: Why do all baby toys need batteries? No exception here, sorry my friends.

Musical Star: Like the removable bird from the Fisher-Price mat, the star on this mat is moveable but not a reliable toy.

Price: With the slightly hefty price tag – although this mat costs less than the Fisher-Price brand – I would suggest placing the mat on your baby registry for someone else to pay for you!

Height: Small babies may have a hard time reaching the awkward height of the hanging toys.

Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Mat

Image of the Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Mat, Meadow Days

The Tiny Love Meadow Days Super Mat really is super. With a washable mat and non-toxic materials, moms will squeal with delight for this mat that will make babies happy too.

What I Love:

Material: 100% polyester, with so many babies mats made of toxic PVC or foam, this mat will keep your baby breathing safely even for tummy time.

Price: This is one of the lowest prices on the list. A fantastic value!

Appearance: With mostly blues and whites, the Tiny Love mat will capture babies attention without ruining mamas decor! The bright colorful pictures are whimsical and perfect for babies.

Washable: Pop this mat in the wash, a rare treat for baby mats, but do not put in the dryer.

Function: The mat comes with a squeaky toy, mirror, a peek-a-boo tree, and folds up for travel and storage! Even better, the mat is large enough for two babies for tummy time.

What I Don’t Love: 

Quality: The fabric can come apart after use and wash. Not a problem for crafty mom’s with a needle, just do not fix with a baby on the mat.

Washable: The mat is washable but must be on gentle cycle preferably without a spin cycle and do not put in the dryer.

Slippery: The mat is made of polyester with no traction so be careful on smooth floors.

Cusphorn Kids Teepee Mat

Image of the Cusphorn Grey Kids Teepee Mat Children Antiskid Play Mat Baby Crawling Mat Non-slip thicken Carpet

The Cusphorn Kids Teepee Mat creates a soft place for babies, toddlers, and children to play in comfort. This machine washable mat will become your go-to item for new crawlers or babies enjoying tummy time. Don’t put it away when the baby goes down for a nap! The multi-purpose mat works great for yoga or any other exercises you need to lose a baby belly!

What I Love:

Material: Can you ask for a softer more durable fabric than cotton? With a world full of microfiber sheets and acrylic blankets, you and your baby will feel like royalty with this luxurious mat!

Size: 57 by 76 inches the Cusphorn mat is big enough for even mommy to have some tummy (or downward dog) time! Even take your mat to the beach for comfort under the son.

Appearance: With so many patterns to choose from, you will find a pattern to meet your needs. Pick gray with clouds, bright cartoon cows, or an adorable elephant with a hedgehog in blue, beach animals, outer space, and more. If you let me vote I pick the outer space for the fun colors and solar system.

Washable: Washable is a necessity in life with tiny drooling machines! Toos this mat in the wash then allow it to air dry.

What I Don’t Love: 

Thickness: Some may find this mat too thin for their tastes or closer to the thickness of a blanket. Either way, it’s more comfortable than a hard floor and much safer for babies with non-slip protection.

Price: The price for what is essentially a thick blanket will cause more than a few tears but well worth it as kids can use this for many years, unlike a baby gym.

Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Play Gym

Image of the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym, Pink

The Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Play Gym is a really good basic baby gym. The featured piano has both lights and sounds and can be used in a few different ways. It can be kicked when baby is on their back, it can be pushed with hands during tummy time, or it can be rotated upright and played like a regular piano on legs for when baby can sit up. As if that weren’t enough, you can take the piano off and drag it around for some mobile concerts. If your baby prefers to just enjoy music, you can play music on the piano for up to 15 minutes, and you can control the volume. The batteries last a long time, too!

What I Love:

Design: It’s got a nice, soft polyester mat for baby to lay on and it comes in a girly version and a boy/neutral(ish) version. The mat is a good size because it’s really long, which is nice for growing babies that stretch out quickly.

Variety: There’s a play bar that arcs overhead, and it features a big mirror, a hippo-shaped teether, elephant clacker toys, a rollerball rattle frog, and rings to hang them from. The play bar can go overhead for when baby is playing on their back, or it can be removed and the toys attached to the front of the mat for play during tummy time.

Music: This gym is awesome because of the musical aspect. While some gyms just play music, this one lets baby make the music. They can play songs or individual notes.

Activity: My son was active from the moment he came into the world, so this piano was great for him. Instead of kicking his crib rails (or me!), he could scoot down and kick the piano and listed to some cute tunes. That’s why I love this gym for busy babies.

What I Don’t Love:

Spacing: I do wish there were more space between the piano and the playbar, because it isn’t at a good place for tall babies to both kick the piano and reach up for the toys. Long babies won’t be able to do both, because there isn’t enough foot space.

Small: This isn’t the biggest playmat. Once baby gets big and starts rolling, they won’t have a lot of space and might get bored.

Boring toys: By the time your child is old enough to realize that their feet, which they can’t see, are making the piano play, they’ll probably be too big for the mat. That’s a bummer, since the piano is the coolest part! The toys on the toy bar are actually kinda boring.

Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit

Image of the Infantino Grow-with-me Activity Gym and Ball Pit

At first glance, this looks like any other play gym. The Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit is cute. You see the large turtle head full of little balls and you wonder why it’s there. Then, poof! You pop up the sides, release the balls from the turtle’s mouth, and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome baby ball pit. You’ve still got a soft mat with two arches overhead for when baby is smaller and prefers to lay on their back for playtime. This Infantino baby gym can really grow up with your baby.

What I Love:

Room to play: Since its a round mat, baby can lay in any direction they like and still have access to toys, although it’s a bit small in size.

Soft toys and mat: There are 4 cute little stuffed sea pals hanging down for baby to interact with. Each toy has either a crinkle, rattle, or mirror feature. There’s a cute and gender neutral under-the-sea design on the mat for baby to look at during tummy time. Baby can sit up and play with the toys, too, for an additional way to play.

Good for older babies: If you want something that will be great for an older baby or toddler, this is fantastic. It’s the ball pit feature that really sets it apart. There are 40 lightweight little balls that are included, and maybe the best part is that they store in the turtle’s head that’s attached to the mat, so you don’t have to figure out how or where to store them.

Safe: There is a mesh ring around the edge of the mat that easily comes up to enclose the area to make it a true ball pit. You don’t have to worry about accidental suffocation because the sides are breathable mesh. The mesh has holes in it for baby to put balls through during play, but the holes are big enough that no little hands can get stuck.

Image of the Infantino Grow-with-me Activity Gym and Ball Pit

What I Don’t Love:

No lights/sounds: The play mat part is good, but it isn’t great. The toys are kind of boring and there are zero lights or sounds. If you don’t want just a plain-Jane play gym mat, pick another one.

Not crawl proof: A big drawback here though is that a bigger, more capable baby or toddler could easily get over the sides and crawl or walk away since the sides aren’t very strong or very tall. You are still going to have to supervise your kiddo when they play in the ball pit so that they don’t run away on you.

 

Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Play Gym

The Fisher-Price Newborn-to-Toddler Play Gym is geared toward older babies who are blossoming into toddlerhood. While a newborn or younger baby would still probably enjoy laying down and looking at things, this play center baby gym is made to be interacted with. It’s a baby activity gym/play mat that will truly help give your kiddo a workout at any age- from laying to sitting to standing. It’s made by Fisher-Price, so you know it’s great quality.

What I Love:

Many stages: It starts with a machine washable and nicely padded mat for baby to sit or lay on. Next is the toy bar that has music and cute toys as well as lights. The sides of the toy bar have interactive ball games for older babies that can sit and stand. This play center baby gym is the most versatile baby gym on the list.

3 Month Old play: Baby can lay and play on the mat once they are old enough, which is around 3 months-ish. The toys that hang down from the toy bar include a raccoon rollerball, a crinkly owl with dangling rings, and a fox with a spinning paddle. The toy bar also plays music, both single songs and continual songs, and has flashing lights.

Older baby play: A sitting baby can really interact with the toy. The play at folds up and attaches to the toy bar to expose little pockets where the toy balls can be placed. They can then get balls out of the pockets and place them in the little slides on the side and watch them go everywhere and hit the toys.

Toddler toy: Older, walking or standing babies can pull themselves up to standing and play with the toy bar. The mat can be removed so it’s not in the way. They can manipulate and move the toys around and keep playing with the balls like they did in Stage 2.

What I Don’t Love:

Not enough balls: It only comes with 5 balls, though, so be prepared to be retrieving those things all the time. Helpful hint: order some of the replacement balls.

Tips easy: Beware- this toy bar is easy to tip over, and an unsupervised baby could easily crash it onto themselves when trying to pull up to standing. Overall, it’s a great baby gym with over 12 activities and toys to play with.

Guide to Selecting a Baby Play Mat or Gym

The CPSC regulates the safety of baby toys for quality and safety standards. Here is a list of features to look for in a play mat or gym to ensure you are purchasing the best quality item available.

Quality

Play mats should be sturdy and made of a quality material not likely to shred or rip from tiny baby fingers. Babies manage to ruin many a toy in their youth but buying well-crafted toys will keep your child safe and save you money.

Safety & Material

Infants and children should never play on toxic toys such as play mats made from PVC or Foam which can release toxic chemicals into your babies breathing space. Always try to buy safe products and mats made with fabric instead of vinyl materials (even though vinyl can be cleaned quickly).

Washable

Why washable? Because babies are messy. Spit-up, drool, teething biscuits, formula, breastmilk, and even poop will probably all end up on your babies play mat at some point. Do not replace, wash.

Collapsible 

Toys take up too much space to the point you think your house is a museum of baby products. Toys that fold and can be shoved into the back of the closet when company shows up are a win. Some toys will not fold, like baby seats, but some can and baby mats should reduce in size at least a little for storage or travel.

Thickness & Comfort

Like moms and dads, babies want to be comfortable while they work and with all the developing they are doing they need a soft place to learn. Find a balance of comfort and movability in a play mat for the best learning atmosphere for your child.

Size

Mats that are too small will not last long with a constantly growing baby. Find a large mat to last at least until your infant is crawling then they can move on to an activity table.

Skills Learned

Besides all the quality and safety issues, you want your play mat or gym to be educational, and, above all, fun! Here are some skills that a good play mat can teach your baby:

  • Action and reaction from touching noisy toys
  • Gross motor skills like kicking, reaching, batting, throwing, and grabbing
  • Brain stimulation from music
  • Auditory development from music, noises, and sounds
  • Cognitive development from bright colors and patterns
  • Visual development from tracking swinging toys on the arch
  • Gross motor skills like reaching, kicking, batting, grabbing, and throwing
  • Hand-eye coordination from putting toys where they go
  • Creative play is encouraged by toy variety
  • Sense of touch from textured toys
  • Visual growth and acuity from lights
  • Lights encourage visual growth

FAQ’s about Baby Play Mats and Gyms

How much tummy time does my baby need?

Young infants only need about 2o minutes a day of tummy time, and add a minute or two as they get older.

Can I leave my baby unattended on a play mat?

No. Never leave a baby unattended unless they are in a secure location like a crib or a playpen.

Can I put a play mat in a playpen or crib?

Play mats and gyms should only be used on the floor and never on or in another surface for your babies safety.

Can I hang other toys from the crossbars?

As long as the toys are safe toys for your baby and do not pose a danger then you can put them on the loops or on the mat.

Does my baby need tummy time every day?

To help your baby learn fine motor skills and develop tummy time is recommended every day but only so long as your baby tolerates being on the floor.

Our Favorite

Baby play mats are no joke. Not only do the toys, patterns, colors, and music help aide in brain development, but they are a great tool for helping parents set baby down for a minute to get some stuff done. There are thousands of baby gyms and playmats on the market, and you could spend quite a bit of money on one.

I believe in a great toy at a great price, and the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym offers a nostalgic appeal for moms and tons of colorful fun for babies. The fold up feature is a bonus along with the fantastic price and quality.

Image of the Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym, Vintage Boy

Adrina Palmer
Christian and Mom Blogger
Adrina Palmer is a stay-at-home-mom to three wonderful children and a wife to an amazing husband. She has a bachelors degree in Religion from Liberty University and works as a blogger, copywriter, and reviewer. Adrina is a Christian hoping to help other stay-at-home moms find the joy and simplicity as a mother and wife. In her free time she enjoys many crafts, writing, spending time with family, and reading. She would love to hear from you!

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