Best tummy time mat

Activity

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to start tummy time as early as the first day you bring your baby home from the hospital. It recommends two to three sessions for 3-5 minutes every day.

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Which tummy time mats are best?

One of the best ways you bond with your baby while encouraging their development is through tummy time. By creating a comfortable, engaging environment for your baby’s daily tummy time sessions, you can help them enjoy the experience. A key item that all new parents need is a tummy time mat. 

There are tons of tummy time mats on the market. But with the prop pillow, cute design and great price, nothing beats the Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop and Play. Your baby will love the attachments and you’ll love the easy-to-wash material. 

What to know before you buy a tummy time mat

Starting the first day you bring your baby home, your work to aid their development begins with tummy time. Tummy time is a recommended playtime that involves placing your baby on their belly. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital by having two to three tummy time sessions per day. Each session should be about 3-5 minutes each. Once you notice your baby enjoying tummy time, you can extend the sessions progressively longer. 

Mat vs. gym

A tummy time mat, sometimes called a play mat, can come in a couple of forms: a traditional mat or a gym. The basic tummy time mat offers a variety of sensory experiences and many have toys attached to them; however, there are some that don’t. In that case, you’ll have to buy toys to introduce to your baby. 

A gym is a great option if you want something that grows with your baby. It performs double-duty as a way of encouraging your baby to start reaching and attempting to sit up. Once they can sit up, your gym will still be useful, making it last longer in your household. 

Material

As you decide on a tummy time mat, pay attention to the material. You want something soft and comfortable for your baby. Many include a certain amount of cushioning, as well. Make sure you find one with a variety of textures to encourage your baby’s exploration. 

Easy to clean

While you determine which tummy time mat is right for your baby, pay attention to the cleaning instructions for each. Your baby will drool, slobber, spit up or worse on their tummy time mat. You’ll want something you can easily throw in the washing machine rather than having a complicated chore. 

Size

Tummy time mats come in a range of sizes. It’s tempting to go with the biggest one possible, but new babies don’t move around that much and you likely won’t need a large mat for some time. Ideally, you should find one that is large enough to accommodate your baby for several months but not so large that it’s cumbersome to use. 

What to look for in a quality tummy time mat

Accessories

A great tummy time mat should have some accessories attached to it. For one thing, this gives you some time before you have to start buying a bunch of toys. Plus, these accessories will improve the tactile experience during tummy time and keep your baby interested in the experience. 

Music

Some tummy time mats have musical elements. It’s worth taking a second look at these options because the music can help keep your baby engaged in their tummy time. Music can also help your baby’s cognitive development. 

Prop pillow

No matter what tummy time mat you choose, a prop pillow can be a huge help. It offers more support to your baby and it’s a great way to get newborns used to tummy time. Some tummy time mats have prop pillows built in and these deserve some consideration. 

Foldable

Tummy time will become part of your baby’s daily ritual. You’ll want to make it happen, even if you’re away from home for the day or if your baby is spending time with loved ones. Getting a tummy time mat that’s foldable makes it easy to bring along for the ride or send with your baby. It also makes it easier to store when not in use. 

Hanging toys

Something to look for in your tummy time mat is a structure with hanging toys. Even if your baby doesn’t use these during the first couple of months, they will be instrumental when it’s time for your baby to start reaching and sitting up. 

How much you can expect to spend on a tummy time mat

Most tummy time mats fall in a price range between $25-$60. These feature anything from a plain mat with no attachments to those with everything your baby could want. There are some about $60 that are made with the best materials and have the strongest construction so they will last the longest.  

Tummy time mat FAQ

When should I use a tummy time mat?

A. You can use a tummy time mat anytime you do tummy time with your baby. The AAP recommends you do tummy time two to three times a day for at least 3-5 minutes. You can extend the time as your baby starts to enjoy their tummy time sessions. 

What happens if you don’t do tummy time?

A. One of the most common results from not doing tummy time is a flattened skull. Aside from that, there are some serious health issues that can arise from not being strict about tummy time. One issue is torticollis, or tight neck muscles and neck muscle imbalance. Your baby could also experience less strength in their neck and back muscles in general. 

Can you do too much tummy time?

A. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as too much tummy time. As long as you are following the AAP guidelines as a minimum and your baby seems to be happy and enjoy it, more tummy time is encouraged. 

What are the best tummy time mats to buy?

Top tummy time mat

Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop and Play

Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop and Play

What you need to know: Thanks to its built-in prop pillow, many attachments and cute design, your baby will love tummy time on this tummy time mat. 

What you’ll love: The prop pillow isn’t just for comfort — it’ll make tummy time easier, especially for newborns who are still learning to love tummy time. Your baby will love the variety of attachments, like the built-in mirror and the rattles. 

What you should consider: There is no toy arch attachment, so your baby will outgrow it faster than other options. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Buy Buy Baby 

Top tummy time mat for the money

Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me Tummy Time Play Pillow

Fisher-Price Grow-with-Me Tummy Time Play Pillow

What you need to know: While not a traditional tummy time mat, this is the tummy time prop pillow that will keep your baby occupied. 

What you’ll love: This play pillow includes 13 sensory activities to broaden your baby’s view of their world. It will also grow with your baby with four different play modes as they get older. Additionally, it has three toys your baby can take with them anywhere. 

What you should consider: It’s meant to be used with babies 3 months and older, not newborns. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath and Beyond

Worth checking out

Lovevery Play Gym

Lovevery Play Gym

What you need to know: Beautiful Montessori-inspired construction, complete with a mat and accessories, this is the play gym your child can use throughout their first year. 

What you’ll love: This has five Montessori-based play zones designed to help your child develop in different ways. It has hanging toys to encourage more interaction and once your baby can sit up, it’s the perfectly-sized play tent. 

What you should consider: The pad is machine washable, but you have to air dry it. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath and Beyond 

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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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