A baby activity mat is one of the most essential nice-to-haves you can get for your baby. But you already know that, and you’ve got it for your baby. When can you start using a baby mat to help your baby get the most out of it?
When to Start Using Baby Activity Mat?
The optimal time is when you start tummy time with the baby. But you can start using an activity mat for your baby as soon as there’s a need for it. There is not really a perfect time to start using a baby activity mat.
Before introducing your baby to the activity mat, you should learn the benefits of using one for your baby. In this article, you’ll learn everything you should know about an activity mat to help your baby get the best out of theirs.
What’s an Activity Mat?
An activity mat, otherwise known as a playmat, is a smooth and soft surface with some extra features that make them excellent for toddlers to crawl, play, and learn. They are usually designed to absorb most of the impact from a fall, making them safe for kids learning to walk.
Some activity mats also come with play gyms, which comprise arches with toys hanging around them. The combo of an activity mat and a play gym makes an excellent playroom for your kid, making them widely popular.
Activity mats usually have lots of contrasting colors with letters, shapes, and other figures to stimulate your baby. They also incorporate activity-based sounds to help your baby perform recurring tasks.
The idea behind an activity mat is to help your baby learn and play at the same time, which confuses new mums. Since the perfect age to start learning doesn’t exist, when should a baby start to use an activity mat?
Throughout this post, you’ll learn some of the most important features of an activity mat and when you should introduce it to your baby.
When Should I Start Using a Baby Activity Mat?
There is a lot of dispute over when to start using an activity mat for your baby. If you read a lot of mum forums, you’ll maybe see someone who used an activity mat before giving birth to a kid at all.
Frankly, there is no perfect time to start using an activity mat. The activity mat exists for your baby to have a fun surface to learn the basic skills of life safely and conveniently. Since the mat is not meant for a specific activity, you can use it whenever you think it will help accomplish a task.
An example of an excellent time to introduce a baby activity mat is when the baby is introduced to tummy time. Tummy time is around the time when you start to put the baby down on their own with strict supervision, and the activity mat provides an excellent surface for that.
If tummy time is the first thing you’ll be using your baby’s activity for, you should expect to use it for the first time when they’re around a month old.
However, no rule states that this must be the case. You can choose to use a different surface for your baby’s tummy time and introduce the activity mat when they start using their baby gyms instead.
Both of these options are great, and you’ll get many advantages from your baby’s activity mat either way. When you start using it for your baby is totally up to you, but it’s best to start using it as soon as you start putting your baby down for activities other than sleep.
Advantages of a Baby Activity Mat
You wouldn’t buy an activity mat for your baby if it had no use, would you? It seems like the reasons why you’re considering a baby activity mat aren’t the only benefits to them. There are a lot of hidden advantages that you never knew could stem from using an activity mat for your baby.
Here are some of the advantages of using an activity mat for your baby that you probably don’t know about yet.
- Improves their movement and gross motor skills
Due to the usually attractive colors of the average baby activity mat, the mat stimulates babies to use their limbs for crawling and moving around the mat. If you get one that’s equipped with toys, your baby will also try to reach and grab these toys, building coordination amongst their muscles.
Some activity mats are designed to play sounds when babies reach certain points. Once they find this out, they’ll try to reproduce the sound, teaching them the basics of cause and effect and how it can help them move more efficiently.
To get the most out of your baby’s activity mat, it helps to equip it with a baby gym. Also, you may want to place the toys strategically to ensure that they’re doing some work to reach the toys, building their sense of achievement.
- They’re safe and convenient
There are a couple of things you can’t avoid when your baby starts learning how to crawl. One of these things is your baby falling. As much as you hate to see it happen, there’s only little you can do about it.
One of the things you can do to mitigate the effects of falls is by using an activity mat. Since the manufacturers are aware that your baby will be learning to crawl and eventually walk on the mat, they designed it to absorb most of the impact from falls.
However, you should also try to keep small toy parts and hazardous substances away from the surface of the mat since they can introduce choking hazards, which won’t be the fault of the mat.
- Helps to improve your baby’s visual perception
At birth, babies are unable to see anything that’s further than 30cm away from their face clearly. Also, their depth perception is usually off, which doesn’t matter much since they don’t need it anyway.
Since babies are generally bad at visual perception, they don’t care to focus on anything anyway. However, an activity mat, especially one with contrasting colors and several toys, stimulates babies, encouraging them to focus on the items.
Over time, they start attempting to grab items from around the activity mat. From their hits and misses, they’ll learn to perfect their depth perception, helping them gain the necessary life skills more quickly than their peers.
If you’re usually on the move, you can use the portability of other kinds of surfaces. Since they’re usually not as wide or heavy as other surfaces, you can simply roll them up, carry them in your car, and travel anywhere with your baby.
They also fit in different spaces, however small. Since activity mats expand or contract to reach the perfect size for any room in which you’re using them.
Activity mats are also clean to clean. Most activity mats are waterproof, meaning your baby can make them dirty, and you won’t have to launder them. You can easily roll up the carpet, take it outside, wipe it with a clean cloth, and it will be as good as new.
How to Choose the Best Activity Mat for Your Baby
Before buying an activity mat for your baby, there are some factors to consider to ensure that you’re buying the best one for your baby. Here are some things to keep in mind to get the best mat for your money and for your baby too.
One of the main functions of an activity mat is to be visually stimulating and aesthetically pleasing. If the mat only contains bland colors, it will look pretty uninteresting. You don’t want the baby to cry whenever it’s tummy time, do you?
If you’re buying an activity mat, you should always endeavor to choose one that will look the most interesting to your baby. Since you’re choosing for your baby, you should consider choosing colors with very high contrast. While they may not necessarily look interesting to you, remember it’s a baby activity mat, not a mum activity mat.
The most important factor to consider when buying anything, including activity mats for your baby, is if it poses any safety hazards. There are certain materials commonly used in making activity mats for babies but are quite bad.
One you should especially look out for is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which is a cheap and popular synthetic polymer commonly used in making activity mats for babies. Sadly, it’s also one of the most toxic synthetic polymers on the market right now, with its popularity owing mainly to its low price.
It’s always a great idea to avoid PVCs entirely.
If the activity mat comes with toys, you should confirm that the toys contain no small parts before letting your baby play with them. Since babies love putting everything in their mouths, the small parts in toys will eventually go in there, too.