A play mat, i.e. the base on which the child plays, is one of the first purchases when the baby is already in the world, and the layette for the first period after birth is completed. What mat do we need? How to choose the best option so as not to buy a new product every now and then? The analysis should start with the stages of the child's physical development in the first 18 months of life and their needs resulting from these stages.
Stage 1. Newborn / infant - 0-3 months of age
The baby lies on its back, on its tummy, learns to hold its head, but it often falls at first. The child touches the ground with his face or mouth. She has very sensitive skin.
What it needs then is a soft surface and a material that is safe for the skin.
Fabric mats and sewn blankets, without "lint" will work best.
What to pay attention to: whether the material from which the mat / blanket is made has a safety certificate for 0+ baby skin contact (the most popular is Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX), or whether the product, if it is a toy, has the CE marking. It is important that the mat can be easily washed. The mat should not be too fluffy or curled so that the child is not choked with the matrix.
Stage 2. The child is able to carry the weight of the body - 4-7 months of age
A child at this age becomes interested in the environment. It needs more stimuli, as well as a
more stable surface, so that when it starts its mobility (shifting, rotating, first creeping) it does not get tangled in the blanket.
At this age, the so-called educational mats. However, we should remember that they should not be the source of an excess of stimuli. The classic educational mat can also be replaced with a stable mat
with a larger surface, by adding simple toys, teethers, books that will provide additional stimuli and encourage the child to crawl or turn towards the toy.
Remember that it is safest for a child at this age to lie on the floor, from a bed or a sofa, to fall off even with small movements.
What to look for: material - whether it has a certificate (as above) or CE marking. Can all mat elements be washed / laundered and that it sticks well to the floor.
Stage 3. Crawling, getting up, first steps - 8-18 months of age
When a toddler starts to move more confidently, he needs a safe space above all. The child touches more and more surfaces with his hands and mouth. It is worth washing them with agents suitable for contact with young children. Remember to protect the sharp edges of the furniture, remove any fragile elements (e.g. vases).
The surface on which the child learns to crawl should be stable, firmly attached to the floor, but absorbent falls. We should avoid small, detachable elements that a child may trip over, and high edges of the mat. The mat should have a rough surface to prevent slipping.
What to look for: the material the mat is made of - is it safe for the child, does it have the necessary certificates. Does the mat stick to the
floor well, does not slip on it, does not tear, can it be washed or washed?
The child's needs regarding the floor they play on change every few months. Before choosing a mat, it is worth considering which solution will stay with us for a longer time.
It is worth choosing a good-quality product that, by adding appropriate elements, such as an additional blanket for a newborn or toys or a bow with pendants for a child aged 4-7 months, can be easily adapted to the rapidly changing needs of a toddler.
A good mat that holds the floor firmly, shock-absorbing and certified for contact with a child, it will serve us for many months or even years - replacing a carpet in a child's room.
infant-neborn development by medlineplus.gov
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Age four months through seven months. In SP Shelov et al., Eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., Pp. 217–247. New York: Bantam.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Age one month through three months. In SP Shelov et al., Eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., Pp. 193–216. New York: Bantam.
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