Baby Play Mats Buyer's Guide

One of the overwhelming parts of parenting they never told you about is choosing the equipment you need for life with a baby. (Spoiler alert: there is SO much equipment!) That’s why we collected the insight of over a thousand parents to help you find and choose the one and only baby play mat you need. Here’s what parents who’ve gone before you want you to know: 

Linen beige and light pink floral baby play mat with baby girl play with tea set

1. Baby play mats support little explorers (and their guides.) It comes as a surprise to most new parents just how much of life in the first few years is spent on the floor. It’s a hard reality that calls for some extra cushioning. Cue baby play mats. Look for options that give you softness without losing support for tiny knees, elbows, tummies and bums (not to mention grownup knees, elbows, tummies and bums too). A baby floor mat that’s too thin will often bunch up or tear, while extra thick mats can get too wobbly and tend to look like gymnasium equipment. Many parents gravitate toward the “goldilocks” ½ inch thickness for baby play mats, like the Little Nomad Play Mat.

2. Baby floor mats are water resistant and easy to care for. Babies are high maintenance and parents recommend choosing equipment that is not. Using a baby floor mat instead of a rug or over carpeting will save the day faster than you can say spills, drool, and diapering disasters. With a baby floor mat, spills wipe up quickly with a dry cloth, and a simple all-purpose cleanser or mild dish soap and a little water is all you need for bigger cleanup jobs. (Keep heavy vacuums and abrasive cleansers away to prevent peeling.)  One mother said, “We've had ours for a few months now and it has held up very well. Toddler messes, dogs, spilled coffee, crayons, etc., it is super easy to clean. Everyone who has come into our house had no idea it was a playmat and complimented us on our new rug.

Indigo Blue Minimal Boho Pattern play mat in living room with mom and baby playing

3. Baby play mats can expand to fit any space with puzzle piece designs. Because many are made of interconnecting tiles, you can customize a baby floor mat to fit your needs exactly—and add to it over time too. To choose the right size, think about the area and its function. For areas where the whole family congregates, make it comfortable by mimicking the dimensions of a large area rug. For spots in bedrooms and playrooms, include coverage for climbing toys and an ample parameter. The flexibility of a tiled design like the Little Nomad Play Mat allows ultimate flexibility. One House of Noa customer said, “This is hands down my favorite kid purchase we’ve made. We have wood floors but our playroom is almost fully covered with this mat. I love the extra cushion it gives for wobbly babies and crazy toddlers. Plus it’s CUTE. We started out with a small section and have added to it 2 different times as our family/home has grown.” 

4. When it comes to safety, it’s worth doing your homework. Don’t assume that every baby floor mat is safe for your baby. Many brands are less-than-upfront about materials used and safety testing. Look in the fine print for red flags like lead, toxic dyes and inks, harmful phthalates, formaldehyde, latex. Better yet, go with an established brand like the House of Noa’s Little Nomad Play Mat, which is made with non-toxic materials and regularly tested to meet applicable safety standards for harmful chemicals.

Luna sandstone neutral geometric print play mat shown in play room with wooden train track toys, mustard mushroom ottoman in the corner, wooden train tracks laid out on the mat, a basket of stuffed animals, and a small wooden book stand

5. If it calls for a rug, consider a baby play mat. With parents and families spending more time than ever at home, the functionality of baby play mats makes them a smart substitute for an area rug in any room—home office, family room, hallways and loft spaces. (And as mentioned, much easier to clean and care for!) 

6. Baby play mats don’t have to sacrifice style. Gone are the days when the only option for a baby floor mat was the red, yellow, and blue weird-smelling somehow in every dentist and pediatrician lobby. Savvy parents can now integrate soft, quality baby floor mats into their home decor. With more design options than ever, like these play mat designs from House of Noa, there’s a baby play mat for virtually every aesthetic. If you choose not to tell your guests that your cushy Ula Gray Play Mat is not a rug, that’s entirely up to you.