Playmats offer a range of benefits, and serve a very important purpose in helping to encourage the development of your baby. From a parent's perspective a playmat which includes plenty of interesting toys, materials and activities helps to entertain their child. Babies can become bored very easily, and as a parent it can be tiring being the sole source of entertainment! Activity mats can be something a child enjoys playing with and exploring on their own, or with a parent.
It's also a good deal healthier and safer for a young child to lie on a playmat rather than the floor. Floors aren't the most hygienic places to have faces, or little fingers that regularly get put in mouths. A baby's immune system is far from being properly developed, and a machine washable playmat allows your child to lie on the floor safely. If you have very hard floors a soft, cushioned playmat is also very much more comfortable for them.
But of course activity mats are also very important for helping to develop a whole range of skills and abilities. Start by placing your baby on their tummy for a minute or two at a time, building up to two or three minutes at a time once or twice a day. This will help develop their neck muscles in preparation for crawling and eventually walking.
We know that from the moment your baby stands up it can be daunting, because we feel they can fall down or get hurt. But this is a natural stage of the growing process. Don't miss our article on how to keep your baby safe when they start to stand alone.
Then roll them onto their back so that they can play with the toys hanging down from the bar across the top. These encourage them to reach out, swat the toys, pull on them and explore what they can do, developing hand eye coordination as well as joint and muscle strength in their arms.
With a range of colours, materials, sounds and textures a playmat will help keep your child entertained for many months, helping them to develop important skills through play and exploration. If you can occasionally move the toys around and rearrange them this will give your child new things to try out.