First-time parents try hard to ensure the safety and wellness of their babies. Aside from providing them with healthy food, a comfortable sleeping nest, quality clothing made of organic cotton, bamboo or other natural materials, and BPA-free feeding products, you also want to provide the right toys and encourage play to ensure a healthy mind and body development. As you’re probably already aware, there are so many ways to promote playtime, one of which is using a baby activity mat.
Getting a Play Mat for Your Little Angel
Baby activity mats are a simple soft and safe space for little ones to play and learn about the world around them. There are all kinds of play mats with different fabrics and textures: from fabric mats to puzzle mats, soft mats and space folder mats. One made of foam or cotton is a great option, especially if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly play mat.
Aside from having an eye-popping design, you will want a play mat that’s waterproof and easy to clean, as well as one which is more robust and will ensure durability, flexibility and shock absorbency without compromising on safety. With so many baby activity mats on the market, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding the one that’s just right for your little angel.
Although many wonder whether activity mats are good for babies, there are many reasons that make them a beneficial investment. Numerous research shows that baby play mats offer tremendous developmental benefits. They are specifically designed to be interactive, educational and encourage child development.
Here are five great reasons why baby activity mats are essential for child development.
Promoting Visual Perception
Colourful and safe baby play mats are perfectly set up to encourage visual sensory development through hand and eye perception. In the first few months, babies don’t have great vision. They are born pretty nearsighted and can only perceive the items close to their faces such as the faces of others and large, highly-contrasted objects which can hold and keep their attention. That’s why almost all baby play mats have fitted toys with brightly contrasting colours. Some of them also have additional stimulating features such as mirrors and lights. Baby play mats simply help babies to start developing visual and depth perception and gain a better understanding of the world around them.
Encouraging Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are important skills that should be developed at an early age. Having a baby play mat can encourage these skills and allow babies to develop eye-hand coordination.
It’s important for babies to spend some tummy time in order to gain core strength and motor development. Tummy time can begin at 3 months of age and it is advised that babies play on their tummies two to three times a day for three to five minutes. And a play mat is a great tool to promote safe and fun tummy time.
Play mats also aid in developing muscle strength in the neck, back and arms through reaching and grabbing. Strengthening their muscles is a very important aspect of babies’ physical development and can help them perform the higher gross motor skills later such as rolling, sitting upright, crawling and walking.
Boosting Cognitive Development
Having a baby play mat with hanging toys will encourage your little one to interact and play with them repeatedly. When babies are playing on the mat, they initiate an action by grabbing, pulling on or kicking a toy, hence developing their cognitive skills.
Play mats allow babies to learn the essence of cause and effect. This means that they get to learn to repeat an action that they reflexively initiated and they repeat them because they find them fun. This is the first step towards logic and reasoning skills.
Reaching and Grasping Skills
Play mats have a bar with dangling toys which encourage your little one to reach and eventually grasp them. Grasping is not an easy skill to master, but with the help of a baby play mat your little one will learn to grasp toys much faster. This will help them improve their reflex skills and control their arm movements. In addition, they will develop a visual understanding of the things that they are holding when playing on the baby mat.
Baby play mats are great for providing sensory stimulation through playing and interaction. They are interactive and have bright colours, textures, lights and sounds which stimulate babies’ senses. Toys that make sounds encourage curiosity and help them develop auditory as well as visual skills. Such toys will engage your little one and encourage them to explore the world around.
In addition, baby play mats also provide oral stimulation as babies put these toys in their mouths when they start teething. Once your little one starts mouthing items, you can hang some teething toys on the activity mat so that they can reach and play with them.
The play mat fabrics, especially wrinkly fabrics, are great for sensory development as well. They encourage babies to explore the world around them through their sense of touch.
To Sum Up
Baby play mats are very versatile products as they are portable, lightweight and easy to foldand move around. They can be very important for child development since they encourage everything from tummy time to sensory play.