Baby Play Mats & Activity Gyms Perfect for Curious Babies

We've rounded up some of our favorite play mats to keep baby entertained—and free up your hands for other to-dos.
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profile picture of Kate Traverson
Senior Manager: Branded Content
March 21, 2022
Baby boy playing with activity gym.
Image: Lesley Mango / Getty Images
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Baby needs to be entertained—but that can be kind of tough when you’re running on 15 minutes of sleep and your arms need a break, right? That’s why we’ve rounded up the best baby play mats, ranging from simple to action-packed, as an easy way to play with baby while stimulating their mind. With features like hanging toys to bat and grasp, soft and crinkly textures for sensory play and high-contrast images to grab baby’s attention, these multifunctional baby play gyms engage little ones’ senses and support the development of important milestones like grasping, rolling over and tracking movement with their eyes. Plus, they serve as a safe spot for baby to practice a little independent play, so you can sit down nearby and maybe even enjoy your morning coffee.

When shopping for a baby play mat, think about what features are most important to you. Do you need a stimulating space to entertain baby while you tend to other household tasks? Then a baby activity gym with bars overhead and lots of bells and whistles might just do the trick. If tummy time is your priority, a comfy mat covered in different textures, flaps and mirrors will encourage baby to roll around and explore (and a bonus tummy prop pillow can make baby more comfortable in the early days). If bright colors aren’t your thing, there are even options in muted tones and natural materials that will blend right in with your decor. Start by browsing this list of the best baby play mats for every budget, style and way to play.

Image: Courtesy Lovevery

Lovevery Play Gym

This pick—named best baby play mat in The Bump Best of Baby 2019 awards—has some serious science behind it. Designed by child development experts, this is the best baby activity gym to last through their whole first year. The amount of options to switch out based on baby’s age and stage make this mat super-customizable and sure to see hours of play and tummy time. Bonus: Its stylish design will look right at home on the living room rug, without being an eyesore.

Buy it: $140,

Image: Courtesy Manhattan Toy

Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Crawl & Discover Mat

Newborn vision is too weak to pick up on subtle color differences, so until around 3 months old, high-contrast images like the black and white graphics on this baby play mat are the best way to grab their attention. A great spot to enjoy tummy time, this mat has fun features for baby to explore, like a detachable baby-safe mirror, teething rings, flaps and crinkle paper.

Buy it: $51,

Image: Courtesy Clover & Birch

Clover & Birch Baby Activity Gym

This is the best baby play gym for anyone who wants to avoid visual clutter. The clean lines and natural wood tones of this simple yet well-made activity gym will fit in with any decor, and baby is sure to love reaching for the dangling trinkets. It doesn’t come with a mat, though, so pair it with a small faux fur rug to create an extra cozy spot for baby.

Buy it: $75,

Image: Courtesy Skip Hop

Skip Hop Camping Cubs Baby Activity Gym

The woodsy theme and cute critters are just the cherry on top of this baby play gym. Packed with over 17 animal-themed developmental activities, it features loads of fun textures. Bonus: there’s a tummy time pillow shaped like a sleeping bear.

Buy it: $85,

Image: Courtesy Toki Mats

Toki Mats Lunar Phases Baby Play Mat

If you’re keen on non-toxic materials, the Toki Mat is the best baby play mat for you, crafted from certified natural latex foam made from rubber tree sap. The 100 percent cotton covers are removable and washable, making it easy to clean up baby’s messes (hello, spit up!), and come in a variety of stylish prints. We’re loving this trendy moon print showing the lunar phases in soft, neutral colors.

Buy it: $275,

Image: Courtesy Bright Starts

Bright Starts Tummy Time Prop + Play

For budget-conscious shoppers, this pick is one of the best baby play mats you can score—and for under $20, no less! It doubles as a bear plush pal with a very specific purpose: providing a comfy environment for tummy time and floor play. This cuddly friend also comes with toys including a mirror, rattle and teether for baby to explore.

Buy it: $18,

Image: Courtesy Sassy

Sassy Tummy Time Reversible Milestone Activity Gym

A double-sided base, six different development zones and loads of removable toys make this the best baby activity gym for someone who wants lots of options. Each monthly zone marked on the mat features one or two toys designed for that specific stage of baby’s development, and the arches unfold to circle the mat with diversions for tummy time. Plus, the reverse side features a photo-worthy way to document baby’s first six months.

Buy it: $85,

Image: Courtesy Infantino

Infantino Grow-With-Me Playtime Teepee Gym

The best baby play gym will grow with your child as they get older, like this adorable teepee that can transform into the perfect playhouse or reading nook for a toddler. Four cuddly toys hang from a large mirrored mobile that can be removed when baby gets older and needs more space to play. Unfold the sides of this baby activity gym to create a fun hideaway once baby starts crawling.

Buy it: $70,

Image: Courtesy CrateKids

Modern Geometric Baby Activity Mat

If you’re looking for a simple and beautiful baby play mat with a modern design, this is it. Not only does it have mirrors, pockets, crinkle paper and flaps for baby to discover and explore, but the gorgeous design will feel at home both as a focal point of the nursery and in your living room.

Buy it: $85,

Image: Courtesy Fisher-Price

Fisher-Price Kick + Play Piano Gym

Stoke your infant’s musical genius with this fun baby play gym that lets them learn through play. Baby’s feet kick and trigger music as a reward for wiggling around, while the overhead mobile encourages reaching up at the activity toys.

Buy it: $40,

Image: Courtesy Ingenuity

Ingenuity Cozy Spot Reversible Duvet Activity Gym

A great neutral option for a small space, this sweet baby activity gym has wooden arches that fold away and tuck into a pocket for easy storage or on-the-go. The extra cushy play mat is especially handy if you have hardwood floors and want the flexibility to use it anywhere in the house. Plus the soft, neutral colors will look chic in any room.

Buy it: $70,

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors

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