Babies relate to the world through their senses. In the first months, exploration is purely sensory. Hearing, touch and sight are the gateway to discovery of everything around them. Activity mats thus become an excellent tool.
Thanks to activity mats, babies can incorporate textures, sounds and colours in an integral way. Knowing some of their advantages and particularities will help parents to equip themselves with everything their child needs.
Although there are accessories to put in the cot, floor mats are the ones that baby gets the most out of in his development. These activity mats have a wide range of colourful and flexible accessories that encourage the child’s playing and learning. Generally, this type of “baby gym” has exercise bars from which hang different elements that the newborn can explore at will.
Baby activity mats should have definite shapes within reach. On their stomachs, every day the little ones will be able to raise their heads a little more and thus have more mobility in their hands.
Benefits of activity mats for babies
Free movement is essential for babies to start getting to know their body’s possibilities. From an early age, lying them face down on the mat helps to strengthen their neck and back muscles, a necessary step before they can sit up.
The proximity of different coloured objects and different shapes and textures will give the child the enthusiasm to learn and continue to make discoveries. Teethers, mirrors and objects with rattles and different sounds are some very useful elements that will contribute to baby’s entertainment.
So-called “baby gyms” with soft arches running across their surface allow different stimuli to be found by extending the arms and legs. This encourages coordination and allows all the body’s muscles to be exercised. In this way, sensory development is accompanied by cognitive development, with toys that encourage cause and effect relationships. With all this, the baby will, little by little, gain autonomy.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that by staying on their stomachs, positional plagiocephaly is prevented in babies. This condition occurs when the little ones spend most of the day lying with their belly up. Thus, consequently, the back of the head can become flattened. This can be perfectly avoided with a mat on the floor.
Variety of activity mats for babies according to age
When choosing an activity mat, we will find many different options on the market:
Play mat from the 3rd month onwards
At this stage, baby begins to feel the need to explore the world for the first time after two months of cuddling and sleeping. Although he cannot differentiate between colours, he can already distinguish the contrast between one and the other.
Play mats with toys up to 6 months
The way in which the relationship between their own movement and the world is assimilated by babies is admirable. When they reach out their hands and find an object, they will experience all sorts of sensations: auditory, tactile and visual.
If the object attracts their attention, they will repeat the game several times. Little by little they will start to recognise their own toys and choose their favourites from among them.
Play mats from 7 and 8 months
At this stage, baby activity mats that offer different textures are ideal: soft, smooth, noisy and fluffy. Their fingers are already moving consciously, and they will be able to differentiate between each surface.
Between the 7th and 8th month, the child’s grey matter develops in a surprising way. He begins a phase of deep reflection on the world which leads him to create his first mental categories and orders.
At this stage, the child will be able to dissociate perfectly which sounds, colours and textures are more or less pleasant. Baby activity mats have the peculiarity of stimulating several senses at once.
Up to 24 months
Apart from the fact that the floor is one of children’s favourite places to play, we should not underestimate the activity mat even if the baby can already walk. These mats do not take up much space and the child will find it comforting to have his own space.
All in all, activity mats for babies provide incalculable benefits for children. From the age of three months to at least two years, this conglomeration of colours, textures and shapes will accompany them step by step in a healthy development.