Baby Playmat, Baby Play Gym – same or different?

Baby Playmat, Baby Play Gym – same or different?

Baby gyms, floor gyms, activity gyms, play gyms, play mats… Are these just different ways of describing the same thing?

Well, the first four are pretty much interchangeable. One manufacturer may prefer one phrase to another, but there is nothing that really distinguishes a floor gym from an activity gym. Play mats, however, are something else. In general, it is relatively easy to distinguish a play mat from a gym mat. However, there are even some manufacturers who, perhaps deliberately, confuse things and use play gym to describe what is essentially a play mat. And vice versa. So what exactly is the difference?

A safe place for baby to play

Let’s start by acknowledging that both play mats and gyms fulfill the same basic need. They provide a clean, safe and soft surface for your baby to lie or play on.

Play mats come in two basic forms. The variety of padded fabrics and type of interlocking foam tiles. Many are variations on a theme, but some really stand out as unique. One of them is K’s Kids Big & Big cushions and play mat, which is a fabric-padded mat with removable sausage-shaped cushions that create a protective barrier around the edge of the mat. But generally, the key choice is between a woven mat and a tile play area.

Padded fabric mats

The padded play mat comes in a surprising range of designs. Rectangular, round, square, oval… even elephant and giraffe shapes. Some are small enough to fold up and fit in a bag. Others are as big as a baby’s bedspread. Some playmats are nothing more than a patterned piece of soft fabric for the baby to lie on. Others have strategically placed support pads or add-ons for recreation, exploration and learning.

In general, cloth mattresses are best for small babies. But some are designed to adapt as the baby grows. The K’s Kids Big & Big cushions and play mat does just that: the mat neatly transforms into a mini couch or obstacle course.

Lockable foam tiles

Foam tile play mats usually come in packs. You can buy just nine or cover an entire floor. You can move them from room to room or leave them in place indefinitely. And you can add to your collection when baby becomes more mobile.

All foam tiles are fairly similar in shape, but come in all sorts of designs – numbers and letters being among the most popular. Some of the more sophisticated tile mats have built-in developmental toys and activities. Lights, textures, sounds, lots to engage little hands and minds.

So what is a game room? The main difference between a baby gym and a play mat is that the gym has hanging toys. This is an oversimplification, but when you look at a mat next to a floor gym, you can see that the mat is flat, but the gym has criss-cross arches with multiple hanging toys.

Manufacturers like to think that their gyms stimulate baby’s senses and promote development. They might be right. But this kind of training probably isn’t really that much different than any other opportunity a baby has to look, listen, and touch. However, they are pretty cool and when my sister offered to buy one for me and our baby boy, I wasn’t going to say no.

#Baby #Playmat #Baby #Play #Gym

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