As a parent, the tummy time mat topic is one of the first decisions you need to make with a direct impact on your newborn’s life.
The stress level is already high because of the newborn, so making a correct decision can be challenging.
As I always advise, please make your decisions in normal circumstances without emotional interference.
It’s easier said than done, so the purpose of this post is to help you with the tummy time mat matter.
By the end of this article you will know:
- what a tummy time mat’s purpose is
- what types of tummy time mats are out there
- what are the key features of a tummy time mat
- if tummy time mats are safe for babies
- what non-toxic tummy time mats options are available today
You’ll find everything from 100% organic cotton or hemp to foam and rugs.
Without further due, let’s dive right into it!
What Is Tummy Time And Why It’s Important?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), tummy time is essential for a baby’s development.
Tummy time is that period of your baby’s life when your baby will be placed on his or her belly while awake under the supervision of an adult.
As you noticed, or you will notice, for newborns, the natural position feels to be on their backs, especially because they are unable to hold their heads.
This is also how should they sleep until they build enough muscle strength to roll over or crawl around to prevent suffocation.
I know it sounds trivial but according to the US National Institute of Health
“More than 85% of all deaths from Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed (ASSB) occur in the first 6 months of life.“National Institute of Health
Please refer to their dedicated page to find out life-saving information about your baby’s sleep in the first months of life here.
Tummy time has the following 4 major benefits:
- Strengthens the neck and the shoulders’ muscles
- Contributes to motor skills improvement
- Helps cognitive development
- Prevents flat areas on the back of your baby’s head
Since we established that tummy time is critical and must happen, it’s important to consider the “where”.
Hence our topic about the tummy time play mat must go on.
What Is A Tummy Time Mat?
A safe place is the best description for a tummy time mat.
Since babies will start crawling before walking, they need to have a dedicated place to spend their time, and explore the world, while strengthening their muscles.
It needs to meet several standard security features and ideally, have add-ons for added value.
In simple words, it’s a piece of material covering a part of your floor where your baby will handle their daily business, accompanied by one of the parents or another family member.
When Tummy Time Mat Should Be Used?
Always. Unless you live in the clouds or something.
There are various reasons a tummy time mat should be always used no matter how high-end your living place is.
If you have a hard floor (hardwood, stone, parquet, ceramics, etc.) it’s mandatory to have some cushion between your baby’s fragile body and the floor.
If you have a fluffy floor (like the UK standard) there is a very high hygiene concern, especially if you also have pets.
Therefore, the rule of thumb is to always have something between your baby and the floor, no matter the type.
It will prevent or significantly reduce many risks that will otherwise occur if you leave him or her directly on the unprotected floor.
The Main Benefits Of A Tummy Time Mat
To identify the usefulness of the tummy time mat we need to bring into the spotlight some of the most important benefits it brings.
I can’t say it enough times, safety first, and first is safety.
Lots of accidents may happen to newborns on a hard floor since they can’t control most of their body parts in their early days.
It’s a world’s difference if your baby’s chin or head will hit the floor directly or through a 1in/2.5cm cushioned mat.
Although, it may look like the floor is clean, the reality is always different.
We all know that “clean” is a very negotiable state when having one or more babies around.
And for sure, you don’t want any bugs or bacteria around your baby in their first weeks of life.
Therefore, it’s way easier to clean a space of 7x7ft (~2x2m), eventually by throwing it in a washing machine or wiping it with a damp cloth, than to mop the entire house.
Having a safe and clean space will facilitate your baby’s physical and cognitive development.
Bumping their head into the floor for example might cause fear toward exploration, thus slowing down their overall development.
Getting sick due to bug bites or bacteria lying on the floor will put them in a stressful state.
I believe it’s clear how important a quality tummy time mat is.
Most of these mats are also coming with nice features that enhance the baby’s development, like contrasting colors, eye-catching designs, and joyful drawings.
Please remember that in this post I am tackling play mats and not play gyms.
To understand the difference between a play mat and a play gym keep reading.
How To Choose The Best Tummy Time Mat?
After days of research and family brainstorming, I’ve compiled a list of attributes one should consider when making a decision.
You might not find one product having all of the below.
Focus on the ones that matter to you the most and see how can you accommodate the lacking attributes.
It sounds trivial but, most of the products in the market may impact your baby’s health.
Unfortunately, the tummy time mats beg no difference.
To make them affordable, most manufacturers use materials that are known as unsafe, or even worse, they claim they are safe despite the public opinion about them.
Without going into too much detail on this post, I am looking for products that are free of:
- PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)
- BPA (Bisphenol A)
- Flame retardants
- Lead and other heavy metals
- Synthetic Latex
- PU (Polyurethane) foam
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
- EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate)
Scary right? And the list is not exhaustive.
It’s unbelievable how many toxic materials are part of daily life and we are not even aware.
On a side note, there is quite a debate about EVA because it is suspected to be off-gassing formamide, a very toxic chemical compound.
To keep it short, based on the information I found I decided to ban EVA from my family’s environment.
1. France and Belgium banned foam mats (the majority made of EVA), no questions asked.
Both countries demanded that the new mats introduced on the market should be guaranteed formamide-free.
2. Australian and Canadian governments conducted investigations on EVA products but they concluded the level of formamide in the EVA should not pose any threat to a baby’s life.
One statement of the Australian report that may ease one’s mind toward EVA products:
“Based on the actual testing, it was concluded that a child would need to mouth for 20 minutes, or ingest, at least 4.17 square metres of typical foam play mat every day over their entire life to approach a level of exposure to formamide which might raise health concerns.”ACCC – more details here
Since it’s very hard to define if a certain EVA-foam product is formamide-free or not, we decided to avoid them.
If you decide to go for an EVA foam tummy time mat, please keep it for a week in some air-circulated space if you sense any smell (that’s the off-gassing) during the unpacking.
According to some unverified sources, it appears that most of the off-gassing happens in the first couple of days of the unpacking.
Please don’t take this as medical advice, only as a suggestion from a fellow parent to at least diminish any potential harmful effects.
The price is always an important aspect.
You will be tempted to go for the cheaper ones. DON’T!
Please read #1 again.
That doesn’t mean you need to go bankrupt but you will need 1, maximum 2 tummy time play mats until you don’t.
3. 2-Sided aka Reversible
If possible, pick a 2-sided option.
Babies get bored quickly so it will be nice to give something new from time to time.
If one of the sides is also fashionable it’s even better.
Some tummy time mats come with 1 side that is “baby-friendly” and 1 side that is more adult-friendly.
When you get visitors and don’t want them to feel like they are in a circus, just flip it.
4. Easy To Clean
Whatever you decide to go for, check the cleaning and care instructions.
From experience, it needs to be something that goes quickly and efficiently (machine washing or wiping with a damp cloth with mild detergent for example).
This is the dream of every parent.
Unfortunately, non-toxic options, very few of them have this feature.
Still, I will list a couple of options below that have embedded this feature.
Same as with the waterproof, most non-toxic mats are from fabrics like cotton or hemp with some polyester fillings.
They don’t provide the best cushion in the world therefore you can choose to buy 2 and overlap them.
Still, your baby’s not gonna fall on them from the moon so we found that most of them are “just enough”.
Before your baby starts walking it’s only a danger for the family when they step in an out of the mat.
After the baby is standing and attempts to walk around a non-slip tummy time mat is a real hazard so make sure you check how the manufacturer is addressing this feature.
You want to move to another room, or maybe to visit the grandparents.
It will be quite useful to be able to pack it quickly, right?
Keep this in mind.
Ideally, they should stay dead flat on the floor with no curly edges.
It can be tricky but I assure you they exist, even among the fabrics ones.
Size matters, especially here.
There is no ideal size but you should consider that your baby has enough space to crawl a bit or roll over without the risk of falling off the mat.
Tummy Time Mat Or Play Gym
Pretty sure this question crossed your mind already so here’s the answer.
The key is in the last word of both.
“Mat” is what it says, a piece of material that lies on the floor to provide a safe place for your baby to perform various activities.
“Gym” on the other hand, may have a mat as a component (not mandatory) but it mainly refers to a structure (imagine real gym devices) where your baby can engage with various toys and concepts to help him or her develop certain skills.
The best play gym, which also comes with a safe play mat, is by far the one Lovevery offers.
You can read the complete review about it here.
12 Non-Toxic Tummy Time Mats
Now that we’ve answered the most critical questions about the tummy time mat topic, let’s check out a list with some of the best non-toxic tummy time mats currently available.
1. Little Bot
One of the best brands in terms of foam tummy time mats.
Little Bot is a Canadian brand started by a couple, same as us, looking for non-toxic baby products.
Their mats are made of TPU foam (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) certified in US labs.
TPU is one of the very few synthetic foams safe for babies.
Because it’s inert, it doesn’t off-gas or leak any dangerous substances.
Worldwide availability | 0.6in/1.5cm thickness | TPU foam | Reversible | Waterproof | 1 Size | 2 Shapes (Square & Round) | One-Piece
Apart from their webshops in the US, CA, and DE, you can purchase Little Bot’s Mats from:
- Tradeinn – worldwide shipping, a good way for Europeans to gain access to their mats
- The Tot – worldwide shipping
A US-based brand with quality products from TPU foam.
I like their high-contrasting colors and shapes which are helpful for babies.
They also have some vegan leather options that I won’t recommend as a tummy time mat since they are very thin.
In the best-case scenario, those can act as a cover.
Worldwide availability* | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | TPU foam | Reversible | Waterproof | 1 Size | Various designs | One-Piece
From their webshop, they only ship in the US.
However, their products have worldwide exposure through:
Toddlekind is a German brand with worldwide availability.
Just to be clear, my recommendation goes only to a part of their products:
These two ranges are made of 100% organic cotton with polyester filling.
Although they have significant foam tummy time mat options, they are made of EVA foam.
They claim their EVA foam is safe but as it was proved several times, the EVA foam can be tested only up to a certain level for toxic compounds.
By any means, if you have no problem with EVA foam, check out if their products fit your needs.
Worldwide shipping* | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | Organic Cotton | Reversible | 1 Size | Leaf and Circle Shapes | One-Piece
Toddlekind has 3 webshops for the US, UK, and EU.
Apart from those, their products are also available on:
- The Tot – worldwide shipping
- Tradeinn – worldwide shipping
- LittleHipStar – EU shipping
4. Toki Mats
One of my favorite companies in terms of tummy time mats because of the quality and availability of its products.
There is one thing you should be aware of, some people are allergic to natural latex.
Your baby will never be in direct contact with the latex but keep an eye on this during the first days.
For the cover, Toki uses either GOTS-certified cotton in various patterns or Oeko-Tex-certified vegan leather.
Worldwide shipping | 1in/2.5cm thickness | Organic cotton | Organic natural latex | Waterproof | Reversible | Standard & King Size | Made in USA
You can get one from:
This company’s mats are crazy.
I believe it’s the purest tummy time mat out there.
Pillobebe’s signature product, the CorkiMat (no cork in it anymore though) is also pending patents.
The CorkiMat COMFY comes in 4 sizes, 2 shapes (rectangle or square depending on the size), and several designs that will fit any taste.
CorkiMat is made of OekoTex100-certified polyester with a GOTS-certified cotton cover.
Worldwide shipping* | 1in/2.5cm thickness | Organic Cotton Cover | Non-Reversible | 4 Sizes | Multi-Pad Hypoallergenic Polyester | Non-Slip | Handmade in USA
They also have a 100% organic cotton mat with a thickness of 0.5in/1.5cm for people that don’t want any synthetic material in their kids’ mats, which is also reversible.
Good quality but I wouldn’t necessarily use it as a tummy time mat due to its low cushioning and non-slip.
They also produce other safe baby products that you might find useful, like playpens or forts.
A small business from Ukraine is producing practical organic hemp items.
If you remember from the Barefoot Shoes review, hemp has similar attributes to merino wool, keeping you warm during cold periods and cold during hot periods.
Most important, it takes a tiny toll on the environment compared to cotton, if any at all.
In their case, they claim no chemicals are used during the cultivation or later during manufacturing processes.
Together with hemp they also use flax, another plant with great attributes for both clothing and the environment.
Worldwide shipping | Thickness varies | Organic Hemp & Flax | Reversible | Various sizes | Undyed | Size & embroidery customization | Handmade | Hypoallergenic
Their baby products can be used as a tummy time mat without any problem.
Some of them could use some better cushioning but nothing to worry about.
If you fancy a non-toxic life, grab their products from:
Another brand that creates tummy time mats from TPU foam and meets most of the other attributes I mentioned above.
I like their high-contrast designs.
US/Amazon.com availability | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | TPU foam | Reversible (but same pattern) | Waterproof | 1 Size | Various designs | One-Piece | Hypoallergenic
Unfortunately, a big minus is that their products are available only in the US and within the delivery range of Amazon.com.
The good news is that you can get it delivered for free (and return it for free) in Europe from Amazon.com in all the countries they have a store (DE, ES, FR, IT, UK, etc.).
This Australian brand focuses on safe baby products.
Among many products, they also have tummy time mats made of GOTS-certified cotton and OekoTex100-certified polyester.
They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs.
The rainbow shape it’s unique.
Their products are handmade in India and Australia.
Worldwide shipping & availability | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | Organic Cotton & Polyester | Reversible | Handmade | Various sizes, shapes & designs | One-Piece
For some mats, you can choose the filling material between cotton, polyester, or wool and even the colors.
This is a nice feature for sure, too bad is only applicable to some items.
Because they are handmade, and sometimes there is a waiting time, if you like their baby mats, plan in advance.
Pehr is a female-founded, female-led Canadian brand dealing with a wide range of baby products.
They are very much about safe baby products, therefore their tummy time mats line has a 100% GOTS-certified cotton cover filled with safe polyester.
Worldwide shipping & availability | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | Organic Cotton & Polyester | Reversible | Various shapes & designs | One-Piece
I recommend their matching bundles (e.g. tummy time mat + storage bin + changing pad).
To grab a tummy time mat from Pehr, you have several online options:
10. Wee Gallery
A family company from the US with a business model similar to Pehr.
They have a variety of baby products (stroller toys, cards, puzzles, nesting blocks, etc.) focusing on the black & white concept (high contrast) and also other baby-friendly colors.
I was able to find their products worldwide in many online stores, which suggests they are in high demand.
Their tummy time mats are very attractive in both design and colors, giving your baby a wonderful time.
Worldwide shipping & availability | 0.5in/1.3cm thickness | Organic Cotton & Polyester | Reversible | Various shapes & designs | One-Piece
I like the fact they have what I call newborn essentials, therefore you can bundle lots of must-have items in their online store in one go.
If you fancy their products, here are a couple o places you can grab them:
11. Lorena Canals
Lorena Canals, a company from Spain, is offering an interesting concept for a tummy time mat.
They claim and take pride that they made the world-first washable rug.
So their tummy time mats are rug-a-like with various inserts and designs.
I am not a big fan of rugs because they tend to catch a lot of external “stuff” that can quickly become a health risk for anyone, especially for crawling babies.
If you add pets you got yourself a bacteria nuke.
But since these rugs are washable and many people out there enjoy the concept, I will mention Lorena Canals’ rugs because they do deliver quality.
You’ll see that also in the price, I believe they are the most expensive tummy time mat option on my list.
Worldwide shipping & availability | ~0.5in/1.3cm thickness | Cotton & Wool | Handmade | Non-Reversible | Various shapes & designs | One-Piece
For the price you pay, you’ll get handmade products from artists in northern India, using only recycled and natural fibers, like cotton and wool, and non-toxic dyes.
You can get your hands on their tummy time rugs from various places, depending on your location:
- LorenaCanals.us – dedicated shipping to the US and Canada
- LorenaCanals.com – worldwide shipping dedicated to Europe and the rest of the world
- Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
- Wayfair.com | Wayfair.co.uk | Wayfair.de
- The Tot
- Amara.com – shipping to 16 countries (US, UK, DE, AU, CA, etc.)
- Scandiborn – the UK and Ireland
12. Finn & Emma
Although not among my first options in for tummy time mats, Finn & Emma made the list because they deal with safe materials in their products.
As the other options presented above, they have a dedicated store for baby products that can get you set up in one go.
One mention, they do fall a bit on the luxury side, and you’ll understand why after you see their prices.
Nevertheless, their 2 tummy time mat options (oval and round) are solid options for parents who fancy a stylish play mat with an edge and don’t mind the price.
Made of GOTS-certified cotton and filled with polyester, I see them more as a huge baby nest than a tummy time mat, but that’s me.
Worldwide shipping | ~1.5in/4cm thickness | Organic Cotton & Polyester | Solid cushion | Non-Reversible | No designs | Oval & Round Nest-like | One-Piece
The 2 tummy time mats can be bundled with wooden baby gyms, which I believe it’s quite a nice touch.
Although the majority of their baby products are available on Amazon and local baby boutiques.
It seems their mats are not so popular because you can hardly find them somewhere else apart from FinnAndEmma.com(not even in their store on Amazon).
Yet, they do offer worldwide shipping so if you fancy one, you can have it almost in any corner of the world.
I hope that the information provided in this article will guide you toward the best decision.
Some people will accept only a 100% organic mat, others will be ok with EVA foam, others can’t stand latex, and others don’t mind polyester.
My wife can’t stand puzzle mats, I am not a big fan of anything fluffy.
It’s up to you where you draw the line on what makes a tummy time mat perfect.
It’s crucial to make a decision based on accurate information and consider other people’s experiences.
Sometimes, marketing puts people’s lives in danger.
Take your time and research thoroughly.
Do not rely only on what the manufacturer is advertising.
You are a parent so there is a sixth sense somewhere in you already.
I will keep the list above up to date and add new products that, in my opinion, are fit to be used as a tummy time mat for a newborn.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to your feedback regarding your experience with tummy time mats so please drop a comment (or more) below.
Until next time, I wish you good health, and may the best decisions nest in your mind.