Tummy Time Water Mat: Get Ready To Blast Off Tummy Time

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Tummy Time Water Mat

Where we stand: All the tummy time water mats I’ve researched are made of PVC. We are strongly against using PVC items because there is no guarantee to be safe. You will find an objective report about PVC and its negative effects made by an NGO here. Although we can not eliminate it, our family is on a mission to avoid it as much as possible, especially in the areas of prolonged direct contact with the skin (e.g. tummy time mat) or feeding. We simply don’t want to take the risk because we don’t believe in clean PVC. Please don’t let our beliefs affect your judgment.

Are you looking for an innovative way to help your baby:

Look no further than the Tummy Time Water Mat!

This innovative mat provides a comfortable surface for your baby to play on while stimulating their senses with colorful designs and floating toys.

But with so many options on the market, how do you know which baby water mat is right for you and your little one?

This article will explore everything you need to know about tummy time water mats, including:

So, are you up for the challenge of becoming a tummy time water mat expert?

I bet you are, so keep reading!

What Is A Tummy Time Water Mat?

Compared to a traditional tummy time mat, a tummy time water mat is an inflatable mat designed for babies to lay on their tummy and play on while being exposed to water.

It usually comes with colorful designs, textures, and floating toys to stimulate a baby’s senses and encourage them to reach and play.

The mat is filled with water and sealed, providing a safe and comfortable environment for babies to spend time in.

It is a great way to help babies develop their gross motor skills, improve their balance and coordination, and promote sensory exploration.

Do Water Mats Help With Tummy Time?

Everything that applies to the standard tummy time mats applies to the water mats too.

Additionally, tummy time water mats provide a unique sensory experience that can make tummy time more enjoyable and engaging for babies with the addition of a watery environment.

The floating toys, colorful designs, and textured surfaces can stimulate babies’ senses and encourage them to reach and play, making tummy time less of a chore and more of a fun activity.

Moreover, the resistance of the water provides a challenging workout for babies, which can help them build their strength and coordination.

Using a baby water mat for tummy time can also help babies develop their balance and spatial awareness as they move and explore on the mat.

Overall, water mats can be a useful tool for parents to help their babies enjoy and benefit from tummy time, leading to better motor development and overall growth.

At What Age Can You Use A Water Mat For Tummy Time?

According to most established manufacturers, a tummy time water mat can be used for tummy time as early as three months of age.

Since I don’t have hands-on experience here I can only recommend following their instructions, using your common sense, and checking the feedback from other parents.

It is important to mention, that compared to their standard versions, for tummy time water mats the resistance of the water can make it more challenging for your baby.

It is also recommended to consult with your pediatrician before introducing new activities or equipment during tummy time.

They can guide your baby’s individual development and recommend any adjustments or modifications to ensure their safety and comfort.

Are Tummy Time Water Mats Safe For Newborns?

As mentioned, most manufacturers recommend the use of tummy time water mats from the third month of age.

Based on the feedback I found from various sources, I managed to understand why.

The biggest concern is that a younger baby has a higher risk of suffocation on the water mats.

Since their neck muscles are almost inexistent, if left unsupervised even for a few seconds they can deepen their face into the mat and stop breathing.

I can not stress enough how important is that every activity of a newborn/baby should always be under adult supervision.

Are Tummy Time Water Mats For Babies Worth It?

According to most of the parents who used one, these types of mats are worth it.

The benefits and extras are extensively covered in this article.

Yet, whether a tummy time water mat is worth it depends also on your situation and preferences.

The main factors to consider when making the decision:

  • Benefits: Tummy time on a water mat can provide a unique sensory experience for babies and help promote motor development, balance, and spatial awareness. Some babies may find tummy time more enjoyable and engaging on a water mat than on a regular surface.
  • Cost: Tummy time water mats are generally affordable, but the price can vary depending on the brand and features. Consider whether the cost is worth the potential benefits and how often you plan to use it.
  • Safety: It is important to always supervise your baby during tummy time on a water mat to ensure their safety. Additionally, consider any potential risks or disadvantages of using a water mat for your particular case, such as skin irritation or discomfort.
  • Personal preference: Some babies may prefer tummy time on a regular surface or with other types of equipment, such as a play gym or a soft mat. Consider your baby’s individual preferences and needs when deciding whether to use a water mat.

Although tummy time water mats can be a helpful tool for promoting your baby’s development and enjoyment of tummy time, they are not necessary for all babies and may not be suitable for everyone.

How To Use A Tummy Time Water Mat?

Using a tummy time water mat for babies it’s a straightforward process.

Although the mat preparation for usage might be slightly different the outcome is the same.

First of all, please follow the tummy time water mat instructions you will receive with the product.

Nevertheless, here are a couple of steps regarding the process:

  1. Safe and clean surface: Choose a safe and clean surface, such as a flat and level floor, to place the water mat on. Make sure the surface is free from any sharp objects that can puncture or damage the mat.
  2. Fill the mat: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fill the mat with water. Be sure to fill it to the recommended level, which is usually indicated on the mat or in the instructions.
  3. Add toys or objects: Add toys or objects to the mat that will encourage your baby to reach and grasp during tummy time. Soft, lightweight toys that float or stick to the mat are ideal.
  4. Introduce it to your baby: Place your baby on the water mat, lying on their tummy with their arms and legs free to move. Make sure your baby’s head is turned to one side to prevent suffocation if they are still not in full control of it.
  5. Supervise your baby: Always supervise your baby during tummy time on the water mat. Stay within arm’s reach to ensure you can intervene quickly if needed.
  6. Engage with your baby: Encourage your baby to play with the toys and objects on the mat. You can also talk or sing to your baby to make tummy time more enjoyable.
  7. Time the tummy time sessions: Start with short tummy time sessions of 1-2 minutes and gradually increase the duration as your baby gets stronger and more comfortable. Aim for a total of 20-30 minutes of tummy time per day, spread out into multiple sessions.
  8. Empty the mat and clean it: After use, empty the water from the mat and wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Let it air dry before storing it away. Please check also the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remember, tummy time on a water mat should always be supervised, and if your baby shows any signs of discomfort or distress, stop the activity immediately.

How To Fill A Tummy Time Water Mat?

Always follow the tummy time water mat instructions received with the product when filling it, as different brands and models may have specific instructions or requirements.

However, the approach is generally universal, and here is what you should expect no matter which brand you choose:

  1. Lay the mat flat: Lay the water mat flat on a clean and smooth surface, with the side that will be in contact with your baby facing up.
  2. Locate the fill valve: Locate the fill valve on the mat. The valve is usually located on the edge of the mat and may be covered by a cap or plug.
  3. Remove the cap or plug: Remove the cap or plug from the fill valve. You may need to use a coin or a screwdriver to unscrew the cap or pull out the plug, depending on the type of valve.
  4. Inflate the outer ring: Some water mats come with an inflatable outer ring that helps to provide support and stability for your baby. If your mat has an inflatable outer ring, inflate it using a pump or by mouth. Be careful not to overinflate it, as this can cause the mat to burst.
  5. Fill the mat with water: Fill the mat with water through the fill valve. You can use a funnel or a measuring cup to make it easier to pour the water into the mat. Fill the mat to the recommended level, which is usually indicated on the mat or in the instructions.
  6. Remove air bubbles: Gently press down on the mat to remove any air bubbles that may have formed.
  7. Seal the valve: Once the mat is filled with water and all air bubbles are removed, reinsert the cap or plug into the fill valve and make sure it is tightly sealed.
  8. Test the mat: Test the mat for leaks by pressing down on different areas of the mat. If you notice any water leaking out, check the fill valve and seal it again.

How To Clean A Tummy Time Water Mat Inside?

Cleaning the inside of a tummy time water mat is a critical process of maintaining its hygiene and ensuring your baby’s safety.

Regular cleaning, ideally at the end of every day of use will prevent accidental damage if left inflated, or the development of bacteria and mold.

Here are 5 general steps to clean the inside of a tummy time water mat:

  1. Empty the water: Remove the plug or cap from the fill valve and empty the water from the mat. You can empty the water by holding the mat over a sink or tub and squeezing it gently.
  2. Rinse the inside: Rinse the inside of the mat with warm water to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated. In areas with an increased level of water hardness, there is a tendency for dirt to accumulate.
  3. Add cleaning solution: Mix a cleaning solution of mild soap and warm water in a bowl. You can also use vinegar and water solution for cleaning. Some people reported the use of diluted bleach, although the manufacturers generally advise against it because it can damage the product.
  4. Rinse again: Rinse the inside of the mat with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  5. Dry the mat: Squeeze out any excess water from the mat and wipe it dry with a clean towel or cloth. Hang it to air dry completely.

Once again, harsh chemicals, bleach, or abrasive cleaning tools should never be used to clean a tummy time water mat as they can damage the material and pose a risk to your baby’s health.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance and get “creative” at your own risk.

Are Water Mats Safe?

When used correctly and under adult supervision, baby water mats are generally considered safe (except for the PVC material).

However, it is important to keep in mind the following safety considerations:

  • Check for leaks: Before, during, and after use, inspect the mat for any signs of leaks or tears. Although it’s hard to reach a drowning hazard situation, things can get messy in case of a severe leak.
  • Fill the mat correctly: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for filling the mat with water to ensure that it is not overfilled or underfilled, which can affect the stability and safety of the mat.
  • Always supervise your baby: Never leave your baby unattended on the water mat during tummy time. Always stay within arm’s reach to ensure that you can intervene quickly if needed.
  • Keep the mat clean: Regularly clean the mat according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent mold or mildew growth, which can pose health risks to babies.
  • Avoid using near sharp objects or rough surfaces: Place the mat on a smooth, flat surface and away from any sharp objects that can puncture or damage the mat.
  • Check for skin irritation: Some babies can get sensitive to the materials, usually, PVC, used in the mat and experience skin irritation. If you notice any skin irritation or discomfort, discontinue use immediately.
  • Proper storage: When deflated it poses a suffocation hazard for your baby. Ensure you store it out of your baby’s reach after playtime.

10 Potential Benefits Of A Tummy Time Water Mat

  1. Motor development: Tummy time mats encourage babies to use their muscles and develop important motor skills, such as head control, crawling, and rolling.
  2. Flat head syndrome: Regular tummy time on a mat can help prevent the development of flat head syndrome, a condition where a baby’s head becomes flattened due to prolonged time spent lying on their back.
  3. Sensory development: The different textures and materials used in tummy time mats can stimulate a baby’s senses and enhance their sensory development.
  4. Comfortable surface: Tummy time mats provide a comfortable and supportive surface for babies to lie on, making it easier for them to enjoy tummy time.
  5. Encourages exploration: Tummy time mats often feature colorful and engaging designs that can capture a baby’s attention and encourage them to explore their surroundings.
  6. Improve digestion: Tummy time can help relieve gas and promote better digestion in babies.
  7. Cognitive development: Tummy time mats provide a safe and stimulating environment for babies to engage with their surroundings, which can help boost their cognitive development.
  8. Bonding experience: Tummy time mats can provide a special bonding experience for parents and babies, as parents can interact with their babies and participate in their development.
  9. Portable: Many tummy time mats are lightweight and portable, making them easy to take on-the-go and use in different locations.
  10. Easy to clean*: Tummy time mats are typically easy to clean and maintain, making them a convenient option for busy parents.

* Compared to other surfaces, the outer material of water mats wipes clean and maintains cleanliness way easier than other surfaces (e.g. cotton, hemp, etc.).

The inside cleaning can be a burden though.

How To Prevent Tummy Time Water Mat Mold Development?

This task is the major drawback of a water mat compared to a standard tummy time mat.

Performing maintenance of products that are in prolonged direct contact with water is always difficult.

To achieve this goal without using aggressive substances like bleach, you’ll need to keep a drastic cleaning schedule and perform the cleaning procedure as described above.

From experience, for someone without external help (e.g. family, friends, nanny), that’s almost impossible.

Therefore a lot of people end up with mold inside the water mat and decide to throw it away.

This was one of our main concerns (apart from the PVC problem I already mentioned above) when we decided to pass on this product.

Tummy Time Water Mat vs Tummy Time Mat

  • Size: Tummy time water mats are much smaller than the non-water ones limiting the space for movement and exploration.
  • Safety: A tummy time water mat can pose a suffocation hazard or cause skin irritation because of the PVC. Non-PVC and non-inflatable tummy time mats have a very low risk.
  • Cleaning/Maintenance: Tummy time water mats require regular and extensive cleaning, and drying to prevent mold and mildew, while standard mats are easier to clean and dry. Overall, cleaning a water mat is more complex and time-consuming.
  • Environmental Impact: Tummy time water mats require more resources and energy to produce and dispose of than most of the normal tummy time mats. PVC is very toxic to the environment, especially when it’s not disposed of in a controllable way.
  • Health Risks: A tummy time water mat can expose babies to chemicals, such as phthalates and BPA, that may have long-term health effects. Standard tummy time mats are generally safer in this regard.
  • Lifespan/Durability: Water mats may have a shorter lifespan due to the risk of punctures or leaks, while standard mats tend to be more durable and longer lasting. Many parents reported the leaking as a constant factory defect.
  • Portability: A tummy time water mat can be more portable than a standard one, as it can be deflated and folded for easy transport.
  • Cost: Tummy time water mats can be less expensive than the normal ones, which may be cost-effective for parents on a budget.
  • Baby Engagement: A tummy time water mat can provide a more stimulating and interactive experience for babies due to the colorful designs and floating objects, while standard mats may be less engaging for babies if additional tummy time toys are not present.

What To Look For When Picking A Tummy Time Water Mat?

  1. Reviews: Check online for tummy time water mat reviews and guides (like the one you are reading now) to see the experience of other parents with the baby water mat you are considering. This can give you an idea of the quality of the mat and any concerns you may have.
  2. Material: Make sure to choose a water mat made from safe and non-toxic materials, such as BPA-free PVC or eco-friendly materials. Ideally, non-PVC, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find one so far.
  3. Shape and Design: Check for a size that fits your expectations because there are various. Some water mats may be shaped differently to provide additional support for your baby’s head and neck. Some may also have interactive features, such as tummy time mirrors or sounds.

To give you a head start, below, I’ve put together for you a roundup of the most appreciated tummy time water mats.

Best 15 Tummy Time Water Mats

The world of these sensory water mats for babies is rather simple today.

So far, no one invested too much in research and development, therefore the concept is quite similar.

It will be a matter of personal preference in terms of colors and brand.

Baby Einstein Octopus Water Play Mat

  • 24-inch
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • usable for newborns, according to the manufacturer
  • the highest rating on Amazon with a whooping 21k+ reviews

Infinno Premium Baby Water Play Mat

  • 26×20-inch water mat coming in square and round shapes
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • several available themes: Blue Whale, Dolphin, Mermaid

The Peanutshell Montessori Black & White Tummy Time Water Mat

  • 26×20-inch black and white baby water mat
  • 5 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • other themes available: Blue, Pink

ZMLM Baby Water-Mat Extra Large

  • 40-inch round water mat – among the biggest sizes available
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • they claim to have thicker PVC than other brands and a giftable box

Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Water Mat

  • 26×20-inch water mat from a renowned brand
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • they claim to have thicker PVC than other brands

Extra Big Dinosaur Baby Water Mat

  • 39×32-inch water mat
  • 6 floating high-contrast dinosaur toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up
  • one of the few tummy time water mats with a non-sea theme

Splashin’kids Premium Water Mat with Mirror

  • 26×20-inch water mat with extra features
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • extra tummy time toys: a tummy time mirror and 2 baby rattles

Infantino Narwahl Pat & Play Water Mat

  • 20×16-inch budget water mat from a renowned brand
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • Whale theme available

SwimSchool Baby Splash Play Mat With Adjustable Canopies

  • 28-inch water mat with backrest
  • great for using outside due to the (removable) canopy (UPF 50 protection)
  • recommended from 6 months and up by the vendor
  • 3 high contrast stackable rings


  • 41×35-inch whale-shape water mat
  • 6 floating high-contrast toys
  • recommended from 3 months and up by the vendor
  • additional themes and shapes: Turtle, Rectangle

Baby Einstein Sea Floor Explorers 2-in-1 Water Mat

  • 32×32-inch tummy time water gym with 4 play modes
  • 5 removable toys: bead chaser, baby-safe mirror, sensory disc, plush chime fish, colorful ring
  • small detachable water mat with floating animals

gebra Inflatable Tummy Time Water Mat Sea Turtle Shape

  • 43×35-inch sea turtle shape water mat – among the biggest sizes
  • 8 floating high-contrast marine animals
  • recommended from 3 months and up
  • comes also in blue

UNIH Baby Gym Play Mat, Kick and Play Piano Gym with Water Mat

  • 30×18-inch tummy time water gym with cool detachable accessories
  • small detachable water mat with 6 floating animals
  • kick & play piano, 4 hanging rattle toys, and 1 tummy time mirror
  • one of the few all-in-one concepts with a water mat

LaLa Lou Kids Water Tummy Time Mat

  • 34-inch girlish water mat
  • cool flower theme for a change
  • recommended from 3 months and up
  • 7 high contrast floating toys

TT TUMMYTIMEZ Multi Stage Tummy Time Water Mat

  • 40×40-inch BPA-free baby water mat
  • one of the largest products
  • recommended from 3 months and up
  • 2 approaches for tummy timers, beginners & experienced

Key Takeaways

If you’re a parent or caregiver looking for a fun and stimulating way to help your baby develop their motor skills and core strength, a tummy time water mat could be the perfect solution.

These mats offer a comfortable space for your baby to practice their tummy time, while also engaging their senses with bright colors and fun textures.

Should you give it a try?

I would say why not, but keep in mind all the information you read so far especially the cons.

Put it to work after you receive it, and if you are unhappy, return it without second thoughts.

If after reading my article you concluded that the tummy time water mat is not for you I understand you perfectly.

What I can recommend you 100%, is the Lovevery Play Gym or the Lovevery Play Kits for which I’ve written comprehensive articles.

One or a mix of them will fulfill 99% of a baby’s developmental needs safely & hassle-free.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, please take the time and check them out.

If you have any questions, tips, curiosities, or experiences to share, please use the comments section below.

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