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12 of the best baby activity mats

From musical baby gyms that light up to beautiful textured play mats, these are our favourite buys for your baby

12 of the best baby activity mats

A comfy playmat or baby gym, with lots of things to see, hear, feel and grasp, is a must-have for small-baby entertainment between naps, feeds and nappy changes.

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The best ones will have a good range of mat-based features and dangly toys with different sounds, textures, mirrors and patterns to discover. And some activity mats will even ‘grow’ with your baby, coming with a special cushion to support tummy-time play or offering multiple places to attach the dangly toys so you can move them around as your baby learns to roll, sit and crawl. 

Best baby activity mats at a glance

  • Best baby activity mat for masses of stimulation: Kinderkraft 4SMART Contrasting Sensory Mat, £64.99
  • Best baby activity mat for the sensory blanket extra: Taf Toys Savannah 360 Activity Gym, £64.99
  • Best baby activity mat for style: Tiny Love Boho Chic Luxe Development Gymini, £109.99
  • Best baby activity mat for cosy newborn play: Taf Toys Koala Musical Cosy Gym, £69.99
  • Best baby activity mat for longevity: Lovevery Play Gym, £140
  • Best baby activity mat for monochrome stimulation: Magical Tales Black & White Gymini, £59.99
  • Best value baby activity mat: Red Kite Ball Playgym Peppermint Trail, £23
  • Best baby mat for sensory lights: Skip Hop Vibrant Village Smart Lights Activity Gym, £90
  • Best baby activity mat for extra comfort: Little Bird Told Me My Little Sunshine Multi-Activity Playgym, £69.95
  • Best baby activity mat for a unique design: Skip Hop Camping Cubs Activity Gym, £80
  • Best baby activity mat for a classic style: Kids Concept Edvin Baby Gym, £85
  • Best baby activity mat for bright colours: Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Gym, £34.99

Here’s our pick of the best baby activity mats, as tested by babies and rated by their parents…

1. Kinderkraft 4SMART Contrasting Sensory Mat, £64.99

– Great for masses of stimulation

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What is it: A 126cm x 112 cm machine-washable activity mat, predominantly in red, white and black, with an adjustable, fabric-covered arch and 4 different ‘sensory zones’ around the central mat that can be raised up for tummy-time play and are each designed to stimulate sight, hearing, touch or concentration. Comes with detachable toys including a mirror, a ball with a rattle, a plush donut and a rustling toy, as well as a sensory ball, and 12 ‘cognitive’ cards that can be slotted into a clear pocket on the side of the mat or attached to a ring and clipped to a pushchair.

Why we love it: This activity mat is absolutely brimming with features to keep your baby busy – and to keep them interested and stimulated as they get older and more curious. We also really like that you clip the detachable toys at any height along the arch, so a smaller baby or a baby on their tummy can reach them – as Simone, mum of our baby tester, Lily, 4 months found out: “Lily uses both her legs/feet and arms to reach for the toys which she’s never done on other playmats as the toys have been too high.” The sensory zones are nicely thought out and we particularly like the range of textures in the ‘touch’ zone. Natalie, mum of another of our baby testers, Lani, 5 months, said these were a real hit at tummy time. “Lani spends ages looking at everything,” she said. “She especially enjoys the rustling, rattling, squeaky features in the ‘hearing’ sensory zone.”

Available at: Kinderkraft and Amazon

2. Taf Toys Savannah 360 Activity Gym, £64.99

– Great for the sensory blanket extra

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 100cm x 80cm playmat with a fabric-covered arch and accessories including plastic pockets to put double-side felt picture cards in and 7 multi-sensory detachable hanging toys, including a rattling teether, a double-sided turtle with a baby-safe mirror, a bee ring rattle and a music and light toy that plays 3 melodies. Comes with a double-sided crinkle blankie that can be attached in different places.

Why we love it: This is a very sweet, fun, colourful, comfy mat and the hanging toys are well chosen and nicely designed. “There is a great variety of sensory toys and activities,” said Abigail, mum of our baby tester Poppy, 4 months. “Every base is pretty much covered for baby development! Poppy let out shrieks of enjoyment playing on this mat. She had lots of fun using her feet to kick the crinkle blanket and when she rolled over onto her tummy she was bobbing her head around so much trying to look at everything. It all really caught her attention.”

Available from: Halilit

3. Tiny Love Boho Chic Luxe Developmental Gymini, £109.99

– Great for style 

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: 3 x LR44 (included)
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What is it: A ‎74cm x 59cm double-padded, machine-washable play mat with a standalone wooden arch with hanging toys including a baby-activated musical sloth that plays nature sounds and melodies, a eucalyptus mobile, and a set of 3 gripping rings with dangling ribbons. Coms with a koala doll with rattle, a crinkly plant toy, a mirror, a giant leaf kicker, a transparent bead ball and 12 milestone cards.

Why we love it: We like the stylish, modern colours are restful and modern, the comfiness of the mat and the moveable wooden arch – and our baby testers really liked the sloth’s little song. Andrea, mum of our child tester Finn, 6 months, said: “It’s a gorgeous-looking gym. Finn was very excited when he heard the musical sloth, and the eucalyptus mobile got him kicking his little legs. The mat is super-soft and cushioned, too. He spent ages on his tummy staring at himself in the mirror.” Her only concern with the wooden arch was that it makes it not so easy as other mats to fold away for travel or storage.

Available at: Tiny Love and Amazon

4. Taf Toys Koala Musical Cosy Gym, £69.99

– Great for cosy newborn play

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: ‎2 x AAA
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Awards 2021

What it is: A 78cm x 55cm padded baby mat with a fabric-covered arch, music, lights and 5 multi-sensory toys, including a butterfly ring rattle, crinkle-effect rainbow, fluffy koala and baby-safe mirror. The soft padded sides can be pulled upwards to create a soft, comfortable and cosy ‘nest’ for a small baby, then let down as your child grows older and is more interested in active play.

Why we love it: We love how soft and padded it is – and that the cushioned sides are sturdy enough to provide support for tummy time play. The toys are sweet (we like the crinkly rainbow in particular) and it’s good that there is a choice of heights on the arch to clip them to. Trudy, mum of our baby tester Laura, 3 months, said, “This is perfect for any baby to try. I love the way it’s set up and the price isn’t bad, either. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Available at: JoJo Maman Bebe

5. Lovevery Play Gym, £140

– Great for longevity

Age suitability: From birth  | Batteries: None

What it is: A 96cm x 109cm machine-washable polyester playmat with a wooden arch and 5 flaps that each open out to display a ‘sensory zone’, each featuring different colours, shapes, fabrics and textures. From the arch you can dangle a high-contrast cotton ball, batting ring and a cotton teether. Comes with 3 sets of picture cards (black-and-white, faces, objects), a set of mirror cards, a play guide and a fabric frame cover to turn the gym into a little den.

Why we love it: It’s pricey but, with its den option, it’s designed to last well into toddlerhood and it has an astonishing variety of features hiding behind those flaps. We love its generous size and tip-filled play guide. The mat itself is comfy enough, though some of our testers commented that the polyester-mix material attracted the dust. Precious, mum of our baby tester Nakai, 5 months, was a big fan, though: “I love that the main colour of the mat is neutral and then the flaps open to show splashes of bright colours,” she said. “Nakai loves the bell and she also likes lying and looking at the black and white cards above her.”

Available at: Lovevery and Amazon

6.Magical Tales Black & White Gymini, £59.99

– Great for monochrome stimulation

Magical Tales Black & White Gymini

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: This 45cm x  78cm black-and-white mat has adjustable fabric-covered arch and comes with interactive toys such as a musical hedgehog, a hanging mobile, a mirror and a baby book for tummy-time play.

Why we love it: The toys that come with this mat are a good size and can be positioned in a variety of places on the arch and the black-and-white theme is both stylish and great for baby stimulation. We particularly like the little book – which can be opened right out or even detached for pushchair/car seat distraction. Ashley, mum of our baby tester Ruby, 7 months, said: “My daughter seemed very comfortable on this mat. It’s a good size, with plenty of toys to keep her occupied. She has had so much fun. She loves the dangling toys and her favourite is the mirror, she speaks to herself and gives herself kisses.”

Available at: Kiddies Kingdom

7. Red Kite Ball Playgym Peppermint Trail, £23

– Great value for money


Age: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A 82cm x 51cm wipe-clean playgym with fabric-covered arch and soft hanging toys for floor-time play that – with the sides up – converts into a padded ball pool for when your baby can sit up. Comes with balls and a carry bag.

Why we love it: This is one of the best-value play mats on our list – and we love that it converts into a ball-pit once your baby gets bigger. The hanging toys don’t have all the lights and sounds and clever features of some of the more expensive activity mats but they do their baby-entertainment job well.Amanda, mum of our baby tester Eadie, 4 months, said, “Eadie really enjoys being on the playmat and is fascinated by her reflection in the mirror. She seems very comfortable on it, too. It’s very easy to assemble and also very easy to convert into the ball pit by simply lifting up the sides and securing with Velcro.”

Available at: Little Angels

8. Skip Hop Vibrant Village Smart Lights Activity Gym, £90

– Great for sensory lights


Age suitability: From birth |  Batteries: 3 x AA

What it is: A ‎92cm x 50cm mat with a wide fabric-covered arch and 4 reversible sensory hanging toys, a dog-shaped tummy-time pillow and light-up, musical arches.

Why we love it: The bold graphics are gorgeous, and the light-up arches are enchanting (we particularly like the ‘tracking’ mode where your baby can follow the lights as they light up one by one). The sausage-dog tummy time pillow is a good size and has lovely crinkle ears. Fleur, mum of our baby tester Huey, 6 months, says, “I only wish that we had discovered this product when my son was younger as we would not have bought anything else. The tummy-time pillow adds great value: we’ve used it daily and it has really helped Huey’s development.”

Available at: John Lewis and Amazon

9. Little Bird Told Me My Little Sunshine Multi-Activity Playgym, £69.95

– Great for extra comfort


Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A 74cm x 53cm well-padded (and washable) playmat with lots of smooth, shiny and scrunchy textures that comes with a tummy time/headrest cushion, 2 activity toys with teething rings, a (detachable) musical pull toy, a (detachable) play mirror and easy-to-assemble play arches. It can also be used as an activity rug when your baby can sit up or crawl.

Why we love it: This is one of the comfiest play mats we’ve seen – really lovely cushion-y padding – and the bright colours and friendly snail design are fun (without being too much for your average sitting room). Our parent testers were particularly impressed that, with its fun snail shape, it could be re-purposed as a fun rug for an older baby.

Available at: A Little Bird Told Me

10. Skip Hop Camping Cubs Activity Gym, £80

– Great unique design


Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: 3 x LR44 (included)

What it is: A teepee-style gym which comes with 4 hanging toys, including a light-up firefly, a mirror, a rattle and a musical raccoon with teether. There’s also a plush sleeping-bear tummy-time pillow and a peekaboo felt flap on the ‎86cm x 86cm x 94cm mat.

Why we love it: It’s gorgeous-looking and its attention to detail is lovely. It’s nice and comfy to lie on and there’s a really nice mix of different textures and sounds to play with. For all our baby testers, the light-up firefly is the absolute star of the show. Makes for a sweet den once your child outgrows the gym, too.

Available at: Amazon

11.Kids Concept Edvin Baby Gym, £85

– Great for classic style

Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A 47cm x 50cm padded floor mat with cushioned sides and plush gym frame, featuring 5 soft animal-themed hanging toys that are detachable.

Why we love it: It’s got that lovely minimal Scandi look – and is trend-settingly gender neutral. It’s quite small but it’s beautifully padded and definitely of a high enough quality to last through several babies. Nice and light, and made with gorgeously strokable material. Our baby testers particularly liked the dangly hedgehog.

Available at: The Modern Nursery and Scandiborn

12. Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Gym, £34.99

– Great bright colours


Age suitability: From birth | Batteries: None

What it is: A 46cm x 78cm machine-washable mat with 3 large dangling toys (including a version of Lamaze’s bestselling Freddie the Firefly, natch), and a padded, curved cushion for tummy-time-play support.

Why we love it: This is a great-value mat in properly eye-catching colours that comes with really well-sized removable toys. Our baby judges especially like the large mirror, Freddie’s crinkly wings, and the tactile ridges on the apple and pear teether. You’d probably need to place this mat on a carpet (it’s not very thickly padded).

Available at: Amazon and JoJo Maman Bebe

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About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she’s also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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