Safer Playmats For Babies & Kids
Playmats are a wonderful place for babies to strengthen their neck and back muscles, explore toys and teethers and snuggle up for story time. Sadly – not all playmats are created equal. In this article, we look at what materials to avoid and show you our top non-toxic picks!
If there’s one universal truth for babies and toddlers, it’s that they spend a lot of time on the floor exploring every toy, furniture surface and rogue crumb with their hands and mouths.
Incredibly crucial for both their cognitive and physical development, it’s important that parents find safe and non-toxic spaces for their tots to play and rest. Due to the fact that babies have extra sensitive skin and delicate immune and endocrine systems, it’s wise to make sure you’re avoiding products with materials and/ or ingredients known to disrupt hormones or cause irritation the the skin, eyes and respiratory track.
While many brands are switching to natural and non-toxic options, the sad truth is that many still contain harmful chemicals. We’ve outlined what you need to look out for and why below. We’ve also listed our picks for the best non-toxic playmats that are available at The Tot. Fantastic gifts for Baby Showers and newborns, they’re an item that will be loved and used every day!
Chemicals to avoid in infant and toddler playmats
- Flame Retardants: Some play and nap mats are made with synthetic foams and many times are treated with flame retardants. Kids ingest roughly 10 times more PBDEs than adults from hand-to-mouth contact and can present health risks and exposure to carcinogenic compounds affecting fertility and causing other health problems.
- PVC or Vinyl: PVC is made using a toxic cocktail of materials that could put your little ones at risk from exposure to lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hormone disrupting chemicals like phthalates. This would be my #1 material to avoid with kids and babies.
- Formaldehyde: Less common but still something to avoid is formaldehyde. Most notably found in particle board and press board, formaldehyde off gasses VOCs and adds to the indoor pollution of our homes. Look for products that are free of formaldehyde and toxic glues.
- Triclosan: Triclosan is in a lot of products from cutting boards, pencils, toothpastes and hand soaps. Triclosan typically protects the product more than the consumer. Not to mention is gets into our waterways and contaminates our fish and wildlife. We are exposed to it more and more so if you can avoid it, all the better.
- BPA and Phthalates: These are likely less common but still something to check off on the avoid list. Both Bisphenol-a and Phthalates pose a risk to child’s developing endocrine system in that it mimics hormones. A small amount of exposure might not be too harmful but compounded with all the other times we are exposed to these chemicals can prove to be a pretty sizeable load on our bodies, especially kids.
- EVA Foam: EVA is a safer alternative to PVC or vinyl but it can be risky. The process of making EVA includes the use of chlorine which can produce carcinogenic compounds called dioxins. Some EVA foam has been treated with flame retardants as well and it’s tough to differentiate. Natural fabrics and materials are a safer bet if possible.
Non-Toxic Playmat Picks
Easy to wipe and water-resistant, this insanely cute leather map is printed non-toxic inks and is free of harmful chemicals like PVC, phthalates, and heavy metals.
Made from premium bonded leather and designed with a sturdy suede backside, this mat can be used for feeding, tummy time, story time and more! Available in more shapes, sizes and prints.
The LilyPad Playmat is a soft and stylish foam-free playmat that can be used for tummy time, nap time or play time. The padding is made from non-toxic PETE and covered in a 100% organic cotton cover for a comfy playmat experience.
Available in more colors
Made in a light cotton linen blend, this versatile playmat does double time as a quilt. Simple and sweet, you can also get a matching sleeping bag, bloomers, towel and bib in the same print!
Free of toxins, PVC, phthalates and lead, Toki mats are made with a pure latex foam insert and easy to wash 100% cotton cover. Easy to fold and store, they can go from tummy time to toddler yoga to preschool reading nook!
Ethically made in India from GOTS Certified Organic cotton, these double sided soft playmats are free of all harmful chemicals including pesticides + herbicides. The high contrast illustrations are also great for sharpening a newborn’s eyesight!
The definition of genius, the Romy Ruggish play rug is a 2-in-1 rug/ playmat that provides functionality without compromising on style!
Available in more colors
- Wondering what your baby should be able to do? Here are the Infant Development Milestones for 0 – 6 Months!
- What we’re reading: Why Bamboo Clothing Is Best For Babies With Sensitive Skin.