Activity play mats are becoming a more popular toy among new parents, and anyone else who cares for an infant. Not only do these toys have an appealing look, but they also offer many developmental benefits for newborns all the way up to infants who can stand. The following information brings understanding to the developmental benefits of an activity play mat.
Benefits For Ages 0 to 4 Months
A child’s physical development starts from top to bottom. At first, a baby can only move it’s face and head, and once it reaches around a year old, their feet come into the picture and they begin to crawl and/or walk. Newborns may not be able to focus on specific objects or have full range of motion in their neck, but they can see color, shades and changes in patterns.
An activity play mat not only stimulates their vision but also their auditory skills in those that have sounds and music. As the infant begins to grow, these lights and colors call their attention and motivate them to move their head, hands and arms which helps strengthen their muscles, improve coordination and encourage grabbing movements. After two months, babies can use these mats during tummy time.
Moving Babies: 5 to 9 Months
Around five months of age, babies can be propped up using a pillow, blanket, or boppy to begin developing their core muscles which will eventually help them to sit unassisted. Activity play mats provide a soft surface in case of an occasional topple over and also hold baby’s attention, distracting them from the fact they are actually sitting up. If the mat offers hanging objects, babies can be laid on their backs and given a chance to stretch their legs while kicking the toys. Tummy time can now be more interactive while the infant rotates on his or her belly to touch and grab hanging toys and start using the muscles they will need to crawl.
Older Babies 10 Months to 1 Year
Mobile babies can still enjoy an activity play mat. Moving any hanging toys or noise makers to underneath the mat, make babies search for them and have the “surprise” of finding them. Mats with sturdy arcs allow infants to pull themselves up without being afraid to fall or land on the soft surface. Mirrors, ribbons, zippers and any other moving article on the mat improves their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
Activity play mats give parents and children the opportunity to learn and play together. While rattles may lose their appeal, activity play mats entertain children for months, or even years, while providing many developmental benefits.