The Best Baby Tummy Time Mats To Prep Babies for Crawling

They're designed to help build your infant's neck muscles and get them ready to become mobile.

by Elizabeth Alterman
Originally Published: 
A four-part collage with the four of the best baby tummy time mats to prep the baby for crawling

Yes, they’re cute and whimsical and fun, but the best tummy time mats serve a pretty major developmental purpose: To get babies ready for sliding on their bellies and ultimately crawling, as they hit their milestones. And while stylized (and staged) Instagram photos may seek to prove otherwise, babies don’t exactly love being on their tummies because it’s, you know, actual and actually annoying work. That’s where tummy time toys, disguised in the form of vibrant mats, play a crucial role. They distract infants, many of whom don’t enjoy being on their bellies, so they can develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and develop their motor skills.

Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should sleep flat on their backs. But playtime should happen on their tummies. In fact, the day you bring your infant home, he or should should spend short period of time on the stomach two to their times per day because “tummy time prepares babies for the time when they will be able to slide on their bellies and crawl. As babies grow older and stronger they will need more time on their tummies to build their own strength.”

A tummy time mat should be easy to clean because babies spit up and drool. A lot. It should have a variety of engaging things for them to grab, pull, yank, or shake. By the time they hit five months, babies see a solid spectrum of colors, so go for bright, varied hues and patterns. At around the same time, they also develop depth perception and are able to see a three-dimensional view of the world, so make sure the mat has plenty of objects they can play with. As for size and shape, that’s your call.

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