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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.

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. 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.

This play mat is designed to grow with your little one. Five development zones let you 'reveal or conceal' as you wish so you can encourage exploration or prevent overstimulation. It’s quick and easy to spot clean. Or, detach the legs and focus zone and toss the whole mat in the washing machine. This play gym is made with 100 percent baby-safe materials, including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood for its standing legs and organic cotton for its mouthable teether.

This activity center is loaded with 17 developmental activities and 13 loops that give moms and dads the option to hang toys high or low if they want to encourage their little ones to reach and stretch. A supportive tummy-time pillow boasts a plush surface on one side and a fun print on the other. The crinkle leaves, squeaker flower, and baby-safe mirror, which is removable for machine-washing, are all big hits with curious infants.

This comfy plush play mat is a sensory feast, with tags and a mirror. It can be used at the park or in the living room, and because there aren't a ton of toys attached, you can easily swap toys out to keep your baby engaged. It's fully machine-washable.

The high contrast graphics help babies with pattern recognition, while the hidden mirror is great for games of peek-a-boo effect. There's also a teether, a squeaker, and crinkle paper to engage tactile exploration. This one, however, is not machine-washable.

Part play gym, part ball pit, this one includes a mirror and five toys. It goes from tummy time mat, to a bolster pillow and mirror for overhead play or sit and play, and then morphs into a ball pit for older babies who can sit up on their own. You get a linkable teether and 40 balls.

If a plain Jane tummy time mat won't cut it, upgrade to this one. It plays music and lights up, and has 17 toys to keep your child entertained. We're talking hanging reversible toys, rattles, rings, a mirror, and a teether. The soft toys and mat are machine-washable.

What is it about llamas that's so damn irresistible? This one supports your baby during tummy time while also providing major sensory stimulation thanks to a mirror and multiple toys. The wedge supports your baby as he goes from lying on his back to pushing up in tummy time to sitting up.

This swanky mat forgoes lights and sounds for the more natural stimulation of shapes and colors. It has a removable fabric cover, and the interior is made of latex foam, so it's ultra-padded. It has two loops for attaching toys.

If you subscribe to the theory that less is way more, this play mat is a solid pick. This reversible, machine-washable mat has high-contrast safari animals on one side and a soothing pattern on the other side. It's made of organic cotton muslin.

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