“ Brand: Playskool / Type: Baby play mat „
The play mat is a ubiquitous item in the baby world. There are literally hundreds of mats you can choose from, and they have become more elaborate over the years: a mirror here, a squeak there, teethers, different textures, padded areas, bright colours...there are a gazillion permutations and options. 'Discovery' is the name of the game, with 'Explore' running a close second. We have two play mats and also use towels, an old jungle pattern curtain, and a pillow sham. Baby CrazyEgg has discovered and explored them all. Overall, the most frequently used has been the Playskool Peek 'n' Play Discovery Mat.
* What's to discover?
Plenty if Baby will stay on their tummy! Encouraging tummy time is one of the things that play mats sell themselves on. This particular mat does it firstly be providing visual interest. It is very bright. Five animal faces are depicted and they are circled around a swirl of blue that I take to be a pond. Two insects are also featured, and a smiley sun. We have had the mat since Baby was 8 months (five months corrected) and it was only really when she reached 12 months that she was interested in the faces on the mat. Now at 14 months she will point at them and we can talk about the animals and make their noises.
Around the pond there are tags of green ribbon that represent grass or plants. Baby CrazyEgg has loved to feel the tags and once they attract her attention have been one of the things that have encouraged her to stay on her tummy. Unlike tags attached to toys she can't retain hold and roll on to her back. I wonder if this is why these tags are placed fairly close to the centre of the mat? Certainly, it has proved an advantageous design feature that they are not at the edges, preventing Baby CrazyEgg from rolling herself up in the mat. This latter hazard may not always be avoided however due to the liking Baby CrazyEgg now has for the corners of the mat.
Each corner of the mat is covered with a triangle of plastic. There are no sharp edges, but now that Baby is more adept at rolling these are very grabbable, and she has used them to roll the mat over herself.
On each corner is an activity or toy. One is a soft stuffed bird rattle, sited beyond a leaf that flaps up providing a background of foliage. The rattle has a plastic handle that slots into the corner of the mat so the bird stands up. Baby CrazyEgg loved this bird and for a long time it was one of her favourite things. It was the first thing I could guarantee that she would hold and shake so was most useful when we were visited by the physio and occupational therapist.
The next corner holds another toy. The handle again slots into the corner. This time the toy is a plastic ring with a plastic monkey on it that slides from right to left only. This has found favour more recently, though mainly Baby chews it. It is quite painful to be hit with this monkey so my own preference is the bird.
The next corner holds a plastic spider that spins round, and this is the new draw for tummy time as Baby can spin it with her index finger.
The final corner has a crinkly triangle that can be turned like the page of a book. It shows somewhat oddly a cow jumping over a moon, as in Hey Diddle Diddle, but then when you turn over it shows a cat and a fiddle. This means that if you want to recite the rhyme during play, you have to turn the page backwards. Wake up Aunty Playskool! But wait... what is this? Now that I observe more closely I see that the picture actually features a cat with a cello! Obviously a rhyme I am unfamiliar with, so my above moan should be stricken from the record.
A final feature is a mirror. I have been using toys to prop this up, but again, now that I look more closely I see that there is a strap underneath the mat that unpeels and bends upwards to form an integrated support for the mirror. The sun is revealed when the mirror is up, and you notice a music note on one cheek. Underneath this is a squeaker. Baby CrazyEgg has whiled away many a happy minute using her foot to make it squeak.
* A parent's needs
Nowhere on a play mat description have I seen any reference to the fact that they also protect the carpets: a consideration that sailed high on my personal list of requirements. I have mentioned in previous reviews that Baby CrazyEgg has reflux- now more or less under control with medication- and so one of the primary functions of the play mats we have used has been to protect the flooring, and to avoid embarrassment when attending a 'Coffee and Play' morning in someone else's (always meticulous) house.
The Playskool mat has performed this task with aplomb. Its top layer is made from a wipeable polyester plastic, much the same as umbrellas are often covered with. It is not fully waterproof however: liquid will seep through, but if you are quick and wipe everything away it is dry very quickly. The bottom layer, as with many mats is backed with a fuzzy-feeling material which seems to have the effect of preventing the mat slipping on carpeted floor. I cannot comment on how it performs on laminate or tiles.
The Playskool Peek 'n'Play Discovery Mat is easy to transport as it folds into a neat square. This has to be done methodically however as the hard corners and mirror along one side mean that it can't just be scrunched up willy-nilly.
The mat is fully washable- essential!
According to the box, a Peek 'n' Play Discovery Dome is also available and the mat fits inside this. We do not have the dome, so can't comment on it.
This mat is available from Amazon for £24.99. You will know me as a cheapskate by now: I bought ours in TK Maxx for £10, which I was happy with. They had the RRP as £39.99 which is way over the top.
Thanks for reading!
© CrazyEgg 2012