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~~~ The Back Story~~
As our daughter is now three years old, toilet trained and usually sleeps through the night on a regular basis, I am finally in a better position reflect on our too-numerous-to count baby-related products. Some I recommend as near necessities, others "nice to have", and then there are those that one could really do without.
This gorgeous "tummy time" mat was the very first baby-related present we received. It is extra special to us as it simply turned up on our front door as an unexpected gift several weeks before our daughter's birth.
When our daughter was born, the midwives and paediatricians explained to us that babies need chest-based tummy time from their first days of life, and floor-based by the end of their second week.
Tummy time isn't only when a baby is lying prone (ie stomach to the floor). In the early days it is also when a baby is being held at a persons chest or shoulder and when they start lifting their head and/or torso a very small distance away from the holder's torso.
I had known that tummy time helps prevent babies having a flat head, but at the time of Millie's birth I hadn't appreciated the developmental benefits as best explained by a quote I found on one of the baby websites:
"Tummy time helps your infant build strength in his back, legs, arms and neck," says Joanne Cox, M.D., a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Boston. "This helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting."
~~~ This Product ~~~
The Tiny Love Tummy Time Mat & Pillow comes in two styles; the pictured green frog and a pink ladybug version. We have the latter.
There are four pieces to this item: a mat, a pillow, detachable teething toys and a mirror. The mat is thinly padded, washable and has a happy springtime garden design. Some of the garden characters have faces - all of these are facing inwards in order to catch the baby's attention and help them learn to focus.
The pillow is horseshoe shaped and designed to prop the baby up for extended tummy time. It has an attached yellow sun that is filled with a material that gives off a crackling sound. The attached teething toys comprise a couple of textured plastic rings and leaves. Finally the mirror is covered in fabric and has a folding component at the back that enables it to stand up and the angles to be altered.
This all comes in a resealable bag made from clear, thick plastic.
~~~ My Experience ~~~
My husband and I really loved this gorgeous tummy time mat and used it from the time Millie was one week old until at least five months old. In the early weeks we used the mat without the pillow. Initially it was used for just 30 seconds at a time for five or six times a day. The time was extended quite quickly. We always left Millie on for just a tiny bit longer each time. Ultimately she was on her tummy for at least 10 minutes each time.
Millie particularly liked looking in the mirror and also being propped up (once she was a little older) so that she could getter a better view of what was going on around her. She loved it when one of us lay down beside her or facing her; this encouraged her to look around and distracted her a little when it was clear that she preferred to skip her little workout.
The mat was quite thin so we always used in on top of a rug or the baby gym. Of course being thin meant it was very easy to wash and to dry. We usually sponge-dried the pillow.
This item is stored away in our cupboard. It is still in excellent condition, despite its heavy use for many months.
I believe that this item really did encourage Millie's motor development. Of course we don't have any scientific proof and similar outcomes would have occurred had we simply placed her on her tummy on a blanket.
I feel that this nice-to-have item made Millie's tummy time much more enjoyable than it might otherwise have been.
Recommended. One star deducted for the minimal padding int the mat.
Available from Amazon for £19 (August 2013).
I received this tiny love tummy time mat as a present for my little boy who is six months old. He got given this when he was around 4 months old. He is suffering from a flat head on the right side as he always sleeps with his head to the right, and I have been looking for ways to keep him from lying on his back as much as possible. When I received this tummy time mat I thought it would be perfect for me to fold up and take it with me whenever I go and visit people so I can lay him on his tummy instead of his back.
This is basically a mat, which your baby lies on, on their tummy. It is quite thin, not padded enough really at all, so definitely only for use on a carpet or rug, no hard floors, I think it would be too uncomfortable for a baby to lie on hard flooring. The mat is bright and colourful to attract babies attention. It is mainly green, with a green frog on it at the top with a lake, and other animals and flowers around it. It is a lovely looking mat, very nice design for babies to look at.
There is a pillow shaped like a 'C' which feels quite soft, not very firm. When I laid by baby on his front with this pillow, he was just too uncomfortable and cried until I took him off it! I have tried several times since and he looks and feels uncomfortable with the pillow in front of him. However I have tried putting him on the mat on his tummy without this pillow and he does push himself up and look at the colours on the mat. He tries to grab the mat and easily pulls it up and scrunches it up into his mouth to chew it.
My baby doesn't like to look at the actual mat for very long at all, he would rather reach or grab for a toy. There is a toy which the mat comes with, which is a few leaves on a ring, which my baby does chew but it's a bit of a poor toy really, I think they could have put something better in for the price of this mat, which is around £25 from babies r us. My baby does chew this toy but it doesn't keep him amused for very long like others toys of his do.
There are crinkly parts, which my baby loves, he loves anything that crinkles, there's a horn that you squeeze, but I don't find that my baby wants to spend long on this mat at all, it just doesn't keep him amused for long like most of his others do. There is also a round mirror, which has a little stand and velcro on the bottom of it which is supposed to stand up so it is facing your baby, but I have tried every way possible and it just falls flat every time, it is no good at all! It is so flimsy and there is a picture on the box of it sat up on the mat with the stand, and you definitely cannot do this with it! You can lie it on the mat for your baby to look in it, but it would be better if you could prop it up with the stand like you are supposed to be able to!
This mat is also quite small, my six month old is already nearly the length of it! It could have been a lot bigger, my baby would need to be half off the mat, half on to look at the pictures if he used it now.
The good thing about this mat is that it is small and compact when you store it away, you can just fold or roll it up to take with you anywhere and that it can go in the washing machine if your baby is sick on it, which seemed to happen a lot when I put my baby on his tummy!
But for the price, the toys are not stimulating enough, the mat isn't padded enough, the mirror is useless! Even though I don't find my baby is amused by this mat, other babies may love it and happily lie on it for hours. But I just don't feel the quality of this product is good enough for the money, and we have ended up just putting it away in the loft, maybe my next baby might like it!
I love my other tiny love products I have got, but this one just wasn't the same excellent quality unfortunately, it just could have been made so much better, especially for the price!
My wee baby boy has got rather a flat head due to the fact that he spends most of his waking and sleeping hours lying flat on his back. He's not a huge fan of being laid down on his tummy and although he has been able to raise his head a little even from birth whilst lying on my chest, he found it a struggle to lift his head whilst lying flat on the floor. I became rather concerned that he would always have a flat head and begin to resemble a letter D so I did a bit of research to find out what I could do to help him with his tummy time. Ideas such as rolling up a towel and placing it under his chest to prop him up a little worked well but when I stumbled across the Tiny Love Tummy Time play mat, I felt this was a much more fun way to help prop him up a bit to help him out.
I bought the mat on Ebay new for £24 and I chose the Frog design. There is also a ladybird design. When the item arrived I found that the product came in three parts: an oval shaped washable playmat with a colourful design on it featuring a pond with happy looking fish in it and little creatures around the water's edge such as a snail, two tortoises, a caterpillar and a mummy and baby ladybird. There was a little green felt leaf flap which hides a little caterpillar underneath. The next part was the cushion which is shaped a little like those travel cushions which you might wear around your neck on a plane. The cushion is designed to look like a frog and it has a large frog's face attached to it. The frog's face is friendly and is crinkly to the touch. There is also a squeaker in the middle of the frog's face where its nose would be. Each 'hand' of the frog has features which are interesting for baby. On the left hand side, there is a rattle sewn into the felt material of the froggie's hand and on the right, the froggie's hand is 'holding' on to a teether. The teether consists of plastic rings and rubbery leaves and a crinkly fabric leaf which are safe to chew and chomp on. The third part of the mat is a standalone mirror which can be stood up at the end of the mat for baby to gaze with interest at his or her reflection. Both the mat and the cushion are machine washable which is great as my son can get a little pukey when on his tummy!
I laid my son with his chest on the cushion and his arms draped over in front of him. He was unable at the time to push up using his arms but straight away, as his head was elevated slightly due to the cushion, he was able to raise his head a little and have a look at the toys I'd placed around for him as well as looking in the mirror. After literally a minute or two, he became restless and let me know it was the end of tummy time for that day. We had a go on the mat each day, for as long as he could muster and little by little, he has developed his neck and back muscles and is now at 14 weeks quite able to raise his head and shoulders off the cushion and use his hands to push up on the floor. He enjoys pulling at the teether and trying to get it into his mouth (hand eye coordination is developing steadily!) and although he cannot sound the squeaker by himself, he likes to hear it being squeaked for him. As the cushion is separate to the mat, I often use the cushion on its own to lie him on his back after a bottle as he often brings his milk back when lying completely flat. He has enjoyed many a nap lying on his back on the cushion too. Once he is old enough and strong enough to sit up by himself, the mat can be used as any other playmat would and he will start to take more notice of the pictures on the mat.
This was the first Tiny Love product I have purchased but I am pleased with the quality of the product and the cheerful design. I would happily purchase other baby toys from the Tiny Love brand and would definitely recommend this tummy time playmat for those babies who find it difficult at first to spend time on their tummies. (He still has his little flat head at the back but I'm sure once he's sitting up and spending less time on his back, that it will rectify itself!)