“ Brand: Bright Starts / Age: Newborn / Type: Play Mats & Gyms „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Please note that the picture selected by the dooyoo team to accompany this review for some mysterious reason shows a product that's quite a bit different to the one I actually requested to review. My playmat is flat, with no upright sides or play-bar / 'arches', it's a different colour scheme and the toys that come with it are different too.
The Bright Starts Prop and Play Mat costs £12 from Asda, instore or online. It's basically a play mat that includes a small curved pillow to prop the baby up on as s/he begins to be able to play from a lying-on-the-tummy position. There are two toys attached with the usual baby safety rings to the pillow; firstly a brightly coloured rattle with spinning beads, and next a soft plastic water-filled green frog that's a teething 'ring'.
I got this on an impulse as my five month old is just about at the lying-on-his-front stage. I can't say I'm overwhelmed with the toy. The materials it's made from seem pretty cheap; the backing of the play mat is that weird synthetic woven-looking not-quite-fabric stuff that they make hanging shelves from (and the inner coverings of pound shop pillows and 'Smartprice' duvets if that makes things any clearer) - though it is in a nice, bright shade of green. The upper fabric of the mat and the pillow are made from slippery, shiny polyestery stuff that looks to me as if it would go up like a torch in an instant if a match were to be dropped on it, so I'm not amazed by the quality of that - (though the tag on the mat clearly states that as regards flammability, the toy conforms to various standards set in California / the USA: it seems to be produced by an American company but is actually made in China). The slightly padded mat and quite-well-stuffed pillow have cheery bright colours / aquatic creature prints on them, so it's a moderately attractive item however. The thing is well under a metre long, so it isn't huge.
The slipperiness of the fabric used to make the mat and pillow is a practical problem because when you place the sprog on the pillow on the map, a near friction-free surface is created between pillow and play-mat, and hence the sprog begins to slip all over the place. This is not an ideal situation for what's intended to be a 'Prop and Play' piece of equipment. It says on the packing that the pillow is 'detachable' - which I thought was a good design feature when I was buying the thing, as once the tummy-stretching phase was over, I thought I could use the mat just as a play-mat -ie. as a barrier between the baby and the surface of the ground. Saying the pillow is 'detachable' implies to me some level of attachment but in fact it is totally separate - free-floating in effect. I did expect the pillow would be attached with Velcro or button studs or some such but it's not, so as something to prop a baby up on, in my opinion the mat is pretty rubbish.
This thing is best considered as a straight play-mat, but though it's very lightweight (because of the thin, cheap-feeling fabric) I think it's a bit too bulky (because of the padding) to be a convenient carry-around-with-you piece of kit.
The two clip-on toys that come with the play-mat are all right, though the plastic on the water-filled frog seems a bit flimsy; I well remember all those contaminated-water-containing toy scares of the mid 1990s, and I wouldn't want my baby really chewing through it. The thin, slippery fabric loops on the prop-up pillow that you're supposed to clip the toy safety clips through make life very difficult; it's a tough job to get the clips to clip onto them.
The toy also comes with all sorts of the usual dire warnings about what will happen if you leave your sprog on it unattended (suffocation hazard, etc.). Having seen what this is like in reality, though it's inexpensive, I don't think it's really worth the money and wouldn't buy it again myself.