“ Brand: Early Learning Centre / Type:Play mat / Type: Play Mats & Gyms „
I found this lovely activity splash mat online in the boots sale. It was priced at £10.50 and made by the Early Learning Centre. Unfortunately, it is now sold out in Boots, but is still for sale on elc.co.uk - at full price though, £25. I do love it when I get a bargain!
The mat is much larger than I was expecting and comes in two parts.
The activity mat
The main circular activity mat measures 80cm. It is slightly padded, 12cm deep around the edge and there is a central circle which measures 32cm in diameter which is also slightly padded. The padding is about as thick as a babies duvet. The circular section between the padded parts is where the splash ring fits. The central circle is patterned with contrasting white and black circles, the outer edge is split into four equal sections. One is yellow and has three circles on it, one is in a satin material with a black and white check pattern, the middle has a bendable mirror and the last is orange in colour and covered with a blue netting. The green section has a large yellow daisy with a bright orange, padded center. The daisy clicks as you turn it. Another section is black and white striped and has strips of ribbon in pretty blue, red, yellow and green. One ribbon has a yellow plastic disc attatched which is meant to be for teething, although it seems a little hard to me. The little wash and safety lable is located on this part too, but it's not very noticable. The last quarter is red with orange polka dots and here, attached to a green string is a soft butterfly, the same size as a car seat toy. He has a biggish, yellow head that squeaks when pressed with a happy face and two little lilac antenna, a yellow and green striped body and crinkly, lilac wings with orange spots.
The mat section can be washed in the washing machine on the lowest setting, or hand washed and it is not recommended for use in the tumble dryer. I haven't had to wash ours yet, the material used for the centre and outer edge looks like some kind of polyester and any little dribbles I have just dabbed up with a wet wipe and as yet it has not stained.
The splash ring
The splash ring looks very much like the inflatable rings you get for children when swimming, but obviously it needs to be filled with water! There is a maximum fill line printed on the back of the ring to prevent you from over filling, which I presume would make the ring more likely to split or pop. The opening or stopper where you fill it with water is about the size of a fifty pence piece, which is smaller than my tap. It also has a flap inside to prevent the water spilling back out too easy. If your tap fits into the hole it would automatically push this out of the way, but my tap doesn't fit so I have to try holding the ring under the tap whilst pushing the flap out of the way at the same time. I did make a bit of a mess when I first filled it, the water spilled down the ring and all over me and the floor! I learn't my lesson and now make sure the whole ring is in the sink. The ring gets very wet, so when it's full enough, I have a tea towel on the drainer ready to move the ring onto and use another one to dry the top half of the ring. The ring is a bit awkward to move and flops about as it isn't full, so it pays to be prepared! Emptying is also a bit of a pain, but I have a mixer tap which is fairly high up so I place the ring over the tap, making sure the stopper is at the lower end and push the flap in the stopper out of the way with one hand while trying to squeeze any excess water out with the other. If I'm lucky, my hubby will help me with this fiddly task! I have not yet managed to get all the water out, which hasn't been a problem as I usually refill it immediately, but I do wonder what will happen when I need to store the toy.
When prepared (which, honestly, doesn't take as long as I make it sound!) the ring just sits in the middle section of the mat. The weight of the water keeps it in place. Floating inside are some colourful little discs, some pictures of a flower, a leaf and insects. These are printed on thinish plastic and just float around. The only problem I have with this ring is the stopper. It can be hidden by the little floating pictures, and is quite hard so I need to locate it before lying Ruby (4 months) down. Logan (20 months) just drops his ear onto the splash ring and he has caught his ear and cheek a couple of times. I suppose if nothing else it might teach him to be a little more careful and gentle!
Was it worth buying?
Ruby is still quite small, but she grabs the butterfly and it encourages her to try rolling onto her side. She also likes lying on her tummy for short periods and loves the mirror. I usually remove the splash ring for her as she doesn't seem to like the motion of the water, also the water gets cold quickly.
Logan obviously can sit and pat the water, so he enjoys the water ring more. As I said above he loves putting his ear to it while I make the water splash. He also likes to pat it himself and he chases the little pictures around. After the initial excitment of a new toy, he quickly lost interest in the rest of the mat. This is pretty good for me, as the mat comes in the seperate sections I can split it up and they can both play, it's like having a two for one.
Yes, its easy to keep clean and it looks like it will last a while, the recommended age is birth - 12 months, but Logan is 20 months and he plays with it. I probably wouldn't have spent £25 on it though.
All measurements are approximate. (My tape was from a christmas cracker)