“ Brand: Fisher Price / Age: 6 months / Type: Play Mats & Gyms „
The Fisherprice table top play mat is designed to encourage young children to eat at the table, it is made up of a wipe clean central mat and 2 outer blue sections which feature a range of stimulating toys including spinning beads, a flip button revealing a small mirror, a slide switch, click switch and more.... it's combination of bright colours, textures and different sounds provide a great combination of sensory experiences, fun and the ability to develop and improve hand/eye skills. Under each of the blue sections is a large orange suction cup which allows the mat to stick to the table or desired surface without it slipping around or being picked up and thrown by an over excited baby or toddler, these 2 cups also stick together allowing you to fold down the center mat between them making it more compact for easy storage.
At 8 months old Jack isn't old enough to eat at the table however we do pull his highchair up to the table during meal times, while the suction cups do attach the mat to the highchair tray it is far too long to fit properly and works better if you only fix one end to the tray and let the other end dangle however I'm not a huge fan of toys at the meal table, after all the table at dinner time is a place for eating, maybe chatting about your day with the family not a place for playing and so I've never used it for Jack in that sense, while it may have been designed to encourage young children to eat at the table I know it would simply prove to be a distraction for Jack and he's already tricky enough to feed as he's so nosy and too busy watching everyone else to concentrate on eating.
While Jack was still unable to sit unaided we used the mat to encourage him to spend time on his tummy, he's never been fond of tummy time but the toy encouraged him to push himself upwards, reaching out to play with all the different features, while he still isn't fond of being on his tummy it does encourage him to stay there longer which will undoubtedly help in preparing him for the crawling stage. Now he's older and more confident sitting unaided we simply lay the mat out in front of him to play with, he'll happily stretch out for the toy which helps him gain in strength and balance.
While I may not use the mat in the way it was intended I can see how it could be a lifeline for people who's little ones are particularly reluctant to sit at the meal table, it is very brightly coloured and bound to catch the attention of a small child, with sections on the mat depicting a place for the bowl and cutlery it could also help in teaching the child a little meal time etiquette in regards to where everything gets set, and the outer toys will keep them entertained when they've finished eating, stopping them becoming bored and encouraging them to stay at the table with the family rather then wanting to rush off or disrupt everyone else, the image of the plate even features brightly coloured fruits starting off the encouragement to eat healthily from a very early age. The whole toy is wipe clean which is absolutely perfect for a toy designed for use at meal times, younger children aren't always the tidiest eaters and there are bound to be the occasional drip, spill or assault from sticky fingers.
Jack will play with the toy happily for long periods of time, being very young his attention span is quite short and he'll usually go from toy to toy but he always enjoys playing with the mat especially flipping open the mirror section and batting it back down again. One fun way to encourage him to explore the toys is to pop a treat, some grapes or similar in the section with the pop open lid, he can obviously see his reward but has to work out how to reach it, it's wonderful watching him work out how to get to the fruit and then see him enjoy his success.
We were given the toy as a gift and while Jack does enjoy playing with it I wouldn't have bought it myself, simply because it's a dinner time toy and I try and keep a "no toys at the table" rule, it would hardly be fair on the older children to be taught one set of rules and manners and then Jack to be given another. It is however a fun toy for youngsters and is very good quality, I would certainly recommend it even if we don't use it in the regular way.
The mat can be found in toy stores such as Toys R Us and from other Fisherprice stockists in the range of ten pounds, which is pretty reasonable considering all the features and potential benefits.
Make meal time easy with fun activities with this take-along format. The placemat remains securely in place with two suction cups at both sides.