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We picked up a lot of things when I was expecting but, oddly, a baby mat wasn't one of them. We picked this up for a bargain price of £4 at a baby fair.
I believe they're about £50 new to which I say.. buy it. Oh god yes, buy it. I know there are others cheaper but this, THIS is the thing that will allow you to go pee in peace when your baby is tiny. It is AMAZING and if you browse my reviews you will see I do not say that lightly.
Our version has jangly fish which it seems they have removed now which is a shame - but there are other toys. There are a variety of animals to hang off the hoops and it's set up so you can change the height you hang them at as your baby grows which is great (my friend refers to this as baby's first lesson in moving the goalposts!). The hoops clip into place so when he gets to the point he's at now when he starts grabbing them rather than the toys he can't easily destroy it. There's also a clip on mirror for when baby is old enough to show an interest (not yet, at four months, but that time may come) and the mat itself has a lot of tactile things for tummy time - a long tail to grab, a crinkly ear and so forth.
It also has flashy lights triggered by a touch and a choice of nursery rhymes or classical music. I will be honest enough to say this is the only downside. The music makes my teeth hurt with its badness and after playing with it on the first day the switch has become mysteriously set to "off" and stayed there. Baby doesn't seem to mind.
I can put him on this and sterilise bottles and he'll be happy. I can roll him over for tummy time and he'll whine less than he usually would. Giraffe is both his best friend and arch-enemy. This is undoubtably the best toy we own.
What is this product?
This review is for the Gymini Lights & Music Activity Mat. It features a brightly coloured zoo themed design on the mat itself with a giraffe, zebra, lion, elephant and monkey playing in a jungle scene. It has over 15 developmental features including crinkly elephant ears, a squeaky bird, a felt fringe on the zebra, flashing lights on the flowers and, of course, a selection of tunes which play when the flowers are pressed. The mat also comes with two removable coloured arches - one yellow and orange stripes and the other blue with a flower design which have 12 slots for hanging toys from. The mat comes with an elephant with crinkly ears and a buzzy pull down tail, a rattly giraffe, a rattly monkey, a parrot with crinkly wings, a teething ring and a large, round peekaboo mirror to encourage tummy time. The dimensions of the mat are 34.7" long by 30.7" wide and it folds up neatly in half with poppers to close it containing all the toys for easy storage. In order to activate the flashing lights and music, the mat requires x 2 AA batteries, but there is plenty to do if you prefer not to put batteries in. The mat is fully machine washable and retails at around £40.
What do I like about this product?
I did a lot of research into playmats before my daughter was born, there are just so many to choose from it was difficult to know where to start. We did not know the gender of our child so we wanted something gender neutral and the jungle animal theme seems to be pretty popular at the moment. The USP of this mat was the fact that one of the music choices is classical music, a nice change from pliny plonky nursery rhymes in your head all day however, be warned, it gets just as annoying pretty quickly...but there is an off switch. I also like this mat because it has so many different features, you could lie your baby on a different part of it and they get a completely new sensation - new pictures, colours, sounds, textures. I also like the hanging bars and the fact that the bars and the toys are removable. Our daughter found it all a bit overwhelming when she was very small so sometimes we took the bars off completely, other times had just a few things hanging. As she figured out what her hands were for, we hung all sorts of different toys on it - anything with a hook can hang on there which again gives so much variety to one toy. When she was small, my daughter spent hours lying on this mat looking at everything and it was a treat to see her develop her abilities and learn what each thing did. The patterns are all bright and eye catching without being over the top. At £40, I found this mat a reasonable price compared to Fisher Price ones, and in my opinion it offers much more than the FP ones. I love the fact that it stores away neatly, although we had ours out all the time, I can see if you have more than just one child, you may wish to pack it away and it can easily slot behind your sofa as it is almost flat. Also, for me the machine washable nature of the mat was essential, it turned out my daughter had refulx and would quite frequently be sick when on her back. I have no idea how many times I washed this mat (a lot) and the colours never faded and, as the material is lightweight, it came out of the machine almost dry and quickly ready to use again. Perfect.
What do I dislike about this product?
There isn't much to dislike I really do love it and so did my daughter, the only downside is that she couldn't press the flowers to make the tunes play but since they are somewhat annoying (like ALL musical toys!) I didn't really mind that. it saved me on the batteries and there is so much to do aside from this anyway.
Do I recommend this product?
Absolutely, a great price for a beautiful mat with so much to engage, entertain and educate your baby.
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