The list of worries as a new parent can be lengthy. “When did my baby poop last?” “Is he hitting milestones on time?” “Did I scar her for life when I got her out of the car seat and hit her head on the door frame?” (Don’t lie - we know you’ve done it too.)
Another to add to the list - is the level of toxicity in your play room essentials. Don’t worry, though - when you’re done reading, you’ll have all the tools necessary to choose the best non-toxic play mat for your little one. The only “Toxic” thing in your house will be the Britney Spears throwback you still know all the words to.
What Exactly Do We Mean By “Non-Toxic Baby Play Mats”?
When we talk about non-toxic, we're referring to baby mats that are free from harmful chemicals and substances that could potentially harm your little one. These mats are crafted from safe and natural materials, avoiding things like phthalates, lead, BPA, or EVA foam, which are commonly found in many products, and known to have adverse health effects.
You need a mat that is going to provide a safe, happy space to giggle, wiggle and explore their movements. We still can't promise they won't scream during tummy time, but at least they’ll be safe from harmful substances while doing so.
Why Should You Choose a Baby Mat That is Non-Toxic?
Traditionally, your non-toxic play mat options were EVA foam mats, PVC play mats, or polyurethane foam. These are all known to be extremely hazardous materials and not something we want our babies exposed to. Babies are constantly putting things in their mouths, and their skin is more absorbent than ours, making them even more susceptible to toxins.
We all want our children to grow and thrive in the safest environment possible. A non-toxic play mat is designed with this in mind, ensuring that your little one's play area is free from toxic materials that could interfere with their development. These mats are also often made from sustainable materials, meaning they're not only safe for your child, but also kinder to our planet.
Sacrifices are part of parenthood (you should see the state of my laundry basket). But we’re here to say, that your child’s safety doesn’t have to be one of them!
What Are Non-Toxic Baby Play Mats Made Of?
A non-toxic mat is typically made from plant-based materials or food-grade materials that are free from toxic chemicals. All these materials undergo rigorous testing to ensure their safety, offering a play surface that is gentle on your baby's skin while also being robust enough to withstand their active play sessions.
Here's a breakdown of some of the safest and most commonly used materials in non-toxic play mats:
- Certified Organic Cotton: This is a popular choice for its softness and durability. As a natural fiber, it's not only gentle on baby's skin, but also sustainable and biodegradable.
- Natural Rubber: Derived sustainably from Hevea trees, it is resilient and biodegradable, making it an eco-friendly choice for a play mat.
- Silicone: Known for its hypoallergenic and bacteria-resistant properties, silicone is a safe and durable material for a baby play mat.
- Bamboo: Bamboo fabric, known for its softness and breathability, is another eco-friendly and sustainable choice. Its naturally antibacterial properties make it a good option for maintaining the cleanliness of your play mat.
- Hemp: Hemp fibers are known for their strength and durability. They are mold and bacteria-resistant, making them safe for babies. Furthermore, hemp is a sustainable crop, consuming less water and leaving a smaller environmental footprint.
- Linen: Made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen is known for its strength and durability. It's also hypoallergenic and has natural antibacterial properties, making it a safe choice for a play mat.
- Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber that is soft, breathable, and hypoallergenic, making it ideal for sensitive baby skin. Its fabric is sturdy, withstands high temperatures, and can be washed and dried easily, making it a practical choice for busy parents. Additionally, cotton is a renewable resource, making a cotton play mat environmentally sustainable!
- Wool: Naturally soft and warm, wool is a great insulator. They are also inherently flame retardants and absorb harmful pollutants from the air, making them safe for babies.
What Are the Differences Between a Foam Play Mat and a Fabric One?
Foam play mats and fabric play mats each offer unique advantages, and the choice between them often depends on specific needs and preferences.
Foam Play Mats: These mats are made from materials like EVA (not to be confused with EVA foam, which is known to give off a toxin called formamide into the air around it) or natural rubber.
Formamide is used to make the foam soft, but it's considered to be carcinogenic and a developmental toxin. When looking at the materials, make sure you’re able to discern the difference between EVA and EVA Foam or reach out to the seller before purchasing!
A foam mat is typically waterproof, making it easy to clean and perfect for messy play times (and blowouts, snot, and spit-up!) A foam mat also offers excellent cushioning, providing a soft surface for babies to crawl, sit, or tumble on. Due to their interlocking design, foam mats can be customized to fit any space and can be stored easily.
Fabric Play Mats: What sets a fabric play mat apart from other baby play mats? These mats are typically made of natural materials like cotton, linen, or wool. They are softer to the touch and come in a wider variety of designs, adding an aesthetic touch to your nursery or playroom. A little more style, no matter what your parenting style.
Fabric mats still provide a comfortable surface for babies, and are machine-washable, making them convenient for regular use. How do parents of young children own anything that isn’t machine washable or dishwasher safe? Asking for...me.
How To Choose the Best Non-Toxic Play Mats
I don’t know about you, but pre-baby I never realized how much went into picking toys and essentials. We’re here to save you the time and effort (you’re busy enough keeping tiny human(s) alive). So here’s the Cliff’s Notes on picking the perfect tummy time mat:
- Look at the materials listed. If you have any questions about the nature of a material, reach out to the seller or do a good old-fashioned Google search. Did you know what “ethylene vinyl acetate” or “azo-free dyes” were? Yeah, me either.
- Take into consideration thickness and durability! If your baby’s play space has hardwood floors, you’ll want a mat that provides a soft landing!
- It’s also smart to consider the ease of cleaning. You may prefer one you can wipe down with a damp cloth, or one that is machine washable!
- Look at various play mat features, like colors and designs, to ensure it will beautifully assimilate into your family’s shared spaces. Your baby will be spending *a lot* of time on their play mat, and if you have to stare at it, it might as well be pretty, right?
At Poppyseed Play, you can rest assured - as much as your baby will let you - that we are taking your little one’s safety seriously, and are committed to filling your home with toys that are completely non toxic, yet full of fun! Check out our beautifully quilted linen play mats that provide you with comfort and durability and come in 5 different neutral colors. They also look great under our wooden play gyms - just sayin’!