Improving the Play Surface
- What: LEKA play mat
- Why: Thicker, larger, and more affordable
- Where: IKEA
If you have an infant, you already know laying them down on the floor is one of the safest places for them to hang out. To make it more interesting and distract them from interacting with the steadily building population of dust bunnies, lots of parents invest in a play mat – a fancy name for a blanket with toys permanently attached.
I highly recommend the LEKA play mat if you or anyone you know lives anywhere near an IKEA. Larger and thicker than most of the ones on the market, it makes a huge difference in how cold the floor feels, especially if you have wood floors. The larger square footage comes in useful once they start rolling around, anywhere between three and six months. When they roll, they still end up on the mat, unlike ones with a smaller surface area.
But despite the thickness and size, it still folds up fairly compactly and can easily be stored away when not in use. The non-washable toys come off, and the whole thing can go straight in the washing machine when you get sick of looking at the all the baby urp on it. Play mats work great to encourage tummy time, which is all the rage these days. The mat gives baby something besides the carpet or wood to look at and explore on the floor in a position that not many baby contraptions can emulate.
I liked the extra cushioning, too, once my kids started sitting up. When they inevitably tipped over reaching for toys, they fell onto the soft landing instead of the slight padding of other mats. The back comes covered in small bumps which keeps the LEKA playmat from sliding around. You will come to appreciate that advantage when you get sick of putting it away and taking it out again and just step on it. It stays put instead of sliding out from under you, which makes an incredible difference when you have an infant in your arms.
The IKEA designs change from time to time, and while some offer advantages over others, they all have the thickness and size that make them a better choice. Mine has lasted through three kids and barely looks used despite multiple washings.