When it comes to our babies, we always want the best. That’s why we endure long days (and long nights) filled with lullabies, cuddles, and, of course, tummy time (even when they don’t love it).
Unfortunately, the tummy time play mats that we use can often be harmful to baby’s health (and your own health too).
Finding a non-toxic playmat can often pose a challenge because so many major companies use unsafe materials. We’ve found some of our favorites though, and we’ve rounded them up in this post.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
Harmful Chemicals to Avoid in Playmats
Before we get into the best non-toxic play mats, let’s talk about some of the harmful chemicals that are in conventional ones.
BPA, which we’ve discussed at length in the past, is plastic. While we’re not 100% sure of the damaging effects that BPA (and BPS) can have on our bodies because there haven’t been enough human studies, experts are fairly certain that long-term exposure can lead to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
BPA can also affect the reproductive system, alter brain development, and lead to behavioral issues.
And kids are most susceptible to these effects, so you should avoid it in children’s products whenever possible.
We talked a bit about the dangers of flame retardants in mattresses (and why you should choose an organic crib mattress), but it’s worth it to reiterate things here.
Flame retardants can harm the immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems. They may also lead to brain damage and cancer through long-term exposure.
And, again, children seem to be the most vulnerable population.
Many play mats are made with different types of foam, similar to a foam mattress. Unfortunately, many of these foams are petroleum-based (which is not sustainable or environmentally-friendly), and they can lead to a range of health issues due to the VOCs that they emit.
Petroleum-based foams, like polyurethane and EVA can release formaldehyde, benzene, CFCs, and plenty of other dangerous VOCs.
EVA foam, specifically, off-gasses formamide, which can cause skin & eye irritation, reproductive damage, and lead to respiratory issues. It’s also on California’s Proposition 65 list due to evidence that it may cause cancer.
You may see some companies that boast “non-toxic” EVA foam or formamide-free foam. Unfortunately, these claims can be used as long as formamide is below a certain limit (so your “formamide-free” playmat may actually contain formamide).
So called “plant-based” foams, while they may sound healthier, can also pose a risk. This is because they are usually a mixture of a small amount of soy and a large amount of petroleum-based foam, like polyurethane.
PVC is one of the most harmful materials used in children’s products.
The manufacture of PVC may include phthalates, dioxins, and heavy metals, which can lead to liver problems, cancer, and neurological issues.
Our Favorite Non-Toxic Playmats
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what you should be trying to avoid when you’re searching for a non-toxic playmat, here are some of our favorites!
Pillobebe’s CorkiMat is made with 100% organic cotton, and the brand assures us that it’s free from formamide, polyurethane, PVC, EVA, latex, flame-retardants, formaldehyde, phthalates, lead, and other VOCs.
The padding is made of polyester (which isn’t our favorite material, by any means, but it’s much safer than many of the alternatives).
This play mat is also OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified (which tests for harmful substances), and it’s made in the U.S.
Nook has a couple of playmats available, and they’re both GOTS-certified (the highest certification for organic cotton) and OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified too.
The mat itself is made of recycled BPA-free plastic water bottles (a major win for the environment!), and the cover is an organic cotton blend.
The mat has handles and is easy to fold up and carry around for travel, and it’s fully machine-washable and machine dryable too.
It comes in a beautiful neutral grey and 4 other fun colors.
Founded by a mom of 2, Organic Designs creates beautiful play mats in fun prints and colors. The material is more like a comforter (and can be used as a comforter as your baby gets older!), and it’s made of 100% certified organic cotton.
Due to the organic certification, it’s not pre-washed. This means you should allow a bit of room for shrinkage after you throw it in the washer. (Yes, it’s machine-washable!)
Cream Haus makes a play mat that’s similar to gym mats that you may have used when you were in elementary school. Instead of using toxic foams, however, Cream Haus uses polyethylene foam, which is safe enough to be used in food packaging and can even be recycled after use.
The cover of the mats are made with polyurethane, but the company goes the extra mile to get rid of any toxic residues. The cover is washed twice at high heat, heat cleaned twice at the highest temperature setting, and then they go through an additional steam cleaning process.
These playmats are completely free of PVC, EVA, TPA, BPA, lead, phthalates, fire retardants, formamide, formaldehyde, and other VOC’s, and they’re OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified.
They’re not machine-washable, but they’re super easy to clean — all you have to do is wipe off any dirt with a wet wash cloth and/or your favorite cleaning solution (we like using a mixture of dish soap and water).
This fun little playmat from Liewood (which you can purchase from Scandiborn) has a 100% organic cotton cover and is filled with 100% polyester, which is OEKO-Tex certified.
It’s also one of the most affordable play mats on our list.
Unfortunately, it isn’t machine washable, but you can spot clean it or take it to the dry cleaner.
Pottery Barn Kids has a great selection of play mats, and this travel playmat has a 100% organic cotton cover and polyester filling that has been safety-tested for any toxic substances.
It’s easy to use, it’s machine-washable and dryable, it can be rolled up for storage or travel, and it has handles to tote it around easier.
If the woodland theme isn’t your thing, there’s also a moon & stars version available.
Nature Baby is a family-owned company based in New Zealand, and they create simple baby play mats that are non-toxic and safe for your little one.
Similar to Organic Designs, these playmats are more like a comforter, and they use GOTS-certified organic cotton throughout.
If you don’t live in New Zealand, don’t worry too much about the shipping cost. Nature Baby offers free international shipping on purchases over $150.
If you’ve been looking for a safe and non-toxic playmat for your babe, I hope you’ve found a great one on this list!