Thursday, July 26, 2012

Skip*Hop Playspot (Interlocking Foam Tiles)

Even someone like me, who avoided pregnancy and baby books like the plague, will find out about "tummy time." After a SIDS connection was discovered with babies' stomach-based sleeping, parents were advised to put infants to sleep on their backs.

But then another problem hit the scene: a bunch of babies with totally flat heads. Enter "tummy time," where you're supposed to put your newborn on his stomach for increasing lengths of time as the weeks and months ago by. They'll be forced to lift their heads, and in the process will build stronger neck muscles... and hopefully round out that ol' flat head by not putting weight against it ALL of the time.

Here's what they don't tell you, though: lots of babies HATE HATE HATE tummy time. Baba G was one of those babies.

Exhibit A:
THIS SUCKS! Yeah, I said it!

When his pediatrician told me that we were supposed to be getting in an hour total (as in, not in one sitting, but rather cumulative) of tummy time a day, I almost fell over. Because Baba G would barely last five minutes on his stomach before starting to wail like there was no tomorrow. It was heart-breaking to watch, despite the fact we knew it was important to do. We did find one weird solution which involves a product I'm going to write about next, so I'll keep you in suspense on that one for now.

In the meantime I'm going to fast-forward a few months from the picture taken above to a much happier moment in time. Once Baba G got the strength to keep his head up on his own, tummy time was no longer so bad. Especially once we set up two different Skip*Hop Playspot areas.

The Playspots are interlocking foam tiles (with none of the nasty PVCs or BPA stuff) that provide a clean haven for tots to roll around on. We have one downstairs on top of our carpeting (which is usually covered in dog hair and therefore not ideal to put BG on directly) and one upstairs on our hardwood floors that are always cold and, well, hard.

Here's the "Green/Brown" set:

Deep in concentration

And here's a slice of the "Zoo" set:

Hate tummy time? Who, me?

Not only do these play tiles help with tummy time, but they're just generally great for overall play time. Baba G turned six-months-old this week and we think he's going to crawl at any second. After that point it'll be interesting to see how long we can actually confine him to the Playspots (answer I already know but am in denial about: .25 seconds), but they've been indispensable to us so far.

The bottom line: I am a huge fan of the Skip*Hop brand and was specifically looking for at least one set of play tiles that: 1) wasn't made out of any nasty toxic materials, and 2) wasn't totally obnoxious color/design-wise. The Green/Brown tiles fit the bill... but then I still ended up getting the more colorful Zoo set because one of BG's grandma's is crazy about bees... plus his nursery theme involves monkeys... AND we also love dogs. So there you go.

Most Skip*Hop products run on the expensive side, and the Playspot is no exception. The Zoo set is $60 and the Green/Brown is $79... BUT the Zoo set is also a bit smaller (only 12 tiles, covering a 56 x 42-inch area) than the less playful designs (20 tiles, covering a 70 x 56-inch area). There are also additional tiles available for $12. Tons of other brands make foam play tiles as well, but I'm not sure if they all steer clear of BPA/PVCs and whatnot.


  1. Can I ask you a potentially stupid question? Would a blanket also work for tummy time?

    1. Absolutely! We actually have a few blankets for that dedicated purpose -- one was made by my godmother and has little pockets on the corners to put toys in to encourage reaching and movement and all that good stuff.