1. TYPES & MATERIALS
- Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam
- Polyethylene (PE), Polyurethane (PU) or Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Soft mats such as foldable mats and educational mats are usually made of PE, PU or PVC.
PU is a plastic derived from petrochemicals which containes isocyanates and is a known respiratory toxin, which babies and young children are especially sensitive to. PU can cause further respiratory and skin damage, and are carcinogenic to humans.
- Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) foam
TPU is a completely inert material and does not off-gas VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which is why it has become a safe material of choice for playmats and have been recommended by discerning moms everywhere.
TPU and PVC are basically the same material, all thermoplastic elastomers. TPU is an alternative to PVC. TPU, a versatile and rubber-like material is highly resilient to shear, abrasion, microbials and low temperatures, with performance dozens of times better than PVC. Most importantly unlike PVC, TPU is environmental friendly as it contains no plasticizer and other phthalates. Though most of the TPU compositions are not biodegradable, the TPU material that is used in TIKAR is a biodegradable TPU that can degrade in the soil in 3 to 5 years. How amazing is that?
TIKAR is made from 100% TPU foam and nothing else and we believe that your little one deserves the best and so do our mother earth. We can assure you that once you have tried a 100% TPU foam playmat, you will never turn back because we have been there.
2. SIZES & THICKNESS
How big should a playmat be?
A playmat has to be large and wide enough to support your children when they stumble or fall. Do bear in mind on the space available in your home so that when you get the right size for your space, not only your baby will be enjoying a lot of space to explore but you can join them as well. You may decide on the size by referring to the actual measurement which is usually measured in centimeters (cm) or millimeters (mm) and sometimes they do come in different shapes too!
How about thickness?
Thickness matters too as a playmat has to be reasonably thick enough to cushion the fall of the baby. It has to protect the little ones from hitting the hard floor surface. But how thick should we go for? It really depends as all playmats are different. A standard 15mm PVC mat is two times heavier than a standard 40mm foldable mat of the same sizes (i.e. same length and width). That might be an important factor to you when choosing the right playmat. A much heavier PVC mat makes it less portable. Imagine if you have to roll up a bulky 10kg mat and move it from one room to another regularly! TIKAR is made of TPU material and at 15mm thick weighs only 4kg in weight, giving you the convenience and portability you need to ensure your children’s safety!
This may be the most overlooked aspect when it comes to choosing a playmat. While we are focusing on the physical safety aspect of a playmat, we often overlook on the mental aspect.
You will notice that most of the playmats on the market are designed to be very colourful, contain multiple bright colours or with quite complicated design. Studies have shown bright colours help a child's ability to build good eyesight and help them with learning but too many colours and patterns at the same time will cause overstimulation to their brain which in turn cause them to be cranky, having disturbed sleep habits and emotional instability. This is when simple is the best! Choose playmat with one or two colours and simple design not only will help your child on their brain development, it will also help them in coping with the amount of information they receive as they spend their tummy time on it.
This has been one of the main considerations as we design our TIKAR by carefully selecting the right colour which is not too bright and designs that are simple yet aesthetically beautiful to match the interior design of our home.
These are the three things we look for when we are looking for a good playmat and we hope that this too will help you to find your perfect playmat!