Have you ever wondered what makes a good playmat?

There are three things that we look for when it came to choosing a playmat. We are sharing this from the perspective as a parent ourselves and this actually leads to how TIKAR came about. Every aspect is important as it directly involves the safety of your little ones and their ability to learn so let’s jump into it!

1. TYPES & MATERIALS

There are so many types of playmats on the market right now but it all came down to these few most commonly found materials that make a playmat which are fabric, Polyethylene (PE), Polyurethane (PU), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) foam. Sounds intense? Fret not! We have break it down in the simplest form for your easy reference. 

 

  • Fabric 
Made of clothing materials like cotton which is generally non-toxic (provided the cotton plant was not treated with pesticides) and durable. However, it is not waterproof and for parents, we bet you have been there a thousand times when your kids have spilled milk and messy played on your favourite fabric with the aftermath that follows. The stain may stay there forever and ruin the aesthetic value of the playmat.

 

  • Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam
Puzzle playmats also known as ABC mats, usually made of EVA foam, which is a flexible, waterproof and shock absorbent material. However, it is worth noting that EVA foam playmats have once been banned in the EU due to the content of Formamide. Dr. Hermann Kurse, toxicologist at the University of Kiel in Germany says this: “Formamide shouldn’t be used in baby products. Formamide is more harmful than Phthalate.”

 

  • 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. 

PVC soft mats are more popular due to their colorful designs and smooth surfaces and it is widely used due to its cheaper costing. However, due to the nature of PVC, they are rather heavy and bulky. Unknown to a lot of people, PVC is the most toxic plastic with very serious safety concerns on the environment and human. It contains dangerous chemical additives including phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins which can cause great harm to your children’s health.
 
  • 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?

But why is there so little playmat company is using TPU? This is because TPU cost higher than PVC and the cost of making them is expensive due to advance machinery needed to produce them. 

 

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!

  

3. AESTHETICS

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!

 

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