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How the Lay and Play Adventure Mat Can Help Encourage Development

Mom kneeling down by little boy on river bank 

Hello! My name is Danielle, I am a mom and a Pediatric Physical Therapist. I created Purposeful Play PT (Instagram @purposeful_play_pt) as a means of educating and encouraging parents on how to promote development through everyday play. I also have seen how getting my son outdoors helps to stimulate his senses, regulate his behavior, create imaginative play, and create a new environment to play in. My goal is to encourage parents to create opportunities for play and development for their children both indoors and outdoors.

Why the Outdoors is Beneficial for you Child's Development

I firmly believe getting children outside is incredibly beneficial for all aspects of our children’s development. One of the best aspects of nature play is allowing children to explore their environment from the ground, their natural perspective. Nature can help stimulate senses such as sight, smell, hearing, and feeling, and presents a new environment creating a different perspective that is beneficial for the baby. So often I see parents keeping their babies in a car seat, stroller, or pack when outside rather than allowing them to get on the floor and move. When in a restricted position or container, the baby will not be able to fully see, feel or experience the outdoor environment.

Why Floor Time is Important for Babies

Both indoors and outdoors, excessive time in a container can lead to delay in developmental milestones, can increase the risk of positional abnormalities of the head and neck, and depending on the position can increase their risk of asphyxiation. Containers are anything that restricts your baby’s movement. Some examples of common containers are jumpers, baby seats or swings, bouncers, exersaucers, or baby walkers. Some people claim these can help promote development, but the reality is they can slow development, and more importantly they restrict the baby’s ability to freely move. As a mom, I totally understand, for a short period, containers can be necessary to get a quick task done. But, a baby needs to learn to play in their natural environment, whether that is indoors or outdoors, creating opportunities for movement and proper development. One way you can prevent container use is by making sure to spend twice as much time on the floor as in a container. Playing on the floor allows your baby to play in the natural environment that they crave. On the floor, a baby can practice being on their tummy, on their side, on their back, sitting up, and many other movements. They are given the FREEDOM to move and the floor creates the opportunity for typical development to occur.

Baby on the Lay and Play Adventure Mat, dad's hands playing with baby, lake in background

Floor Time During all of your Adventures

The Lay and Play Adventure Mat helps to create opportunities for floor time both indoors and outdoors. When my son was a baby, we had to lug heavy blankets and playpens when we would go on a day trip so that we could have a safe, clean area for him to play on the go. The Lay and Play Adventure Mat is easy to take anywhere with a lightweight, stuff sack carrying case that can easily fit under the stroller or under a seat in the car and does not take up much space. Not only that, but it is durable and water-resistant so you can use it over any terrain. You will not have to worry about ruining it or keeping the baby free from the elements. With the Lay and Play Adventure Mat, your baby is kept from the elements but is still able to have the sensory experience of the grass or dirt.

It can be difficult to find opportunities for free movement and purposeful play when outside of the home, and this mat allows you to optimize your baby’s development even when you are on the go!

If you want to read and learn more on development and how to promote development through play, head on over to my Instagram @purposeful_play_pt.

Get those mats out and time to play!

Danielle

Purposeful Play PT

Parents and baby standing in front of mountain