This is a sponsored post. Nonetheless, this post is 100% my honest opinion. You can read about my disclosure policy here. As a result of my research and the popularity of my non-toxic play mat guide, I’ve inadvertently become a non-toxic play mat “expert.”
Which is only to say that I’ve had the privilege of being able to test and compare many different play mats. I always enjoy sharing when I’ve found a new play mat that makes my guide because the more options you have, the more likely you will find the best fit for your family.
Enter Linda from Comfort Design Mat. She offered to send me a play mat for testing and after asking some preliminary questions, I gladly accepted.
At a minimum, I need to know that the play mat has been tested for and/or is free of flame-retardants, formamide, formaldehyde, VOCs and azo dyes.
I have to preface this by saying that if the thought of using plastic anything bothers you, then you should stop reading here. The play mat is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foam.
Basic TPU formulation is petroleum-based (hence, polyurethane). However, the material is inert, does not off-gas VOCs like polyurethane foam, and does not require plasticizers (e.g., phthalates) to achieve flexibility.
Thus, I consider TPU to fall in the non-toxic category. At a minimum, it is less toxic than the countless PVC play mats on the market. TPU is also the same material used by many mattress companies, like Naturpedic, to create the waterproof layer for their mattress pads.
Finally, one of the primary reasons I do not have reservations recommending Comfort Design Mat (and worth highlighting) is that I was able to review the laboratory tests provided by the company. (Almost every play mat company I’ve dealt with is willing to provide laboratory test results, but only few are as extensively tested.)
The results showed no phthalates and heavy metals besides trace amounts of Barium. When I inquired why Barium was present, this is the explanation that I received:
A little amount of Barium is needed to help with the density of our mats. Without it, our mats would be too soft to use and wouldn’t have the balance it needs to be both comfortable and durable. Barium is also used medically for swallow tests. We’ve double checked this with the lab and they confirmed that we passed all safety tests including [in] this area.
To be clear, the lab results found 147ppm and 128ppm of Barium. The reporting limit is 100ppm (under that amount and it is considered not detected). The soluble limit is 1000ppm. Over 1000ppm, it would be considered unsafe in baby products.
More than anything, I believe that it is important to make purchasing decisions as an informed consumer. Knowing this, it is up to you, the parent, to determine what the acceptable risks for your family are.
Whenever I receive plastic play mats, the first thing I do is to stick my face in it and take a big whiff. This is what I call my mommy-nose-VOC’s-test. Based on this very unscientific test, there was virtually zero scent, no toxic smells, and the mat did not need to be “aired” out prior to use.
The play mat is very large, measuring approximately 55″ x 78 3/4″ and 1/2″ thick. Compared to other foam play mats I’ve tested, the TPU surface feels slightly plasticky and is a softer and squishier material. For instance, it is slightly less shock-absorbent than say PVC foam, but I still find that it creates a very comfortable play surface.
I really love the elegant design options and the Garden Blossom design (soft pink and white florals) that I chose fits into my daughter’s room perfectly. I was definitely looking for something that could pass as an area rug. When I buy things, I always strive for longevity so a non-baby design appeals more to me than the bright, busy, alphabet/animal/train play mats.
The play mat is made of one solid material with a waffle-like imprint which appears to be ubiquitous amongst plastic foam play mats. There are no cracks and crevices for food/dirt/dust to get into, although the slight waffle texture can trap liquids. (This just requires a more vigorous rubbing motion when drying the mat.)
The edges of the play mat are melted together which creates a slightly wavy appearance and yellowish tinge. This is not a detail that bothers me and is barely noticeable but worth mentioning as a general observation.
Comfort Design is definitely an excellent non-toxic foam play mat option. I would say that the main benefits to plastic play mats, and specifically Comfort Design play mats, is threefold:
- Cost effectiveness: Of all of the play mats that I’ve reviewed, Comfort Design is one of the last expensive. I don’t think a safe play surface should be limited to parents who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on play mats.
- Ease of cleaning: Plastic play mats are, generally, exceptionally easy to clean. I just use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down with either a gentle cleaner or water.
- Safety and comfort: Foam play mats are superior in terms of shock-absorbency versus non-foam materials. I believe that foam play mats are the best options for hardwood floors.
In terms of long term wear, I was told that pen and marker stains will not come off, although crayons and other marks should wipe off easily. The main concern is that if sharp objects are scratched with pressure into the foam, it may result in some damage. The manufacturer has also found that furniture may be placed on the mats without causing permanent indentations.
Overall, I am really glad that I found this play mat company because it is now my top budget-friendly option.
If you would like to purchase your own Comfort Design Mat, I have worked out a deal that is exclusive to Mommy to Max readers. Linda has promised me that there will be no better deal found on her play mats than via my site(!!), so here goes:
If you decide to purchase a Comfort Design play mat, I would love to hear what you think!