A foam playmat is a foam playmat, right? They are pretty standard, usually differing from one another only in design, colour, and shape of interlocking pieces. They all serve the same purpose: to lie flat on the floor and be a safe, soft, fun play and tumble area for a little one. But the Munchkin Galaxy Light Up Foam Playmat adds an interesting and interactive spin through the addition of a console on one tile that can display a dazzling light show.
The look of the Munchkin Galaxy Light Up Foam Playmat
The playmat includes nine 15” by 15” soft foam tiles that interlock using four small, white four leaf clover-shaped pieces and six half-sized edge pieces. Inside the four tiles that mark the corners of the square 60.96 cm wide, 39.12 cm high, and 13.72 cm deep mat are circle cutouts, one with a cute heart shape in the middle that kids can pop out and play with. The mat weighs 291 grams, making it easy to take apart and move from room to room as needed.
What really sets it apart from other foam mats, however, is, as mentioned, the centre piece, which includes a circular console that displays 10 unique light shows to mesmerize baby.
All the baby needs to do is tap on the console and a light show will appear. Tap again, and a new one will show up. It’s also worth noting that if you walk hard enough anywhere on the mat, you can also trigger the light show. This might make the mat a welcome addition for older brother or sister. My five-year-old son had fun turning the act of lighting up the console into a dancing game, of sorts.
The material is easy to wipe clean, including both the mat itself and the console portion. And the pieces are large enough such that even if a baby managed to pull a piece off the mat, there’s no worry of choking. Even the smallest heart piece and six edge pieces are fairly large.
How and why to use the Munchkin Galaxy Light Up Foam Playmat
Set up, as expected, is super easy. Take the pieces out of the box, and connect them together on the desired spot on the floor. Flip the console switch at the underside of the piece to the “on” position. It requires six AA batteries, which are sold separately. You’ll need a screwdriver to open the back piece and insert the batteries whenever they need replacing, which can be a nuisance for mom and dad, but makes it much safer for baby since he can’t turn over the piece and open the battery compartment himself. Six seems like a lot of batteries to power such a simple device, though. But presumably, they will last for quite some time, as long as you remember to turn the console off when you aren’t using it. (I did not have the mat in my possession long enough to determine average battery life.)
While my son is 5, he had tons of fun putting the mat together like a puzzle, then enjoying the brilliant lights. The console is designed such that the lights appear as though they are illuminating a tunnel beneath the floor. It has a spaceship-like, Star Wars-esque look to it, which might appeal to the older sister or brother as well. Even from an adult perspective, the effect is pretty cool – mom and dad, you might enjoy it, too! With a few of the light shows, you get a similar feeling to stepping on that iconic glass floor at the CN Tower in Toronto: will we fall through into an abyss if we place a foot atop the lights?
Of course, the mat is completely safe, and the console is just slightly bigger than a standard dinner plate. So it isn’t frightening like a full glass floor. As an added benefit for curious babies in the discovery phase, when the lights are off, the console is a mirror in which they can see their reflections. And what baby doesn’t love seeing his reflection?
Aside from the centre console, the mat serves its main purpose well, which is providing a soft and safe play area for babies. Use it for tummy time, and to practice rolling over. The mat surface area is large enough for a parent to sit on it as well along with baby. Sit baby in your lap while crossed-leg on the mat, for example, and help him tap the console over and over to see the different light shows. Or, just let your little one enjoy playing with toys while tapping the light for a fun distraction and to stimulate his senses. Eventually, the baby will understand the concept and be able to do it himself.
As your baby gets older, take the mat apart and let him have fun putting it back together as an introduction to puzzles. Don’t hesitate to switch up the layout either. My son was excited to swap out pieces and make fun designs with the mat on the floor.
There are a few downsides. For one, you likely won’t want to get this playmat for the sole purpose of floor covering for an older toddler’s play area. Since the console occupies an entire foam tile right in the middle of the mat, it’s not meant for walking on or running over. And once your child starts walking, they could possibly trip over or slide on it, which is exactly what parents are trying to avoid by buying foam playmats. That said, chances are if you’re getting a foam playmat, it’s for a small baby anyway. However, keep in mind that with the console in the middle, tummy time will have to happen off to the side. Considering the typical tiny stature of a baby, however, that won’t be an issue.
Would I buy the Munchkin Galaxy Foam Playmat?
Foam play mats are one of those things that every parent realizes they need only after baby is born and they seek a comfortable spot for things like tummy time that isn’t hardwood floor, a bed, or a tiny play gym. And any home that has a toy or playroom area, of sorts—especially one that isn’t carpeted—likely has a playmat that is soft, and easy to clean. (You never know when baby’s diaper might leak, or he might spit up, after all. And cleaning the mat is far easier than cleaning carpeting.)
The Munchkin Galaxy Foam Playmat adds an interesting element to the equation with the light-up centre console. And the textured surface will fascinate babies as well. It’s an interesting way to turn a boring old (but useful) playmat into something that’s a bit more fun, and helps stimulate baby in ways that are important for the development of his senses.