Non-Toxic Foam Play Mat Options –
Our home has tile and wood floors and therefore, we wanted to create a soft space for our baby with the use of floor mats. There are many foam mats on the market including ones with colorful letters and numbers but most of these mats contain formamide which is a cancer-causing chemical. This chemical can be absorbed by children through breathing or through the skin. Belgium became the first European country to ban these foam mats and as of 2011 they are now illegal to sell.
There are healthier options! I contacted a number of companies and have included the information below for reference. In the end, we chose to use the Softtiles product and have been very happy with our play area!
Skip Hop Playspot
The Skip Hop Playspot is made in China and meets or exceeds regulatory safety standards in the USA and Europe. It is BPA, phthalate and PVC free. Per their email response on the use of Formamide:
We do not add Formamide to Playspot, although it can be a byproduct of the EVA foam manufacturing process (which includes such items as flip flops and many bath toys). That said, due to these concerns, we have tested Playspot using ISO 16000 methods.
We are pleased that our Playspots received the lowest possible score, <2ug/m3 (less than 2 millionths of a gram per cubic meter) for Formamide emissions, the lowest measurable result with this testing method. These tests show that – within the limits of the test – its presence is essentially not detectable. Therefore, the Playspot is a safe EVA floor mat option for children and you should feel confident that we have specifically tested for this issue.
Image source: www.amazon.com
One Step Ahead Foam Mats
The One Step Ahead foam mat is made in China and is formamide, acetaphenone, 2 phenyl 2 propanol free. I did not see on the website that the mats were BPA and phthalate free so contacted their customer service department. Per their email response:
I received response back from our product specialist and the foam mats are BPA free and Phalate free.
On their website, they do note the following which was a personal concern as this was one of the main complaints on user feedback that I noticed:
When you first unwrap your puzzle mat, you may notice a “funny” foam smell. Don’t be concerned; our mats are safe! (They’ve passed extensive safety testing.) Let the pieces air out for a few days, and the odor will dissipate.
Image source: www.amazon.com
SoftTiles foam mats are made in Taiwan and have been tested free of formamides, BPA, phthalates, latex and fire retardants. Their website actually links to the independent lab testing they have had performed on their mats to validate their claims. You can purchase the mat tiles separately and therefore can custom your colors and ensure that you will fit the exact space you are looking to cover. Our SoftTiles covered play area is still going strong after 4 years of heavy use!
Image source: www.softtiles.com
Non-Toxic Rubber Play Mat Options
Kutchu Children’s Play Mat
For those looking for a foam-free option, there is now a play mat available made of natural rubber! The Kutchu play mat was designed by a new mom in 2013 who was looking for a safe, non-toxic, and eco-friendly play mat. The mat is manufactured in Taiwan, using non-rainforest natural rubber from South-Asian origin. It is free from phthalates and chemical flame retardants that can be found in synthetic materials. As stated on their website, those with latex sensitivities should use caution since natural rubber may contain trace amounts of latex. Check out the Kutchu Children’s Play Mat for your little one!
Image source: www.kutchu.com