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Find the best in Baby Gear at Magic Beans
Find the best in Baby Gear at Magic Beans

Move over, alphabet

PlayspotWhen I was growing up, my family had a summer home on Cape Cod. The house had a dining room, but there was plenty of room to eat in the kitchen. So the dining room instead served as a playroom for my (much) younger sister. The centerpiece of the room was a set of interlocking foam tiles with cut-out letters of the alphabet. The squishy mat covered most of the floorspace and provided a soft landing pad for all sorts of toddler antics. Many years later, that set of foam tiles is deservedly still a popular product. But the version we sell looks identical to the one we had in our playroom more than a decade ago.

For parents who lean towards sleek, modern decor, the loud primary colors of the A to Z Mat would stick out like a sore thumb. But thanks to the innovators at Skip Hop, there’s a new alternative. They’ve just released the Playspot, a set of interlocking foam tiles that, like the traditional version, creates an instant padded floor. 14″ square tiles link together via x-shaped connector pieces. Inside each tile is a contrasting cut-out circle that can pop out to mix and match the look. It’s a striking effect that will provide sensory stimulation for babies and a tasteful kick of color to any room in the house.

Aside from the obvious design differences, here are a few more points of comparison. The Playspot is approved for children from birth and up, where the A to Z Mat is recommended for ages 3 and up. Also, the A to Z Mat has a textured surface, while the Playspot is made of smooth EVA foam. The Playspot comes with 20 14″ tiles, while the A to Z Mat has 26 12″ tiles. The A to Z Mat has an irrefutable educational edge, but then again the playroom floor isn’t likely to be any child’s only exposure to the alphabet. Finally, good design always comes at a premium. The A to Z Mat is $44.99, while the Playspot has a suggested retail price of $79.

One last tip: with either one, be sure to leave your Manolos at the door. I’ve heard that high heels can gouge little holes in the foam.

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