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Whoever thought about turning a snail into a play mat? Those were my first thoughts when I came across the “Little Bird Told Me Softly Snail Play Mat”. When I first saw this mat I was browsing a pregnancy blog online and the author was raving about this baby play mat and gym. At the time of reading I had a small three week old baby at home and had been thinking about buying him an activity station to amuse him as he lay on his back. Whilst a snail hardly fit into my safari themed nursery, its colours certainly did and presentation alone meant that this product was an immediate winner for me.
When I received this product from my local courier I was keen to check it out for myself. The danger in buying anything online is that you never get to sample something before you buy it and I was slightly concerned with this purchase particularly as it cost quite an expensive £60. Removing the mat from its box I could tell immediately that this was a quality product and its velour plush fabric construction and deeply padded surface was quite unlike anything else I had found in the high-street.
~Introducing the Snail~
This play mat/ gym is an activity station designed for small babies and can be used from birth. It is quite a large mat which actually measures approximately 85cm x 85cm and when assembled the arches give this mat a height of just under 60cm. The mat itself is designed in the shape of a multi coloured snail with lovely attention to detail given in the embroidered smiley face of the snail and soft rounded horns on the snails head. On the back of the snail three words are embroidered which read “Home Sweet Home” and I like this little touch. The mat is made in a variety of different fabrics which are mainly velour in construction giving this mat a very soft and cosy feel. The pastel colours work well together in my opinion giving a bright and cheerful feel to this mat which fits well within our pastel nursery and the colours include red, yellow, blue, mauve and a patterned green which immediately catch my son’s attention when I lie him down on the mat.
In the centre of our mat there are three appliqued details including a small house, a flower and another little snail popping his head out of a flap open door. The door detail is designed in a mirrored finish on the reverse and this is great in my opinion as it gives yet another source of curiosity for my now six month old baby. Arguably the biggest positive with the mat itself, and one which my health visitor commented on, is the different noises that can be made from putting pressure on various points of the mat and these make a crunchy sound when pressed which make moving around the mat fun for my son. This may also be considered a minor negative as it is virtually impossible to move this mat without making a constant crunching noise.
A big reason why you pay slightly more for this mat than say for another product is because of the detachable parts in my opinion. For a start you are given a bolster pillow for your baby which is coloured red on one side and blue on the other and this is a fantastic detachable pillow which can be used to support your baby on the floor. We love this cushion because it has been a great way to encourage our son to enjoy his tummy time as we prop his head and shoulders on the pillow enabling him to face downwards but still being able to see the world around him. In addition, the pillow is fitted with a pair of small hoops and this allows you to attach the toys to this pillow and transport it around with you making a good product for being on the go.
~The Hanging Parts~
There are four toys supplied with this activity gym and these are supplied on plastic hoops which can be attached to the arches of the mat or removed and placed on any hooped fastening including my son’s car seat, pram and cot. These toys are made in smaller off cuts of fabric which match those on the base of the mat. A caterpillar, snail, butterfly and what I think is a moth make up this unusual quartet and each is soft and padded and unlikely to hurt your baby in anyway should they accidentally hit their head on one. Both the caterpillar and the snail make a gentle rattling sound when they are shaken and these are fun for my son to swipe at when he is laying on the mat. The butterfly is my sons favourite of these toys as it is attached to a large flower and when pulled on its string it plays a gentle melody of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. Fortunately for us this musical toy does not require batteries and have had many hours of playing time since owning this toy.
~Set up and Use~
This mat is supplied with two bendy strips which are covered in a soft blue fabric and these serve as the arches for this play mat. To attach these strips is simply a case of bending them over, slotting one through the hooped component on the top arch and then looping the base of each arch through the hooped sections on the base of the mat using the Velcro attachments. The use of Velcro is good in my opinion as it provides a firm fixture whilst also being easy to detach and reattach where needed. Once the arches are attached it is simply a case of placing the toys in any of the eight hoops provided with the arches and you are good to go.
When I first received this play mat I was incredibly impressed with it before I had even taken it out of its box and I loved the way it incorporated soft plush fabrics with really useful components which are educational and interesting to my baby son. The mat has a lovely mixture of textures and colours and whilst these are visually appealing they are also interesting to touch and press to hear the various crunchy sounds that the padded sections make. The four toys supplied with this mat are interesting and slightly different to the standard animals that you often get with a baby gym. The beautiful touches with these toys including small felt feet and antennae are a lovely finish in my opinion and make the toys realistic and fun to play with. Another thing that we are very impressed with is the fact that this mat is musical and has detachable parts, all things which serve to keep my ever developing baby interested and amused.
Living in a flat with some areas of hard flooring means that it can be cold for my baby to lie around the house on his back particularly when I am moving him around from room to room to be with me. Fortunately this mat is very cushioned and this makes it warm and comfortable for him to be on his back in a cooler room which is incredibly handy.
The velour finish of this mat means that it does have a tendency to pick up stray hairs with ease and therefore I do vacuum our mat at least once a week to keep it clean. It is also worth noting that the mat itself is hand washable which I can imagine will be handy in the future when my son has his fair share of spills.
~Price and Availability~
Despite the fact that this play mat has been around for a couple of years it still maintains quite a high price tag which I attribute to the quality of this toy. It is currently priced at £64.95 on the Kiddicare website which is quite dear in my opinion. However, the very fact that it has got so many assets makes this toy a worthy investment in my opinion and one which I will certainly use again with our next baby.
~Overall Thoughts and Recommendations~
As this review will demonstrate, we have been very impressed with this play mat and a testament to this is the fact that my sons face lights up when I lay him down on it. The pastel colours, stimulating noises, detachable parts and comfy surface make this mat a complete winner all round in our house and as a result it is a toy which I would highly recommend.
As a result of this review, this toy scores a brilliant five stars from me. I hope this review has been of some help and thanks for reading! x
This review is also posted on Ciao under the same user name.
The Little Bird Told Me Soflty Snail Snuggle Time Playmat & Gym will engage and delight your child, whilst encouraging imaginative free play. The Play Gym is made to the highest quality and will delight and stimulate children as well as providing exceptional quality and longevity. Also because fun is infectious, it won't just be your little one treasuring their new gift... you will too! The Play Gym is Bright and colourful super soft velour fabrics, luxuriously cushioned for ultimate comfort and it has a dual purpose bolster pillow provides a comfortable head rest as well as a chest support for Tummy-Time. Features • Four detachable hanging toys entertain baby with squeaks, rattles and chime