Alphabet mats come in many shapes and sizes, but all share one trait; they are emblazoned with the letters of the alphabet. Occasionally these letters are removable, but they are always present. They can benefit your baby in many ways – here’s why.
Having a mat for your baby to play on is a great idea. Not only will it allow your baby to play happily at home, you can also pack it up and take it to the park or to a friend or loved-one’s home. This allows you to control the cleanliness of the surface your child plays on.
While, of course, some dirt is good for children and you shouldn’t be too obsessive about keeping it away from your baby, there are situations such as the park or a home containing pets whose hair can get everywhere, where it may be best for you to put your baby on a known mat you can keep reasonably clean.
The alphabet mat is no better or worse for this purpose than any other mat. It can also keep a sicky baby from spitting up all over someone else’s sofa or carpet – or your own! As it’s much easier to clean your mat than it is to clean carpet or upholstery, this cuts a lot of work out of having a baby who spits up frequently.
Another advantage to alphabet mats that many people do not consider is the level of contrast provided. As the letters have to be legible, these mats are often coloured in high-contrast to allow your child to easily make out the different shapes and learn to associate them with their names and their sounds. For small children, high contrast is easiest to see and this can help you stimulate their vision from an early age. It will help them learn how to focus and keep them engaged a lot more than a less high-contrast view would.
Finally, of course, becoming familiar with letters at an early age can help your child develop academically, too. TV shows such as Super Why and others will help your child engage with letters, and you yourself can make a game of it, for example singing your ABCs whilst pointing to the different letters.
Even if your child does not precociously learn to name each individual letter, you’re opening him or her up to learning and creating a familiarity with the symbols he or she will spend most of his or her first few years at school learning about.
It is a positive contribution to his or her schooling no matter what you do, and often children who have been interacted with in such a way on a positive note find learning about their letters much easier than those who have not.
Buying any type of play mat for your child is a good step to take as it can come in handy in many, many ways. But an alphabet mat specifically can really up the stakes and allow your child to develop more rapidly in a vast number of ways. So why not go looking for one right now? You could be helping yourself and helping your child!
Good places to find such mats include Amazon.co.uk and BabiesRUs.