According to Dr. Henry Shapiro, director of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at All Children's Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Florida, positioning babies on their stomach to play promotes trunk stability, limb coordination and head control. It is important for babies to be placed on their stomachs on the floor during the day using a play mat to protect them from germs on the floor and hard surfaces. You can make your own baby play mat, which allows you to customise it and save money.
Cut two squares of fabric measuring 42 inches by 42 inches, one for the front of the play mat and another for the back. Cut one square of batting measuring 42 inches by 42 inches. Cut four 44-inch by 8-inch strips of the binding fabric. Fold the fabric lengthwise to make the cutting easier. Cut one 42-inch by 3-inch strip for the tie from the binding fabric.
Lay the back fabric on your working surface, wrong side up. Lay the batting on top of the back fabric. Place the front fabric on top of the batting with the right side facing up. Make sure the fabrics are smooth and pin in place, making sure to pin all the layers. Do not worry if the raw edges are not completely aligned; they will be trimmed before binding.
Stitch all three layers together along the four sides with a half-inch seam allowance. Trim raw edges.
Measure 13 inches from the top of the play mat and make a mark with the fabric pencil. Do this in each side of the play mat and in multiple places. Connect the dots. This line will guide you when sewing the binding. Create a second guide line at 29 inches from the top, mark across all sides and in multiple places with the fabric pencil. Connect the dots, which will guide you when sewing the top stitching.
Thread your sewing machine with the contrasting thread. Top stitch across the play mat at the 13-inch and 29-inch marks. The top stitching will prevent the fabrics from shifting, and also will create folding lines to fold the play mat.
Seam the strips for the binding together to create one long strip by matching the right sides together along the 8-inch sides and stitching using a half-inch seam allowance. Press all the seams open. Fold binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Open the strip; fold each side toward the centre and press. Fold again along the first crease, right sides together, and press.
Slip the binding over the raw, stitched edge of one side of the play mat. Make sure the middle fold is right on edge and the binding is even on both sides. Stitch the binding onto the play mat. Stop at the first corner, fold pleat at a 45-degree angle and turn the corner. Slip the binding and stitch the following side. Stop at the second corner and fold pleat the binding. Continue until the binding is stitched to the play mat on every side.
Fold the 42-inch by 3-inch strip of the binding fabric for the tie in half lengthwise, with right sides together and pin. Stitch one short side with a half-inch seam allowance, turn the corner and stitch the long side. Leave one short side open to turn the fabric. Turn right sides out, push out all the corners and press. Top stich both ends, closing the open edge.
Fold the play mat along the folding lines, roll up and tie secure for travel or presenting a gift.