Commando, the bear, leapfrog, crab, the roll, the backwards shuffle, every baby finds his or her preferred way of getting from A to B (well from A to lower case ‘a’), as they learn to navigate their world. Creating a safe and effective crawling environment has been a topic of key debate over recent years as wooden floors become cheaper and much more popular.

With the range of solid wood, engineered wood, carpet, laminate and vinyl flooring options growing at a pace and despite years of debate over which is best for baby, no-one has yet seemed able to reach a final decision.

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The popularity of engineered wood in particular has been growing rapidly in recent years although some parents argue that solid wood or laminate floors can hinder baby’s mobility as they are too slippery. Others hit back by saying the opposite is true and that it is easier for baby to move around on and that they can also help more easily develop muscle strength and motor skills. In a poll back in 2006 from netmums.com, 59.5% of parents favoured carpet over wood flooring (40.5%), while in 2011 a straw poll on Babyandbump found 63% of parents favoured carpet. So it’s been an ongoing debate but both can’t be right so which is it, wooden flooring or carpets?

In favour of wood flooring

Solid wood flooring can of course be expensive to fit but lasts for years and significantly adds to the value of a property. You need to be more careful measuring the floor space exactly as carpets can be easier to fit around rooms with alcoves, deep door frames, exposed pipes. Some parents worry that the hard surface could cause bruising to baby’s knees as they crawl or their elbows or chin if they fall. Others say that hard wood allows them to slide more easily which encourages them. You can even buy knee pads but these have come under some criticism for potentially inhibiting development.  Engineered wood flooring comes with many of the benefits, such as being extremely durable but doesn’t carry the cost of solid wood and only uses a fraction of the amount of hard wood layers making it more environmentally friendly. It’s also easier to install than solid wood as it uses a click-lock, meaning less overall disruption.
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What parents say:

Frankie3 on Mumsnet says: “I would definitely choose wood over carpet for a toddler. You don’t have to worry about spillages or muddy footprints, it all wipes off. A rug in the lounge is good for when they want to sit on the floor to play or watch TV. We have engineered wood floor on our downstairs and it is so practical.”

Honneybunney on Mumsnet says: “We have engineered oak wood flooring, the lacquered one. It is great! Beautiful, and easy to lay as well. It has some scratches here and there, but we’ve had it for 7 years and have two boisterous boys (5 and 7). You can get it in varying thickness, and the thicker ones you could sand down and lacquer again if damaged too much.”
Stacey A (45) on Netmums said:  “I have wooden floors everywhere apart from my stairs and hall. I have carpet there as in the morning felt like it was warmer and it’s quieter than laminate. I felt my livingroom was cold with the wooden floors so I bought a huge big fluffy sparkly rug out of next and it really warms it up.  Carpet is great but I prefer wooden floors as I can wash them by simply mopping every day and I feel it looks and feels cleaner. My mum however prefers her carpets, it’s just a personal choice.”

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In favour of carpeted floors

Rugs and carpets of course add warmth to a room and some bump protection. If your house is prone to draft or lacks effective insulation, removing them in favour of real wood can be a treacherous decision unless the floor is heated underneath, which pretty much solves your problem. Rugs can make for a good grip for little belly crawlers, inspiring confidence which is of course really the whole point, giving them the confidence to tackle any surfaces, soft, hard, lumpy, bumpy, whatever is thrown at them. Although it has been commented that it’s more tiring for them and doesn’t encourage the same amount of movement.

What parents say:

Susan W (386) on Netmums says: “I think carpet is much more homely than laminate (just my opinion). I agree carpet can get a bit grubbier/dirtier than laminate. Our lounge carpet has a coating on it so when liquids get spilled they sit on the carpet ‘til they are wiped up, they don’t soak into the pile.”

 

Nikki1978 on Mumsnet says: “I found laminate was always covered in dust – even an hour after you had swept it. Don’t know if real wood floors are the same though. Personally I love carpets – they are so cosy and in cold weather they are needed. I think wooden floors can be quite cold unless you have a rug in the room, which seems to defeat the object.”

 

Bamboobutton on Mumsnet follows that up and says: “I hate wood floors with an absolute passion! It just seems so unhomely and cold. We lived in house with it in the front room and it was just horrible. Endless dust bunnies blowing about, slippery when you have socks on, ‘echoey’ when you walk on it with shoes, cold when you have bare feet and hard for children to play on. As Nikki points out, what’s the point if you are going to cover it in rugs. Decent rugs weigh a ton so it’s not easy to just bung them to the dry cleaners. Get some lovely carpets put down and invest in a decent carpet shampooer.”
So which is it, wood or carpet? What’s your preference? Why not comment below. Have your say and help us decide and put this debate to bed.