Pros: Soft floor (for child AND parents), easy to setup and cleanup, colorful
Cons: Some small pieces
After our son started walking, my beloved bachelor pad of a basement was quickly transformed into a beloved child's play pad and something needed to be done with the hard, tiled flooring. As children learn to walk or just in every day playing, they all fall numerous times. So, we decided to buy two packages of the "Alphabet 'n Numbers Foam Puzzle Mat." Each set contains the letters A-Z (26 letters) and the numbers 0-9 (10 numbers). With each piece measuring approximately 12" x 12", two sets covered all the main parts of the floor (I didn't bother doing under the couch, desk, etc).
Wow... what a difference! Our son was able to fall left and right, forward and backward without us ever having to worry. As he got older (he's now 2 years old), it still works great because when he rolls off the couch and onto the floor... no worries!
For children under 18 months, this worked great for crawling and learning to walk. As our son got around 16-18 months, he loved removing the letters from each piece, which left a little clean-up work for mommy and daddy (trying to put all the pieces back together). NOTE: Be careful with the small pieces inside the letters and numbers (like the small piece inside the 4). These can be very small and easily get stuck in a child's mouth. For the most part, the pieces are large enough to not get stuck (especially if you just avoid using the pieces with EXTREMELY small pieces).
Now, as our son reaches two, he still loves playing on the mat floor, but now he's actually using the pieces as a puzzle. He enjoys putting the letters inside the proper squares as we say our ABC's and 123's together.
Each piece is made of a durable foam with removable letters and numbers. We leave the mat on the floor all the time, so dirt started to become an issue. They were extremely easy to clean with a damp towel. As the mat started to get REALLY dirty, we just placed the letters in the sink with soap and water, and then threw 10 of them in the drier at a time, for about 10 seconds to dry.
These can easily be used on any type of flat, hard flooring surface (hardwood, tile, etc). Each set also includes corner pieces to make a flat border around the mat, giving it a nice, clean look.
I would recommend this idea to anyone with young children and hard floors. The colorful pieces are bright and work great for bedrooms, play areas, etc. If using in a large room, it also works great with the Superyard XT Gate (http://www.epinions.com/North_State_Industries_Superyard_XT_Gate_Safety_Gates) - Put the gate up and just pad the flooring inside the gated area!