While taking a nap as an adult is something we all dream of having every single day, children are not as wanting. Perhaps you remember your own tantrums from back when you were a kid and made a fuss about your parents forcing you to take a nap. To be honest, I wish someone was forcing me now to take a nap, but that is only a dream for grown-ups. Leaving that aside, it is crucial for a child to have his or her nap every day. Whether at school or home, a nap is most beneficial. While at home a bed is always available, and a nap mat can come in handy whenever your child is anywhere else.
What is a nap mat?
A nap mat is a large piece of soft fabric that can serve your child as a bed whenever not at home. It is not a sleeping bag, just to make things clear. Depending on the model, it may have a blanket included or sewn-in, but it is not something you would use camping, for example. A nap mat comes in various sizes and models, and it can serve a lot of purposes such as:
- In a childcare center
- When visiting the grandparents
- In a tree house
- Sleepovers, etc.
Basically, whenever your child does not sleep at home or in a bed, a nap mat comes in handy. It is comfortable, it has a blanket, and since it is s lightweight, it is incredibly portable.
Why nap time is so important for children?
The importance of nap time cannot be stressed enough. As a grown-up, you know very well that a 20-minute power nap can reboot your brain and increase your productivity. Imagine what it can do to a developing brain. Here are the most significant benefits of putting your child for a nap every day.
- Improves cognitive development – it is a known fact that a napping child is a learning child, which is why most parents teach their children that a nap a day is a positive thing. Not that a child understands that and obliges easily, but parents know best. It is scientifically proven that children who take regular naps have better learning capabilities. Their memory improves, and their overall performance is enhanced. Of course, children do not know that, but one day they will understand.
- It is good for a child’s growth – we have all heard or seen first-hand what happens during a child’s growth spurt. Not only that kids are bottomless pits when it comes to food, but they also need sleep. Their body is developing, and they need more than food. Rest is also something that helps them grow, and not only during the night. Daytime naps are also a requirement for healthy and rapid growth.
- A napping child will behave better – perhaps you are familiar with the fuss kids make when they miss their nap. The irony is that the more tired they are, the harder they fall asleep. That is why a regular nap regimen is a must. As long as the nap times are respected, your child will have a more relaxed behavior. Plus, you will not experience the tantrums a child can throw when he or she is tired.
- Children who sleep during the day sleep better at night – this is in close connection to the previous benefit of naps. People tend to believe that children will fall asleep faster at night if they skip their nap because they will be tired by the time the night comes. However, that is not how things work. It will do precisely the contrary. A child who skips a nap will fall asleep harder because he or she will become overtired in the evening. That means you will have a fussy child that refuses to go to sleep. A quick nap can overcome this issue.
How to choose the best nap mat
Now that we have established that a nap is highly beneficial for your little one, it is time to learn how to select the best nap mat for when he or she needs to take a nap anywhere other than at home. It is not difficult, but you need to consider a few things before you actually buy one. Here is what to pay attention to:
- Size – depending on how old your child is, you need to choose the right size. As you may very well know, nap mats are available from baby-size to preschool-size. My advice is to go for one that is slightly larger so that your child would not outgrow the mat too fast. Nap mats are not expensive, but a somewhat bigger nap mat is not a tragedy. That way you do not buy one every year.
- Portability – generally, all nap mats are lightweight and portable. However, there are models that tend to be a little heavier due to more cushioning. A portable nap mat should be easy to fold or roll and should have a closing system. For example, there are models that can be rolled and fixed in place with buckles. Some of them even come with a strap for easy carrying. The point is that if you buy a nap mat for your preschooler, for example, he or she should be able to carry it by himself/herself.
- Material – since your child will take a nap in the nap mat almost every day, you need to make sure that the fabric the nap mat is made of is soft and hypoallergenic. While many materials can provide that, I recommend microfiber. It is soft, it can be washed on and on again without tearing, and it maintains its color for an extended period of time. I am sure that your child will be comfortable in it.
- Pattern – kids will often request a nap mat that has their favorite cartoon characters or superheroes. Lucky for you, almost all manufacturers can provide that.
- Ease of cleaning – as you imagine, you need to clean the nap mat quite often. At least once a week. That is why my advice is to go for a nap mat that is easy to wash and dry. Accidents can happen, and if your child spills something on the mat but needs it the next day, you need a nap mat that can be machine washed and tumble-dried. Plus, you need the material to be durable to withstand often washing. A material that deteriorates fast is something to look out for. You can read some reviews to find out which models maintain their integrity for longer.
What are the best nap mats?
If you follow the instructions above, you should be able to make the best choice for your child. Remember to read the specification on the product to make sure that you are buying what you need, and reading some nap mat reviews online can help as well. Doing that can keep you at bay from products that are falsely advertised. But if you want, you can choose one of the nap mats I selected below. They are all of the superior quality, and the prices are affordable.
Wildkin Original NapMat Olive Kids with Built-In Blanket and Pillow Insert
Wildkin manufactures multiple nap mats, and as you explore the offer, you will see a lot of products that are more than suitable for your kid. This model is one of them. It is an excellent nap mat that your child will adore. It is comfortable, and it is available in multiple colors and patterns. I am sure that one of them will be to your liking. It is accommodating and warm, and your child can use it at daycare and sleepovers. It measures 50 by 20 inches, and it arrives with a pillow insert and a built-in blanket.
The Wildkin nap mat is made of a blend of cotton and microfiber. It is both comfy and soft. It provides the ideal cushion and breathability for a comfortable nap. There are no zippers involved, so your child will have no trouble using it. Plus, the mat is easy to carry. Its design allows you to roll it up effortlessly, and the Velcro straps will hold it in place. The carrying strap ensures easy transportation.
One of the things you will love the most about this nap time is that it is easy to clean. All the parts are machine washable. Just remove the pillow insert, and then put the rest into the washing machine. Just make sure that you use cold water. Do not put it in the dryer, and the mat is ready to store when it is 100% dry. Other than that, this product is safe for children. It is PVC, BPA, and Phthalate free, which means that this is an eco-friendly product worth considering.
Disney Minnie Mouse Toddler Rolled Nap Mat
If your kid is a Disney fan, Minnie Mouse in particular, then she will love this nap mat. It has a cheerful design featuring Minnie Mouse on top. The model is pink, so I suppose it is more suitable for a little girl. The manufacturer recommends this model for children over the age of 2. As for size, this nap mat measures 30 by 33 inches. It has a built-in blanket and a pillow.
The nap mat from Disney is made of 100% polyester microfiber. The superior quality ensures that the mat will maintain its softness even after countless washes, and the fabric will not tear easily. Just make sure that you wash it in cold water on a gentle cycle. Plus, this model can be tumble-dried, but only in low-temperature settings. If your child spills something on it, make sure that you use only non-chlorine bleach for the stains.
This model too features an easy carry strap which makes it ideal for travel. Once it is rolled, your child can carry it herself. With only 1.2 pounds in weight, this is effortless to carry. I am sure that your child will love it.
Urban Infant Tot Cot All-In-One Preschool/Daycare Toddler Nap Mat
Last but not least, the nap mat from Urban Infant may also be something that you like. It is ideal for your child’s nap time at preschool or daycare. It has a practical design with a sewn-in blanket and a removable pillow. Your child will sleep most comfortably in it.
This model is available in multiple patterns, and it includes a customizable name tag. Under the blanket, there is a pocket in which your child can put their favorite sleeping toy. The model can be secured to standard cots with the help of the sewn-in elastic bands that can be pulled over the cot corners.
The Urban Infant nap mat is easy to wash. Just remove the pillow and throw the rest into the washing machine. Use only cold water, and you can tumble dry it on low heat. The premium quality fabric can withstand countless items of washing over the years without losing its softness or color. I am sure you find this incredibly helpful.
To be honest, I like all three models, but if I were to choose just one, I would go with the Wildkin Original NapMat Olive Kids with Built-In Blanket and Pillow Insert. It is durable, has multiple colors and patterns available, and is the softest of them all. I think it is one of the best nap mats you can choose for your child.
Nap time is crucial for a child’s development, as we have already established, but the sleeping environment matters as well. You need to make sure that your kid takes a nap in a comfortable space that keeps him or her warm and well-ventilated. One of the models above can provide precisely that for your child, and no matter which one you choose, you will be more than satisfied with your selection.