Buying guides

Buying guides for nap mats, backpacks, and lunch totes
  • Just how big does a nap mat need to be?

    Nap mats are available in many different widths and lengths.  While nap mats are not that expensive of item, it does not make sense to buy one that won't serve as long as you wanted because your child outgrew it.  So just how big does a nap mat need to be so your child does not outgrow it until a specific age?

     

    We looked up the government growth charts for boys and girls between ages 2 and 8, and report the average child height, and the 95th percentile child height.  A 52" nap mat is going to serve 95% of boys and girls until age 6.  The average height boys and girls will be able to use a 52" nap mat until about age 7.

     

    If you do need a nap mat that will serve bigger kids, we have a guide here.

     

    Boys Girls
    Age Average height 95th percentile Average height 95th percentile
    2 34 36 34 36
    3 37.5 40 37 40
    4 41.5 43 40 43
    5 43 46 42 46
    6 46 49 45 49
    7 48 52 48 52
    8 51 54 50 54

    Table 1 - child age versus required nap mat size chart - from the CDC

     

    Kindergarten generally runs till a child is age 6, so nap mats 50 inches and over are the best nap mats for kindergarten.  In order of size, our nap mat brands measured for length are:

    Scene Weaver - 43"
    Mint - 46"
    Woolly Boo - 46"
    Ozark Mountain Kids - 47"
    Wildkin - 50"
    Stephen Joseph - 52"
    Janiebee - 53"
    Kindermat nap mats - 54"
    Daydreamer nap mats - 58"
    Giant OMK nap mats - 58"

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  • Nap mat buying guide

    Are you looking for a nap mat for your child?  Your child will typically spend 10-20 hours a week sleeping on his or her nap mat.  That is generally 200-500 hours during his or her preschool years.  So while the financial cost is small, it is a very important decision and surprisingly little information exists to help you make an informed choice.

     

    Please avoid flame retardants in the nap mat you pick

    Why is this important?  Many stores you would be tempted to trust with the well-being of your child are selling products like this: admittedly containing flame retardants, and unbranded, you have absolutely no idea who manufactured it.

     

    Unbranded nap mat sold with "flame retardants" Unbranded nap mat sold with "flame retardants"

    Many nap mats contain flame retardants banned from children's sleepwear 30 years ago for being known carcinogens.  I don't care where you get your nap mats, as long as you don't buy one that might harm your child.

     

    What to look for in a nap mat?

    1.  Check the requirements of your school or day care.  Many day care's provide sleeping mats, but they may not know or care about nap mat health issues.  Since they often just see nap mats as an expense, you will have to.

     

    2. Check the requirements of your state.  You might not expect this, but many states regulate what nap mat is allowed at day care and school facilities.  You may find your organization is hiding behind a "State Law" that is actually their personal preference.

    Many states don't regulate nap mat construction or thickness, but many do regulate thickness and that nap mats have to be "waterproof" like our Kindermat/Daydreamer vinyl cover mats.

     

    3.  What is the room environment like?  Warm rooms will dictate thinner blankets, and cold rooms will need thicker blankets.

     

    4.  How sensitive is your child to discomfort?  There are many nap mat thicknesses and support levels on the market.  If your child sleeps like a rock anywhere, on anything, you can do something compact and in-expensive.  If you child has a hard time sleeping and is over tired, it will affect the quality of their day, and those around them.

     

    Where not to look for nap mats?

     

    Big box store nap mats

    Just about every big box has nap mats during back to school season and they do fly off the shelf.  They are generally the cheapest nap mats.  But how healthy are they for your child?  A 2013 study of 'big box store' nap mats found that 22 of 24 nap mat brands tested positive for 10 different flame retardants; 19 of the 24 testing positive for more than one flame retardant.  And these are from major chains like Amazon, Lakeshore, and Toys R Us.  This is unfortunate for several reasons - flame retardants aren’t generally effective in nap mats, don't need to be in nap mats, and far worse, the flame retardants have been shown to do damage to humans and animals (the linked report has a detailed breakdown of the known health issues - they are nasty - and most of the chemicals aren't fully studied to know what they do).

     

    Some of these nap mats should be been labeled as containing chemicals known to cause cancer - none of the big box store nap mats were.  It has lead to lawsuits but the issue comes back around and around because the big box store nap mats aren't made here, and aren't made by folks concerned about your children.

     

    Foam mats/yoga mats

    Some folks resort to yoga mats or foam mats plus separate blankets and a pillow.  If you get a cheap foam version of uncertain origin, you have the same issue as the big box store nap mats - the foam is very likely to contain flame retardants (The description of many start with 'non toxic' and end with 'flame retardant', they don't even know what they are talking about).

    So, what is left?

    If you have to be wary of 'big box store' and foam nap mat pads, what options are left?  Fortunately there is a cottage industry making 'boutique' nap mats in just about every style and size that are all free of fire retardants and lead.  There are even hypoallergenic/organic nap mats.  Some of the best all in one nap mats are made by Mint, Janiebee, Stephen Joseph, Ozark Mountain Kids, My Nap Pak, Woolly Boo, and Wildkin, all of which we carry.

     

    We have picture comparisons between our most popular nap mats, and recommendations for bigger kid nap mats.  Soon we will have video reviews of each brand.

     

    We warrantee all of our nap mats against defects and unusual wear, and have been selling nap mats for six years.  We won't carry any nap mat that can't stand frequent machine wash and dry, or falls apart after a little use.

     

    Involve your child in the selection process.  You will know if you have hit a home run – Your child will insist on taking the nap mat everywhere, and insist on sleeping on it, either on the bed, or even on the floor.

     

    Nap mat size

    Parents naturally gravitate to bigger nap mats, and with good reason.  Nap mats are not prohibitively expensive, but often for a few dollars more you can get a nap mat several inches wider and longer.  But how many more years of service will get out of say, six extra inches of length?  The chart below shows the average boy will outgrow a 46" nap mat by age 5.  A 52" nap mat will last the average boy two more years, till age 7.

     

    Boys Girls
    Age Average height 95th percentile Average height 95th percentile
    2 34 36 34 36
    3 37.5 40 37 40
    4 41.5 43 40 43
    5 43 46 42 46
    6 46 49 45 49
    7 48 52 48 52
    8 51 54 50 54

    Table 1 - child age versus required nap mat size chart - from the CDC

     

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  • Big kid nap mats

    If you have a bigger kid, you will quickly find that most big box store nap mats are geared towards young toddlers.  If you have a child needing an extra long nap mat, or extra wide nap mat, there are still options!  Keep in mind that all of our options are machine washable.

     

    That said, just how big does a nap mat need to be?  The table below shows average and 95th percentile height for boys and girls from age 2 to 8.   A 52" nap mat is going to serve 95% of boys and girls until age 6.  The average height boys and girls will be able to use a 52" until about age 7.

     

    Boys Girls
    Age Average height 95th percentile Average height 95th percentile
    2 34 36 34 36
    3 37.5 40 37 40
    4 41.5 43 40 43
    5 43 46 42 46
    6 46 49 45 49
    7 48 52 48 52
    8 51 54 50 54

    Table 1 - child age versus required nap mat size chart

     

    Giant Ozark Mountain Kids nap mats
    These are the largest commercially made nap mats on the market.  At 28 inches wide, and 58 inches long, they work for average height children to age 10, and the tallest children to age 8.  They are 2.5 inches thick and made with a plush, soft fabric that compels you to stroke it.

     

    My Nap Pak

    At 24 inches wide by 55 inches long, My Nap Pak nap mats are some of the biggest for both length and width, but at a very competitive price point.  They are 1 inch thick, which is typical, and have a simple fleece blanket measuring 32 inches wide by 37 inches long.  Only a few brands are thicker than one inch.  That caveat is that My Nap Pak nap mats are no long in product for 2013 or the first half of 2014.  We do expect them to come back next year.

     

    Stephen Joseph nap mats

    At 24.75” x 52.5”, Stephen Joseph is a strong runner up for size.  They are made of a soft velboa (fancy way of saying soft, low pile fuzzy polyester suede) fabric that wears well.  The blanket is 25 inches wide by 41 inches long (but is closed at the bottom so does not fit quite as large a child than the dimensions suggest), and a lot warmer than a fleece blanket.  That makes this a good choice for cold rooms.  They are also 1 inch thick.

     

    Janiebee nap mats

    At 24 inches x 53 inches, our Janiebee nap mats are also well suited towards bigger kids.  Janiebee has a standard line of nap mats, but ours are 24 inches wide, versus their standard 20 inch wide size.  The blanket is 30 inches wide by 44 inches long so fits a much larger child than the other nap mats.  And the blanket is a warm double layer of minky dot fabric so performs the best in cold rooms, and the nap mat is 2 inches thick, much thicker than My Nap Pak or Stephen Joseph.  It is a comfortable choice for hard floors or cold floors.

     

    Our nap mats for big kids are the biggest we know of.  If you know of larger, please let us know!

     

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