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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2 thoughts on “Nap mat buying guide”

  • Todd Wilson

    So, question... which supplier of yours makes the largest NapMat? Thought it would be easier to just ask, rather than seek the specs one-by-onr on your site.

    • admin

      Todd, My Nap Pak made (they are no longer making nap mats, when the stock is gone, they are gone). Of nap mat manufactures still in business, Janiebee is the largest.

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