The Best Toddler Nap Mats For A Much Needed Snooze (2018 Guide)

The Best Toddler Nap Mats For A Much Needed Snooze (2018 Guide)

Ahh, nap time—a friend of all moms and caregivers!

And, what’s not to love? Your little angel is in need of some much needed rest.

Why not make them as cozy and comfortable as possible—especially if they aren’t napping in their own home?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing the best toddler nap mat so you can get your hands on one and they can lay their head on one!

What is a Nap Mat Used For?

A toddler nap mat is used when your little one needs to get some sleep and when they’re away from home.

So, it’s something that can be used at day care, at pre-school (if you choose an all day program), baby sitter’s house, or family or friends’ house if they are caring for your child or if you are visiting overnight.

It's also something that is compact enough to take with you on vacation or places that allow your toddler to curl up for an impromptu nap, like at a beach or outdoor event (in the shade of course). 

Toddler nap mats can be used pretty much anywhere and for any purpose. It's basically the portable, more compact version of their stationary toddler bed (just without the frame). 

5 Tips for Transitioning Your Kiddo to a Nap Mat

It’s going to take some training to get your child to get used to sleeping on their nap mat.

After all, they are so used to using their crib or toddler bed (complete with a mattress and bed rail), that the mat may come to a shock to them.

 So, consider five tips that will help them with this transition.

Use your own bedding.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that any kind of transition can take some time.

But, one way your child may be more inclined to sleep on their nap mat is if they see familiar bedding. Remember, even with toddlers, routine is everything!

Get a duplicate sheet, pillow, and pillowcase and decorate the nap mat with it.

It may seem like a lot of accessories for a simple mat, but keep in mind they can be removed once your child feels comfortable sleeping on their mat. 

Implement the mat at home.

So that your child will recognize the mat at daycare and feels comfortable laying on it, introduce the nap mat in your home first. 

Let them sit on it while watching television, or let them actually nap on it for their afternoon slumber.

The mat will be a thing of the past by the time you take it to any school or child care facility, and your proactiveness will have paid off!

Let them pick it out.

Kids are more inclined to “take” to items (like food and clothes) when a choice is involved—specifically, their choice. 

Show your child some nap mat options. Get them excited about shopping for one in stores or online and tell them they can choose one of three you point out.

This way, the purchase and item will feel like their own right from the get go and they will be more likely to accept it. 

Have a play date.

Invite a friend over (who already sleeps on a nap mat) and let them be your child’s guide.

Kids are more likely to accept new things when they observe their peers around them doing the same thing.

This strategy works especially well with picky eaters, and with picky sleepers. 

Make it fun.

Here are some ideas: give your child their favorite stuffed animal while on the mat; sit with them and rest awhile with them; or read a favorite story on the mat, or even share a snack on the mat.

The point is, use the mat in fun ways, as much as possible before sending it into school. Your child will have a positive association with it, rather than a negative one!

Important Features to Look For

  • Ease to clean. From time to time, accidents do happen. So, it’s important that your mat is easy to wipe down and keep clean (and won’t be subject to staining).
  • Simple to carry. If your child isn’t regularly keeping their mat at school, or if you’ve purchased one solely because you travel often, the mat should be easy enough for a toddler to carry. Look for something that is lightweight, that rolls up with ease, and can be carried by strapping it on their back or over their shoulder. Some mats can even roll up and fit into your child’s school bag. 
  • Easy to store. The more compact, the better. This helps you store the mat around your home and it doesn’t take up a lot of room in a child care facility either, since they have an assigned cubby space. 
  • Child-friendly design. Nap mats should be fun. Your child should want to sleep on it, so find something inviting. Choose their favorite color, design, or theme!
  • Comfortable. A nap mat will by no means be like a bed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable. Look for ample padding and soft texture.
  • Size. Your child’s body should be able to stretch out and still fit on the entire mat. Choose something that also gives them a little room to grow since toddlers tend to go through crazy growth spurts. 

When You Know It's Time To End the Naps

Most toddlers stop their afternoon nap around three years of age. But, some stop napping a little sooner, and others a little later.

The prime napping years on a mat are between the age of one and two.

You’ll know when it’s time to stop your toddler’s nap by watching out for the following cues:

  • Refusal to nap. Many toddlers will tell you if they are tired or not. Some break into extreme tantrums around nap time because they have a hard time expressing they don’t need the sleep. Many parents mistake this for them being tired, but it’s them actually try to convey their feelings about not needing one.
  • Acting non-fussy without one. If your toddler skips a nap, and they remain active and in good spirits the rest of the day, there’s a good chance they aren’t in need of a nap anymore.
  • Waking up super early. It’s possible that your child is getting too much sleep during the day, so they need less sleep overnight. If they are waking much earlier than usually, consistently, try skipping their nap.
  • Time for school. Some children will nap well into their toddler years. But, it’s time to stop nap if they are going to be starting preschool or kindergarten. This will help build up their stamina to stay awake and will get them into the routine and structure of school. 
  • Taking a long time to fall asleep. If you notice your toddler is taking forever to fall asleep (and when they do, they only sleep for 20 minutes), there is probably no need to give them a nap anymore. They simply aren’t tired!

Best Toddler Nap Mats

#1. Urban Infant

The Urban Infant mat (click here to check the price on Amazon) can be used alone or over a padded mat or cot. It has elastic on the corners that secure it to the structure underneath, but it works just as easily on its own. The pillow is attached, but you can take it off for washing.

When it comes to convenience, this mat has many features. Everything, including the blanket, pillow, and anything that your child put in the small pocket near the pillow, rolls up together. The mat has a handle to make it easy to tote around.

Plus, you can put the whole thing in the washer and dryer. Some people say that the pillow gets lumpy if it’s washed. Others say that it fluffs in the dryer.

Although a few consumers say the pillow fabric is rough, many users say that the fleece blanket gets softer with use. The material is not treated with any fire retardants, providing a chemical-free environment for your child.

One of the pluses is that the pillow is removable, which makes the washing and drying process much easier and helps keep the mat clean.

Another great thing about this mat is that the fleece blanket is plush and warm without being too heavy, and it won’t get lost because it is attached to the lining.

And many users have also noted that the mat can be left on cots, which is nice because it does not hinder their ability to stack.

The thin, quilted bottom layer may not be thick enough to provide comfort on a hard floor. However, this can be used with a separate padded mat.

Another issue is that when lying on the blanket, your child may be able to feel the buckles on the straps that help you secure the mat when it’s rolled up which could be slightly uncomfortable.


#2. Olive Kids

This nap mat from Olive Kids (click here to check the price on Amazon) has a sleeping surface of two inches thick.

It’s comfortable to sleep on, and the attached blanket is wider than the padding. That means that your child can pull it all the way around his or her body without a gap on the side.

It comes in many kid-friendly designs, making it easy for your little one to pick a favorite.

The pillow can be removed for washing. However, if your child prefers to sleep without the pillow, there is no padding underneath that area.

The outer material is a blend of cotton and polyester, while the lining of the blanket is soft cotton. The mat does absorb liquids, but customers say that it washes well.

Although the manufacturer recommends keeping the mat out of the dryer, many customers have washed and dried it in a machine with no problems.

The mat conforms to CPSIA regulations and U.S. flammability test requirements. At 50 inches long and 20 inches wide, this is one of the larger nap mats.

What’s great about this mat is that the thick padding is comfortable to sleep on whether your child is on the floor or on a cot, so they’ll be comfortable anywhere.

Another nice feature is that the blanket is not stitched in at the bottom, so even a taller child can use it with his or her feet uncovered.

And the ease of use and transport makes it extremely convenient for a young child, allowing them to roll it up themselves and take it wherever they want.

One of the downsides is that the mat needs to be line dried, which means if you’ve got to wash it on a school night, your child may have to sleep without it.

Another potential issue is that the hook-and-loop straps that secure the mat when it is rolled up may become worn out after a few weeks of use and washings.


#3. Lambs & Ivy

This mat from Lambs & Ivy (click here to check the price on Amazon) is 100% polyester, so the material is less absorbent than cotton, which makes it stand up to spills and accidents better than an absorbent fabric.

However, the material is thin. You can see through it in some places, while the fabric also makes noise when your child shifts around.

The instructions say not to wash this item. That’s inconvenient for something that will be used in a child care setting.

Some users did wash and dry it in their machines. They said that the colors faded after several washings. Others weren’t happy with the quality after washing. They claimed that the material becomes pilled easily and the pillow doesn’t hold its shape. Some said that the material was too rough.

At 47 inches long and 18.75 inches wide, this nap mat is a relatively standard size. However, because it is one of the thinner mats that we reviewed, it is extremely compact when rolled up. It can be carried conveniently in a suitcase or backpack and is lightweight.

One of the really good things about the mat is that the blanket is only connected on one side, so it doesn’t create a height limit if a child’s feet go a little past the bottom.

Another nice plus is that the mat takes up minimal space when it is rolled up, so storage is quick, easy, and convenient.

And the other great thing about this mat is that everything is attached, so you don’t have to worry about loose pieces getting lost or misplaced.

A few parents have pointed out that the pillow is not removable, which has caused it to become a bit lumpy and misshaped after machine washing.

Also, the blanket and base of the mat are very thin, making it less than ideal for colder weather or sleeping on hard surfaces.


#4. Disney Minnie Mouse

This Minnie Mouse nap mat from Disney (click here to check the price on Amazon) is made of soft material that will keep your child cozy as he or she rests. It’s not very padded, but the material is plush. The mat rolls up into a lightweight roll that’s easy for a child to carry.

When washing this item, lint from the fleece may transfer to anything that you’re washing with it. If the Velcro is not secured, it can snag on other items or on other parts of the mat. However, many parents like the fact that it’s machine washable and dryable.

At 44 inches long and 20 inches wide, this is one of the smaller toddler nap mats. A smaller child may have trouble rolling up the mat, because you have to fold it in half lengthwise before rolling it. This can also deform the pillow. However, the mat packs up compactly for travel. It also has a handle that can be used to carry it around.

The mat comes in a variety of Disney designs, which is great If your child is attached to the character on the mat because he or she may be more likely to enjoy using it.

We would also expect most children to find this mat extremely comfortable because of the soft, plush fabric.

Another nice feature is that the 100% polyester microfiber construction doesn’t absorb liquids as quickly as natural fibers do, so the mat will survive a few spills better than others.

Multiple users have reported an issue with washing the mat because the pillow cannot be removed—a few noted that the seams ripped open during washing.

Also, this is a small mat that will likely only be useful for a short amount of time—children are likely to outgrow it quickly.


#5. Paw Patrol

This Paw Patrol-themed nap mat (click here to check the price on Amazon) is on the smaller side of standard, measuring 46 inches long and 21 inches wide.

The pillow is larger than most, and the blanket extends past the mattress for extra warmth. Because the blanket is not stitched down at the foot end, a taller child could still use the nap mat with his or her feet uncovered.

Like the other nap mats, this one rolls up and secures with Velcro closures. There are no extra pieces, so you can’t lose anything. It has a handle to carry it around. It must be folded lengthwise before rolling, however. This can be difficult for a smaller child to handle.

Most of the user complaints involve the thinness of the item. It appears to wash well, but many users wish it were more cushioned. Some feel that it is not warm enough to adequately cover the child in cooler weather.

Most nap mats have a tag on which you can write your child’s name. This mat has a plastic window with a card inside, similar to a luggage tag. This protects the labeled area. You must remove the card before washing the mat, however.

What’s nice about the blanket is that it’s nice and wide, so it will wrap around your child comfortably and keep them warm.

And in addition to the blanket being wide and comfortable, the pillow is also wide and well-stuffed for maximum cushion.

Another nice feature are the animated characters on the mat—many children will fall in love with the design and enjoy sleeping on it.

One of the drawbacks is that the pillow cannot be removed for washing, so it may get deformed or misshaped after a few washes.

Another thing that gave us pause is that the mat is only about 1/2 –inch thick, despite the company claiming a 3-inch thickness.


Wrapping Up

Toddler nap mats are great items that help your child rest in peace and comfort when they are away from their home.

Choose a mat that boasts some of the feature described above and consider some of the transition tips to ensure your child loves their mat, stays on their mat, but most importantly, sleeps on their mat! 

Kate Trout
 

Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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