The 10 Best Nap Mats
10. Uber Mom Whale
9. Wildkin Easy Clean
8. Stephen Joseph All-Over
7. ECR4Kids Rainbow
6. My First Nap Mat
5. Olive Kids by Wildkin
4. Milliard Toddler
3. Urban Infant Tot Cot
2. Angeles Germ-Free
1. Wildkin Original
On Proper Rest During Childhood
The average toddler has spent more of his or her life asleep than they have awake. In fact, sleep will consume as much as forty percent of the average childhood, and those hours (or years, taken as a whole) are critical for proper mental and physical development. People of all ages enjoy better cognitive function, a happier disposition, and overall better health when they are well rested. And this healthy relationship with sleep begins from the earliest days of life.
Scientists believe that the increased synaptic activity a young and developing brain experiences greatly heightens the glial fatigue, which is also commonly known as "sleep pressure." As sleep pressure builds, the need for rest becomes ever more pressing for the youngster; while an adult can usually force themselves to stay awake all day long and then rest for longer to compensate, younger children require more frequent sleep for proper, stress-free brain activity. This helps to explain the sudden irritability and irrationality a child can display when deprived of sleep. And while young babies will simply nod off anywhere and at any time, as a child leaves the newborn stage and transitions from infancy into their toddler years, it becomes the responsibility of the parent or caregiver to ensure that a child gets sufficient time to sleep.
Most children will begin to resist sleeping as they get older, but both naps and proper sleep at bedtime remains crucial even for children into their preschool years. As a child grows, it becomes more important to establish the proper conditions to facilitate their relaxation and slumber. This means creating a routine around nap times and bedtime; this may include books, stories, songs, and various hygiene ablutions. An easy, effective nap and bedtime routine also means always having a suitable place in which a child can rest.
Some parents decide to have a dedicated spot for napping that is different than a child's nighttime sleep spot; in other cases, such as with a child who goes to daycare or for creating a suitable nap spot during travel, it's important to have a nap time routine that can be mobile. Both for naps at home and for naps out of the house, various nap mats are popular products among today's parents.
The Perfect Nap Mat For Home
When choosing a nap mat that will be used primarily in your home, the portability of the mat is no issue, thus the parent is liberated to choose whichever mat their child will most like to use. This can make nap time much less of a negotiation and chore for the parent as your youngster snuggles up with his or favorite superhero, animal, or princess. It also means you can choose a mat of any size and one that is made of any material: your home likely has plenty of space for a child to spread out, and being home means easy clean up in the event of any spills or other accidents.
Many parents choose traditional quilted nap mats that are warm and cozy, but others turn to decidedly more modern options, like mats made with the same viscoelastic memory foam popular in adult mattresses and mattress topper pads.
Just make sure never to tuck a child into a nap mat with a blanket unless he or she is old enough to avoid becoming tangled in the fabric, and make sure a nap mat is either placed flat on the floor or else is secured to the couch or bed atop which it rests. Used properly, a nap mat is a safe, inviting spot for a child to get that precious sleep needed for long-term development and everyday happiness.
The Best Nap Mat For Travel
Choosing the best nap mat for use out of the home is a bit more complicated than selecting one for relaxing around the house. First off, you must choose a mat that can be easily rolled or folded for transport and/or storage. That may preclude the use of some options, such as those with larger foam pads or mats made of thicker quilted material. A nap mat must be easy to roll or fold for placement in a bag or in the car's trunk, or to be stored away on a shelf or in a closet at a daycare facility.
A nap mat used away from the home should also be very easy to clean, as cleaning the mat may not be all that convenient. Consider options that can be laundered without special care or that can even wiped clean.
While choosing a "travel" nap mat may present its challenges, nap time is equally important out of the house as it is at home, so finding a good nap mat is no frivolous matter. In fact, finding the right nap mat for use away from home is even more important than the home mat, as it will be one of the few comfort items the child has ready access to. For this reason, you might consider getting two of the same type of mat, and designating one for home use, and one as the nap mat for day care, camp, or use in the hotel or at a relative's house.