How to Optimize Your Little One's Sleep While Camping
Updated: Mar 11
Camping season is just around the corner and if you're anything like most Mom's I've talked to, you may get a little anxious about how your little ones are going to sleep. But guess what?! Usually they do just as good as they would with any other vacation as long as you are keeping their routine and sleep schedule the same and recreating their sleep environment as much as possible. But I'm here to give you some tips to help you out with your camping trips this year! First of all, I'd suggest doing a trial run at home. Get them used to the new environment before going on your holiday and this way you will know what things you need to bring to make it the best sleeping environment for them. So set up your tent in the backyard or park your trailer in the driveway and give it a go.
If you're tenting, I'd really recommend investing in a blacked out tent. Otherwise you may have a little one that is staying up until very late and waking up really early. There's a bunch of different brands out there that sell them so just google "blacked out camping tent" and you'll get a bunch of suggestions.
Use a pack & play or bassinet for your little one to sleep in. It is NOT safe in any way for your little one to sleep on an air mattress. Even if it is with you.
If you're staying in a trailer, take some aluminum foil, a groblind, blankets or sheets and cover up the windows. It's best to do them all because it's such a tiny space, any light that comes in will pretty much reach their eyesight. Don't make it permanent so that during the day you can open up the windows if needed. If your little one is sleeping on a bed in the trailer make sure to have a railing put up so they don't fall off the bed, especially if they are sleeping there and aren't used to a bed. If your toddler is mobile, make sure to keep the trailer or tent locked during sleep times, especially if you are sleeping as well. Or arrange it so that you are sleeping by the door so your sleep will be interrupted by them trying to access the door. Check the temperature ahead of time. If you know it's going to be cool at night add some extra layers in for night time. For those little ones that are under the age of 1, pack a heavier sleep sack, add a diaper shirt under their sleeper, put socks on or a toque if it's extra cool. Remember a good way to test if they are too hot or too cold is by checking the back of their neck. And also remember that if you are too hot or too cold, your little one will most likely be feeling the same way. It is not safe for babies under the age of 1 to use a sleeping bag. Use a sleep sack instead. Set up a portable white noise machine. My favorite is the Rohm. You can charge it with USB, so easily rechargeable in the car. Or else you can get one that has batteries like this one.
Campgrounds can get noisy, so the white noise will be super beneficial when your little one needs to sleep. Remember it doesn't have to be super loud. If you aren't sure about what's the best way to use a noise machine, I have talked about this in a live video in my Facebook group "Baby & Toddler Sleep Support for Tired Moms", so you can go check it out.
For little ones that can easily have naps on the go, I'd recommend bringing your carrier (if you don't have one this will be something you will really benefit from). You can also have them sleep in a stroller. Another option for on the beach or at a different campsite (if you're camping with other families) is the SlumberPod. Remember the #1 thing that is going to help your little one sleep the best while camping, is keeping them on their same sleep schedule as at home, as much as possible. If your little one becomes overtired, sleep is only going to be harder for them to achieve. Don't stress over it, you can always get back on track when you get home! Enjoy your camping trips!