Tips for Happy Sleepers in Tents & Campers!

Camping is a cheap and fun way to spend time outdoors with your family. Accordingly to a plethora of studies, spending time outdoors is good for your child’s mind, body, and spirit! However, spending the night in a new space, whether it be a tent or camper, can be tough on sleep. Here are a few tips from pro-camper and sleep consultant Amelia Poppe, to help make camping trips fun (and restful) for the whole family. 

Make your sleeping space as dark as possible
This is probably the hardest part of camping, as most kids will wake as soon as the sun comes up and those birds start chirping. In our camper, I use painter’s tape to secure black garbage bags over the windows.  If you are tenting, you can lay an extra tarp over your tent so that there is less light coming in.

Dress for the weather
Depending on where you camp, nights can get close to freezing. We layer our kids in a few pairs of fleece PJ’s and a fleece sleep sack. We also put hats on them that Velcro under the chin so they don’t fall off. If you’re camping in summer months, your kids may need less clothing than they have at home, especially if they are used to the coolness of air conditioning.  You may want to consider a battery operated fan to keep air moving too.

Give your child his or her own sleeping space
If you can, squeeze a pack and play in your tent or camper. We don’t have room for that so we use the KidCo Pea Pods, which are almost like little tents. That allows each of our twins to have their own sleeping space and it also cuts back on distractions. If you have a baby under 1 years old, remember to keep their sleeping space safe by keeping loose items, blankets, and pillows away from your child’s face while sleeping and place him on his back for sleep.

For older toddlers, you can hang a bed sheet between your sleep space and theirs. Not only does this make their sleeping space darker, but it also separates their sleeping space from ours.

Use white noise
Bring a sound machine or small fan that runs on batteries. Place it between your children or between you and your children. It will drown out each other’s noises and also helps block noises from the campfire (you deserve a little fun!).

Put them down to bed early
Almost all kids struggle to take good naps when they are camping.  It is usually too hot, too light or just too much fun outside of the tent. Because of this I always put my kids down for bed earlier than normal.  Often they will make up that extra sleep at night. Remember to spend a little extra time on the bedtime routine-maybe even bring some books about camping! You’re kiddos will be excited about being in the outdoors and will need the wind-down time!              

Have everything ready the night before
Camping can be cold in the morning and it is no fun to spend 20 minutes digging through the cook box looking for a lighter so you can warm up a bottle of milk or feed a hungry toddler. We lay everything that we know we will need in the morning out so that we can grab it fast.  I even make sure to have a PB&J sandwich ready for my 5 year old.

Be prepared for early mornings
Chances are, your baby or toddler may wake earlier than your campfire-loving companions. Be sure to bring along some quiet toys that your infant or toddler can play with while other sleep in. Or, throw on the baby carrier and take a nice morning hike with your little one. Enjoy nature!

Amelia Poppe

Author Amelia Poppe

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