Summer is here! If you’re anything like me and my family, that means it is CAMPING SEASON!! As parent, taking your kids/baby camping may feel like a daunting task. There is a lot to pack, and to think about, to ensure that the trip goes smoothly. I have been taking my kids camping every summer since they were born, and I have accumulated my best tips for you!
I have so many amazing memories camping as a kid, and it makes me so happy to give my children the same gift. I remember those days being filled with fun, and going to bed listening to the adults around the campfire. I would fall asleep to hearing them laugh, with crickets chirping and the subtle sound of a crackling fire. After a long day in the sun, riding bikes and roasting hot dogs, nothing felt cozier than my warm bed. I remember feeling safe, and so happy.
As a sleep coach, and a mom, I realize that sleeping in a trailer isn’t always this easy for many kids. Children can get some serious FOMO, so those same sounds I loved as a kid, can turn into a challenge for many.
If you are camping in a tent, check out this blog for my tenting tips! We were fortunate enough to upgrade to a trailer when my children were 3 and 1.5yr, so I have new tips and tricks that will be helpful for those of you with trailers. Guess what… it’s a lot easier than a tent!
Here are a few things to consider...
🐑 Summers are hot! You want to do your best to keep the trailer nice and cool. We all sleep better in a cooler environment! If you have AC, you are golden! Turn it on about hour before naps and bedtime, to ensure a cool space for sleep. If you don’t have AC, it is a good idea to open windows during the day, to allow air flow.
🐑 Get yourself some tin foil and cover the windows. The sun sets late in the summer, so ensuring that their sleep space is dark is crucial! If you don’t like the ghetto look of tin foil, you can get custom round window covers from Blackout EZ . If you have a toddler, some kiddos want to see their new sleep environment and you can bring in a toddler clock or a warm-hued nightlight. Red hued lights will not impact their melatonin production.
🐑 Bring items that they know and love! I would bring their regular blankets/sleep sacks, stuffed animals, pillows (over 2yr). Familiar items will make them feel safe and at home.
Don’t forget that white noise machine! Although I loved listening to the adults, white noise will help drown out the outside noise and help them fall asleep and stay asleep!
🐑 If your baby is still in a crib, a play pen may be best suited, if you have the space for one, of course. I recommend renting or purchasing a SlumberPod! I actually rent them in the Calgary area, or you can get $20 off using code “COUNTINGSHEEP$20.” This will ensure the perfect sleep space, with ease.
🐑 Mattress protectors are a good idea! And if you are potty training, or your child still has accidents from time to time, you may want to consider putting them in an overnight diaper while camping. It can be tricky to do laundry, and you may have to bring them to your bed in the night if they wet their bed. Eliminating those possibilities will make your life easier, and allow them to get a better night’s sleep.
🐑 It can be hard to stick to a schedule while you’re on vacation, but you want to do your best to maintain their normal routine. Maybe you choose to do naps on the beach under an umbrella, in a playpen under a tree, or in a stroller on a family walk. You can get creative, but I recommend sticking to normal nap times, to ensure that they don’t get overtired. Most likely, this time will be more stimulating than they are used to. They will be burning lots of energy running around in the hot sun! All the more reason to ensure that naps are happening. If they are a bit older and naps are not part of their normal routine, I recommend giving them quiet time in a dark cool environment, so they don’t burn out.
🐑 Do not, I repeat, DO NOT skip the bedtime routine!!! It’s best to stick with your normal bedtime, but don’t stress out about it too much. Personally, I usually make the choice to keep my kiddos up a bit later than normal, to make more memories. This will depend on their tiredness level of course. Sometimes, the later bedtime can cause them to get overtired, and this decision comes back to bite me! But, it’s important to me that they get the most out of these experiences. I want them to make smores and see the stars! Sometimes, if they wake up in the late evening, or struggle to fall asleep, I will bring them out of the trailer to cuddle and watch the stars. These are memories that they may carry with them through life, so sometimes it’s okay to push bedtime to allow that to happen. Just keep in mind that you may see some backlash for that decision, like more night waking’s or earlier mornings. Do what feels right for you, and know that you can always get them back on track when you return home.
🐑 If you have more than one child, it can be helpful to put them down at different times, or in different sleep spaces. I usually suggest putting your younger child down for sleep first, and once they are asleep you can put your older child down. Older children can understand that they need to be quiet when they go into their bed, to not wake up their sibling. Alternatively, put down the child who is more tired, or falls asleep the fastest! We have also had success with putting one child down in our bed, then transferring them to their own bed when we go to sleep ourselves. This allows them to go down at the same time, but not keep one another up!
🐑 Bring that baby monitor! If you don’t have hook ups, invest in a battery powered monitor. You will feel a lot more secure if you can hear what’s happening inside the trailer, while you are outside enjoying your smores and beverages! My kids love to climb out of their beds and explore the snack cupboard. I recommend putting those treats in a high place, or a cupboard they can’t open!
🐑 Depending on the size and layout of your trailer, you may need to consider bed rails. My trailer has a bunk room in the back, so adding rails was important.
If you have to walk away to another site, or the outhouse, lock the door! You don’t want your little one escaping and exploring on their own.
🐑 We all benefit from Vitamin D. When it comes to sleep, getting sunshine in the morning is most beneficial. When your camping, this is easy to make happen. So, wake up and get outside! Make your breakfast outside, this will also help keep your trailer cool.
🐑 Bugs!! My oldest daughter gets eaten alive by mosquitos. I apply bug spray constantly, but they still manage to find her! Make sure you have lots of bug spray (and sunscreen!), and After Bite for when they inevitably get bit. If you are planning a nap to be outside, be sure to have a bug net. And make sure that all of the bugs are out, before putting the net on top! (Totally speaking from experience lol *face palm*)
Stay hydrated and bring hats! Sun/heat stroke in never fun.
🐑 If your kids are like mine, they may enjoy snacking more than big meals. This is especially true when they are busy and having fun! Be sure to bring food that you know they enjoy and will eat, so they aren’t waking up hungry and asking for snacks at bedtime. Here are some of my go-to easy camping foods: Kids charcuterie, fruit, veggies and dip, cheese strings, yogurt, quesadillas, grilled cheese, tacos, KD/pasta, wraps, instant oatmeal, cereal, eggs, hot dogs, cheese buns, peanut butter and honey/jelly, baked beans.
🐑 Bring activities to keep them entertained! I always come equipped with chalk, bubbles, paint and supplies, crafting, spray bottle, butterfly nets, kiddie pool if you have water available, water guns, cars/trains, balls, books, badminton, cards.
🐑 Stay hydrated and bring hats! Sun/heat stroke in never fun.
Remember that you planned this trip to be fun! You are there to make memories and enjoy time with your family, to try to let go of expectations and go with the flow. Be patient with them. Any time we take our children somewhere new, they have to adapt , and that can take a few days. You can always get back to your normal routine when you are back at home, but these memories can last a lifetime. I hope that this has been helpful for you! What tips did I miss?! Comment below and share your ideas!
If you are struggling with sleep, I am here to help! Contact me, or book your free consultation now to learn about my gentle sleep training approach.
Have the best summer, friends!