Created in partnership with Morrison Outdoors.
One of the biggest stress-inducing aspects of parenting a baby is getting them to sleep soundly so you can sleep soundly. This is also one of the main reasons that most parents hesitate to take their baby camping. If they don’t sleep that well at home, how can they sleep in a tent in the wilderness? While it’s true that you may be up a few extra times in the night, there are ways to make sleeping in a tent easier for both you and your baby. In fact, we found that sleeping in a tent with a baby wasn’t that different from sleeping at home. Here are some tips to help you all get some sleep and stay comfortable while camping as a family.
Wear Your Baby Out
This is especially true for older babies. There is so much to see and do while camping and keeping your baby active by exploring the campsite, hiking, swimming, etc. can help wear them out. Even young babies can delight in their new surroundings, with tummy time in a portable crib or on a blanket taking in the new sights, sounds, and smells.
Stick with Bedtime Routine, But be Flexible
If you have a set routine at home, keeping the main elements of the routine in place can help get your baby to sleep in the tent. For example, you can get your baby into pajamas/warm layers, feed them, read a book, and sing a few songs before settling them into their sleeping area. However, you may need to be flexible with the time they go to bed due to daylight streaming through the tent. You can cut down on the light by leaving the rainfly on the tent and draping a blanket over the windows. Also, I found that my little guy woke up needing comfort more often on camping trips, so I allowed him to nurse a bit more than usual.
If possible, use a larger tent than you would normally need for your family. This allows you to spread out and fit a little extra gear to maximize comfort (such as a portable crib). It also allows you to move around the tent and grab baby for nighttime feedings without jostling everyone else in the tent. If a large tent isn’t possible, try placing baby in the middle of two adults in a small bassinet or makeshift “nest” of rolled-up blankets to maximize space. Just be sure your baby is safe with no extra bedding that could cause a hazard.
A Portable Crib/ Pack-and-Play is Your Best Friend
This little piece of equipment was a lifesaver for us! It provided a safe space for our baby to sleep in and kept him warmer since it was raised off the ground. It is also useful during camp set-up and break-down along with meal prep to keep baby contained and safely out of the way. If your little one is accustomed to using a Pack-and-Play at home, having one at your campsite can provide a sense of normalcy in their new surroundings.
Dress Baby Warm Enough, But Not Too Warm
It’s tempting to layer kids up to the point where there is no way they can get cold. However, a hot baby is usually a miserable, fussy baby. When my older son was a baby, we dressed him in wool base layers followed by a fleece sleeper and a sleep sack on top. This worked well when he was an infant, but as he got older, he wasn’t a fan of having so many layers on. We now use a Morrison Outdoors sleeping bag for my younger son. With two temperature ratings to choose from, it can take the guesswork (and stress) out of keeping your baby warm and comfortable at night. My toddler likes them because his arms are not confined so he can still move around throughout the night. Check out this article for more information on these sleeping bags for kids from 6 months to 4 years old.
Bring a Few Comfort Items for Baby
Keeping the sleeping environment in the tent relatively close to the home environment can help your baby accept their unfamiliar surroundings. This could include a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, a few pacifiers, a favorite book, or even some soothing music. Both of our kiddos have a really hard time falling asleep in the quiet. The sound of nature (crickets, wind, water, etc.) usually does the trick, but on particularly quiet nights, we sometimes had to resort to using a white noise app on our phone to help them get to sleep. It did the trick and made for a more restful night. Don’t be afraid to use what works at home, just be wary of bringing too much (tents only have so much room!).
Do you have any tips or tricks that make sleeping in a tent with a baby easier? Let us know in the comments below!
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:
- How to Dress Baby for Cold-Weather Camping
- How to Choose a Baby-Friendly Campsite
- Essential Baby Camping Gear
- Favorite Baby Camping Foods (Coming Soon!)
Photos by Deanna Curry