We want our family holidays to be memorable and exciting but amongst all the fun, we want our babies and toddlers to still get the sleep they need.
Camping trips and the allure of the great outdoors can be just what the doctor ordered. And high on every parent’s list of holiday priorities is sleep (for the whole family).
So how do you recreate a comfortable and sleep conducive version of home away from home?
There are some simple and effective ways to create an optimal sleep environment that encourages sleep for your baby and toddler and these are my top 10 camping sleep tips for babies and toddlers.
Here’s a list of the top 10 camping tips for babies and toddlers.
Your baby or toddler’s regular sleeping bag is an essential item to take along on your camping trip. With temperatures fluctuating from day to night, or even day to day, without the predictability of heating and cooling, it’s a good idea to have options. Including a warmer 2.5 TOG as well as a lighter 1 TOG to accommodate different temperatures is a great idea. I also recommend packing extra layers to adjust clothes/bedding to suit your sleeping conditions.
Expert Tip: Take your baby or toddlers regular sleeping bag and the fitted sheet from their cot at home for a familiar smell and touch of home.
Caravan parks and holiday apartments can often have close neighbours. No one wants to be ‘those neighbours’ who ask people to be quiet (at only 7:00pm) so white noise is the perfect way to provide an extra buffer from external noises outside of your control. I recommend using either a USB rechargeable device or you can use your phone (switch to aeroplane mode).
My top recommendation is the Marc Romh portable white noise machine for travel. You can get it on Amazon here
Block Out Blinds
Depending on where you’re staying, you may choose to take portable block out blinds (for cabins or apartments), these are great for making the room darker and reducing visual stimulation. My pick is Easy Night Black out Blinds or Sleepy Sundays Instant Blackout Blinds.
If you’re staying in a tent or caravan (or even room sharing), my personal favourite are the Snoozeshade Portacot covers. This product is ideal as you don’t have to consider different window shapes or sizes and they perfectly accommodate most port-a-cot sizes. Simply pop the Snoozeshade Portacot cover over the port-a-cot and you have the perfect sleep space for your little one no matter the time of day or the type of room. This cover is made of an air-permeable material which provides optimum temperature regulation and breath-ability – Read more about the Snoozeshade from our guest blog and use the discount code Kellymartin to receive 10% off.
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Bassinet or Port-a-cot
Speaking of port-a-cots, don’t forget to think ahead about bedding arrangements for your baby or toddler. There are a large variety of port-a-cots on the market and Choice has made it easy to select the best port-a-cot with the highest safety rating. (Hint – it’s no longer the most expensive on the market). You can read about the different models and their safety here
If your baby is still in a bassinet, you may need to consider a bassinet attachment for the higher setting on a port-a-cot. Pram bassinets are not recommended for sleep overnight as per Red Nose Guidelines due to their limited airflow and space restrictions.
For sleep on the go, don’t forget to pack the all-important baby carrier. When away, especially camping it’s often not practical to pack the big pram or to navigate the different terrains. The baby carrier has been my most used parenting tool for all 3 of my girls and has achieved many naps on the go over the past 8 years. It provides close proximity and the ability to reconnect, especially after a busy time where babies/toddlers can become overstimulated with new surroundings. My favourite carrier brand is Tula
Water Proof Pants/ Play Pen
Depending on your baby’s age (especially crawlers or newly walking babies) waterproof pants are a must. They protect their knees and their clothes as they move and explore around campsites. You may also consider packing a play pen so your baby has a safe space to explore whilst encouraging independent play.
My favourite waterproof pants: Mudlark
My favourite play pen – Childcare Portable Play pen
Babies get grubby on holidays. All that exploring in the dirt, sand, gravel and grass as well as several applications of sunscreen makes for a lot of fun and the need for a wash. They will definitely need a wipe down each night and wrangling a slippery baby in a small shower cubicle with little to no bench space is not fun (personal experience as they become slippery alligators). My recommendation is to pack a big tub to bathe your baby in and boil the kettle to give them a warm soapy bath at the campsite plus bonus there are always extra hands to assist you!
My favourite – The classic Bunnings Ezt Storage 60L tub. $7.50 price tag and it can also be used to hold shoes/towels/ bathers during the day.
Keep it simple with meals and make sure you pack a portable high chair.
Our favourite meals include:
- The good old barbeque (lots of variety and simply add salad)
- Pre-made spaghetti bolognaise or meatballs – just reheat/add pasta
- Pre-made curries or slow cookers – just add rice
- Tacos – lots of variations can be made
- Local pub meal – enjoy a night off cooking and support local businesses
For portable high chair recommendations, Kmart has a fantastic little portable booster highchair suitable from 6 months through to 3 years! It’s compact and handy as babies and toddlers often find it difficult to sit still and eat if not secured in a high chair. If given the opportunity to move about freely at mealtimes, you may find they don’t eat as much and then end up hungry at bedtime or overnight from constant grazing.
Holidays aren’t meant for strict routines and sleep schedules. Your baby or toddler will often wake earlier, especially with external noises and light depending where you are staying. Accept this is part of the experience with children and holidays and the lazy sleep ins will need to be reserved for those teenage years to come!
This being said, I encourage you to respect your little one’s need for sleep and follow a similar pattern to home with overall sleep timing/structure of naps as we don’t want them to get too overtired,
Keep in mind that you may need to provide a little extra hands on assistance with settling or re-settling and the first night is always the hardest with the excitement of being in a new place. Don’t panic or overplay the role. Calmly provide your little one the benefit of the doubt to try settling in their regular way, but if needed, offer extra support. And when you get home you can get back to basics as babies are clever and quickly work out the rules can be bent when outside of their normal routine/home.
Have fun. There is a quote saying we only have 18 summers with our babies and whilst the days are often long (especially camping) the years really are short and these are the times to make lasting memories as a family.
Getaways are often messy, everyone often gets a little overtired and cranky but the magic of connecting in nature and exploring together is worth it!
You don’t have to figure out the whole sleep thing on your own. If you and your baby are in need of some sleep let’s begin with a call to see how we can help. Schedule a 15 minute discovery call