• Martha Lewis

Blog 9 Tips for Camping with Toddlers

My first camping trip with my son Parker was a blast! We went to Fruita, CO for a week and camped at Highline Lake State Park. We camped with my sister and my 5-year old niece and my friend Becki and her 5 and 6-year olds. The kids had a great time running and biking around, going to the rec center and dinosaur museum in Fruita and eating s'mores by the campfire at night.

I knew Parker would love being outside and playing with his big kid friends. But I was worried about how he was going to sleep with us so close together. He was sick with a cold the first couple of days so he woke up some the first few nights. But he slept all night until 6:30am the last 2 nights we were camping. Now I can’t wait to take him camping again this summer!

Here are some things that made our camping adventure a success:

  1. Bring a large tent. I don’t own a big tent you can stand up in so I borrowed one from a friend. It fit the pack and play and all our stuff no problem.

  2. Put up a barrier. I brought a tapestry that I zipped into one door of the tent. The tapestry draped perfectly over his pack and play. I recommend a barrier like a sheet or tapestry any time you are sharing a room with your toddler. I know you can still hear each other because you’re just a few feet apart. But there’s something about them not being able to see you that helps them sleep better.

  3. Stick to your same bedtime routine. We still brushed teeth, read stories and sang a song every night before bed.

  4. Keep bedtime the same. It’s tempting to let your toddler stay up late when you’re on vacation. But they tend to wake up at the same time no matter what time they go to bed. So a late bedtime can mean a grumpy, fussy toddler the next day. And that’s no fun!

  5. Use white noise. I use a fan for white noise at home. And I didn’t bring anything camping and I sure wish I had. We stayed in a campground that was pretty loud until 10pm. And naptime was hard for Parker because he could hear the big kids playing and running around. So white noise would have helped drown out the noise outside.

  6. Make sure your toddler is warm and comfortable. The temps were in the 30’s at night so I was concerned about Parker being warm enough. But I had a down snowsuit I used as his sleeping bag. And a blanket to go over that. Socks and booties on his feet. A winter hat to sleep in. He stayed nice and toasty!

  7. Follow the same naptime routine you do at home. Try to stick to your schedule and routine as much as you can. For me, this meant hanging out at camp in the afternoon for Parker’s nap while everyone else left for adventures. But I got to relax and read in the sun. And I had a well-rested, happy toddler. Or plan to be driving or hiking during naptime so your toddler doesn’t skip his nap. It’s worth planning around naps for everyone to be happy and well-rested.

  8. Don’t forget the lovey! Parker has a stuffed moose that he likes to sleep with. Our trip would have been much less successful if I had forgotten his moose!

  9. Don’t worry! Your toddler’s sleep may not be as great camping than it is at home. But If he has good sleep skills, he will fall right back into his normal patterns once you get home. One of the first nights, Parker wasn’t feeling well. He kept calling for me between 4 and 5am. I ended up bringing him next to me and we slept until 8am! The next night he slept all night until morning. So that one night didn’t hurt a thing.

I know about the advice to practice camping before you go. But since it was still winter in Wyoming before I left (and after I got back!), we didn't have a chance to practice. And Parker ended up doing great without any practice. He has great sleep skills that he keeps when we stay at a friend's house, a hotel, and go camping. 

If you want the same great sleep skills for your toddler, I can help! Book a FREE call with me today to find out how your toddler can sleep well, too!

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Martha Lewis, MS

Jackson Hole, WY



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