Skip to the content

Camping Sleep Survival Guide

It’s that time of year again! The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and nature is begging to be explored! Before having children my husband and I loved to go camping in the summer and explore the outdoors. After our kids came along, we found it a little more challenging to find a good rhythm while camping with them. We always loved to tent camp, but it was difficult for us to figure out how to get our kids the sleep they needed while sleeping under the stars. Maybe you have put your adventures on pause because of the anxiety around getting your littles to sleep well while being in the outdoors. Luckily for all of you adventure seekers, sleep struggles don’t have to be the culprit that puts your outdoor plans on hold. Here are a few sleep tips that can help your outdoor experience be a little more enjoyable. 

Darken the Sleep Area

You all probably know that everyone, including children and babies, sleep better in a darker setting. If your child is sleeping in an RV try to use something to cover up all the windows to make the space darker; this is especially helpful during the daylight hours. You might have to get a little creative to do this. Investing in some black out shades, such as EZ Window Covers or these paper shades that you can cut to the size you need as a cheaper option, is always an easy and effective solution. The other option is to use everyday items you might have lying around the house already such as: garbage bags, aluminum foil or even cardboard to cover up those windows.

If your family members are tent campers, creativity will also be your friend. To darken up the tent, drape a couple of tarps or an emergency blanket up over the tent.  Be sure to pin them down to the tent so they don't blow away.  Safety tip-If where you are camping is warm/hot, only use the tent for night sleep not napping as a darkened tent can get hot during the day.  

Night Sleep

If your child sleeps in a bed at home, plan for a sleeping bag and a pad for your child to sleep in while camping.  I love the sleeping bags and pads and pillows at Klymit!  They are comfortable, easy to inflate, and travel nicely!  

To ensure your child is warm enough at night, make sure to put socks on his feet and a hat on his head when the temperatures drops. If you are tent camping with a baby make sure to bring a warm sleep sack for him to wear to bed.  If your child sleeps in a crib at home, plan for him to sleep in a pack and play in the tent or the RV. In order to create a space that is both dark and safe in a tent, I like to recommend the Slumber Pod. It fits over the pack and play nicely, blocks out plenty of light, is made with a very breathable material, and allows space above the pack and play in case your little one decides he wants to stand up.

Day Sleep

If you are camping in a tent, your best option for naps will more than likely be on the go. Bring a stroller, backpack or carrier to wear and plan on using those to get your little one some sleep during the day. If you want to do a nap in the tent, be sure the tent is not too hot!  If you have an RV you will likely find naps in there will work great as long as it is dark, quiet and cool. Setting up a camera/monitor inside the RV is also a good idea to ensure you have ears and/or eyes on your little one in case they need you for any reason.

Additional Items to Put on the Packing List

White Noise Machine: You will want to use white noise to block out the outside noises of the wilderness or your camp site while your child is sleeping.  The Marpac company makes a rechargeable white noise machine called the Rohm that works great for travel.  It has multiple volume adjustments, various types of noise settings, and the charge lasts all night. Click here to check out the Rohm.  

Sleep Clock: Camping usually comes with early mornings. If your child uses a sleep clock at home, it might be beneficial to add it to the packing list. If you are in an RV, plug it in so your child knows when it is okay to rise and shine.

Stay Active

Get your children out exploring! Hike, bike, walk, fish, and swim. Do what your child can handle but keep him busy!  The fresh air, sunshine and play will help him sleep better!

Keep a Flexible Sleep Schedule

There is no getting around the fact that the sun goes down later and rises earlier in the spring and summer months. Consider going with a bedtime one hour later than what you would do at home. Once you get back home, go back to your child’s original bedtime and routine to get his body back onto his normal schedule. 

If your child’s sleep has regressed while on your adventures and you need some help getting him back to sleeping well at home, reach out to us for help! Hope this helps your family stay well rested while you are out exploring the great outdoors! Happy camping and Sleep Well! 

About the author

Amanda Medley

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

Don't go through another night of bad sleep.

Contact us to schedule your FREE 15-minute sleep evaluation!

Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

Light window Image

Get Sleep Solutions Today

Don't waste another night not getting sleep. Contact us today and we help guide you to get your family sleeping through the night.