Camping with little ones this summer?
Camping with little ones this summer?
Going away camping with your family is the perfect time to get away and spend some quality time with your family this summer. The idea of camping with children and babies is idyllic, mum imagines snoozing under a shady tree while their toddler takes an unexpected nap next to them, and dad is up brewing coffee at the crack of dawn while the baby sleeps past 6am.
Parents imagine sitting around having a cold beer once the kids are asleep and the sun is setting.
No one imagines the children screaming and refusing to sleep until well after the sun has set, and the toddler getting so over tired they throw tantrums not naps, and the baby waking with the sun at 5am and no one getting 8 hours sleep.
So be prepared and have a great camping holiday!
1. Relax, but don’t relax too much. If your baby is in a fairly strict routine you will not be doing them any favours allowing them to skip naps and stay up late, they actually enjoy the predictability of their nap routine, especially in a new sleep environment they will find it easier to get to sleep at their set times rather than an hour later when you have missed the sleep window.
This is hardest to accommodate with a small baby on 3 naps a day, but try! Plan ahead and get your baby used to napping in the front pack or push chair so at least on nap a day can be at the beach or park and not back at camp in their tent, this gives you a good 2-4 hour block away from the camp site.
2. Bed time routine – this can be fun and if you baby is 6 months + they will cope with a little flexibility here. If they are under 6 months, don’t allow them to get over tired, they will take longer to settle in a tent so accommodate for this.
Bath’s in tubs and solar showers take longer than usual and are exciting for little people, plan ahead and allow extra time for this, especially if you camp somewhere popular where you need to cue for a shower!
3. Heat! This can wreak havoc on your little one’s sleep – even older children might find their tent hot at 7pm. If your baby’s tent is too hot at 6.30/7pm, try letting them snooze in their porter cot or push chair under a tree in the shade until its dark, this will also help if you have a sun cover for your push chair but your porter cot is not dark.
Alternatively buy a snooze shade for your porter cot or a phil n teds travel cot which already has a dark lid. Plan ahead and try to put your tents up in a shady area, and open the doors for ventilation late in the day. If you have a powered site take a fan for their tent!
4. Night time antics, having to get up to breastfeed a baby, tend to a crying baby, or escort a small child to the toilet at night requires light. If you are like me and lose your torch by the end of the first night consider taking a box of glow sticks.
These are available from the warehouse and make great night lights, and the children can wear them around their necks when playing in the dark, or walking to the toilet. At roughly $1 each they are a great investment!
6. Front pack: Take a front pack/back pack if you own one for your baby, or borrow one for the trip. Most NZ camp sites are a wee walk to the beach and they free up your hands to carry towels and sun shades and boogie boards! Not to mention make a great place for a quick nap for a grumpy baby. Baby Sleep Consultant loves the ergo baby carrier!
7. Take portable white noise if your baby is used to white noise at night or even if they are not, this is a great tool for blocking out the other camp ground noises if you have a light sleeper.
9. Plan for the unexpected – take your baby pamol, or nurofen, take extra bug spray and sun block and cold medicines.
11. If your just weaning your baby onto solids and they are 7 months plus so need that good protein boost for sleep at lunch time, try adding a small amount of canned chicken (in brine) or salmon or tuna to their lunch solids to increase the protein in a jar of bought baby food. Take a portable high chair or their regular high chair if it folds flat a crawling baby is very hard to feed solids too when on the move!
12. Don’t under estimate how tired everyone will get from the long days in the sun and extra walking (even the toilet is usually a 5 minute walk away!). Allow for the occasional early night (mum and dad too!) and don’t let the over tired monster ruin your holiday!
13. For sensitive children and toddlers, talk about going camping and sleeping in a tent, and in a sleeping bag, and how much fun it will be and how different. Give these children plenty of time to get used to the idea so it is not such a shock when you arrive.
Take their favourite cuddlies and blankets, practise sleeping on the airbed at home in their room.
Ensure they can find their night light or glow stick, they can open the zipper of their tent and find you if they are not in your tent, and if they sleep all night be sure to tell them in the morning you came to check on them but they were fast asleep and you were so impressed!
Please share your camping with children/babies tips below!
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
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