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Confronting Bedtime Intimidations While Camping


A couple weeks ago I asked readers on Facebook  – “What was the most intimidating aspect of camping when you took your tyke for the first time?”

There were a lot of answers and so many of them pertained to sleeping at night…

“The thought that he wouldn’t be warm enough.”

“Bed time – settling down after the exciting day!”

“Getting him to lay down and go to sleep in the tent.”

“Keeping DD warm enough. I was worried that she would be cold.”

“…I worried more about them squirming out of their sleeping bags and freezing…”

I, too, had all of these worries when we first started camping with J-Man but my biggest worry was the cold issue. I was so scared that he was going to freeze in the middle of the night or that I would bundle him too much and he would roast. I was so new to camping with an infant that I didn’t know how to find the balance, yet.

With so many parents having the same issues I thought it would be a good idea to write a post and share how we camped with J-Man. No need for other parents to be too intimidated to venture out if there are answers to these concerns.

How to keep your tyke warm:Adventure Tykes - Infant camping

If you co-sleep then keeping your tyke warm is pretty easy. We purchased a double sleeping bag and then snuggled J-Man in between Bedge and I. You can also zip two sleeping bags together. J-Man always wore merino wool base layers or fleece pajamas. When he was an infant we used a fleece HALO SleepSack over merino wool base layers. He now wears just fleece footed pajamas.

You could also sleep with your tyke in an individual sleeping bag with just one parent and they would still stay warm.

If you don’t co-sleep then make sure your tyke is dressed in breathable wicking clothing such as merino wool or fleece. These types of clothing will allow perspiration to evaporate but still keep warmth in. Layering is key to keeping your tykes warm. I’ve found that a base layer of merino wool with a layer or two of fleece has kept J-Man warm. If it is really cold put a fleece hat and mittens on them so any exposed areas are still covered. They could also sleep in their jacket.

If your tyke is sleeping in their own sleeping bag layer their clothing well and if they have a tendency to wiggle out of their sleeping bag have an extra blanket on hand that you can cover them up with.

Whether your tyke is sleeping in your sleeping bag with you or in their own make sure that their is a barrier between the ground and the sleeping bag. Use an inflatable mattress pad or foam pad. Otherwise, the cold from the ground will penetrate right through the sleeping bag and make your tyke cold.

Check out the Big Agnes systems where the sleeping pad slides into a sleeve under the sleeping bag so your tyke will never roll off the sleeping pad.

How to go to bed easily:

Camping is so exciting for most tykes. They love to sleep in a tent outside so getting them to settle down for bedtime can be a challenge. Especially, the first couple of nights. Everything is new and exciting and they don’t want it to end. So what’s the easiest way to get them to hit the pillow and go to sleep? Good question! I think that settling down for bedtime is unique to each family and their tykes.

Honestly, we have never had a strict bedtime routine or nap routine when we are camping. We are usually out hiking or exploring until late and by the time we get back to camp it is bedtime for all of us. We do our normal bedtime routine and then hit the hay. J-Man has no problem sacking out. Of course, there have been occasions where we are back at camp early and want a bit of relaxation sans J-Man. We typically do our normal routine and then one of us lays with him until he falls asleep. Usually, that doesn’t take long and he has the comfort of us being right there. Once he’s asleep the party is on!

A noisy camp area makes it harder for J-Man to fall asleep, though. There isn’t much you can do about noise. It’s difficult to drown it out with white noise.

If you are a parent that likes to stick to a regular schedule and routine it’s easy to incorporate that into your routine at camp. A lot of times that makes it easier for tykes, as well. Finding what works may take a couple camping trips but it’s certainly something that should NOT detour you from camping at all.

Safety in the tent: Adventure Tykes - infant inside tent

I know MANY parents who want to relax and have a cold one while their tykes are snoozing away in the tent but they get nervous about leaving their tykes alone in there.

Here’s what we do…

Make sure the zippers are zipped upward so your tyke can’t reach them.  In our ‘portable condo’ it will be quite a while before J-Man is tall enough to reach the zippers. If he can’t unzip the doors he can’t get out. For some tents the access to zippers isn’t that high and your tyke won’t have a problem reaching them. In that case zip the zippers upwards but have the zipper pulls sticking outside of the tent. You won’t get a complete zip but your tyke won’t be able to get to them to pull the zipper down. (Hopefully, that makes sense and hopefully, your tyke isn’t crafty enough to get to them.)

You can also bring a battery operated baby monitor which can help you keep tabs on your tyke. Checking on them periodically is a must.

For older tykes who can weasel their way out of the tent an explanation of the ‘dangers’ of them leaving the tent alone at night might detour them. You know your tyke best and what will work to keep them from venturing out when you’re not there.

Make sure you have nothing stored in the tent that is dangerous or hazardous to them while they are in there alone.


Intimidations can often times prevent us from trying something for the first time, but I promise that any intimidations you have about camping with your tyke can be squashed by going out and just doing it. Ask friends, family and heck, even ask me questions that you may have that prevents you from taking the steps to camping under the stars with your tyke for the first time.


For additional bedtime tips and inspiration head on over to my friend Tanya’s website Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies. She shares tips for getting tykes to go to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up rested.



What intimidations did/do you have about camping with your tyke? How do you keep your tyke warm while camping? Do you have any tips about making bedtime easier while camping?









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