7 things to make nighttime better for kids when camping

7 things to make nighttime better for kids when camping

7 Things to make Nighttime Better for Kids when Camping

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Apr 2015; updated May 2023.

Here's some essential items to take to ensure your child has a good night when camping.

We’ve always found that young children love camping.

Yes, some kids may be apprehensive if they’ve not been camping before, but as soon as they’re there, they love it.

Camping is an adventure.

Camping is an adventure

If you are getting ready to take the family camping for the first time, there are a few things that you can do to prepare them and get them excited about it.

The nighttime is probably going to be one of the most exciting things, but may also be the thing that makes them the most scared.

In this post, we look at a few things you can do to make the experience go a little bit better.

Take Some Toys from Home

We got our kids their own bags that they could pack themselves the things they want to take.

If your child is small, have a look at the LittleLife backpacks.

We found these really good for camping and days out as they can act as a harness with a parent strap.

For older children, there are larger child backpacks, which you’ll find handy for walks, even if it’s just to encourage your children to take their own picnic items.

Supervise what they pack, though. Small items can easily get lost when camping, and if they limit it to just a few things, it will be a lot easier to keep track of things at the campsite.

Get their own Sleeping Bag

Buy your child a sleeping bag they’ll want to sleep in, but beware of many cheap sleeping bags with printed characters on.

These tend to be thin and are only good enough for very warm summer nights (click here to read our guide on understanding sleeping bag temperature ratings).

Fortunately, there are some proper sleeping bags for kids.

One child sleeping bag we’ve recently tried is this Glow-in-the-Dark sleeping bag from Coleman and this Outwell Convertible sleeping bag, which grows as your child does.

It certainly puts the fun into camping when the fireflies glow at night…..though you may have to shine a bright torch on them before bed for the best effect.

Take a Special Pillow

Often the best pillow when camping is to take your pillows from home. The problem is that they take up a lot of space in the car, and you’ll soon find your car getting full with all the camping gear.

Something all our children have taken camping with them at one time or another are these folding travel pillows.

Our little boy loves his Frog pillow, and it’s a perfect combination with the glow-in-the-dark sleeping bag.

Take their teddy and/or blanket

If they have a special teddy they like to sleep with or a special blanket, it goes without saying that you should bring that.

I suspect that was one of the first items you planned to take 😉

Set up their bed properly

You must set up the sleeping area properly so that they don’t get too cold at night. We have a separate article on how to set up your tent’s sleeping area.

In essence, you want to ensure that you insulate under their sleeping bag and on top if it gets cold. Unlike at home, where you can just put an extra blanket on top.

The problem we’ve found is that little kids like to roll off sleeping mats and air beds.

We’ve got around this problem by using one of these child airbeds with raised sides, which keeps them nice and snug in the right place.

Get them a torch

You can get some character head torches. We have some, and they work OK, but do tend to be a bit bulky and not as bright as proper head torches.

A small LED hand-held torch is ideal that they can keep within reach of their sleeping area. Again, there are plenty of character torches available.

You might also need to get a lantern as a night light, though if you can get them to get used to sleeping without it when camping it will make things easier for you.

Bizarrely our youngest still likes a light on at home during the night but appears to be OK with the dark now when camping.

Try it at home first

Get them used to it at home before you go.

If they’re excited enough, they may ask you if they can sleep in their new sleeping bag anyway.

You could pitch the tent in the back garden, and you all give it a go. That will allow you to get familiar with your tent and work out the best sleeping arrangements before camping.

Unfortunately, pitching in your back garden is not always possible. Instead, make a small camp or den indoors.

A Quick Recap

So here’s a summary of what you may need:

  • A bag for them to take their toys in
  • A child’s sleeping bag
  • A child’s travel pillow
  • A child’s sleeping mat
  • A child’s torch
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