7 Things to make Nighttime Better for Kids when Camping

We’ve always found that young children love camping. Yes, some kids may be a bit apprehensive if they’ve not been camping before, but as soon as they’re there, they’re loving 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 you’re child is small, have a look at the Little Life backpacks. We found these really good not just for camping but also for 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 that they’ll want to sleep in, but beware of many cheap sleeping bags with printed characters on.

These tend to be really 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 or this Outwell Convertible sleeping bag, which grows as your child does.
It certainly puts an element of fun into camping when the fireflies start to 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 with that 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 other 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

It’s important that you setup 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 make sure that you insulate under their sleeping bag as well as on top if it gets cold. It’s not like 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 be asking 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 give you an opportunity to get more familiar with your tent and work out the best sleeping arrangements before you go camping.

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

An indoor tent we have used is the Kid Campz, but you could make a den with some blankets that they sleep under, or if nothing else, they could just sleep on their bedroom floor with their new air bed, pillow, and sleeping bag.

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 air bed
– A child’s torch

Sleeping Bags for Bears

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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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