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I clearly remember our first summer of camping after my first son was born. He had a spring birthday, so he was in that perfect infant stage of not moving around yet. “Camping with a baby is so easy” I kept thinking to myself. At that point, my son was little more than just a cute camping accessory dressed in fleece and snuggling up into the baby carrier as I carried him around camp. When it was time for him to sleep, we simply swaddled him in a few extra blankets, warm layers and a hat, and he slept better than he ever had at home.
Well, all that changed when he started crawling. I clearly remember the night of PURE HELL when we took our finally mobile baby camping. We tried to lay down by him at night. Without fail, any time he would stir, he would also start crawling all over the tent. Before I knew it, my husband and I were both at our wits end, and we had a cold, tired baby, who absolutely refused to lay still.
Thankfully, that nightmare of a camping trip was all that we needed to kick us into action and figure out the best sleeping solution for a baby while camping. Since then we’ve welcomed 4 more kids into our family, and now I can confidently say that we’ve got camping with a baby down to a science (just in time for me to tackle camping with teens).
- How Do I Get A Baby To Sleep While Camping?
- What to look for in a camping bed for toddlers and Babies?
- Will A Pack N Play Work Well for Camping With Baby?
- How To Set Up A Toddler Camping Bed In A Tent
- Overall Best Camping Bed For Babies and Toddlers
- Best Camping Beds For Infants and Baby
- Best Portable Cribs For Camping
- Best Toddler Bed For Camping
How Do I Get A Baby To Sleep While Camping?
Before we dive into the best camping beds for babies, let’s talk about how to even get a baby to sleep while camping. Getting older kids to sleep while camping can be much easier since they can be bribed, reasoned with, or simply worn out to the point that they collapse. Getting a baby to sleep while camping is much harder, especially between the ages of 6-18 months.
1. Keep a bedtime routine while camping
If you have a set bedtime routine at home, maintain that while camping. That routine will give the baby the cues that they need that it’s time to settle down for sleep.
2. Have their camping bed mimic their bed at home
If your baby or toddler sleeps in their own bed at home, do the same while you’re camping. While co-sleeping can be a great sleep option for camping, make sure that your child is used to it before trying it while camping. For our family, that meant that our camping babies and toddlers needed their own bed to sleep in. If you have a different style of toddler or baby camping bed than at home, practice having your child sleep in it for a few days before your camping trip.
3. Dress your baby for the camping weather
We live in the Rocky Mountains, so even summer camping can be quite chilly. Babies who aren’t too warm or too cold will always sleep better while camping.
We always have our camping babies sleep in socks and a thin knit hat to help keep them a little extra toasty. In addition, we have them sleep in merino wool base layers (the absolute best for regulating temperature) AND on cold nights, we put them in fleece footie pajamas. On top, make sure they’re in a sleeping bag designed for babies or toddlers.
Need more ideas? Read our full article “How To Get A Baby To Sleep While Camping”
What to look for in a camping bed for toddlers and Babies?
When you’re buying a toddler and baby camping bed, the real reason that you get one is so that your baby can sleep well, and in turn, mom and dad can sleep well. A baby bed for an infant needs to give the infant their own space so that they’re not being smashed by an adult OR being exposed to bulky sleeping bag bedding, which may cause a suffocation risk. A baby camping bed for an older baby or toddler needs to keep them contained so that they’re not crawling or walking all over the tent at all hours of the night (like in my nightmare story above).
When buying a camping bed for kids, also keep in mind that if your child is elevated off the ground, they will get MUCH COLDER than if they’re sleeping on an insulated pad on the ground. This may not be an issue if you’re camping somewhere that’s warm, and you need to keep your baby COOL, but if you’re camping somewhere that gets cold at night, this will be a major problem.
Will A Pack N Play Work Well for Camping With Baby?
While a Pack N Play can work for camping in a pinch, it’s not a great solution for sleeping. Not only is a Pack N Play incredibly heavy, weighing in at 23 pounds, it’s also really bulky (ours takes up more room when folded than our massive 8 man tent). Not to mention, the footprint of a Pack N Play is HUGE, so plan on allocating a large portion of your tent to a camping Pack N Play.
Other than a place to sleep, there’s not much comparison between a Pack N Play vs a baby travel bed. Travel beds are designed for camping and travel, and have special features that help make them more convenient and easy to move.
Another problem with the Pack N Play is that it keeps the baby elevated off the ground, which allows cool air to circulate under the bed. This is one of the fastest ways to get a baby cold while camping, so just don’t go there. Get a baby camping bed that’s right on the ground where you can insulate below them.
If you really want to take a Pack N Play camping, it’s best used as an outdoor camping playpen where baby can play without being down in the dirt.
How To Set Up A Toddler Camping Bed In A Tent
While you may not think of it at first, there is a bit of a science to setting up a toddler bed in a tent. Here are a few things that you need to do:
- Keep the baby camping bed away from the wall of the tent. If the bed is touching the wall of the tent, this can cause water to leak inside the tent there, and get baby all wet, if it starts raining on your camping trip.
- Examine the feet of the camping bed, to see if there’s a possibility they will puncture your tent floor, especially if you have a baby that wiggles a lot. If your toddler camping bed has legs, put some sort of padding between them and the floor of the tent (we usually just fold up a rag under each leg).
- Insulate the ground between the baby and the tent floor. One reason we love the PeaPod so much is that it comes with an insulated pad attached right to the bottom for this. If you need extra insulation under your portable crib for camping, this foam pad is an option you should look into, to see if it works well with your set up.
Overall Best Camping Bed For Babies and Toddlers
Our family searched high and low for the perfect baby bed for camping and travel. Not only do we spend a few weeks a year tent camping, we also travel extensively. We’ve found what we absolutely think to be the best travel bed for baby and toddlers to sleep in while camping. It’s the KidCo PeaPod. We used it extensively with three of our children, eventually getting rid of all other baby camping beds.
When our youngest child was just 4 months old, we took off for a year of world travel with our family, moving every couple of weeks. This was the bed that our baby slept in the entire time and it worked SO WELL (to the point that he preferred his PeaPod over a regular crib).
We hands down consider this the best camping bed for both a baby and toddler (if your toddler is extra tall, get the PeaPod Plus – our kids fit in it until they are 4). It’s the most lightweight camping bed for kids we’ve found and is super easy to transport in the case. Here are the things we love about the PeaPod best camping bed for baby:
- Folds up super small. We could easily fit this in a carryon suitcase.
- Lightweight: The PeaPod weighs less than 2.5 pounds.
- Easy to take down: Keep the folding instructions, since you’ll likely refer to them every time you fold it. With the instructions, I fold the PeaPod up in less than 30 seconds.
- Easy Set Up: With the unique pop-up design, it literally takes 5 seconds to set up.
- Wide Age Range: While the manufacturer suggests the PeaPod for babies from ages 1-3, we personally found no problems with using it for a younger baby. We have our kids camp in the PeaPod until they are about 2.5 or three years old, and we know that they hold still at night.
- This camping bed also sits right on the ground, with a mattress attached to the bottom so your child will stay a bit warmer inside, which is a major bonus for the cooler mountain camping that our family often enjoys.
The only thing that I don’t love about the peapod is that the mattress is on the bottom, under the actual PeaPod, so the nylon sleeping surface isn’t soft for kids to sleep on.
Best Camping Beds For Infants and Baby
When your baby is a newborn, camping can be really easy. Like I mentioned above, camping with babies under six months can be really easy since they aren’t moving around yet. When your baby is a newborn, you can easily just put them on an insulated pad, or a doubled over quilt (make sure it’s solid and firm to prevent suffocation risks).
While many new parents are tempted to take an infant bassinet camping, I highly recommend that you don’t. Since most bassinets are higher off the ground, this allows cold air to circulate under your baby during the night in their camping bassinet, making them much colder.
Below are our favorite infant camping beds.
The Brica Fold N Go camping bed for baby is one of the best newborn baby camping beds we’ve found. It folds up super small and is really easy to set up. I also love that it’s a fairly lightweight infant camping bed at around 6 pounds, so it’s easy to move around if you need to. This baby camping bed also has a small mattress on the inside, that baby can lay down on, and it’s perfect for putting a sheet on (perfect for babies who spit up often or have frequent diaper leaks).
The biggest downside of this baby camping bed is that it’s only designed for infants from 0-3 months and up to 15 pounds, so your baby will quickly outgrow it. Even with the short use time, I think it’s pretty priceless for those first few newborn camping trips.
The Baby Delight Portable bed for camping with a baby is a simple design that you can use until your child is starting to crawl around 5-6 months. The sides are rigid and help to separate your baby from adults sleeping nearby and away from the suffocation risk of adult sleeping bags. This infant sleeper is longer than most so it works well even with taller babies AND babies who are a bit older, but not crawling yet. It also has a fairly narrow footprint, so you won’t need a lot of extra space when tent camping with a baby (with this baby camping bed, you can easily fit 2 adults and a baby in a 3 man tent, which is difficult with most other baby beds for camping).
The removable cover and sheet allow for easy washing when you return home after your baby’s first camping trip!
Best Portable Cribs For Camping
If you’re looking for a good camping portable crib, these are the best options around. They’re all lightweight and easy to set up. Do keep in mind that a travel crib won’t be as stable or rigged as a normal crib at home. Keep an eye on your baby while sleeping in a portable camping crib especially if they like to stand up and push in the sides of the travel crib, since there is always a small possibility of them tipping over (though we’ve never had it happen to us).
This is one of my all time favorite camping toddler cribs. This baby camping crib is very similar to the Baby Delight crib, except that the door is even larger, so it’s easier to get kids in and out. It has great air circulation and sits on the ground to prevent cold air from being trapped under your baby while camping, making them colder.
It weighs 13 pounds and easily folds up for transport. I also love that the carrying case for this toddler camping crib has backpack straps so it’s easier to get it unloaded and to your family camping area.
This is the most lightweight baby camping crib on the market. It weighs 6 pounds, and folds up super small. I’m always amazed at how small this travel crib folds up, since it’s about the size of a yoga mat when it’s all folded up. For extra comfort, there is an inflatable mattress and fitted sheet included for extra comfort and insulation against the ground.
One entire side of the travel camping crib zips down so that baby can easily crawl in and out, also making it perfect for getting baby out for nighttime feedings
This is the perfect crib for outdoor use with it’s shade accessory attached to help protect your baby from buys and sunshine while playing in it outdoors. Another feature that we love about this camping crib is that the feet are a bit wider, so there is less pressure and wear and tear on your tent floor.
This travel crib for babies and toddlers is really fantastic, and I love that it’s perfect for the outdoors. The material is machine washable (a HUGE PLUS for camping with dirty kids), and it’s really breathable so it’s prefect for camping with toddlers in either hot or cold environments. I’m a huge fan of the zipper on the side of this camping crib that allows kids to climb in by themselves AND makes it so easy to get a baby out for a nighttime feeding without having to get fully out of your own sleeping bag. This is slightly smaller than a traditional Pack-n-play, though it does weigh 13.9 pounds, so it’s not as lightweight as some other options. Perfect for toddlers from 0-3
Best Toddler Bed For Camping
Finding the best toddler camping bed can be a bit of a challenge. Toddlers vary widely, so while some toddlers need a bed specifically designed for them, others can sleep in regular camping gear.
If you have a toddler that holds relatively still while sleeping and regularly sleeps in a bed at home, they likely do not need a special toddler bed while camping. Instead, have them sleep in a regular child sized sleeping bag, and get a kids camping pad to go underneath them.
While it’s not fancy, I really think that the best toddler camping bed is a sleeping bag and pad, as soon as they can safely sleep in it. While every child is different, our kids get to this point between the ages of 2 ½ to 3 ½ years old. If you feel like a toddler camping bed is best for your child, here is the best toddler camping bed that we recommend, as well as a camping bed for toddlers to avoid.
As we shared above, we absolutely LOVE the PeaPod camping bed for kids. If you have a toddler who needs to be confined in a bed, this is hands down the best option. The PeaPod Plus is longer and taller than the regular PeaPod, and our kids could still easily sleep in it at 4-years-old. While many travel cribs will tip over if a toddler leans on them, this isn’t even an issue with the PeaPod Plus. In fact, our toddlers prefer sleeping in the PeaPod, since they feel like we’ve given them their very own tent.
This toddler camping air mattress is a great air mattress if you’re trying to transition your toddler from an enclosed bed to a regular camping pad. I love that it’s got built in camping bed rails, which are perfect for toddlers who still move around a lot at night, but don’t need a full enclosed bed like a camping crib. Air mattresses aren’t a good option for a camping baby under the age of 1, but can be a good option for camping with toddlers. This toddler camping bed inflates in about 30 seconds and is the same size as a crib mattress.
One major downside to this toddler camping air mattress is that there is no insulation to it. If you’re camping with a toddler somewhere that’s going to be cold at night, this will just allow cold air to flow under your child through the night, making them colder. I recommend this toddler camping bed if you’re going to be camping somewhere warm, Have another layer of insulation underneath them, or if you’re setting it up in an RV.
While this camping cot for toddlers may look like a great option, we advise you not to get this toddler cot. First of all, since it’s elevated off the ground, your toddler will get a lot colder in this camping cot, than just about any other toddler camp bed out there. Also, the design is short enough and narrow enough that most kids will likely roll off of this camping cot for toddlers, so it’s best to just avoid it altogether.
There are a few different options for baby sleep set-ups while camping. The best options are to get your baby a designated travel bed that works for camping, or if you already co-sleep at home, this works well for camping too. If you don’t co-sleep at home, don’t plan on doing it while camping, or no one will sleep well.
The best way to keep a baby warm while camping is by layering their clothing. Merino wool base layers are the best for both wicking and insulation. When they’re sleeping, always make sure they are wearing a hat and socks to prevent heat loss.
If you can mimic your home sleeping environment and routine, a baby will be able to fall asleep better while camping.
If your baby is well dressed in layers and has an insulated pad to sleep on, they can camp down to about 45 degrees. When they’re outside, make sure they they are well insulated in a full sleep suit.
No, a Pack N Play is not a good bed for camping with a baby. It’s large and bulky and takes up too much room in a tent to be practical. Opt for a travel specific camping bed for kids instead of a Pack N Play.