Let’s talk about sleep.

To be specific toddler sleep while camping.  

The big concern is that going away for a weekend or more will mean sleepless nights as you try to enjoy the great outdoors.

I am going to begin by saying that it is not always easy to get your kids to sleep well while camping.

It often gets easier the more your kids get used to sleeping in a tent or a trailer but expect to be tired and if you are struggling adhere to tip #9.

That is honestly how we survive long camping trips.

Our kids sometimes sleep extremely well while other nights it is absolutely terrible.

I wish I could offer a magical solution to get your child to sleep while camping.

If I happen upon a magic wand that sprinkles sleep dust that puts my children in a deep sleep I will let you know.  

However here are some suggestions and tips in the meantime.

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Toddler Sleep While Camping

Bedtime Routine

Do the same bedtime routine that you do at home while camping.

If you have a snack, brush teeth, get into pajamas, and read books at home then have a snack, brush teeth, get into pajamas while camping.

The first night take your time with the routine.

We have found the first night to be the hardest and consecutive nights become easier as they get used to camping.  

We have been able to shorten the routine and mix it up as our kids are getting used to the camping.

If you are unable to do part of the routine like a bath tell your child that is something we are not going to do and plan something else instead like a nice face wash. (Or just pretend the face wash is a bath!)

Bedtime Routine

Favourite Stuffy and Blankets

Bring your child’s favourite stuffy and blanket for sleeping.

They will be happy to have some familiarity on the camping trip and hopefully the items will make it easier for them to sleep.

Toddler sleep camping



Be flexible with bedtime.

If your little one is used to going to bed at 7:30 pm they might not be going to bed until 9 pm because things just take longer while camping. Hopefully, they will fall asleep right away and make it easier for you.


Be prepared to cuddle a little more than usual at bedtime especially the first few nights as they get comfortable with the new space.

Spending the time holding their hand as they fall asleep might feel like an eternity but could help them feel better throughout the night.

Our oldest needs that assurance while camping but does not need that at home. When we take that extra time she has a better sleep.

 Create a Nook

From talking with other parents and from my own experience some toddlers need space when they are sleeping.

If they happen to see you sleeping beside them in the early morning they tend to perk up and are ready to start their day at 5:00 am!!!

Who wants that? NOBODY!!!

If you are able to fit a playpen in the tent or some sort of sleeping bed, then you can try to drape a blanket down the side to keep them from seeing you as they become restless in the early morning. Hopefully, they will fall back asleep.

Block out the light

When camping in a tent, especially in the summer, it becomes light out really early in the morning. This means that your little camper is up early with the sunrise.

Similar to the nook, try to find a way to safely drape a blanket over part of the sleeping area so that the sleeping nook stays a little bit darker.

There are also some great beds for toddlers here.

Unicorn Sleep masks also help!

In the picture below we used to drape a light blanket over the top half of the tent to keep it darker around her head.

In our VW van we have blackout curtains which are amazing.

Now that our kids are more comfortable in the van they often sleep until 830 or 9!!

While this seems perfect I will add that this is usually after a later bedtime around 9.

As well after about 6 am I am cuddling in the pop-top with our youngest and my husband has gone to the bottom bunk and is cuddling with our 3-year-old on the bottom bed.

Block Out light


It is often tough but the first night or two you will need to help teach them how to sleep in the tent. Different kids need to be taught in different ways.

My first daughter had to belt out and scream for 5 minutes and then she would zonk and sleep 12 hours.

I sometimes felt bad for the campsite but then it was either that or have a restless sleep throughout the night.

My youngest is completely different She needs tons of cuddles to sleep well at bedtime. If she sees me as she falls asleep she is a happy camper.

Teach them to sleep

Back to Bed

If your kids wake up throughout the night then use all your tricks to put them back to bed. Sometimes nights on the go are just rough and you need to do what you have to do.

Still breastfeeding your toddler?

Then breastfeed with your toddler lying down and try cuddling them back to sleep.

They need a cuddle to fall back asleep then put them back to sleep with a nice cuddle.

When our toddler wakes up at 430 am we have to send one of us to cuddle with her until a more reasonable wake-up time.

We make sure we have the beds set up comfortably for ourselves in case we need she needs comforting.

That way we can get some sleep as well even if it is a bit uncomfortable!

 Go to bed with the kids

This is really how we have survived camping for long periods.

If our kids go to bed at 9, then we go to bed at 930.

The nights are so unpredictable that in order to enjoy the camping experience we have found that going to bed early really helps keep us happy and healthy.

Of course, we have the odd night where we sneak out of the tent or our VW van and hang out by the fire.

However the majority of the time we are so exhausted that we read with a flashlight and then fall asleep 30 minutes later.

Any other suggestions!!! Please comment as parents always love to hear what worked and what did not work while camping.

Note: I am not a sleeping expert and so use any of these suggestions at your own risk. This was written from my own personal experience and from listening to other camping parents experiences.

By Annika Mang
By Annika Mang
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8 thoughts on “Toddler Sleep while Camping”

  1. We’ve opted for renting a camping pod with young kids instead of taking a tent because you can put a black-out curtain in the door and the window, keeping it really dark – essential in the British summer when it’s light out until 10pm!

    1. Yes camping in a tent has so many challenges with light! Often the sun staying up so late and then being back out sooo early. Hard to get the best sleeps while camping. We sometimes tent but we also have our sweet VW Van Dusty which we camped alot in last year. Although tenting is much cheaper then renting or buying a trailor!

  2. These are such great tips. On our last campout our two year old slept great the first night – didn’t wake up at all, and then woke up crying every two hours the second night. Not cool. Worst case scenario I’ve taken a screaming baby into the car in the middle of the night to try to let the rest of the campsite sleep.

  3. Another tip from my personal experience is make sure they are warm! In Canada, even in July, nights can be chilly and if my son isn’t warm enough he will wake up every hour and let us know! Making sure the littles are warm (safely) and snug makes a huge difference 🙂

    1. Great Addition! Staying warm can really help. How do you dress your son at night?
      This is what we do: On colder nights we have had our children wear a light puff jacket (and maybe pants) with a toque. If they are small and move around alot we have them sleep in a sleep sac instead of or as well as a sleeping bag so that they stay warm.

  4. Hello, great article! We’re camping with our 20 mo soon and I’m thinking of getting a travel cot (like the one pictured in your tent photo). What is the brand of your travel cot / kid’s bed (whatever it’s called)? Thank you!

    1. This one is called the Nomad and was from Copenhagen! Another similar one is the Peapod and we would have boughten that if we were living in Canada or the USA but we just could not find it in Copenhagen when we were living there. Here is the Pea pod tent

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