Camping with little ones this summer?
Camping with little ones this summer?
Going away camping with your family is the perfect time to get away and spend some quality time with your family this summer. The idea of camping with children and babies is idyllic, mum imagines snoozing under a shady tree while their toddler takes an unexpected nap next to them, and dad is up brewing coffee at the crack of dawn while the baby sleeps past 6am. Parents imagine sitting around having a cold beer once the kids are asleep and the sun is setting.
No one imagines the children screaming and refusing to sleep until well after the sun has set, and the toddler getting so over tired they throw tantrums not naps, and the baby waking with the sun at 5am and no one getting 8 hours sleep.
So be prepared and have a great camping holiday!
1. Relax, but don’t relax too much. If your baby is in a fairly strict routine you will not be doing them any favours allowing them to skip naps and stay up late, they actually enjoy the predictability of their nap routine, especially in a new sleep environment they will find it easier to get to sleep at their set times rather than an hour later when you have missed the sleep window.
This is hardest to accommodate with a small baby on 3 naps a day, but try! Plan ahead and get your baby used to napping in the front pack or push chair so at least on nap a day can be at the beach or park and not back at camp in their tent, this gives you a good 2-4 hour block away from the camp site.
2. Bed time routine – this can be fun and if you baby is 6 months + they will cope with a little flexibility here. If they are under 6 months, don’t allow them to get over tired, they will take longer to settle in a tent so accommodate for this. Bath’s in tubs and solar showers take longer than usual and are exciting for little people, plan ahead and allow extra time for this, especially if you camp somewhere popular where you need to cue for a shower!
3. Heat! This can wreak havoc on your little one’s sleep – even older children might find their tent hot at 7pm. If your baby’s tent is too hot at 6.30/7pm, try letting them snooze in their porter cot or push chair under a tree in the shade until its dark, this will also help if you have a sun cover for your push chair but your porter cot is not dark. Alternatively buy a snooze shade for your porter cot or a phil n teds travel cot which already has a dark lid. Plan ahead and try to put your tents up in a shady area, and open the doors for ventilation late in the day. If you have a powered site take a fan for their tent!
4. Night time antics, having to get up to breastfeed a baby, tend to a crying baby, or escort a small child to the toilet at night requires light. If you are like me and lose your torch by the end of the first night consider taking a box of glow sticks. These are available from the warehouse and make great night lights, and the children can wear them around their necks when playing in the dark, or walking to the toilet. At roughly $1 each they are a great investment!
5. Neighbours: Apologise to your neighbours if your baby is up crying half the night, but don’t feel too guilty! Leave plenty of baby things around your tents so anyone looking at setting up near you knows you have a baby!
6. Front pack: Take a front pack/back pack if you own one for your baby, or borrow one for the trip. Most NZ camp sites are a wee walk to the beach and they free up your hands to carry towels and sun shades and boogie boards! Not to mention make a great place for a quick nap for a grumpy baby. Baby Sleep Consultant loves the ergo baby carrier!
7. Take portable white noise if your baby is used to white noise at night or even if they are not, this is a great tool for blocking out the other camp ground noises if you have a light sleeper.
8. Take thermals for at night for your baby, especially if they have a summer weight sleeping bag or swaddle, it will be cold overnight and they will wake if they get cold.
9. Plan for the unexpected – take your baby pamol, or nurofen, take extra bug spray and sun block and cold medicines.
10. Take some familiar toys from home for rainy days and don’t forget your kids bikes if you can fit them in!
11. If your just weaning your baby onto solids and they are 7 months plus so need that good protein boost for sleep at lunch time, try adding a small amount of canned chicken (in brine) or salmon or tuna to their lunch solids to increase the protein in a jar of bought baby food. Take a portable high chair or their regular high chair if it folds flat a crawling baby is very hard to feed solids too when on the move!
12. Don’t under estimate how tired everyone will get from the long days in the sun and extra walking (even the toilet is usually a 5 minute walk away!). Allow for the occasional early night (mum and dad too!) and don’t let the over tired monster ruin your holiday!
13. For sensitive children and toddlers, talk about going camping and sleeping in a tent, and in a sleeping bag, and how much fun it will be and how different. Give these children plenty of time to get used to the idea so it is not such a shock when you arrive. Take their favourite cuddlies and blankets, practise sleeping on the airbed at home in their room. Ensure they can find their night light or glow stick, they can open the zipper of their tent and find you if they are not in your tent, and if they sleep all night be sure to tell them in the morning you came to check on them but they were fast asleep and you were so impressed!
Please share your camping with children/babies tips below!
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
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- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
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My baby has reflux can you help?
When your baby has reflux, feeds can be difficult and your baby can be in a lot of pain both during and after feeds. This pain can cause feeding aversions and failure to thrive. This is why true GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) needs to be treated by a doctor. Once your baby's doctor is satisfied your baby is feeding well, and you have the right medication or formula then we can start a sleep plan and you will be successful.
My baby has colic will this help?
Colic is defined as 3 or more hours of crying per day in infants. Crying subsides in the second second trimester. If you are still experiencing colic symptoms speak to your baby's doctor about whether this could be reflux, an allergy, or over tiredness. We can help you work on better sleep with this program at the same time as your doctor investigates the pain and crying.
What if the program isn't working?
We have a dedicated help line to ensure your success. Just email our team via the details in your program and a certified, experienced and friendly sleep consultant is ready to stare you in the right direction to ensure your success!
My baby was born early, can you help?
Sleep is neurological so we always work off your babies neurological age, that is their corrected age. When you look at our sleep programs purchase the program that your babies corrected age fits into.
What if I have questions or need more help?
Our sleep programs come with private email support. You don’t have to post in any public forums or groups, just email the exclusive helpline that our team of certified sleep consultants look after and we’ll answer all your questions and help you on your way.
Can this program help with my babies night sleep?
Yes, all our online sleep programs contain night sleep plans. We will teach you how to move from multiple night feeds to 2 or 1 or none (depending on what is age appropriate and appropriate for your baby.) Don’t worry we will show you to figure this out too. If your baby is unsettled at night but not feeding, our plans will help you with consolidate night sleep and self settling when age appropriate.
My baby is cat napping can you help?
Cat napping is a very normal physiological stage that your baby goes through. At this stage (3-8 months old), cat napping can start to be a long term issue and compound into over tiredness and affect night sleep and your babies happiness. Good news, this is a great age to work on re-settling, self settling and better longer naps!
I have 3 children, can this work with my family?
I totally understand how busy life is with 2, 3 or more children! Even if you need a flexible schedule we can still work on settling regular naps (some on the go!), and better evenings and night. Flick our consultants any specific questions about your family's schedule of activities and we can help you work out what is possible nap wise.
I don't want a fixed routine, can you still help?
Yes. A fixed routine is one option, regular naps and regular awake times is another. Both are valid and you are welcome to do what works for your family. We understand you are all different and what works best for one family won't be best for another.
I'm formula feeding, can you still help?
Yes we have specific advice for formula feeding parents, and we support your decision to feed any way you choose. We even have a special video series on formula feeding and everything you need to know. Just ask our consultants about this extra if you need it.
I'm exclusively breastfeeding, can I follow your plans?
Yes! While breastfeeding babies need to feed frequently they still need quality sleep day and night. We have specific advice for breastfeeding mums and an exclusive discount on Julia Daleys breastfeeding course if you need extra help.
I'm bed sharing, can your program help me stop?
Yes. We often fall into bed sharing, we call this reactive bed sharing. Or we have simply changed our mind, and moving on from bed sharing we need some support. Our programs and consults will guide you through gentle sleep methods, which are more appropriate for most bed sharing babies who are moving towards independent sleep in the cot.
I'm feeding to sleep, can you help me stop?
Yes. Feeding to sleep is a common sleep association and one that works well for lots of newborns. Often we need to move on from feeding to sleep when it starts to cause short naps, or prolonged settling or frequent night wake ups as baby looks for their association to go back to sleep over and over again at night. We can teach you how to teach your baby to self settle and move on from feeding to sleep when the time is right.
I'm rocking to sleep, is their a solution?
Yes. These are common sleep associations, we refer to this as assisting to sleep. Let us show you ways you can develop independent sleep and settling strategies with our online sleep program, or one on one consult.
Is this program based on Cry It Out?
No. Cry it out is the common name for a sleep training method where you put baby down and don’t respond or check until they are fast asleep. There is no CIO involved in this program as we feel this should be only done under proper supervision. Instead we have included all our very gentle approaches and more mainstream techniques for you to choose from.
Is this based on Science or Art?
Both! As a scientist I (Emma) have spent over 8 years researching the science of sleep. I have educated and certified over 500 consultants around the world as sleep consultants, and have worked with thousands of clients. I love the scientific explanations of why we see the sleep patterns we see, and this science helps us to shape plans and solutions that we know will work. But there's an element of art to getting a baby to sleep, understanding the right combination of things that will work best, and this is where your instinct comes in.
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