You’ve been an avid and eager camper all your life, braving all kinds of weather. Now, you have a new baby and may be thinking that you’re going to have to put camping on hold until sometime in the future. How are you going to keep your baby warm, especially at night when it can get cold even in the middle of summer?
Don’t put that camping gear away just yet! Even though there are some challenges to keeping your baby warm, being prepared will let you enjoy some great family fun.
Be Aware of the Weather Conditions
During the peak of summer, temperatures can change from one minute to the next, and nights can become cold and damp after even the hottest day, with the temperatures dropping to below 55 degrees.
Before you head out on your camping trip, check the weather forecast so you can pack accordingly. It’s always good to take extra clothing and blankets and not use them than it is to not have enough when your baby is cold and unhappy.
Keep in mind that babies can’t regulate body temperature in the same way that adults and older children can. Once they feel chilled and cold they’ll have a hard time warming up. It’s up to you to notice if he or she is getting too cold.
Touch your baby’s skin frequently, checking for skin that feels cold and moist. This is a sign that she’s getting a little cold and it’s time for you to warm her up.
Dress for Warmth
Having the right kind of clothing is at the top of the list for keeping babies warm. Not just at night, but during the day as well when temperatures can change from one minute to the next.
Just moving from the sun into shade can cause a significant temperature drop that can make your baby go from warm to uncomfortable in a short period of time. This is where dressing her in layers can make all the difference in keeping her warm.
First thing in the morning, dress your baby in a short or long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and warm socks. Add a fleece sweater or a warm hoodie and top it all off with a warm jacket. As the day warms up you can start to take off layers as needed.
One thing to keep in mind is that adding too many layers of clothes can cause serious issues, such as overheating and sweating. A sweating baby will quickly lead to a cold baby as weather temperatures cool.
The tip here is to layer gradually so you don’t overdress your baby. Expect to wake up at least once to add a blanket over your sleeping baby.
The following types of clothing are a necessity for camping with your baby:
Jackets are good for those early mornings and cold evenings. You can even let your baby sleep in her jacket if it gets too cold and you don’t have enough blankets.
Buy a down jacket that’s one size too large. This way you can dress your baby in layers underneath without it being too bulky. These jackets are great if you’re camping in fall or winter.
Both short and long-sleeved fleece pajamas will keep in the heat. Flannel is also a good choice. For colder nights, footed pajamas will keep your baby’s feet toasty and warm.
You can even put socks on her feet and then the pajama over top. Or the other way around, putting socks over the pajama feet.
Infant Bunting Bags
These bags will keep your baby cozy and if she’s been sleeping in a bunting bag at home, the familiarity of a bag may work in your favor for getting her to sleep. You can purchase lightweight bunting bags as well as goose down bags.
Goose down provides good insulation in even the coldest weather. Look for camping bunting bags that have zippers, which will let you change your baby without having to take her all the way out of the warm bag and into the cold.
Lightweight hats are good during the day, keeping the sun off your baby’s head as well as providing a bit of warmth when temperatures start to cool. Fleece and wool hats are a good way to keep heat in, both during the day and while sleeping.
If your baby doesn’t like wearing hats, put a fleece blanket under her head when she’s sleeping. If she starts to get too warm during the night, it will be easy to slip out from under her.
If you can get your baby to keep mittens on, it’s another good way to keep her warm. You can always try putting them on after she’s fallen asleep.
Whether your baby is walking or not, warm fleece-lined shoes or boots will keep her feet warm during the day. With a pair of warm socks, little feet won’t get cold. For sleeping, knit booties or fleece socks are a good option.
As with any other clothing, you can take the booties or socks off if your baby is getting too warm.
Keep Baby Warm at Night
Where your baby sleeps will depend on whether you want her to sleep on her own or with you. One good option for staying warm is to have her sleep with you, which also make things easier if you’re nursing.
Zip together two adult-size sleeping bags and layer with blankets, both underneath and inside. Dress your baby in a long-sleeved onesie pajama, adding socks and a fleece sweater if you expect it to get cold overnight.
Snuggle up with your baby next to you and you’ll both stay warm. Of course, this sleeping arrangement may mean that you’ll be going to sleep at the same time as your baby does.
If you’re sharing a sleeping bag with your baby, you’ll need to keep her up high to avoid the risk of suffocation. Make sure her head is free from blankets. You can insert a pillow down on your baby’s side of the bag to add some warmth where her feet are.
Use a camping mattress if you want your baby to sleep alone. On its own, a mattress won’t hold a lot of heat as cold air from the tent floor will flow upwards.
If it’s been raining, mattresses often feel damp and chilly. You’ll need to put a good layer of blankets underneath the mattress. Add more blankets on top, making a nice warm cushion for your baby to sleep on.
An insulated camping pad is another good investment. You can lay these directly on the tent floor, putting your baby’s sleeping bag on top. The insulation will give added warmth on those chilly nights where even the ground is cold.
For more warmth and comfort, you can double up on pads, or put the camping pad on top of the mattress. Just make sure it’s not too high in case your baby rolls off.
A playpen is another option not only for sleeping but also a safe place for your baby to play while you make breakfast over the campfire. Look for playpens that sit directly on the ground, so you can place a blanket or insulated camping pad beneath for padding and extra warmth.
For those playpens that are off the ground, you’ll still need to add blankets or a camping pad for insulation underneath the pen so that cold air won’t circulate upwards.
For added warmth that’s also fun, try a hot water bottle with a cute terrycloth or knit cover. Just fill with hot water and put it into your baby’s sleeping bag on those really cold nights.
If you use a hot water bottle you might want to check during the night that it hasn’t cooled off too much and is now radiating more chill than heat.
Bring Proper Tenting Equipment
Tenting is part of the camping experience, but sometimes it can be hard to keep your baby warm at night, especially when mother nature decides to throw you a curveball and lowers the thermostat more than you expected.
Consider investing in a tent heater if you’re camping in cold conditions. Look for one that has a shut-off safety feature as well as one that shuts off if tipped over. Set it up in the tent in a corner, away from where your baby is sleeping.
The one drawback with tent heaters is that they often heat up the small tent area too much, making everyone sweat.
Temperatures are coldest in the early morning hours. Take along one or more down throw blankets. These blankets are lightweight so they’re easy to pack with the rest of your equipment. At the same time, they create a lot of insulted heat. Heavier quilts are another good option for laying over your sleeping baby at 3 am.
Make sure a couple of tarps are in your box of camping gear. You’ll need to throw those tarps over your tent to keep out any drips and minimize dampness as much as you can. Once the damp sets in, it will be hard to warm up a cold baby.
Now that you know what to do to keep your baby warm, you’re ready to grab the tent and go! Remember that you can never be too prepared when it comes to camping with a baby.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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