Nobody likes to get cold when they’re camping – especially when you’re trying to sleep. Keeping our kids warm is one of the main things we think about before planning a trip – especially since here in Utah, even summer nights in the mountains can be chilly. The picture above is from our first camping trip with baby Shem this last March. We’d been wanting to get out camping but temps were the biggest concern – especially since Shem was only 7 months old. Despite temps dropping down into the high 30’s that night, we were confident that we could keep him warm. So how do you keep your kids warm and happy at night? These simple tips will go a long way.
Beanies…While the actual amount of heat that is lost through your head when you sleep is debatable (and not really important), it’s clear that wearing a beanie to bed when sleeping in the cold makes a huge difference in comfort. I’ve even worn the hood on my shirt, or a buff on my head when it’s chilly out. This is one of the easiest things you can do to add some warmth and comfort outdoors in the cold – day or night!
Change your socks…Make sure everyone goes to sleep with dry clothes and always swap out your socks. Your feet – and your kids’ feet – sweat. a fresh pair at bed goes a looong way in keeping warm. Even if you think they’re dry, your safest bet is to swap them out before you go to sleep. Cold feet make for a long night/marriage/hike/bathroom break/schoolbus ride/picnic/hot-air balloon ride/riot.
Wear the right clothes… Overdressing will result in sweating and sweat is cold once it cools. Too much clothing will also impede the sleeping bag’s ability to insulate and keep you warm. Long sleeves and pants are best when it’s chilly. They by no means need to be thick. Simple pajamas work just fine. Cotton isn’t the absolute best but breathable fabrics probably aren’t that realistic when you’re talking about kids. Just try not to get too crazy/sweaty before bed.
Use sleeping pads…There are a ton of options out there and that’s a topic for another day, but you definitely need to have your kids on a sleeping pad of some sort if you want to keep them warm. Otherwise, the cold ground will conduct heat away from their bodies – All. Night. Long. This definitely makes for cold kiddos and is probably one of the most important rules to keeping warm. If you don’t have a pad, find some way to provide insulation between them and the ground. An extra sleeping bag will provide some barrier.
If they have a blankee/woobee/etc…This isn’t so much to keep them warm as much as it is to keep them comfortable and happy. As most parents probably know, mental is such a huge part with kids. Keep ’em happy, keep ’em having fun. It helps them be comfortable and fall asleep faster.
Something a bit unconventional…if you’re really in a bind for some reason, you can use a rock that’s been heated by your campfire. Sounds weird right? It works. I discovered this on a cold, November night under the stars in Yellowstone while on a highschool field trip. Ever heat a rice bag in the microwave? Neither have I…but Candice does to snuggle in the winter time. Anyway, same principal. A rock (I’ve only tried it once but…) the size of a cantaloupe seemed to work well. Heat it in close proximity (as opposed to in the fire) so it gets warm to the core – not just on the surface. It will stay warmer longer this way. You will need an old shirt/towel or something to wrap it in as well. A bit out there, I know, but it definitely does the trick to have something warm to spoon. And who doesn’t love snuggling a big rock when they sleep?!
One last tip…Put the clothes you’re going to wear the next morning in your sleeping bag. They’ll be nice and warm for you in the morning.
Hope this helps you be a little more confident getting this kids out in the woods! If you have any other tips leave them in a comment below! Also, let us know if you want us to do a follow-up post to go any deeper on anything we covered in this post!