Spending time outside has proven benefits like reducing stress, improving mood, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety, improving focus and productivity, and enhancing creativity and self-esteem! It will help you sleep better, feel better and have fun.
Types Of Camping
When you imagine camping, you may picture a tent in the middle of the woods, but there are so many different types of camping!
If you are new to camping, consider camping in a RV, yurt, dome, Otentik or cabin. You will get the benefits of camping, plus some amenities that may make your experience more comfortable. If you camp in National Parks you’ll usually have access to washrooms/showers.
Tenting or back country camping is absolutely possible as well.
If you are beginners who want to learn to camp, check out Parks Canada Learn To Camp Program.
Help Your Baby Sleep While Camping
General Tips For Getting Baby To Sleep In An Unfamiliar Place
If you are going anywhere overnight with your baby, it’s normal to feel uneasy about how their sleep will be impacted! The idea is to keep as many things the same as possible. If they use a white noise machine at home, bring that with you! If they use a sleep sack or soother make sure to bring that along as well.
Make Sure It's Dark Enough
You’ll also want to make the space they’re going to be sleeping in as dark as possible. There are travel blackout blinds you can purchase but if you don’t want to invest in those, then you can use a dark towel or sheet to cover the window. As long as it’s done safely and away from Baby’s sleep area, you’re good.
If sleeping in a tent, try to make it a large tent or maybe even one with a second room, so there is lots of room for you and baby.
To help darken the tent, use a black or dark layer tarp to put over the tent to help darken it, since babies are usually going to bed before the sun goes down during the Summer, at least here in Nova Scotia.
Make Sure They Are Comfortable
For Baby to sleep in, you’ll likely use something like a pack and play, but if it's still cold overnight, you might want to bring some extra blankets. Layer some blankets underneath the pack and play to help insulate it from the cold coming from the ground.
You might find that a white noise machine or a white noise app on your phone helpful for getting Baby to stay asleep.
Plan to spend some time in the new space with Baby where they’re expected to sleep before nap or bedtime, if possible. This will help familiarize them to the space which will make it more likely they’ll fall asleep soundly. You might read some books, play in there, unpack the things as you're making the room or setting it up. Basically, have your baby in there with you and involve them in it, no matter how old they are! The more comfortable and positive you are, the more relaxed they will be as well.
Stick To Their Routine
When it comes to that bedtime routine, you may not be giving them a bath per se, but you can still wash them up with a cloth, brush their teeth, read some stories, sing a lullaby, whatever it is you do to help their bodies relax and prepare for sleep. All the fresh air they’ll be during the day while you’re out in nature will surely help them sleep well too ;)
No matter how you're camping though, try sticking to your baby’s schedule for naps and bedtime as best you can. I’m not saying a stretched wake-window or something like that will break any good sleep habits Baby already has! But not veering too far from their norm will prove to have better results.
Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you're sticking to a pretty great system and routine, but the other 20% of the time → life happens!
So do your best to stick close to Baby’s schedule and routines but if things do get off track, jump back to their usual as soon as possible, like when you arrive back home.
Happy camping this summer!
Ashley Cooley is a birth, baby and sleep specialist living in Dartmouth, NS with her husband and their three girls.