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Having cold kids is one of the fastest tickets to a miserable camping trip. No one likes to be cold, but kids can be especially difficult if they are cold while camping, especially during the night. Keeping kids warm while camping should be one of your biggest priorities and will also yield some of the biggest returns in their happiness!
Keeping our kids warm while camping is so important that it’s always one of our major considerations when planning a camping trip. Here in Utah where we live, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to be in the 70’s during the day, and getting below freezing at night, so we’ve learned to be overly prepared to keep all the kids warm. Here are our best tips to keep kids warm on a camping trip.
Keeping Kids Warm While Camping During The Day
Often daytime is the easiest time to keep kids warm while camping. During the day, kids can run around and move their bodies which is one of the best ways to warm up while camping.
Eat Warm Food While Camping
I know that when it’s REALLY cold, the last thing that you want to do is to spend a lot of time cooking, when you’d really rather be snuggled around the fire, but it’s worth it. Warm food and drink is one of the best ways to stay warm while camping, so a little extra effort is worth it. To simplify your camp cooking, precook as much as you can at home, so you simply have to reheat your meals while camping. We also always keep a container of hot chocolate in our camp kitchen box when camping with kids so that we’re always prepared for cold mornings. All we have to do is heat up some water and the kids all get a warm cup of cocoa. To help kids stay warm while eating, put a blanket on their camping chair or high chair and then wrap it around them for extra insulation. If your kids have a wearable sleeping bag, let them keep it on until they warm up!
If you’re worried about kids staying warm while camping, one of the best things you can do is to keep them dry. Avoid stream crossings, lake swims, and best of all, invest in a good waterproof tent. Wet kids have a harder time staying warm, so keep their bodies dry. This also includes making sure that they don’t overdress and get too hot (especially in their sleeping bags. Wear a high quality wicking base layer to help regulate their temperature.
Dress Kids For The Camping Weather
One of the biggest reasons that kids get cold while camping is because of bad weather, usually rain. Prepare for this in advance, by having a stash of emergency rain ponchos, but also making sure that everyone has a waterproof jacket as well as waterproof hiking shoes. If you stay dry during a rainy camping trip, it’s much easier to stay warm.
We also wear a lot of merino wool when camping since it still insulates, even when wet! Merino wool socks are a MUST HAVE for camping with kids!
Make sure that you’re always keeping your tent doors and windows closed when you’re not at camp in case a sudden rain storm comes in and make sure that you don’t lean your gear up against the walls of your tent, since this can cause your tent to leak. A waterproof ground tarp under the tent is always helpful as well.
Keeping Kids Warm While Camping At Night
Nighttime is when kids get the coldest while camping with kids. We’ve learned that being extra prepared for cold weather at night has been a lifesaver. Kids often get really cold at night because not only does the temperature drop, but their body isn’t generating as much heat while they’re asleep. Here are the best ways to keep kids warm at night while camping:
Invest In A Warm Kids Sleeping Bag for Camping
I’ve talked about it before, but we are HUGE believers that you should invest in a high quality camping sleeping bag designed for kids. When our youngest was a baby, Grandma and Grandpa gifted him a kids sleeping bag from The North Face, that was rated down to 20degrees. As first-time parents, we thought it was a bit of overkill, but we happily accepted the gift. Fast forward to the next summer when he was snuggled into his sleeping bag, toasty and warm, and my husband and I both work up shivering. Since then, we’ve bought all of our kids nice, kid sized sleeping bags when they were little. Guess what? We’ve NEVER had one of our kids wake up cold while camping, and I absolutely credit their good sleeping bags for this!
Insulate The Ground With A Camping Sleeping Pad
It’s often overlooked, but the cold ground underneath you may be a major culprit in making your kids cold while camping. When kids sleep on a camping pad, not only are they more comfortable when they sleep, but they also stay warm, because they’re insulated from the cold ground below them. If you’re camping somewhere really cold, make sure to get an insulated sleeping pad, not an air mattress (as those actually make you COLDER, since there is no insulation and they allow cool air to circulate underneath you).
Dress Kids In Layers At Night
Did you know that overdressing your kids, may actually make them colder? Crazy, right? But kids who get too warm, will start sweating, and that sweat can quickly cool them down. The solution? Wear a wicking base layer to bed while camping, and then layer on top of that.
When we’re camping, we always have our kids sleep in base layers, and our favorites are these merino wool base layers for kids. They are amazing because they keep kids warm and toasty, but they also wick sweat away when they start getting too hot. We often pack 2 pairs of merino wool base layers for a camping trip so they can wear one as PJ’s and the other out and about around camp during the day since it’s so good at regulating their temperatures.
Use Code bringthekids for 20% off merino wool base layers for kids from Iksplor.
On top of base layers, we often have our kids wear something else if we know it’s going to be a really cold night. For younger kids, we’ve found that fleece footie pajamas work great (with wool socks underneath), and for older kids, they often wear sweats or fleece layers.
Do not sleep in cotton while camping, since if it gets wet at all, it will just keep you cold!
Wear CLEAN Socks To Bed
Now I feel like I’m starting to sound like my mother, but clean socks really do matter, especially for keeping kids warm while camping (as much as my boys resist this!) When we’re running around camp all day and exploring, our feet are naturally sweating, which cools your body down. Before bed, put on a fresh pair of socks (I can’t say enough good things about these kids wool socks – we’ve had one pair for over 10 years and they are still hole free). Having warm socks on your kids is one of the best things you can do to keep kids warm while camping at night.
Cover Your Head While Sleeping
While I’m not sure how much heat you’re actually losing out of your head, I do know that sleeping with your head covered makes you warmer while you’re sleeping in your sleeping bag. We have a set of old beanies that we always take camping, and as soon as the sun sets, our kids are often grabbing for them to stay warm.
They’re nothing fancy, and usually smell a bit like a campfire, but they do wonders for keeping kids warm while camping, and in our family, are often worn in the evening, all through the night, and usually for breakfast when the air is still cool. We keep them with our camping gear so we never have to think about remembering them, since we know we’ll use them every time!
This set of 6 fleece hats is super affordable and would be great for camping with kids in the cold!
Keeping Baby Warm While Camping In The Cold
Keeping your baby warm while camping is especially important. Since babies are smaller and less mobile, it’s easier for them to lose body heat while camping in cold temperatures. Here are our top tips for keeping babies warm while camping:
Dress Baby In Layers For Camping
Just like for older kids, babies regulate their temperature best when dressed in layers. We love these Merino wool sets for babies (use code bringthekids for 20% off) and highly recommend them as a base layer (pro tip: get 2 pairs in case of diaper accidents). On top of that, a fleece set is a good idea on cold days.
It’s also important to remember that since babies can’t tell you if they’re too hot or cold, you need to check in on how hot they are regularly. Have more questions about layering? Here is the ultimate guide to winter clothes for babies.
Buy A Baby Sleeping Bag For Camping
These baby sleeping bags are absolutely genius and work SO WELL. Morrison Outdoors are our very favorite sleeping bags for baby and toddler since they’re super warm, babies can’t wiggle out of their sleeping bag, and they’re super safe for sleeping babies while camping. They’re designed for kids from ages 6 months to age 4, but my son is almost 6 and is just starting to get too tall for it (and he’s pretty average size).
Use code 10BTK21 for 10% off your Morrison Outdoor Order!
Bring A Baby Snow Suit Camping
It may seem like overkill, but trust me on this one. A snowsuit is a great way to keep a baby warm while camping and is also great for sleeping in! For non walkers, get one that covers their hands and feet, and for walkers, make sure that their feet can come out. This is the best piece of clothing to keep baby warm while camping.
Always Cover Babies Head While Camping
Babies lose a lot of heat out of their head, so always have a beanie on them. On warmer days, a lightweight knit hat will work, and on colder nights camping with a baby, you’ll want a fleece hat for sleeping.
Wear Your Baby To Stay Warm Outside
My favorite way to keep baby warm while camping in the cold is to wear them in a baby carrier. Choose one where they can snuggle directly against you so that they stay extra warm. I also recommend that the parent wearing the baby bring an extra large zip up coat so that baby can be zipped up inside if the weather turns bad.
Get Baby Wool Socks For Camping
Wool socks are a great way to keep baby warm when camping in the cold, and are such an easy thing to bring along. We’ve used these wool socks for babies with all our kids and absolutely love them!
Consider Cosleeping While Camping
If you cosleep at home, then cosleeping with baby while camping is a great way to keep them warm. I recommend a large double sleeping bag, so that there is room for both parents and baby, and lots of snuggle room to stay warm. If you don’t cosleep at home, camping is probably not the place to try it out, so give it a trial run before you leave.
Other Tips For Keeping Kids Warm While Camping In The Cold
Heat a rock: I know that this sounds odd, but warm up a rock (about 5-7 inches in diameter near the fire before bed, for at least an hour. Place it in the bottom of your sleeping bag to warm you up all night.
Bring mittens: Do you have a kid who can’t seem to keep their hands in their sleeping bag? Throw on a pair of mittens before bed so they don’t wake up with freezing hands. If you forgot mittens, a clean pair of socks will do the trick nicely!
Use Hand Warmers: Many people think these disposable hand warmers are only for winter, but they’re perfect for camping as well. They’re also great for putting in your sleeping bag for a little extra warmth. I recommend putting them near your toes for extra warmth. Keep a stash of them in your camping box for days that it’s colder than expected.
How cold is too cold to camp with kids?
Kids can camp in any temperatures as long as they have proper equipment. As a general rule of thumb, kids can camp down to temperatures that are 10 degrees above their sleeping bag temperature rating and still stay comfortable. So if your child has a 30 degree sleeping bag, they will stay comfortably warm until about 40 degrees.
Is it warmer to camp in a tent or in an RV?
It is warmer to camp in an RV or trailer, so if you’re worried about camping in the cold, I recommend taking a trailer or RV. Most RV’s have an onboard heater which is perfect for cold weather camping with kids.
How cold is too cold to camp with a baby?
Babies can camp down to 30 degrees if they have proper equipment and a warm sleeping bag. Always keep a babies head covered, and keep socks on them as well.
Is 30 degrees too cold for camping with kids?
Absolutely not! Just make sure to take some extra warm clothing and to invest in sleeping bags that are warm down to at least 20 degrees.