Keeping your Infant/Toddler Warm at Night

Recently, I was asked by a few friends for any tips on keeping their babies warm at night while camping. So hear are my thoughts:

1. If they are under 1 year old, sleep them in their infant car seat. They usually love them anyways, it is only for a night or two and they are really warm. Especially if you have a Bundle Me ( in there with them. And then you don’t have to pack a pac-n-play.

2. Depending on how cold it is at night I usually layer as follows – onesie, light weight long johns (we have REI brand), fleece pants and top, long sleeve sleep sac, sleeveless sleep sac, down coat/vest, hat… and yes, then they cannot really move. And this is the most layering we have done – probably 40 degrees at night. I would probably just use sleep sacs and a hat- with a tighter fitting long john or sleep n’ play underneath if it was 60ishdegrees. We have a lightweight Patagonia hooded long john top (pictured) that I LOVE because I can pull the hood up to keep Esme’s head warm at nights, yet it isn’t so bulky that she fights it or has it pull down over her face while she sleeps.

3. We’ve found the biggest factor in keeping them warm is what is beneath – when they are older, a good camping pad rather than just on the ground does wonders. Pac-n-plays (awesome for containment at night) are off the ground – making then much cooler because of the air flow underneath- good in warm weather but if you are worried about them being cold I would maybe layer a thick blanket on top of the pack-n-play pad but under them.

4. You can test how cold/hot they are by feeling the back of her neck, that is how I usually check throughout the night, cause it will be coldest 3-5am.

5. Don’t layer them up too early, they’ll sweat, then get really cold. We’ve made that mistake. Often, when I wake up to pee at 2am, I add a sleep sac or hat before I go back to bed.

6. We recently purchased a tent heater. I cannot comment yet on how successful it is, but will after a few more trips with it!
7. When in doubt, scratch all this and let them climb in the sleeping bag with you. My kids just don’t do well sleeping with mom and dad.
6 comments on “Keeping your Infant/Toddler Warm at Night
  1. Alyssa, you were very helpful to me when deciding what to bring for Ella's first camping trip! I am happy to say that she slept through the night!! It was around 60 degrees at the coldest and I had her in a onesie, long sleeve fleece sleep and play, and 2 sleep sacks. I took your advice and started her off in the onesie, as it was pretty hot still, and then layered throughout the night. I also put the blanket in the pack and play. Thank you for sharing your advice and thoughts. I will definitely go camping with her again!

  2. As an addition, this weekend I am bringing a down throw blanket to try with Ezzie. I have no hope that she'll stay under it but now that she is 16 months, I figure it is worth a try.

    • Well, Honestly I don’t. Sometimes they did get woken up. We were also blessed with good sleepers who didn’t wake up or fell right back asleep. One possibility would be to layer the clothing on them and hold the down quilts/sleeping bags until temperatures dip, then you can just toss it on top of them without waking them.

  3. We are about to venture out with our young toddler and I really appreciate the detailed advice – thank you for posting!

    One item caught my attention though – carseats are not safe sleep surfaces, especially for infants, and I was surprised to see this here as a recommendation. They are meant for transportation, not sleeping. Children left to sleep in carseats can asphyxiate because of partially fastened straps or positioning.

    Adding a blanket on top of the pack and play mattress also creates risk, especially for very young babies. If at all possible, babies should sleep on a flat surface without bedding or bumpers.

    It is entirely possible that these guidelines weren’t set when this post was written, but at the same time, I thought it was worth mentioning.

    All of that said – the way that you laid out ideas about monitoring temperature and layering were really useful. Thank you so much for sharing them!

    • Thank you Erin for adding these concerns! I was also surprised to see them here and would recommend the article be updated to exclude them.

      Thanks for all the other great advice though!

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