Taking a baby camping is not crazy – but a lot of the success/failure of the trip depends on your sleep setup. If you are worried about whether your baby is cold or about the sleeping bag suffocating her, then you probably aren’t going to get much sleep.
My baby is currently 1 year old and we’ve done several camping trips (with many more planned for the upcoming summer). I realize that what works for us might not be the best baby sleeping bag for others. So, I also compiled advice from other parents who have gone camping with babies. Here’s a complete guide to baby sleeping bag options, advice, and recommendations from me and other parents who’ve gone camping with babies.
Not sure what else to bring for camping with a baby? See my baby camping gear checklist here)
When I first wrote this, there wasn’t a single camping sleeping bag for babies available. Since then, TWO options have become available!
Option 1: Morrison Sleeping Bag
This is by far the best baby sleeping bag for camping that you could get, and the only one warm enough for camping in cold weather. There are two versions: Down and Synthetic. Both bags weigh less than 1lb.
- Down sleeping bag: Rated to 20F (-7C), fits babies 3-24 months: (Buy Here)
- Synthetic sleeping bag: Rated to 40F (5C), fits babies 3-24 months: (Buy Here)
Option 2: BabyDeeDee Sleep Nest Travel
BabyDeeDee has made baby sleep sacks for a long time, but they only recently released one which is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. It is TOG 3.5, which means you’ll still need to layer your baby for cold-weather camping (more on this later in the article). But there are some really cool features of this baby sleeping bag — like removable sleeves, a buckle for strollers, and easy in-out. I now have this sleeping bag for my baby (actually, I guess she’s technically a toddler now). I’ll update with pictures soon.
There are three sizes for 0 to 36 months. You can get it here.
***Use the discount code MOMGOESCAMPING20 at checkout to get 20% off your entire purchase!***
Camping Sleeping Bags for Babies: Here’s What You Need to Know
The Short Summary
Don’t try to co-sleep with your baby. Instead, get your baby her own sleeping pad (a good one!). Dress her in insulating layers, preferably made off Merino wool. Then put her in a baby sleeping bag or sack with a high TOG rating. And, if it is really cold, put your baby in a bunting bag in addition to all these layers. Make sure you’ve got something to catch diaper leaks!
Table of Contents:
- Why your baby also needs a sleeping pad
- How to Layer Your Baby’s Clothes
- Baby Sleeping Bags Options
- Tips for Getting the Sleep Setup Right
Camping with a Baby: Don’t Forget the Sleeping Pad
If you sleep on the ground, the ground will literally suck the heat out. So, even if you have the warmest sleeping bag in the world, you still won’t stay warm without a sleeping pad.
Your baby will absolutely need her own sleeping pad. Or, if you are going to co-sleep, then you’ll need a double-wide sleeping pad (more on this later).
Sleeping pads have an R-value rating for how much insulation they provide. If weight isn’t an issue, I’d go ahead and get the highest R-value that you can afford and carry. To keep your mind at ease, I’d get an R-value of at least 4.
You can also double up – such as putting a self-inflating pad on top of a foam pad. If, for example, the foam pad has an R value of 2 and the self-inflating pad has an R value of 3, you get an accumulative value of 5.
When I took my baby camping the first time, it was warm weather. So, I could get away with using my normal cheap closed-cell foam sleeping pad. I folded it into thirds to fit her body length. The normal R-value is just 1.6. But, folded 3x means the R-value became 4.8.
Here are some good sleeping pads for your baby:
- Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest (closed-cell foam mat): For an incredibly cheap price, you can get this sleeping pad. It has an R-value of 2.6. However, since it is foam, you can fold it to suit your baby’s length and get double or triple the R-value. Or, you can even cut it to size to save weight. 🙂
- Therm-A-Rest BaseCamp (self inflating): is super popular (and affordable). It is rectangular shaped so can be put side-by-side with another pad without gaps forming and has an R-value of 5 and 2 inches thick, so is warm and comfortable for sleeping.
- Therm-A-Rest LuxuryMap (self inflating): For a bit more money, you can get this one. It is 3 inches thick and has an R-value of 6.8, so even warmer and more comfy.
Note: Do NOT use an inflatable air mattress! While some parents have success with this, babies should really be sleeping on a hard surface. It is safer to use a foam or self-inflating mattress instead. Plus, inflatable air mattresses are heat sinks and thus not warm.
How to Layer Your Baby’s Clothes
No matter what type of camping sleeping setup you use for your baby, you’ll need to layer your baby in warm clothes. Why? Because layering allows you to regulate your baby’s temperature easily.
The first few times I took my baby camping, it was warm weather. I was able to get by with these layers: a onesie, fleece pants, hoodie, and then a fleece sleep sack. I also had a long sleeve shirt to go under the hoodie if it got colder.
Merino wool is by far the best material you could get for your baby. It’s breathable, warm, and dries quickly. But Merino wool is also pricy, so fleece is a good alternative.
For camping in colder weather, you’ll need these layers on your baby:
- Base layer – preferably wool, like these
- Fleece or wool sleep suit (with arms and feet) – like this fleece suit or this wool sleep suit (You can also get away with putting your baby in warm pants and a hoodie)
- Sleep sack – see my picks below
- Hats and mittens – like this wool hat
*Don’t make the mistake of putting your baby in too many layers just because you are worried she will be cold. Babies only need the same amount of warmth as us or one extra layer.
Best Baby Sleeping Bags for Camping: 3 Options
You’ve got three options when it comes to baby sleeping bags for camping: sleep sacks, co-sleeping, or a bunting bag. I personally think that using a sleep sack is the best option and co-sleeping is a terrible idea. I’ll go over the pros/cons of each option and let you decide for yourself.
Option 1: Baby Sleeping Sack
When I went camping with my baby last summer, there weren’t any baby sleeping bags on the market. This has since changed (though only the Morrison down bag is warm enough for cold weather). If you don’t get the Morrison bag, then this is the best sleep setup.
For tent camping with a baby, you will need to put your baby in warm layers of clothes, and then in a sleep sack. Better-quality baby sleep sacks are made from quilted cotton, fleece, or wool. The good ones will also have a TOG rating which lists how warm they are.
TOG Ratings for Baby Sleeping Bags
Good baby sleeping sacks have a TOG rating. The TOG rating tells what room/tent temperature the sleeping bag is suitable for. TOG ratings assume that your baby will be wearing pajamas. With the TOG 2 to 3.5 sleep sacks, it’s assumed that your baby is wearing warm pajamas.
If you want to use a TOG 3.5 sleep sack for temperatures colder than 54F, you’ll need to put your baby in several layers or use the Morrison Outdoors baby sleeping bag (which is rated down to 20F). And don’t forget about a sleeping pad for your baby!
Best Baby Sleep Sacks for Camping
Here are some TOG 3.5/winter-rated baby sleeping bags. Of these, I like the BabyDeeDee one best because it is made out of an easy-to-clean material and has removable sleeves. It’s actually the only one which is specifically designed for indoor/outdoor use.
This sleeping sack is designed for indoor/outdoor use. It is easy to clean, has a TOG rating of 3.5, and lots of nice features like removable sleeves and top snaps (which make it easier to get your baby in/out). There’s also a little open area in the sleep sack so you can put a stroller buckle through, which means you can also use this sack as a bunting bag.
The company sent me one of these for my daughter. She’s 14 months now (so technically a toddler and not a baby anymore). She really likes it and even wraps it around herself. 🙂 I’ll update with pictures of her using it soon.
Note that the sizes run a bit small, and the sleeves are a bit short (but my girl is a gigantic!). Make sure you check the sizes and consider getting a size larger.
- Available sizes: 0-36 months
- Material: Quilted polyester taffeta
- Temperature Rating: TOG 3.5
- Colors: Blue, gray, and pink
- Price: $ – Get here
***Use the coupon code MOMGOESCAMPING20 at checkout to get 20% off your entire purchase!***
Woolino is a really popular brand of baby sleeping bags and pajamas. Their products are made from soft Merino wool, which is great for naturally regulating body temperature. They say that you can use this sleeping sack for all seasons, though realistically it’s going to be too hot for summer.
- Available Sizes: 0-18 months
- Material:Merino wool lining with organic cotton outer
- Temperature Rating: 4-season/winter
- Price: $$ – Buy Here
This baby sleeping bag has a TOG 3.5 rating, so is suitable for camping in cold weather. I also like that it has removable sleeves. If they get wet (from your baby sucking on them, for example), then you can easily remove them. You can also remove the sleeves for warmer weather camping, meaning you get more use out of one sleeping bag.
- Available Sizes: 27-51 inches
- Material: Cotton outer and lining, polyester filling
- Temperature Rating: TOG 3.5
- Cost: $– Buy Here
A cool thing about this baby sleeping bag is that it lets you zipper the bottom as a sack or with legs. This is a good choice for mobile babies who wake up before you do. I only wish the sleeves were removable. The company also makes these same sleeping bags in different colors and styles.
- Available Sizes: 2-24 months
- Temperature Rating: TOG 3.5
- Material: 100% organic cotton
- Price: $$– Buy Here
Option 2: Co-Sleeping
If you are already used to co-sleeping with your baby, then this is might be an okay option for camping. Since your baby is getting heat from your body, regulating temperature is a lot easier. It also means that you don’t have to buy a special sleeping bag for your baby.
However, there are some issues with co-sleeping in a sleeping bag with a baby:
- You’ll worry about rolling over on baby: Virtually all moms who’ve tried this say that, while baby got a good night’s sleep, they couldn’t sleep because they were too worried they’d roll over and crush their baby.
- Nursing is a challenge: You’ll have to wriggle up and out of the sleeping bag so your boobs are level with baby’s mouth, meaning you get cold and uncomfortable.
- Diaper changes are also a challenge: Both of you will have to get out of the sleeping bag to change a diaper.
- Suffocation risk! You’ve got to be careful that the sleeping isn’t too close to baby’s head, causing suffocation risk. To prevent this, you’ve got to keep the baby high up in the sleeping bag – meaning a lot of warmth is lost. You’ll need to make sure your baby has warm layers on and definitely a hat on cold nights.
Because of these issues, I would never consider co-sleeping with my baby while camping (even though we often co-sleep at home). If you want to try it though, make sure you are following these guidelines below.
You MUST Use a Double-Wide Sleeping Bag!
A double-wide sleeping bag means you won’t be cramped inside with your baby (and worrying about crushing baby all night). However, nursing and diaper changes can still be a problem. And you’ve still got to be careful that the sleeping bag doesn’t go over baby’s head and suffocate her.
I’ve heard really good things about these sleeping bags:
- Big Agnes Dream Island 15 Degree Double Wide Sleeping Bag. Not the cheapest option, but definitely warm and comfy.
- Teton Sports Mammoth bag: A more affordable option which is also very warm but a bit bulkier.
You’ll Also Need a Double-Wide Sleeping Pad
In theory, you could just put two normal width sleeping pads next to each under your sleeping bag. However, gaps inevitably form between the pads as you move around at night– meaning you or your baby get cold. So, you seriously need to get a double-wide sleeping pad to match your double-wide sleeping bag.
Here are some really good double-wide sleeping pads:
- Big Agnes Hinman Double Sleeping Pad: This sleeping pad has an R-value of 5.5 and is rated to -30 C. It’s only 2.5 inches thick, but still pretty comfortable.
- Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5: This is a pricier option, but really comfortable and warm. It can even be folded in half to make it even warmer. I love that there is Velcro on the sides so it can be attached to another pad to make a giant sleeping surface. The R-value is 6.4, it’s good to -28 C, and the Duo option is 7.5cm thick.
Don’t want to buy a double-wide sleeping pad?
Some people have success with tying sleeping pads together with paracord. The pads will probably end up pulling apart though. Another solution is to use a glue-gun to attach Velcro to your sleeping pads. (Even better, use Aquaseal). Then you can just Velcro them together to make a double-wide pad. Or try these methods to make your own 2-person sleeping pad.
Another solution (if your tent is wide enough) is to put 2 or 3 sleeping pads horizontally (as opposed to vertically). The pads still move apart from each other, but your baby is probably only on the top sleeping pad so won’t be exposed to gaps.
Tips for Co-Sleeping with Baby while Camping:
- Your baby still needs warm layers to help regulate body temperature. Wool pajamas are great to regulating temperature!
- Put a hat on your baby, and mittens too, if it is really cold.
- If your baby hates wearing hats, then put a fleece hood or blanket under her head for added warmth.
- Make sure you have a double-wide sleeping pad. If you try to put together two standard sleeping pads, gaps will inevitably form (as talked about above).
- Use a waterproof pad underneath your baby in case of any leaks.
- Move up when nursing (as opposed to pulling baby down). Wear a warm top layer so you don’t freeze while nursing.
This couple (shown below) went backpacking with their baby for 7 weeks. They put their baby in layers and co-slept to keep baby warm even in subzero temperatures. You can read about their adventures here.
Option 3: Bunting Bags
Bunting bags may look like baby sleeping bags, but they aren’t meant to be used camping. So, there are some potential issues in using them.
Some babies simply won’t keep their hands inside the bunting bag, which means their torsos will get cold. Since babies could wriggle into the bunting bag, it could also be a suffication hazard (hence why the only two baby sleeping bags on the market — the BabyDeeDee and Morrison bags — have arms.
Because of these issues, I’d only recommend a bunting bag for:
- Really young infants that can be swaddled inside (and thus aren’t going to wriggle around)
- As a final layer over a sleeping sack, assuming that your baby won’t wriggle down and keeps her hands inside.
Tip #1: Consider a Pack n’ Play in the Tent
My baby wasn’t crawling or walking yet when we took her camping the first time. This actually made it a lot easier. For our trips this summer, I’ll have to worry about her crawling out of her sleeping bag at night and possibly getting smacked in the head by her big sister (who flails around while sleeping).
One solution is to bring a pack-n-play, portable bassinet, or travel playpen for car camping. Obviously, you are going to need an extra-large tent to fit this inside.
Note that you still need to use a sleeping pad. Cold air will circulate underneath the playpen, drawing heat away from your body. So, put a sleeping pad in the play pen under your baby. Alternatively, use a few thick blankets to line the playpen.
Travel Mad Mum uses this awesome setup when camping with her baby. At night, the baby wore a vest, sleep suit, sleep sack, hat, mittens, and a light blanket on top.
The Pack n Play is super-useful for baby to play in during the day too.
Tip #2: Breastfeeding Moms – Wear a Down Jacket
Tanya from Rockies Family Adventures has a lot of good advice in her post about camping with a baby – sleeping warm. She recommends that mom wears a down jacket. That way she can keep her upper body out of her sleeping bag so nighttime feedings are easier.
Here’s a picture of Tanya and her baby all bundled up and ready for bed!
Tip #3: Use Your Down Jacket As a Baby Sleeping Bag
As AniaLife talks about in her great post about traveling with babies, adult down jackets can be used as a baby sleeping bag for really cold nights. Just dress your baby in layers and then put him/her in a sleeping sack. Then you put the baby in the down jacket. For really small babies, you can tie the sleeves to keep the baby snuggled tightly in the jacket.
Tip #4: Plan for Leaky Diapers
Be sure to put a waterproof pad inside of your baby’s sleeping bag to catch any leaks. Alternatively, you can open and spread out several diapers beneath your baby.
Have you gone camping with a baby? What sleep setup did you use?
“201603 Patagonia” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Steve Behaeghel
“201603 Patagonia” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Steve Behaeghel
“She may be a morning person…” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by jenpilot
“Striking Camping Trip #1” (CC BY 2.0) by Graham and Sheila
“5-31-10 (40)” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by jenpilot