Mother and Baby

Go camping in your own garden - we've found all the gear you'll need

Section: Holidays
Child camping in garden

With the majority of us not leaving the house any time soon, going on holiday is on pause for a while. But, in the meantime, you can still take a holiday away from your home – and you only need to go as far as your own garden.

There are lots of options for child-friendly daytime camping, with garden exploration games and creative costumes to spark imaginations, but what happens when night falls?

While children’s tents are ideal dens, they’re not suitable for overnight camps outdoors. However, a real tent with a few charming additions can create an enchanting grotto that both children and parents can enjoy – don’t you deserve a holiday, too?

Hunker down for the night in a spacious tent and let the children throw all the normal bedtime rules out of the window. Eat a fun dinner cooked on the gas stove, before toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate. Then bed down with sleeping bags and lots of blankets – the benefit of being in your garden, rather than on a campsite, being that you can nip indoors to fetch more cushions and pillows if you need them.

As the night draws in and it gets dark, you’ll have the magic of the stars overhead to watch. Sing a rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle under the night sky before getting a good night’s sleep (hopefully!).

And, obviously, there’s the benefit of real bathrooms and toilets instead of the campsite shower block…  

We’ve brought together a selection of items we feel will help you create a truly lovely experience for everyone in the family. It’s time to head into the garden and start making memories. 

And, of course, you can use all this kit next year on a real camping trip away from home!

Tips for camping with kids

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Keep the tent simple

Instead of a tent with umpteen compartments, it’s easier to have one big open space. ‘It’s warmer, you can see where the kids are and there aren’t lots of noisy zips going up and down in the night,’ says Sidharth Sharma, organiser of family camping event Starry Skies. Ones with a porch or canopy are also good for leaving muddy coats and boots. And dark fabric to avoid early morning wake-ups? Yes, please. Image: Corbis
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Pick your pitch

Festivals and campsites often have designated family (i.e. quieter) areas, but still think about where you pitch up. ‘Find somewhere close enough to the toilet so you can reach it in a hurry, but not so near that you’re put off your breakfast and your little ones want to play around it,’ says Sidharth. Image: Corbis
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Shine a light

Add a bit of hippy chic to your tent with battery-powered fairy lights. Magical for your toddler, plus they can be wound around the buggy if you’re out in the evening. Head torches are also fun for children – and essential for 2am toilet dashes. If your kids are used to a night-light, take a battery powered lantern. Image: Corbis
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Sort the transport

If you’ve got a distance between your car and tent pitch, a cart can be helpful for carrying luggage – and the kids when they’re tired. Most festivals have services that hire them out, so look into it beforehand. Image: Corbis
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Bring the comfort

Baby sleeping bag fans, bring them with you – they’re great for moving a sleepy baby from buggy to tent. ‘Sheepskins are also amazing and children can happily sleep on them, plus they double up as play mats,’ says Sidharth. Bring an old towel, too, in case the floor is wet. Image: Corbis
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Create a play zone

Turn your travel cot into a day-time play pen if you need hands-free time to dress/wash up/dry shampoo. Also remember toys and books in case the weather’s bad and playtime has to move inside. Image: Corbis
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Involve the kids

Toddlers love having jobs to do – so let them, or at least bring them into your camping housework. ‘Never underestimate the need to keep a small child entertained in the morning when you are making breakfast,’ says Sidharth ‘Giving him pots and pans to play with, or a washing up bowl so he can help you.’ Image: Corbis
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Over pack essentials

Mainly baby wipes and snacks. Think fruit bars, biscuits, rice pudding… anything you can pull out of your bag easily and regularly. ‘Food-wise, bring easy-cook meals like pasta and sauce, beans and bread and egg rolls,’ says Sidharth. Image: Corbis
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Bring a sling

Ideal for carrying your little one around if you don’t want to lug a pushchair, which can be tricky to navigate around tents and tent pegs. Image: Corbis
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Make it social

The whole holiday-with-friends thing doesn’t have to stop now your baby’s here – in fact, it may be an even better time to do it now. ‘You can share food, watch each others’ kids while you pee, and perhaps even give each other a night off,’ says Sidharth. Just try and team up with a family whose children gel with yours. Makes for much happier playtime. Image: Corbis
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Be clothing smart

It goes without saying to pack for all weathers, so wellies and sandals. ‘There’s no need for expensive clothes, but do remember a fancy dress outfit or three,’ says Sidharth. Also take more clothes than you think you’ll need – good prep for slips, accidents and over-excitement in the festival’s craft zone. Image: Corbis
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Get toilet realistic

If you’re worried about not being able to go to the loo block while the kids are asleep, it might help to bring a wee bucket – although you may just prefer to go au natural on the grass. Image: Corbis

This tent is easy to pitch, and will sleep three people (or, parents and a couple of small ones). In addition to the essential tent waterproofing, wind proofing, fire proofing, in-built groundmat and UV guard, it’s the perfect size for a garden. There’s a front porch area, which is sheltered and really nice to relax in, and Coleman is a trusted camping brand, so it will last you for holidays near and far for years to come.

A double or king-sized air mattress will raise everyone in the tent off of the ground, making sure everyone is dry, warm and comfortable.

A couple of these sleeping bags (suitable for temperatures as low as -5) will provide that authentic camping experience.

If you’re looking for a little more of a cosy, warm feeling akin to glamping, then stocking the tent with soft blankets, pillows, duvets and cushions is a guaranteed winner.

These battery-operated tea lights will provide a warm glow and atmosphere to the camp.

These lights can be arranged in the porch of the tent for a welcoming look, or inside the tent to give your child a cosy, charming and enchanting camping experience.

Add a little wonder into the tent with a star projector, which’ll cast a sweet night sky on to the inner canvas of the tent. It’s really calming, and helps make the home holiday experience a little more magical for your children.

Drink spills in a tent are a no-no. These nature themed, 360-degree cups will keep everything dry.

No camp out is complete without a picnic – this large, herringbone patterned blanket is ideal for adding a little al fresco country living into your garden.

And no picnic is complete without food and snacks!

This mini projector is a marvellous way of adding even more charm to the garden camp. You can project from a phone, USB, laptop or Fire Stick directly on to the canvas of the tent, or peg a bedsheet on the washing line and have yourself an unforgettable open air cinema experience. The projector can be powered via a mains plug or portable power bank. 

Add that final touch of razzmatazz to the secret garden cinema with some retro popcorn cartons! 

Snuggle up in the blankets and read nursery rhyme favourites by fairy light. This story book includes all of the classic fairy tales, stories and fables, and each with its own beautiful illustrations.

There’s no better time to read this book than when camping. It’s a beloved tale, full of adventure, magic and stunningly drawn creatures.

Are you planning a holiday in your own garden? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

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  • Author: William Lobley William Lobley
  • Job Title: Commercial Content Writer

William Lobley is a Commercial Content Writer and reviewer for Bauer Media, with his work appearing on a number Bauer brands, including Empire's Shopping page and WhatsTheBest. William has worked across an array of sectors, including e-commerce and education. He is a keen reader, writer, gamer, film-watcher and music-listener. When he gets half a chance, he can be seen escaping to the countryside for a walk.

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