Your child's first sleepover is often long-awaited, and kids are so excited to stay overnight at their best friend's house.
Some parents will be excited to ship their kids off overnight and have a night off, but most of us have some degree of panic when we get handed that first sleepover invite, no matter what age our kids are. We're here to help, with our ultimate guide for what to pack for overnight sleepovers for kids of all ages.
Sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming when friends do things differently, and being in an unfamiliar place to go to sleep can end up turning the fun experience into something a bit more stressful for kids. We thought it would be a good idea to help you out with a guide of what to pack for your child's first slumber party, from the essentials to fun games to keep everyone smiling. This list is going to set even the most nervous sleeper up for the best sleepover experience, and hopefully ensure that you get to have a good night's sleep while they're away too.
If you're looking for more parenting articles, why not check out our guide to [teens and dad relationships], or these fun [ideas for two-year-old birthday parties]?
Fun Things To Bring To A Sleepover
As well as all of our sleepover essentials, you might want to pack some games and activities for kids to play with during their sleepover. Kids will feel like sleepover superstars if they contribute to making a party a success, and these fun things you can add to the packing list will help you stay more than prepared.
Bringing a favorite game to sleepovers can help kids impress their friends and take charge of the situation if they feel a little bit overwhelmed.
Hair braiding and friendship bracelets are basically a sleepover rite of passage, and any kits you have lying around will be a welcome addition to any sleepover.
The fact that our kids are going to stay up late is probably just something we have to accept about a sleepover. Why not make the experience a little bit more educational by bringing a telescope so that they can check out the night sky?
Are there certain games or toys that are a favorite of the friend your child is visiting? Why not pack any toys that they might not have for the kids to play with together. If you know that they both love dolls, you could pack your child's favorites, or if there is a game this friend always wants to play at your house, then think about bringing that.
Homemade games can bring a personalized element of fun to sleepovers. There are tons of online guides to making quizzes and games that feature your child's friendship group, and they're bound to appreciate the extra effort.
Depending on your child, a spa theme to the sleepover might feel like a great idea, and packing some pampering products into their bag could be a brilliant treat. From glitter nail paint to face masks and scrubs, this might be a better activity for older kids (perhaps an ideal activity for 14-year-olds at a sleepover) and it's best to check with the other parents on what they feel comfortable with.
Snacks are always a great thing to pack for a sleepover with friends. Homemade popcorn or freshly baked cookies are a nice thank-you gift for the host. If you're bringing lots of food and snacks, it is usually best to ask the parents of the friend that's invited your child, just to make sure it fits in with their plans for the evening.
It's fun to pack a camera in your sleepover bag to record any great memories from the evening. This small item can help you remember the fun you had for years to come, so it's a must on our packing list. We think this is a great item for 12-year-olds to pack, that will teach them some responsibility whilst also being lots of fun.
Essential Things To Bring To A Sleepover
Choosing what to pack for a sleepover can often feel quite stressful for kids. They want to look like they know what they're doing in front of friends, but they don't want to forget anything either. Creating a 'what to bring to a sleepover' list can be a great idea if you're expecting regular sleepovers to make packing a bag quick and painless each time.
Our favorite easy packing technique is to run through your nighttime and morning routine mentally and write down all the things your child needs for it. From their toothbrush and toothpaste to pajamas, a hair brush, and clean clothes for the morning, remembering what you usually do will help you remember what you need to pack.
There are some things that can go on your sleepover packing list that your child is going to need at pretty much any sleepover they go to. These items are what we call our sleepover essentials. We love writing them on a paper list that we can refer to for any invites, and if our kids are able to read it too, that means eventually they can start taking responsibility for packing their own overnight items.
We recommend that kids bring a sleeping bag to a friend's house if they can. Even if there's a bed for them to sleep in, other people can have a much colder home than your child is used to, and a sleeping bag means they definitely won't get cold in the night.
A pillow is a good idea for a slumber party with lots of kids. If your child is feeling a little bit nervous about staying the night with a friend, then a familiar pillow can be the make or break between them sleeping soundly or feeling scared.
Pajamas are a must-have for any sleepover bag, and clothes for the morning will be necessary too. A spare pair of underwear and socks can be helpful just in case of emergency and don't forget to pack swimwear if swimming could be an activity that's on the cards. We always recommend taking more clothes in your bag than you need, especially warm jumpers and jackets in case you decide to go for a walk in the morning.
Is your kid a particularly picky eater sometimes? It could be worth sending them to the sleepover with a small snack box just in case they won't eat what is offered to them for dinner. If they have special diet requirements like being vegan or gluten-free, this is a good idea that means they definitely aren't going to go hungry during the night. Remember to remind the host's parents of any allergies that need to be taken into account too.
Don't forget to pack all of your bathroom essentials for a night away from home. A toothbrush and toothpaste, hair bobbles for long-haired kids, and anything else they tend to use every day. You might want to pack a comb or hair brush too. It's handy to keep a spare toiletries bag ready if you're going to lots of sleepovers, so that nothing gets forgotten.
Things To Bring To A Sleepover You Might Forget
Does your child have a favorite toy or blanket to help them go to bed? Make sure you don't forget this item when you're writing your list of things to pack. It's easily done when you're thinking practically, and it could be the thing that ruins the sleepover, especially for little ones, and has them calling you at midnight asking to come home.
Something important to add to the toiletries bag is any medication that your child takes, like an inhaler or tablets. Make sure to call ahead and let the parents know if there's anything they'll need to help with, and hand these over to keep younger kids safe.
If your child is old enough to have a phone, then make sure you pack chargers into their bag. If not, make sure the parents hosting the sleepover have your phone number, and write it on a piece of paper for your child just in case they need to speak to you after everyone goes to sleep.
What To Bring To A Sleepover List
We've put together the ultimate list of things you need for a sleepover - here are all the essentials.
Hair brush or comb and hair ties for long hair.
Pillow and sleeping bag.
A favorite stuffed animal.
Hair wrap for sleeping if you use one.
Clothes for the morning, including a shirt, pants, socks, and underwear.
Warm clothes if it's cold where you live.
Games and activities (take your pick from our suggestions of fun things to bring above!).
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at this article on the [value of discipline], or this guide to the [main types of consequences for children that misbehave]?
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.