Tips for Camping with a Baby
One of our readers asked us for tips and advice for camping with her newborn who is only 6 months old. We thought the most qualified ones to answer this question would be the fellow mommy campers who have actually experienced what its like to explore the outdoors with their newborns.
So we asked some of our mommy camping readers to share their experiences and tips with us.
Here is what they have to say:
Camping with children is at times stressful and time consuming to say the least, but in my opinion the benefits far exceed the struggles. Camping in its many forms can be a wonderful learning experience, exciting and fun for both children and caregivers, and overall great for mind, body and spirit.
One doesn’t have to wait to take his/her little one camping! The earlier a child experiences camping the better. He or she will greatly benefit from the fresh air, beautiful scenery and peace associated with the great outdoors, family time and endless learning and physical activities involved. I can think of many options for sleeping arrangements for a baby while camping. We have sometimes had our children as younger babies, sleep in a bassinet either on the floor by the bed or on the inside of the bed with either myself or husband sleeping next to it. Another option is a pram type stroller by the bed, but only for a baby who cannot stand/climb out of it. We have also bed shared with our older babies; I will place the child on the inside of bed and I sleep with him/her. My husband will then sleep on, say the camper’s table bed if there is not enough room in the bed (awkward, but a necessity of parenting sometimes lol). If bed sharing is not an option or preference though you could place baby on inside of bed and layer outside of bed with bulky suitcases/diaper bags or some sort of bulky object to protect baby from falling off bed in case he or she moves or rolls. Just make sure none of the bags’ strings or straps are unsecured that could potentially be a tangle hazard for baby. My babies wore footed sleepers to bed while camping–they were more comfortable and warmer in case they threw off their blanket through the night. I don’t really have many tips for what to dress baby in through the day except keep in mind your child will (chances are) get dirty quicker while camping and that’s ok. Just dress them in clothing articles (avoid white, lol) that you wouldn’t mind if they get stained. Young girls (and possibly boys too) get bacterial infections very quickly from being left in a wet swimsuit too long so be mindful of this as well. I do not usually allow my children to wander around barefoot either, simply because of potential hazards like shards of glass/hornets could be anywhere/easy access for pesky bugs and flies. Above all no matter what sleeping arrangements you choose, relax and know that everything will be fine. Many parents bring babies (sometimes even newborns!) camping and it can bring great joy to both mommy and baby! Enjoy, and don’t forget the camera!☺
Camping with babies can be extremely rewarding. You still have the feeling of ‘getting out there’ yet it’s a lot of work! We took our first born child camping for the first time when she was 2 months old, young yes but even more extraordinary was that it was winter camping in a yurt in January and so began our camping with kids journey. All four of my kids now aged 16, 13, 11 and 9 started out as babies and still continue and love to camp with us as a family.
Getting some sleep:
We tented mainly, I found using towels rolled up as bolsters and placed on either side of baby helped with rolling around beside me and prevented me from rolling over on baby. You could also use a safety bed rail placed under mattress if using a trailer. We always used a waterproof crib pad under baby also to prevent blanket and sleeping bags from accidents. If your tent is big enough, then take a playpen that way you can move it in/out of tent as needed. Bug netting for strollers typically fits the playpen to keep out bugs allowing baby to sleep open air. Glow sticks make excellent night lights without actually turning on a flash light or light and disturbing other family members
We used a folding high chair that attaches to the picnic table with a placemat and table cloth, clean up was easy and it kept critters from visiting for scraps at night (remember to check the ground also). Freezing baby home food ahead of time if you can is handy, acts as ice in the cooler. A tarp spread out on the ground and pegged in lets baby crawl around/play while remaining somewhat clean.
We used to hit the laundry room at the comfort station for baths. Made for quick baths, there’s a counter there for changing and the water can be set at a more suitable temperature than showers. You could also use the plastic tub that you brought your camping gear up in and have an open air bath.
Bring the stroller if you can and enjoy walks around the campground. We loved our baby backpack (the baby wrap/sling are also great) Backpacks are safer on trails in case you trip and squish baby when you fall forward. When they were old enough to wear a helmet into the bike trailer they went and getting around was easy and also let us do more activities. Paddling is also an option if you get the infant lifejacket; nothing puts a baby to sleep better than the rocking motion of a canoe or kayak. An unfolded stadium seat helps keep baby off the bottom and a kid’s umbrella is small enough to provide adequate shade.
Allow for a flexible schedule when planning activities; try not to plan to do too much. Enjoy quiet time when baby is having an afternoon nap or nap together in a hammock.
Camping with a baby is easier now than it has ever been. With advances in technology such as monitors that don’t need to be plugged in and cell phones in case of emergencies camping with kids is easier than ever. Baby equipment has also come a long way in the last decade and knowing what is important to bring and what to leave at home will make your camping experience even better! Here are our key essentials we don’t leave home without on a camping adventure with a baby.
Pack and Play
This was one key essential that we always brought with us camping. We luckily had a big enough tent to fit it in. It was key for sleep and when our babies were crawling. Instead of worrying about them crawling around in the dirt putting unknown objects in their mouth, we simply stuck them in the pack and play with a few good toys. This worked for anytime we were at the campsite. Heck we even took it to the beach a few times.
We LOVED our Bumbo chairs as they were light, easy to pack and great for meal times and the beach. Not all babies love them though and if that is the case make sure you pack a booster chair. Perfect for meal times or just to plunk them in around the campsite.
Depending on the age of your baby a front pack or backpack to carry them in ESSENTIAL! Strollers don’t do well at campsites as its rocky, sandy and uneven terrain. Bring the carrier for hikes, walks to the beach and walks to the comfort stations. This was always a lifesaver for us. Invest in a good one if you plan to do a lot of hiking.
First Aid Kit
It doesn’t have to be fancy but a first aid kit is key when camping with babies, toddlers and older kids. Skinned knees, bee stings and bug bites are sure to happen in the outdoors so be prepared. Also ensure you pack sunscreen, more than you think you will need. Babies have sensitive skin and it will need to be reapplied more than you think.
We used our mosquito net A LOT when our babies were young. Rigging it up to hang from a tree over them when they were sitting in their chairs was a genius idea we had one year. We also kept it over the pack and play. We camp in a lot of places that the bugs are bad and this way we had peace of mind that we weren’t going to be dealing with a cranky itchy baby all night
Always pack more clothes than you think we will need for your baby. Yes I am encouraging you to over pack. It often gets cold at night and babies need layers, especially if they are sleeping alone in the pack and play. Sleepers with feet always worked best for us. Remember that mornings can be cool and more often than not babies are up early and trust me, they won’t want to stay in the tent.
We always brought our baby monitor along with us. Our babies napped while we camped, they went to bed earlier and more often than not we were sitting around the campfire with friends. Having the monitor ensured us peace that we would hear our little ones if they woke up. We use a monitor with great battery life and long range signal so even if we snuck to the neighbor’s campfire the monitor would work.
Camping with a baby is harder than not camping with one but it’s not as overwhelming as you may think. By packing accordingly and being ready for the unexpected your camping experience will be a success!
By Lindsay MacNevin
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