Life doesn’t come to a grinding halt once you’ve had a baby. Nor does it mean your love of camping and the great outdoors has to come to an end. Yes, overnight backpacking adventures might be a wee bit too ambitious. But taking a baby to a campground is possible even in a tent. In fact, we know plenty of parents who have successfully done it.
Camping with a baby can be a rewarding experience for the entire family. It’s best to start small and local before venturing further afield. It will help if you have a large and roomy tent that sleeps more than three, a night station set up, and portable gear, including a baby backpack.
Camping with a baby is possible even if you don’t have relatives to help. While extra pairs of hands are helpful, families successfully do it on their own. Nor do you need all the “camping with baby gear” pitched to new parents. Sure, some things can be incredibly useful. But with creativity and determination, you can make a plan.
10 Tips For Camping With A Baby
We’ve put together a top ten list of tips to help you camp with your baby. We didn’t just use our own advice but talked to other parents who’ve successfully camped with their babies, including those that did it with more than one and toddlers. The biggest advice for camping with babies is to take things as they come and let the small things go.
1 – Use A Local Site When Camping With Baby
The first time camping with a baby is a learning experience. No matter how much advice and preparation parents do, your baby and family are unique. Thus, that “perfect solution” for one family might not work for you. Or you might discover that an entire weekend away is too much, and you’re a one-night camping family for now.
Regardless, consider your first time camping with a baby as a trial run that you can abandon at any time. Thus, pick a location close to home so even if you toss in the proverbial towel at 3 am, you can. Also, if you forgot something, like the baby’s must-have-toy-to-sleep, it is easy to run back and fetch it.
2 – Upgrade To A Large Tent When Camping With Baby
Plenty of us have camped in hammocks or two-person tents that are so snug you can’t even sit up in. While these have their uses, they are not great options when camping with a baby. Instead, hook yourself up with a large tent. If you can afford it, get one that can sleep both parents and comfortably fit a travel cot and a camping chair.
3 – Select A Shady Spot When Camping With Baby
Babies burn easier and have a more challenging time regulating their body temperature. Thus, try to select a campsite with shade. If you are not sure this will be possible, pack a tarp to make a shady patch for your site.
4 – Get Portable Gear When Camping With Baby
You can buy a ton of portable baby camping gear, but you don’t need everything. But do think about how you are going to handle:
- Where the baby sleeps
- Where the baby will sit or be during meals
- Where you will change the baby
- Where the baby will play
A portable crib can act as a bed, a playpen, and even an emergency “I need both hands” place to set the child. A car seat can also double as a camp chair but can get messy, so a booster could be useful. Portable changing mats are easy to use as well.
Blow-up kiddie pools are excellent if you want a separate play area to the sleeping crib. They pack light and create a nice, clean play area with built-in walls.
5 – Warn The Neighbors When Camping With Baby
It is always nice to find that more secluded site when camping with a baby, but sometimes there isn’t one. Thus, you’ll have neighbors that will hear your little bundle of joy. Just address the matter straight on while killing everyone with kindness and smiles. So well before nightfall, introduce yourselves and your baby, and apologize in advance for the noise.
You’ve warned them. Now it is up to them to pick a new site or stay.
6 – Set Up A Night Care Station When Camping With Baby
The middle of the night is not when you want to figure out how to deal with night feeds and changing diapers. Instead, set everything up in advance, including headlamps or lanterns, so that you can minimize crying and fumbling. This includes having your trash or wash bag ready to dispose of dirties, spare clothes in case of a mess, and a nursing or feeding chair.
Nor is this the time to practice “cry it out” or any other routine. Camping is a break from the routine, including the baby’s, and the baby gets whatever they need to be quiet.
7 – Get A Baby Carrier When Camping With Baby
People love strollers, and that’s nice, but they often have minimal use when camping. Sometimes your bundle of joy wants to be held, and you need hands. Sometimes the hiking trails are not stroller friendly. Sometimes there is no room for the stroller and the tent.
Baby carriers are brilliant, and many have a coinvent stand that turns them into a “chair” that can double as a high (low) chair and “can’t crawl into danger” device.
8 – Have A Flexible Schedule When Camping With Baby
There is no schedule or routine when camping with a baby. Life is different when camping, with new sounds, smells, and sights. Just accept that anything you “plan” to do is really a wish list that may or may not happen.
Also, don’t stress if bath times, storytime, naptime, and even bedtime are off schedule or don’t happen. Just keep the essentials clean, the child fed, and the rest can just happen or not. Routines can be reestablished once back home.
9 – Don’t Overdress The Kid When Camping With Baby
It is tempting to layer the baby when camping, but remember, they struggle to regulate their temperature. Better slightly cool than hot. Select breathable clothing and consider a baby sleeping bag for cool nights rather than piles of clothes.
10 – Bug And Sun Protection When Camping With Baby
Sunscreen and bug spray are not options for tiny babies. Even bigger babies should only be exposed to a certain amount of chemical protection. Thus, look into sun hats, light and breathable clothing covering exposed skin, and even insect netting that can be safely put over the top of a cot or worn.
Camping with a baby can seem daunting, but with a flexible attitude, it can be a positive experience. Enjoy making memories and exploring the outdoors with your little one.