There’s nothing more special than introducing your baby to live in the great outdoors by taking your little one camping.
But the logistics of keeping your baby happy and safe while camping can be daunting, especially for new parents. It’s not impossible, though.
Camping with a baby will require bringing extra stuff with you to the campsite, but the basics remain the same for your baby as they would for you. You need water, shelter, food and clothing, and gear to keep you warm. That’s it!
As a parent, though, you’re going to do your best to make camping comfortable for your baby and enjoyable for everyone at the campsite.
In this article, we’ll discuss the ways how you can enjoy camping with your baby tagging along.
Campsite and logistics planning
Start with accessible campsites
If this is your first time taking your baby camping, you’re not going to want to backpack three hours into the mountains, searching for that perfect spot. Keep it simple at first.
Book a reservation for a public campsite that has easy access to water and electricity. There are many public campgrounds across the U.S. that let you rent out a site that’s affordable and easily accessible.
When booking these sites, request a site that’s further away from other sites. This can help reduce noise issues with other campers in case your baby cries for an extended period of time.
Having access to electricity is also helpful in case you need to charge up a phone or some kind of camping accessory for your baby.
By going with an accessible campsite, you will have the peace of mind of being able to leave the campsite via car in case of an emergency with your baby.
Plan for a one night trip the first time
Sure, experienced adult campers can go out in the wilderness in places such as the Rockies or Smokies for a week, but for a brand new baby, or even a toddler, the drastic change from a house to a tent can be overwhelming.
Find a campsite that’s local to your area, get there in the morning, and plan on only camping for one night.
The one-night objective is also a good goal for the parents. You may feel so overwhelmed by keeping your baby safe while camping that it becomes exhausting. Don’t worry, camping with your baby gets easier and way more enjoyable once you finally get through that first night.
Really do your best to find a campsite nearby so you can cut down on the driving time it takes to get there. You want your baby playing out in the wilderness for a long time so you can ensure he or she sleeps nicely when the sun goes down.
Bring a friend or family member to help out
While you and your partner can certainly handle camping with a baby for the first time, having an extra set of hands and eyes can make the experience more enjoyable.
This could be a hard sell to a friend who doesn’t want to feel like he or she is babysitting while camping, which is why I recommend asking a family member, as long as that person has camping experience.
You’re also going to have more camping equipment this time around. An extra set of hands can help you unload the car and set up things on the campground.
To show your gratitude, purchase all the food and drinks for the trip so that person only has to worry about bringing his or her gear with them.
Be flexible with sleep schedules
This is a whole new experience for your baby, so you can’t assume that sleep schedules are going to hold true. Be flexible with your sleep schedules to let your baby feel more relaxed, and potentially cut down on any difficult crying episodes, which could impact the experience of nearby campers.
This doesn’t mean you need to ditch your schedule altogether. Try and stick to consistent feeding and sleep times and see if it works. If it doesn’t, though, because the sun is too bright (there are no blackout shades in the wilderness!), then be ready to adjust. What’s another 30 minutes of bouncing up and down on Mama or Dada’s lap?
The good news is that your baby has spent most of his or her day outdoors, which means they should be plenty exhausted. Just be ready to adjust on the fly to ensure everyone is happy.
Read More : How to Get A Good Night Sleep while Camping
Camping gear for babies
First-time parents go all out on gadgets and gizmos for their newborn, so I assume you’re also going to be making some purchases ahead of the big camping trip.
Here are some recommendations.
Use a larger tent
You want to purchase a larger tent to accommodate a portable crib for your baby. Even better, purchase a tent with a divider so you can try to put the baby to sleep in the back and then sneak out to sit around the campfire for a little bit.
If you plan on camping during the peak of summer, make sure your tent has good ventilation as things can get pretty stuffy inside a tent.
Bring the Pack-n-Play
The Pack-n-Play is critical. It’s a baby’s bed at night and it’s also great for setting up on the campgrounds while the adults are busy getting things ready or cooking.
If you’re busy to the point where you can’t have eyes on your baby constantly, you’re going to need an option to keep the baby secured.
Don’t forget the high chair
You likely brought lawn chairs for yourself, but how do you plan to feed your baby?
If your baby is old enough and eats at a high-chair at the house, make sure to bring a high-chair to the campsite. Ikea makes a great $20 high-chair that’s perfect for camping. (In fact, a lot of parents use it at the house, too.
The high-chair can be placed around your camp table or around the campfire.
Pack lots of clothing layers
When you’re camping, temperatures can swing from 80 degrees and drop to under 40 degrees at night especially in places such as Death Valley or Joshua Tree National Park. Your baby needs a lot of layers to ensure he or she stays warm at night.
I recommend purchasing a sleep sack that can easily go over any number of outfits, including a sweatsuit.
In addition to extra clothes, also throw in some blankets to wrap your baby in if he or she happens to wake up and needs attention in the middle of the night.
Bug protection and sunscreen are essential
The use of bug spray and sunscreen depend on the age of your baby.
If your baby is under 6 months old, it’s not recommended you put sunscreen or bug spray on their skin. Instead, use more natural repellents, like long sleeves and pants, and then an umbrella for the sun.
If your baby is older than 6 months, make sure you’re using more natural sunscreens that won’t irritate the baby’s skin. If you’re not entirely sure what to use, consult your pediatrician.
There are nice bug net hats that baby can wear as long as he or she is being 100% supervised.
Most importantly, stay out of direct sunlight. If the bugs are bag, try lighting a citronella candle.
Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.