If you’re an avid camper, you can absolutely continue to enjoy the great outdoors with your baby in tow. Babies and tents go well together but camping with a baby can be a little tricky: if the weather doesn’t play ball, the tent could leak (as well as the diapers). But this will all pale into insignificance when it comes to seeing your baby connect with nature.
As with everything in life, it’s all about how you prepare. Here’s all you need to know before taking your baby on a camping vacation.
Be Realistic About What You Can Do
Before your little one came along, you and your partner may have enjoyed the freedom of wild camping: pitching up in the middle of nowhere, with only nature for company and the great outdoors spread before you. Now your baby’s joined you for the adventure, you may want to think about camping with amenities in driving or walking distance. You could even consider campsites with facilities.
You might be used to roughing it and being at one with nature, but it may be a different (and less pleasant) experience with your baby and their diapers in attendance. Glamping, or more luxury camping experiences, can relieve some of the pressure. Large, pre-pitched tents, bedding and cozy lighting mean you pack less. You still get all the fun and back-to-nature experience with your baby but in comfort and style (and probably better sleep too).
Do A Dry Run
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your campsite (usually in the dark) and realizing you forgot the tent poles (true story!). Prevent the same happening to you by testing the waters first. Pop your tent up in your yard at home, assemble all the kit you know you’ll need and see if it all fits in the tent as well as your car. This way, your camping adventure will go more smoothly.
Have A Plan B In Place
It’s good to have a Plan B in place, in case of thunderstorms, high winds, a severe heatwave or illness. Ensure you can make a swift exit should you need to or check to see if there’s alternative accommodation available nearby.
Be Picky About Your Pitch
Most campsites will be family friendly. Ensure you find one with great facilities in case of a diaper emergency in the middle of the night. A campsite with a restaurant or cafe may also be helpful if you don’t want to cook. See if there’s a quiet area so your baby’s sleep isn’t disturbed – you don’t want to pitch up next to a group of overexcited teenagers on their first camping trip. Don’t forget to pitch your tent on flat ground away from any hazards.
What you decide to pack depends entirely on what kind of camper you are, but babies always come with extra gear. For starters, pack plenty of clothes and diapers, a tent that won’t leak, something comfortable to sleep on and cooking equipment.
This is not the time for showing off those adorable overalls and matching booties. Make sure you have twice as many full changes of gear for your baby as days. Then double it. Ditto for diapers. Pack lots of layers – even if it’s hot during the day, it could get chilly at night. Pack a hat and mittens for your baby in case they get cold during the night, and use layers of clothing that you can add and take off as necessary.
For you, a self-inflating air mattress with memory foam cells will make feeding and sleeping far more comfy. Get one with a thickness of at least 2 inches. If you’re nursing, pack your feeding pillow – we love the Boppy Anywhere Pillow – or some extra cushions to get you into the right position.
For easy feeding on the go, try the Boppy Anywhere Pillow.
A Decent Tent
Always opt for a double-wall tent – with single-wall, if there’s the slightest bit of rain, you’ll likely be wet through, which is a common problem with pop-up tents. Buy a tent one or two person bigger than the number of people who will be sleeping in it, which allows room for bags and a travel crib. A standing-height tent will give you more interior space.
A Reliable Travel Crib
A travel crib while camping is a revelation, particularly if your baby has started crawling and you need somewhere safe to place them while you get on with your chores. We love the UPPAbaby Remi Travel Crib & Playard. You can have your newborn nestled right next to you safely or it can be used as a standalone newborn bassinet, a sleeping bed for an older baby or a playpen during the day.
A Tent Carpet
Keep the floor of your tent warm and dry for your little one to move around on. A tent carpet will not only protect the floor of your tent but add a layer of cushioning and insulation to keep your baby comfy while they crawl or play.
A Portable Play Yard
Meet the Veer Basecamp. When you venture into the wild, Basecamp is the ultimate safe, shady and insect-free pop-up play yard for your baby. It’s portable, light-weight, folds down quickly and compactly and comes fully assembled. There’s a removable UPF 50 sun and rain cover and a moisture-resistant bottom to keep your baby dry.
Camping With A Baby And Sleep
Routine is so important with babies. When camping they have no trouble slipping into one, but it is worth investing in a blackout tent. The big benefit is that, when the sun comes up at 5am, your little one won’t wake up – otherwise you’ll have a very long day.
If you don’t have a blackout tent, try the SlumberPod. This portable sleep nook allows babies to sleep in their safe and familiar play yard or travel crib with room to sit up or stand up inside. Babies and toddlers can easily nap or sleep in bright and distracting conditions.
As at home, follow safe sleeping advice. Put your baby to sleep on their back on a firm, flat surface in their own sleep space, like a travel crib or travel bassinet. They can use their regular sleeping bag, but check on them if the temperature fluctuates and you need to add or remove layers.
Ideally, your tent should be between 61°F and 68°F. If it’s hot, take a room thermometer with you to ensure your baby doesn’t overheat. You may have to rearrange your tent to ensure the travel crib isn’t in direct sunlight. Ensure cords and hazards are out of reach.
If you’re camping in close proximity to other people, it may be worth popping over to say hello. Most campers won’t have a problem with a potentially crying baby, but remember there’s little soundproofing in a tent. They’ll appreciate you leveling with them and it will keep the peace during your camping vacation.
Get Out And About
The whole point of camping is to get out of your usual routine and be close to nature. Take your baby along for the ride in comfort with a stroller wagon. The Veer All-Terrain Cruiser is perfect for rough terrain and family hiking, with its large back wheels, all-terrain tires, suspension system and sturdy construction. You can also pack in supplies for your day out, plus it’s super-handy for hauling all your gear to and from your campsite.
Make exploring easy with a Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Carrier. This child carrier has a lightweight aluminum frame, with padded waist and shoulder straps and energy-absorbing lumbar, to help reduce strain on your back and shoulders, while a shade protects your baby from the elements.
If you’re camping with a younger baby, we’d recommend packing the Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Harmony 3D Mesh. The unique 3D mesh is both super-soft, flexible and sturdy. It softly hugs your baby and provides proper support for their back, neck and hips. The mesh also lets a lot of air through, offering cool and comfy babywearing even when the temperatures climb.
The most important thing is to enjoy camping with your baby! It’ll be their first time experiencing the great outdoors in this way, and hopefully it’ll be one of many camping trips. It’s only natural to be apprehensive about taking them out of their home environment, but babies are pretty adaptable. Kick back, relax and enjoy the experience as a family.
Ready for your first camping trip? We’ve got you. Shop baby carriers, wagon strollers, travel strollers and travel cribs at PishPoshBaby.com.