Family camping guarantees quality time spent with your beloved ones.
Yet, camping with a baby can be a challenge. From deciding how many days camping trips with your little one should last to identifying a kid-friendly campsite, there are many things to think about.
If you just had your first child and are new to baby camping, check out this guide to find out all you need to know about it.
What Age Can You Take Babies Camping?
New parents often believe the baby should be at least one year old before planning a family camping trip.
However, the younger the baby is, the easier and stress free your outing will be.
Infants who still breastfeed and can’t crawl or walk around require less gear and organisation than camping with a toddler.
Furthermore, if the baby gets used to the great outdoors early on, it will be easier to keep camping with your bundle of joy when they grow up.
Campground and Campsite
Choosing the right campground and campsite is essential for a successful family adventure.
For your first outing, pick a place that’s not far away from home.
Long trips could stress the baby, meaning you’ll have to deal with a tired or fuzzy kid before you’ve even pitched the tent.
A campground closer to home also means you can pack everything and get back to comfort quickly if anything goes wrong.
Also, pay attention to the amenities the campground offers.
Bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers are the bare minimum.
Some places even have ballfields, playgrounds, and picnic areas with tables – all of which can make camping with a baby easier.
Campsite-wise, pick a semi-shaded and quiet pitch.
Not only will your camping neighbours be less likely to disturb your baby’s naptime, but your baby won’t bother them either when crying in the middle of the night.
Get a Family-Friendly Tent
If you’ve loved minimalist camping and only own backpacking tents, the first thing to get before camping with a baby is a family-friendly tent.
These cabin or half-dome tents are spacious enough to accommodate a camping cot or portable crib for your baby to sleep in while still leaving you with enough space for a queen-size air mattress and some free floor area.
They are also tall enough to allow you to stand and move without bending, which is a great plus when dressing your baby or changing nappies.
Before buying, check if the tent is single or double-walled.
Double-wall tents usually have large mesh windows and ceiling covered by a removable rainfly.
They are better ventilated than single-wall variants, have fewer condensation problems, and are much easier to warm up in colder weather.
Perks are also essential when choosing a family camping tent.
Some models come with built-in ceiling lamps you can operate from a wall switch, provide you with plenty of storage pockets, gear lofts, and even have electrical access ports.
Plan Meals Ahead
Camping with an infant that is only one month old and still breastfeeding is simpler than preparing camping meals for a one-year-old toddler.
Planning ahead will help you enjoy stress free camping.
The easiest way to plan camping food is to consider what your baby eats at home, because you’ll be able to stick close to that.
Non-perishable items, such as squeeze packets of fruit and vegetable purees, soft fruits cut into small pieces, avocado, and scrambled eggs are just a few healthy ideas for your bundle of joy.
Pay Attention to Bottles
Whether you’re camping with an infant feeding from a bottle or a toddler who still cries for a bottle before naptime, it is essential to pick bottles that are easy to clean and sanitise.
Glass baby bottles are the easiest to clean and sanitise with boiling water.
Bring Sufficient Nappies and Wet Wipes
Disposable nappies will be your best friend when camping with a baby, thanks to their simplicity of use.
Since they are lightweight, make sure to pack more than you need, just to stay on the safe side.
The same goes for wet wipes, keeping in mind that you’ll use them for much more than nappy changes.
Bring the Right Gear
Camping is supposed to be rustic, but if this is the first time you’re baby camping, you should make a list of essential camping gear that can make your life easier.
Make sure to bring the following items:
· Camping pod/highchair: Comfort during mealtime is more important when camping with a baby or toddler than when camping alone or with a mate. Young children love routine, and if they are accustomed to sitting in a highchair at home, bringing one on your trip will make it easier to calm a fuzzy kid and enjoy stress free meals.
· Hiking carrier: Camping is often synonymous with hiking or walking, but pushing a pram onto the rugged ground can be tiresome. A hiking carrier makes it easier to carry your little one with minimum effort.
· Pack’ n Play: Most parents opt for a travel cot or crib when camping with kids, but a Pack’ n Play could be a more suitable arrangement for a crawler. This playpen provides the perfect space for your crawler or new walker to play while you’re preparing meals, for example and also doubles as a crib when the night falls.
· Outdoor rug: Ideal for extending your living space, especially when you have a crawling baby on the loose. If you don’t want to buy a rug, you could use a large blanket or tent tarp. A beach mat is also more appropriate for seaside camping.
Consider Sleeping Arrangements
A travel cot is your best bet for a safe night’s sleep inside the tent – placing the baby on a mattress between you two comes with as many hazards as co-sleeping at home.
But bringing only a travel cot is often insufficient.
Hammocks are a better choice for nap time during the day, providing a comfortable rest area outside the tent’s confined space.
Also, consider the covers.
A baby sleeping bag is more appropriate than a blanket, keeping the baby warm throughout the night.
There are various types of sleeping bags on the market, so make sure to buy one suitable for the season.
Bring Your Baby's Favourite Toy
One of the most important tips for camping with small children is that you must have all the soothing tools at hand.
Camping isn’t the time to teach your kid a new sleeping routine or deprive them of a favourite toy or comforter.
Bringing familiarity into the new environment will help young children settle and even fall asleep faster.
Something your campsite neighbours will surely be thankful for when the night comes.
Avoid Cotton Baby Clothes
Comfort and breathability are paramount when it comes to baby camping clothes.
But even if cotton is breathable and comfortable, it isn’t the right choice for the great outdoors.
Moisture-wicking synthetics are ideal for keeping your little one dry in the hot weather, and wool is a good choice if you have to keep the baby warm in lower temperatures.
Dress Baby in Layers
Moody weather could ruin your first camping trip as a family.
What starts as a bright sunny day can become a rainy afternoon in the next moment.
That’s why dressing your child in layers can save the day.
This is a great way to adapt to changing weather, be it sun, rain, wind, or cold temperatures.
How Cold is Too Cold to Camp with a Baby?
Talking about layering and moody weather may have you wonder how cold is too cold to camp with your bundle of joy.
Some people would advise avoiding to camp with infants in frigid weather, but as long as you’re bringing warm clothes, sufficient cold weather camping gear, and follow the advice on layering when dressing your child, you have nothing to worry about.
Sure, we would not recommend to camp with an infant or toddler for the first time in winter due to the extra stress added, but once your baby sleeps comfortably in a tent, nothing stops you from planning a family adventure in winter.
Wondering how safe it is to camp with a young child?
As long as you take all precautions and keep an eye on your bundle of joy at all times, camping with infants and toddlers under two years old is as safe as camping with older children.
We could say it’s even safer in many cases, especially if the baby doesn’t crawl or walk yet.
If you plan to camp with a crawler or new walker, pay attention to the campsite surroundings and make sure the area is clear of plants that could irritate children or make them sick – also take with you a small notebook containing useful contact information for the authorities in the area and have at least your GP’s email address at hand at all times.
Pitching the tent in an area with lots of grass, away from cliff ridges, and close to a source of potable water are some of the best things when you go camping with small kids.
Bring Sun and Bug Protection
Another two essential things to take when you go camping with babies are a baby-friendly bug spray and sunscreen.
Always ask your GP’s or paediatrician’s advice before buying any bug repellents or sun creams, especially if your little one is younger than six months old.
To avoid applying too much bug repellent on infants, buy a tent with a meshed porch area – this will provide both shade and a safe place where your kid can sit or play.
Mesh tent door and windows can keep bugs away from your bundle of joy on the hotter nights.
Get to Know Your Campsite Neighbours
No matter how much you plan and prepare for the trip, chances are your baby will wake up and start crying in the middle of the night.
That’s why you need to get to know your campsite neighbours.
Introduce yourself to them, and make sure to introduce your bundle of joy, too.
In this way, they’ll be prepared for any unwanted late night “symphony” and are also less likely to react if they already like you and the child.
Always Do A Trial Camping Run Before The Trip
We said it already, babies are creatures of habit. Not only do they love routine, but they also need it for their wellbeing.
That’s why it is important to always make a trial camping run before embarking on a longer trip.
That is if you don’t want to get back home the very next day.
The easiest way to do this is pitching the tent in your backyard and sleeping outdoor for the night.
Alternatively, pitch it in your living room and let the baby play and even sleep inside it.
A trial run will not only make the baby more comfortable with the tent, but it will also help you figure out what items you need on your outing.
No doubt, a simple and easy way to stay on top of things and organise the perfect family camping trip.
Hi, I am Amy I have two loves in my life camping and writing. When I am not writing for The Expert Camper, I am usually camping. Lake District is one of my favourite spots, but really anywhere in the UK under canvas I am happy.