How to Camp With a Baby?

A baby can benefit from going camping in a number of ways. An important part of a child’s development is outdoor play. In fact, even simple things such as touching grass or dirt help stimulate mental development. 

Camps can also have a positive impact on physical health. When children are exposed to the outdoors at an early age, they are less likely to develop allergies and have stronger immune systems. Babies even benefit from spending time outdoors when it comes to their sleep habits!

Also, camping is a reasonably priced option for a family vacation – and it matters every penny when you have a child. However, let’s keep our expectations in check. While you see pictures of happy families camping with babies on Instagram, it can still be a challenge for parents. Trips can be miserable if they are not planned well or if expectations are unrealistic.

Where to Go Camping with a Baby

Where to Go Camping with a Baby

There are many places where you can camp as an adult that are safe and suitable for bringing along a baby. The two main methods of camping are dispersed camping with no amenities, but with fewer crowds, or established campgrounds with amenities and reservations. The following tips will help you narrow down your choices:

Dispersed Camping with a Baby

Dispersed Camping with a Baby

The type of camping we typically engage in is free camping on public lands in dispersed locations. Free camping is especially popular in Colorado. In campsites like these, you must bring everything in with you, including drinking water and toilet paper. There will be a lot of trash in the house, so you’ll have to get that out as well.

In addition to the remote and solitude of dispersed camping, it is also a great experience for parents with young children. As there aren’t as many people around at night, there is less chance for your child to cry and wail. We usually enjoy getting out in nature since it feels a bit more like being outside.

Furthermore, you will need to bring your own firewood and will be responsible for your own campfire if you wish to make a fire. Additionally, free camping is first-come, first-served, so if your spot is already taken, you’ll have to keep looking.

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Campgrounds with a Baby

Campgrounds with a Baby

Established campgrounds are some of the best places to camp in Colorado. Although we don’t typically go camping in this type because it’s too crowded, we did do a few campgrounds for the birth of baby M.

Campgrounds are generally recommended for camping with a baby since they have simple amenities like toilets, drinking water, and garbage disposal. Aside from that, if you book in advance, you will already know where you will stay, so you won’t have to worry about it.

Camping in these areas can be crowded and noisy at times. Getting enough sleep may be difficult if you live next to a noisy neighbor.

Hut Trips with a Baby

In Glacier National Park, we took Baby M to the Granite Park Chalet – and it was great! Taking a hut trip with your own room is an excellent compromise to backpacking. In the wilderness, you won’t need as much gear (but my goodness, you will have plenty), but you’ll still feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Keep plenty of snacks and layers on hand, as well as an extensive baby first-aid kit (complete with everything you need if your baby becomes ill).

In addition, mileage isn’t all that it appears to be! When estimating how much you can handle, double your daily mileage if you have a toddler on your hands – you’ll be chasing him around just as often as hiking!

Pro Tip: Pack dirty diapers out ahead of time! Pack weight usually gets lighter when backpacking since you eat the food you bring, but pee and poop weigh a lot more!

Tips for Sleeping in a Tent with a Baby

Being a parent of a young baby at home can make it difficult to sleep through the night. Camping adds a lot of newness to your nighttime routine, and you and your child are very likely to stay up a few more times than you normally do. It’s okay to take this in stride (and pack some extra coffee with you).

During camping, here are some tips on how to handle sleep:

Be flexible

Every family has its own way of working on sleep with a baby, and it’s up to you to decide how you’ll handle that while camping, but know this: Camping is going to disrupt your normal nighttime routine. Try to be adaptable and understand that you might have to take a break from any sleep training techniques you’ve been employing at home so that you and your baby can get through the night. For example, you might have to allow your little one to stay up later than normal until it gets dark or nurse more frequently in the middle of the night for comfort.

Bring a big tent

Bring a Big Tent

If you have a big family camping tent, bring it. You’ll appreciate having extra space to spread out and get comfortable. And a big tent gives you room to use a portable crib/play yard.

Use a portable crib/play yard

This is an especially good idea if your baby is used to sleeping in a portable crib/play yard (and if you have a tent that’s large enough to fit it). The familiarity of the crib may help your little one settle down and stick to the nighttime routine. And even if you don’t use it for sleep, the crib can come in handy when you need to contain your mobile baby while you cook dinner.

Bring a few favorites from home

Almost everything in the outdoors is a toy to your little tot, so don’t feel like you have to bring along every item from home. But, packing a few special things, like a stuffed animal and some books, can help comfort your baby in the new environment.

Meal Planning for a Baby

Meal Planning for a Baby

The process of planning a camp menu can seem overwhelming, but if you keep it simple for you and your baby, it’s not nearly as complicated as you may have thought. The prep, cooking, and cleanup of one pot meals are easy for adults and older children. Here is a collection of recipes to help you make more elaborate meals.

It’s best to plan your baby’s food first based on what they eat at home, since most likely you’ll be able to stick to it pretty closely. In the case of breastfeeding mothers, the menu is very simple. There are, however, a few extra considerations to keep in mind if your baby drinks from a bottle or eats solids.

Keep things clean

It’s important to keep everything clean if you’re bottle feeding. Boiling water can be used to sanitize bottles at your campsite. Clean, potable water should be available when you mix formula.

Bring convenient foods

Bring Convenient Foods

For children eating solid foods, squeeze packets of pureed fruits and vegetables can be convenient options, as they do not need refrigeration until opened. With an older kid, you can pour one into their mouth, while with a really little one, you can squeeze a small amount onto a spoon and feed it to them. Soft fruits, scrambled eggs, avocados and beans are good finger foods for children who are old enough to enjoy them.

There’s even a possibility that your child will eat some of the food you’re eating. It’s always best to follow your pediatrician’s recommendations when it comes to what your child should eat.

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How to Dress Your Baby for Camping

How to Dress Your Baby for Camping

The more comfortable a baby is, the happier he or she is. The following clothing tips will ensure that your little one has a good time when you take them camping:

Dress baby in layers

Dress Baby in Layers

Think about what layers you can bring for your baby to be ready to adjust to changing weather just like you do when dressing yourself for a day outside. Base layers provide skin protection, middle layers provide warmth, and outer layers provide wind and rain protection.

Avoid cotton

Car camping with good weather can be done using many everyday items you have in your home wardrobe. Nonetheless, if you anticipate cold and/or wet weather, it’s a good idea to bring clothes made from synthetics or wool, as they will help you stay warm and dry faster. Wool socks, fleece pants, fleece jackets and/or insulated jackets may help you stay warm in cold weather.

Raindrops will be shed by a shell jacket if it is expected to rain. Choose long-sleeve shirts and pants that breathe to protect your child from the sun on sunny days without making him or her too hot. Discover the benefits of dressing in layers.

Don’t overdress

A sleep sack or fleece bunting can be added for extra warmth while sleeping. Overdressing your baby can be dangerous. For fear of getting cold at night, it’s easy to add a load of layers. Think honestly about how the low temperatures in the forecast compare with the temperature in your home, and then adjust your baby’s outfit accordingly. The more experience you gain, the more you’ll know what layers your baby needs to sleep comfortably.

Diaper per Usual

Diaper per Usual

While camping, diapering your baby does not have to be a huge difference from what you do at home, especially if you have a bathroom nearby to dispose of waste. It’s not necessary to abandon cloth diapering at home when you’re outdoors. Make sure you have an airtight bag with you for keeping dirty cloth diapers until you can wash them. Portable changing mats make it easy to change a baby’s diaper, but you can also use sleeping pads or blankets.

How to Protect Your Baby from Bugs and Sun While Camping

How to Protect Your Baby from Bugs and Sun While Camping

Bug repellent and sunscreen should not be applied to babies younger than six months. It’s important to consider other methods of protection if you’re taking a young child camping, like clothes. Tips to keep in mind (always seek your pediatrician’s advice regarding specific concerns):

Limit Exposed Skin

Limit Exposed Skin Child

The use of insect repellent on infants younger than two months of age is not advised, however, infants under six months of age may be protected. When avoiding repellents, keep your skin as covered as possible.

Clothing options like long-sleeved shirts, pants tucked into socks, and hats are fairly effective. A screened-in shelter, headnets, or citronella candles can also be used to prevent insects from entering your campsite.

Seek Shade

Seek Shade Child

Taking sunscreen for babies younger than 6 months of age requires a doctor’s prescription. First and foremost, make sure your baby is kept away from the sun as much as possible. Try finding a shady campsite or an area where you can play that is out of the sun.

In addition, you can use an umbrella to block the sun and/or wear sun-protective clothing. When applying sunscreen, check with your pediatrician about what age is appropriate and then test it on a small patch of skin to make sure it doesn’t cause any reactions.

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FAQS: How to Camp With a Baby

How Early Can I Go Camping With a Baby?

Depending on your comfort level, you can camp with your baby once you have checked with your pediatrician first. Outdoor activities are great for people of all ages. The experience of camping can even be enjoyed by infants and newborns.

In my role as a first-time mother, I took Miss M camping at 7 weeks of age. The four camping trips we took before she turned 3 months old totaled more than 70 miles.

Camping with a baby is hardest when you have no guts to do it in the first place. When you’re a new parent, it can feel intimidating getting out there and trying things. As you prepare to leave home, you will be packing up what seems like half your house and hoping that no epic meltdowns will occur.

If you don’t feel ready until later in your child’s life, don’t beat yourself up.

Pro Tip: Getting ready for your trip can be really stressful. Although it’s always up to you, I encourage you to just get over it and go anyway!

Is it Okay to Take a Newborn Camping?

You’re absolutely right! Unless their parents are super picky, newborns do not have a set schedule. When they are young, camping is an excellent way to introduce them to nature while taking a much-needed break from the house.

As a family, camping was very refreshing for us when we took our newborn. It was good to be back to a normal activity, and it gave us a great mental boost. The natural vibes were calming to our baby, and he absolutely loved it. At least camping would be pretty while she cried if she had a meltdown at home or camp!

What Should My Baby Wear While Camping at Nighttime?

Layering infants can be tough – there aren’t many technical layers available! Her temperature is regulated by her head, so we do not place a hat over her head while she sleeps. A lightweight cotton beanie, however, was permissible if the temperature declined below 45 degrees at night.

Summary: How to Camp With a Baby

Camping with our children has provided some of our most treasured memories as a family, which has allowed us to visit some incredible places around the world. Camp in the outdoors has an appeal that cannot be compared to any other holiday.

Nature’s sounds are unforgettable when you sleep under the stars or in the fresh air. Camping can be a simple pleasure sometimes, but can be very rewarding as well.

Should things not go according to your plans or expectations, you can pack up and go home. Next time is always better, and camping can be a lot of trial and error especially with young children.

With these tips and knowledge, we hope we have been able to assist you with your next camping trip with a baby, and fingers crossed you will have a wonderful time. It is important to kick back and relax once you have settled into your new home.

Hello, my name is James Tinnin and I am an outdoor enthusiast, writer, and avid camper. I have always had a deep appreciation for the great outdoors, and my passion for nature has only grown stronger over the years.