My husband and I started tent camping for the first time at campgrounds together on a 4th of July holiday many years ago). We were hooked after our first encounter. Camping with a newborn was a requirement when our children arrived!
But how do you camp with an infant or toddler? Even though we were just an hour away from home, our first camping trip with a newborn was an experience in and of itself. We had to retrain how to camp as new parents. Even with our baby, we camp year round: spring, summer, fall, and winter (yes, even in the snow!).
If you’re contemplating your first trip camping with a baby, you probably have many of the same question that I had myself. I now have answers! Here are some tried-and-true recommendations for smoothing out the kinks on your first camping trip with baby.
Camping With a Baby- Everything You to Know Before You Go
What is the Best Age to Begin Going Camping with a Baby?
The sooner you start camping with your child, whether he or she is a baby, a toddler, or a preschooler, the better. Our six-month-old kid went tent camping for the first time.
It’s never too early to get your kids outside. Of course, each age has its own set of problems and benefits. My greatest suggestion is to plan your camping vacation around your youngest kid.
Tips for Camping with an Infant
Pre-crawling babies are very easy to camp with. You know they won’t be crawling around in dirt.
The greatest issue is keeping baby warm or cool, so select a time of year when temperatures are reasonable or a location with shaded areas if the weather is really hot. But, in terms of camping with a newborn, this is an excellent age to do your first trip.
Tips for Camping with Toddlers and Crawlers
This is probably the most challenging age to camp with because it’s hard to control whether your child eats fistfuls of dirt. A crawling infant cannot be reasoned with. Nothing can hinder their natural desire to crawl.
Nonetheless, you can Reduce your irritation by looking for a campground near a green meadow or carrying a playpen with you. Instead, you may put up a special play tent near where everyone is hanging out.
Tips for Camping with Preschoolers
This is the age when camping with children becomes really pleasurable. One caveat is that you must be mentally prepared that your child will likely be covered from head to toe in dirt the entire trip. If you can’t stand it any longer, look for a campground with hot showers.
With preschoolers, your main concern will be teaching your kid how to be safe. You could choose a campground away from a stream or lake so you don’t have to worry about your toddler straying to the water’s edge all the time.
How to Help Baby Sleep While Camping
Sleep. Nothing scares a first-time camper more than whether or not their infant will sleep. It’s such a big issue, we’ve got a whole article devoted to helping your little ones (and you!) get some rest on your camping trip.
How to Keep Kids from Getting Too Cold or Too Hot While Camping
You are exposed to the elements while camping. While that can make for fun experiences, if your kids gets too cold, they could be waking up all night long.
If they get too hot during the day, you could be dealing with dehydration or heat stroke….or simply very grumpy, whiny kids. Instead of packing up and going home, here are some helpful hints for keeping your kids happy and healthy in the elements.
Tips to Keep Warm at Night when Camping with a Baby or Toddler
- Bring lots of layers for everyone so that you are prepared for hot temperatures during the day and extremely cold temperatures at night.
- Make sure that you keep yourself warm and dry in chilly weather and consume enough calories. These will be required by your body to keep you warm.
- Prepare ahead of time to shower when there are still a few hours of daylight.
- Go to the bathroom – don’t hold it in no matter the time. Get up and go; believe me on this.
Dealing with Hot Weather when Camping with a Baby or Toddler
- Be sure keep everyone well hydrated .
- If you aren’t already camped near a lake, river, or beach, bring squirt toys with you.
- Save any strenuous physical exercise until the early morning and late evening. When the sun is not too high in the sky. During the heat of the afternoon, you might take a nap on a hammock or play a game under a camping canopy or shady tree.
- If you have a newborn, the heat may induce a lack of appetite, so feed more often and in lesser amounts. If you’re nursing, make sure mom stays hydrated so her milk production doesn’t decrease. Placing a moist towel or cap on baby’s head is a simple way to keep him cool.
- If your cooler is struggling to keep the food cold, you might consider getting a block of dry ice and bury it in the middle of the regular ice. Keep an eye on the temperature of the meal at all times.
Feeding Your Baby While Camping
If you’re still nursing your child, you’ll have no trouble feeding him or her while camping. But, if you are bottle feeding your infant or if your baby has recently begun solids, you will need to plan your child’s meals more carefully.
Feeding a baby while camping isn’t as difficult as one may think if some preparation work is done ahead of time and meals are kept simple for newborns on solids.
Bottle Feeding When Camping with a Baby
- Make your life easy. Pre-pack everything and vow to wash everything when you get home. A one or two night excursion will be considerably simpler.
- Please use disposable bags whenever possible to save the amount of time spent cleaning bottles and nipples.
- To pre-package formula: With the help of a small funnel, measure out formula into small, leak-proof travel containers, per bottle. For example, for a 6-ounce bottle, I’ll put three scoops of formula into one travel container. This way, I won’t have to worry about contaminating a canister of formula.
- If your infant requires a warm bottle, carry along a thermos that you can fill with warm water. This allows you to keep water heated for extended periods of time, eliminating the need to turn on the burner every time you need to make a bottle for baby.
Feed a Baby Who Just Started Solids While Camping
- If your infant is content with packaged baby food, it is the simplest choice.
- If your baby is accustomed to home-cooked baby food, try offering him or her easy-to-mash items such as sweet potato, carrots, avocado, banana, and oats.
- Most significantly, you’ll discover that introducing a portable high chair That can be fastened to the picnic table or a stroller in which to feed the baby is definitely necessary.
- Antibacterial wipes can also be mom’s best friend when camping. Use it on your hands, baby’s hands, dishes, and utensils.
Keep it simple! These are some simple camping dinners for mom and dad.
Good Toys to Bring When Camping with a Baby, Toddler, or Young Child
First and foremost, do you even need to carry toys with you while camping?
Truly, one of the best things about camping is that kids of all ages re-learn how to amuse themselves with the simplest things. You could consider taking a few toys, but my advice is to bring just a few basic toys for your children.
Possibly a few creatures they can include into their stick and rock games. Maintain an open-ended and tactile atmosphere. The fresh air, new sights, sounds, and new textures provide plenty of stimulation once kids learn to unplug from their regular amusements.
When children are allowed to be creative with their play, you will see how resourceful they are. But if you can’t help yourself, bring some of these toys with you.
- Sand toys
- Beach balls
- Plastic animals
- Spray toys
- Bug vacuum
- Magnifying glass
- Deck of cards
- Go Fish
- Bicycle & helmet
- Side walk chalk or paint
Important Safety Rules to Teach Children About Camping
Keep the rules basic and easy to remember when educating young children about camping safety. When it comes to safety, you can’t be too “naggy”.
Do a cursory assessment of the campground and nearby regions when you first arrive. identify danger zones – sharp drop offs, poison oak, sharp objects, campsite boundaries, or the road. Whether you have preschoolers or older children, spend a few minutes to establish ground rules.
- Educate your children from the start that the fire ring is unsafe. I teach my young son that the fire ring is always hot (even when cold). The fire ring is always a “no contact” and “hazardous” zone.
- Several automobiles and huge RVs may be seen traveling around certain campsites. Remind your child that they should not cross the road without an adult even if they are just going to get water at the water faucet.
- Explain where the boundaries of your campsite are. That may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to your children.
- Explain and display photographs of poison oak and other plants to avoid.
What should you carry now that you’ve armed yourself with this arsenal of practical recommendations for making your first camping trip with kids a spectacular success?
Lastly, like with any form of travel, every parent must have the correct mindset and be flexible since the unexpected will occur. These are some smart thoughts from some camping-savvy parents:
- Start small and work your way up
- Keep things simple
- Remain flexible
- Keep a positive attitude
- Know when to throw in the towel
- Don’t suffer needlessly
- Don’t get discouraged – keep trying
- Keep your expectations in check: if you have previously camped without children, understand that your camping experience with children will be significantly different.
- Teamwork between adults is a must
- Make friends with dirt: you must accept kids will get dirty, perhaps the dirtiest they’ve ever been. If that upsets you, imagine the huge bubble bath they’ll be taking as soon as you come home. They will become clean once again.