Introducing your child to the natural world is one of the greatest gifts that you can offer as a parent. Exploring the outdoors and enjoying the health benefits of time spent in a natural environment is a wonderful thing to do as a family.
Camping with a baby or toddler requires a little extra thought, but it is perfectly possible, and many families love to do it. Why not give it a go?
What Guidelines Can I Follow When Camping With a Baby Or Toddler?
Don’t go too far from home!
Choose a place close to home so you’re not already tired out after a long car ride, or grumpy after being stuck in traffic. Aside from this, knowing that home isn’t too far away gives you just a little extra reassurance and it can be a comfort to know you are in a fairly familiar area. This can be a particularly important factor on your first trips with your baby or toddler.
Choose a campsite with good facilities.
Unless you are an incredibly experienced camper and hiker, your best choice for camping with a newborn is a campsite with drinking water and good bathroom facilities for keeping clean and comfortable. You might even choose somewhere that has a playground with swings and a slide for your toddler to enjoy when they need a change of scene.
Make your first trip a short trip with a car.
Don’t be too ambitious if you are new to camping! Ease yourself and your baby into this new routine, and put your comfort and enjoyment first. Camping with a car as means less worrying about heavy backpacks, and it also means you can pack some bulkier items and a few luxuries too. Your baby or toddler may also be happy taking naps in the familiarity of their car seat.
Go camping when the weather is good.
Keep things easy by camping at a time when the weather will be good. Camping in the depths of winter or in stormy weather is an unwise choice. Put your safety and comfort first, especially if you are a novice camper.
Try out new sites and situations as your confidence grows.
As you become more confident in your camping skills, you can go further afield or head off into wilder locations. There is so much to explore, and you can test your boundaries as a family with each new camping trip!
Take a deep breath and relax!
This is your holiday time, so go with a laid-back attitude and you’ll find plenty of joy in introducing your infant to the natural world.
Planning & Preparing For Your Camping Trip With A Baby Or Toddler
Once you’ve chosen the most suitable campsite for your camping adventure, what else can you do to be well prepared? Here are some of our very best ideas.
Do a test run at home!
Once you have your camping kit assembled, set up your tent in your backyard and see if you and your infant are comfortable and content.
Check the weather before you go.
If it looks like the weather is going to be particularly bad, consider postponing your trip and waiting for better weather conditions to arrive. Camping in a storm is not a sensible choice when you have your little one with you. Above all, you want to stay safe.
Be prepared for a little rain.
Don’t be afraid of a little light rain – it happens so often in so many parts of the world! Ensure you have sufficient waterproofs, and pack some extra toys. Reading stories together whilst tucked up your tent can be a wonderful experience.
Talk to other parents who go camping.
Do you know any other mums and dads who like to camp? Be sure to pick their brains for personal tips and hints that are relevant to your local area.
Pack carefully & keep everything well organized.
Pack your gear into plastic boxes and label everything carefully in order to make your life easier when you arrive at the campsite.
Bring a few of your own luxuries!
It is natural to focus on bringing what your baby or toddler will need, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Pack your favorite pillow or blanket and whatever else you need to get the best possible night’s sleep.
Advice On Food & Feeding A Baby or Toddler When Camping
Have comfort for nursing your baby.
If you are still breastfeeding your baby, make sure that you pack everything you need to do this comfortably. Bring a shawl or poncho so you can maintain your privacy and keep yourself warm. Stick to a similar nursing routine as you have at home if this feels good for you and your baby.
Bring ready-made baby food.
If your infant is already on solid food, make sure that you pack sufficient infant food of a kind that you know your infant enjoys.
Plan your meals in advance and keep your menu simple!
Don’t over-complicate things by cooking yourself and any other adults complicated meals. Stick to recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. If you need some ideas, check out this Camping Recipes: Quick & Healthy Campfire Food Cooking.
Bring plenty of snacks!
Being active in nature all day long means hungry toddlers who are burning up lots of energy. Have plenty of simple snacks like dried fruits or rice cakes to give them whenever they need.
Additional Hints For Camping With a Toddler
As your baby gets a little older, they will begin crawling and then walking. As well as being more mobile, their needs will change. Here are a few additional tips and ideas to keep you and your growing toddler happy.
Bring some of their favorite toys
A sturdy toy from home can comfort a tired toddler and help them sleep well. Pack something that is durable and can get dirty without being ruined.
Pack a waterproof all-in-one
Toddlers will inevitably get messy and dirty while you are camping, so pack a waterproof all-in-one that will keep them dry and is easy to remove at the end of the day.
Bring a waterproof blanket or mat
This is a good item to have in case there is a little rain or the ground is overly muddy. Your toddler can play comfortably or rest here when they need to.
Have containers for making ‘nature collections’
Toddlers love finding insects and collecting little objects from nature, so it is a great idea to give them some containers to store their collection in. Why not go hunting for pine cones or see how many different colored leaves you can collect. Or perhaps you can find some beetles living under a log?
Choose some story books related to nature.
Make the most of your natural setting and pack a few books that tell stories about nature and wildlife. Your toddler will love making connections with the wild world that they are discovering on their camping trip!
Essentials Checklist For Campsite Camping With An Infant/Toddler
Hopefully, you are well-prepared for making a camping trip as an adult (and if not, please check out our in-depth article Camping Tips and Tricks: The Ultimate Backpacking Hacks for Beginners).
So what additional items do you need for doing this trip with a baby in tow?
Here is our selection of the fundamentals that you’ll need to have a happy and successful camping trip with your baby.
- Diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer & plastic bags – pack enough diapers and a few spares too! Choose unscented wipes that insects won’t be attracted to, and bring plenty of plastic bags for packing everything out with you. Hand sanitizer ensures that you have properly clean hands after every diaper change.
- Baby carrier – a baby carrier is essential if you want to go hiking, or even walk any distance with your baby.
- Baby clothes – lots of layers will mean that you can keep your baby’s temperature well regulated at all times. Your infant is more likely to get dirty whilst camping, so do pack a few spares. Bring mittens and a hat in case the night time temperatures drop.
- Baby sunhat – bring a sunhat to protect your baby. Remember that even if it is not particularly hot, your baby is probably used to spending much of their time indoors and will not be accustomed to sun exposure.
- Non-toxic insect repellent – babies can be quite sensitive to bites and stings, so always carry a non-toxic bug spray with you.
- Portable playpen or crib – there will be times when you want to know your baby is safe to lie on the ground and play. If you have a large enough tent, this can also act as their sleeping space.
- Portable high-chair – this is a major helping hand at meal times, and will make everything a lot simpler when you need to prepare and eat food in a more basic setting.
- A favorite toy or comforter – it goes without saying that the familiarity of a favorite toy or comforter can help to calm a tired or restless infant, so make sure that you pick something they love for these moments.
- Baby sleeping bag & sleeping mat – there are plenty of clever little sleeping bags designed for little ones, and these are a safer option than having a baby sharing your sleeping bag. Significant heat is lost from the cold ground, so make sure your infant has a sleeping mat of their own or that you have a double mat you can share.
- Family-sized tent – don’t try to cram yourselves into a tent that suited you as a single or a couple on past trips! It is advisable to invest in a good size family tent so that you have plenty of space for everyone to sleep comfortably. A roomy tent also gives you somewhere sheltered and clean to rest during the day if needed.
Are You Feeling Ready To Give It A Go?
We hope that these handy hints and tips leave you feeling confident and ready to enjoy going camping with your baby or toddler. As you can see, there is plenty you can do to make sure that you are well prepared!
Now you are armed with all this knowledge, your trip can be a satisfying and memorable experience.
Once you are in the beautiful outdoors with your young ones you’ll quickly realize what a special opportunity it is to enjoy some quality time together in a pure environment.
Comment below to let us know if these tips have helped you and your family!