Camping with a baby or toddler is a ton of fun, for parents and kids alike. Nevertheless, if you’ve never done it, you might have some questions. For instance, how do you deal with potty training and diapers out in the wilderness?
While it’s one thing to take care of your own waste while out on the trail, adding a toddler to the mix ramps up your responsibility. That said, teaching your kids early how to properly care for nature and our beautiful trails is something they will take with them their entire lives.
When camping with a baby, diapers and potty issues are a big concern. With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips from our own experiences. Let’s take a look!
Diaper and Potty Training Preparation When Camping With a Baby or Toddler
To begin with, half the battle is won before the trip even begins. Whether you’re camping for a few days or just taking a day-long hike through the woods, if you come prepared you’re in a good place to handle whatever may come your way—from simple accidents to out-and-out blowouts.
Here’s what you’ll need (although please feel free to adjust this as you see fit depending on if you’re using disposable diapers or cloth, etc.):
- Changing surface (pad, blanket, towel, etc.)
- Toilet paper and baby wipes
- The “Poop Shovel”
- Hand sanitizer
- Plastic bags (sandwich bags and freezer gallon bags)
- Extra clothes for accidents
Before you go on your trip, you’ll want to keep track of how many diapers your little one uses on a daily basis. For example, 4-5 diapers during the day and 1 diaper at night. In this case, you’ll need 6 diapers per day.
This is important because on any camping trip, especially when backpacking, space is at a premium and you don’t want to overpack. You can also subtract 1 diaper from the total for day one as long as you change your baby or toddler’s diaper right before you leave.
Changing a Diaper Out In the Woods
Changing your little one’s diaper at a camp spot is easy enough, but what if you’re on the trail? In this case, try to find a flat spot a little ways off the trail. This is important because you don’t want to have to move if other hikers come along or have to fend off a curious dog.
Going “Potty” Outdoors
For toddlers who are potty training, things can get interesting. Your toddler may not be used to going potty outside, and it may even be a little scary for them. For a #2 situation, here are some tips to keep things clean:
- Prepare your space with toilet paper, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and the Poop Shovel. (Keep all of these things together in a kit so you can grab and go.)
- Make sure to pull pants and underwear all the way down to your toddler’s ankles.
- Holding their hands, have your toddler squat with their bottom sticking out as far as possible without falling over. You can tell them to “sit down” on the invisible potty and then hold them up until their business is done.
- Clean your toddler’s bottom with the toilet paper and wipes.
- Using the Poop Shovel, dig a hole. Then, using a stick, push the poop into the hole. In this way, you can keep your Poop Shovel clean. Fill in the hole and cover the poop.
For peeing, the process for boys and girls is a little different. For girls, the process is about the same as above, except be sure to have her spread her feet a little more to prevent pee from dribbling down her leg. For boys, the process is the same as peeing in a toilet, just make sure his pants are pulled down all the way.
Proper Diaper Disposal
There’s no way around it; if you’re backpacking or hiking, those soiled diapers are coming with you. After all, it’s critical that we never leave waste in the wilderness.
Immediately after changing a diaper, stuff the diaper in a sandwich bag along with any soiled wipes you used. Then, put that bag into one of those large freezer bags you brought along (see the list above). This process will minimize odor and prevent contaminating anything else you have along with you.
If you’re in bear country, then any dirty diapers you have will go into your bear canister. From there, follow the normal safety procedures, such as hanging your bear canister up high and keeping it away from your camp. These guidelines are good to follow not just for bears, but for other interesting wildlife as well.
Finally, if you have solid poop, then you can bury it. For example, if the poop is falling out of the diaper, then you can dig a hole away from the trail and bury it so that you don’t have to carry it with you.
Tips for Potty Training While Camping With a Baby or Toddler
Potty training is never easy no matter where you’re doing it, so you might as well be camping. That said, going potty in the woods is a little different so it’s critical to give your toddler lots of encouragement. Here are a few extra tips:
- Show your toddler how to find a good spot, dig a hole, and squat over it.
- Help your toddler to balance. Hold their hands or make a game out of finding a sturdy branch to hand on to.
- Always plan on accidents, and carry an extra set of pants and socks.
- Make it fun! Let your toddler help dig the hole and bury their waste. If they don’t have the skills for this yet, they can always carry the Poop Shovel.
Practice Makes Perfect
Going potty outdoors can be scary for toddlers, so make sure to always go with them. You may even want to practice in your backyard before you go on your trip. Doing so might sound weird, but remember that human beings have been doing their business outside for much longer than they have inside.
Diapers and potty training are a big part of being a parent. Although they can be frustrating, even at home, there’s really no reason it should prevent you from camping with a baby or backpacking with a toddler.
Image credit: Joshua Rodriguez