Many parents hesitate to take their baby camping. New parents may not want to take their baby to the grocery store, let alone outdoors. Nevertheless, don’t abandon your dreams of an outdoor adventure. Baby camping is easier than you think!
Depending on your level of experience, baby camping is only a matter of packing up your gear, strapping the baby and kids into their respective car seats, and getting going. There are plenty of ways to ease into it too if you’re uncomfortable with a longer trip, such as backyard camping. However, no matter where and how you camp, if you follow these four crucial rules you’ll be good to go!
1. Be Safe
Priority number one is, of course, to be safe. Whatever you do with your baby, safety is always on your mind. After all, babies and toddlers need constant supervision, even when they’re at home. And, the truth is, it’s impossible to actually watch your little one every second of the day. Besides, accidents are bound to happen either way, but there are some things you can do to mitigate disaster.
As far as camping is concerned, when you get to your campsite, be sure to give it an inspection for possibly dangerous things before you pitch that tent. Be sure to look for anything that past campers might have left behind, like garbage, matches, and knives. Also check for sharp rocks and sticks, as well as potential choking hazards.
Another thing to look out for is possibly irritating vegetation, things like poison ivy, St. John’s wort, and philodendron. If you’ve ever had an encounter with something like this, you know how bad it can be, and young skin is especially vulnerable.
All of this being said, don’t freak out! Remember that your baby will be with an adult at all times and on the lookout for things such as these. It’s important to keep safety in mind, but don’t let it ruin your fun.
2. Be Warm
This one goes hand-in-hand with safety, but it’s a critical one. Even in the middle of the summer, nights can be cold, which is why it’s best to be prepared. A lot of camping locations, after all, are up in the mountains. While beautiful and idyllic, temperatures can be much cooler than you’re used to, especially at night.
Babies lose heat more quickly than older children and adults, so it’s paramount you bring what’s needed to stay warm. You don’t want your baby’s body temperature to drop, so bring some extra layers. If your baby is shivering or has cool and clammy skin, these are signs it’s time to put another layer on. Depending on the environment, be sure to bring a fleece or wool cap and thick socks for your baby to wear.
Of course, keeping warm while camping is our specialty. We’ve found it’s best to bring a dedicated sleeping bag for your baby. Even if you’re a co-sleeper, you’ll need a way to avoid being kicked and prodded all night. Our baby sleeping bags are perfect for keeping your little one warm, while still enabling them to get around and be safe at night.
It’s also important to be prepared for changes in the weather. Again, depending on your environment, you should be prepared for wet weather conditions. Bring some extra tarps to cover the tent and your wet-weather gear. You could also opt to rent a cabin, making it easier to stay warm, rather than camping in a tent. Plus, this is a great way to ease into the camping experience.
3. Be Busy
It’s best not to plan to stick around the campsite all day. Just like any other day with a baby or toddler, it needs to be filled with activity to prevent boredom. And, as we all know, boredom often leads little ones into trouble, which, at a campsite, could involve a dangerous fascination with the fire.
Fortunately, kids under 2 don’t need a whole lot of stimulation. They’re happiest with simple activities, such as wandering around the campground or playing with sticks. Babies enjoy being outside with the sights and sounds of nature, so take advantage of this, and don’t forget to enjoy it yourself.
As far as filling the day is concerned, you don’t have to make huge plans. You can take a day to drive into a nearby town for a cup of coffee and some hot cocoa. Or, find a hiking trail to explore, although don’t expect to get very far. For babies and small children, simply going somewhere to see something new is perfect.
Staying active also helps to tire out your tot for bedtime. Anyone with a baby or toddler can tell you how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. A rested baby is a happy baby!
4. Be Happy
We’ve saved perhaps the most important rule to happy baby camping for last—be happy! Of course, we understand you can’t just be happy because we told you to, but do your best to remain positive. Have fun and don’t worry too much when things don’t work out how you planned. It’s all part of the fun of camping with a baby.
In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s still important to bring necessities like trash bags, baby wipes, extra diapers, and flashlights, but if you forget something, take it in stride and find a creative solution. It’s camping, so enjoy yourself.
You may want to dress your kids in clothes you don’t mind ruining, so you don’t have to worry about rips, stains, or dirt. Also, you may want to bring a portable playpen, a baby backpack, or a standing seat so that your baby can check things out. And don’t forget to bring something along to take pictures so that many years down the road you can show your kids that they were camping even before they could walk.