Taking babies camping is actually not as bad as you might think. If you’re someone who always loved holidays under canvas before children you might be itching to get back out there.
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I’ve camped with my kids at all ages and it’s always a worthwhile time. Getting out in nature is just as important for parents as it is for babies and kids so don’t discount how it will be good for yourself.
These tips for camping with babies will hopefully help you make the leap and give camping with your little one a shot. You never know, camping with kids might become your norm and you’ll spend years to come making memories in a campsite!
A note about these camping tips – often they relate to you as well as your baby, so don’t forget about your own comfort too. It might make all the difference!
- 1 Take plenty of layers, nappies and wipes
- 2 Try not to be too hung up on dirt
- 3 Take a suitable tent
- 4 Practice putting the tent up
- 5 Your baby’s bed is important
- 6 Plan your meals/feeding times
- 7 Make life easier with carton milk and food
- 8 Think about storage for nappies
- 9 Take a big picnic blanket you can lay out
- 10 Bring some favourite, but washable, toys
- 11 Try baby wearing
- 12 Take sun protection
- 13 Check the weather before you go
- 14 Try it out in the garden or close to home
- 15 Start small with weekend or overnight trip
Take plenty of layers, nappies and wipes
Whatever you think you might need, add a few more.
When it comes to clothes it’s a good idea to have a few layers. Temperatures can vary wildly through the day in a tent and once the sun goes down it can be really chilly even in summer. Having options and being able to peel off layers is the best idea.
Take extra nappies and wipes that you think you might need. Honestly, it’s just better to have them!
Try not to be too hung up on dirt
As parents of newborns and babies we can also be hung up on making sure kids aren’t getting too grubby. On a camping trip that mindset is going to be hard so I want to encourage you to not get too hung up on it.
Crawling around in the grass and having interactions with the earth away from home is actually likely to be beneficial to your child’s immune system anyway. Constantly wiping and using anti bacterial sprays don’t help at all. Plus it’s another job for you on your holiday.
Obviously you want to get your baby clean at the end of the day and baby wipes or a flannel are great for that, but don’t let it bother you too much during the day
Take a suitable tent
I don’t like to encourage people to spend too much before they know they’ll like camping but in saying that, getting a good family tent is going to be paramount if you’re camping with a baby. (Borrow if you can!)
Think about how big the bedroom is – can you sleep yourself, a partner (if appropriate) and a baby? Will it fit your chosen bedding options? Do you have room to stand in the bedroom and hold your baby?
I advise to get a tent you can stand up in because it’s no fun having to stoop all holiday. Night times might see you pacing trying to settle a baby and you want to be able to do that. If you can do that in the bedroom too that’s good as you’ll not be fighting with zips to get your baby back in bed!
Also getting a tent that can be put up by one person is preferable. Even if you’re travelling with a partner you might not have both pairs of hands available all the time.
Practice putting the tent up
Being familiar with your tent is going to be invaluable when travelling with a baby. If you have one person who will look after your baby while you put your tent up that will help, but being familiar with it beforehand will make the process much easier.
If you’re travelling as a single parent with a baby or with other kids you’ll need to think about the logistics of how you’ll do it. I would often put my baby in a car seat while I was putting the tent up but that only worked while she was happy!
If camping in summer it might be an idea to get a small sun shelter that you can put up before you put the main tent up. That way one person can sit there with the baby while the other one puts the tent up and there’s no worry about the sun being too strong.
Your baby’s bed is important
Keeping babies and kids warm at night is essential for good sleeping while camping and it can also be one of the most worrying times. I remember being so cold at night while camping with my kids and just worrying that they were also cold.
You’ll want to make sure that your baby is warm but not too warm. Babies that kick off their covers will worry you so I recommend a baby sleeping bag.
Think about where they’ll sleep as well. We would always use a baby travel cot as it gave them their own space – will you have enough room in your tent for one? Having something like this was great for naps too or if you needed to put your baby down while you cooked.
Cold comes in through the ground so insulation below the cot is a good idea – just a cheap camping or yoga mat might do.
Plan your meals/feeding times
Think ahead to how you’re going to cook with a baby. Camping trips often come along with camp food, but if you’ve a baby to contend with you might like to plan ahead what meals you’ll cook.
I like to go for ease all the time. I’d often bring a ready cooked meal for the first night so I knew it just needed reheating. Then for other nights I’d aim for something simple but nutritious. You could also eat out as well – lots of campsites have restaurants attached to them or nearby.
The idea is to plan ahead though so you’re not giving yourself an unenviable task of cooking a home made meal on a camp stove with a crying baby!
Make life easier with carton milk and food
If your baby is breastfed then you can just carry on as normal when camping and not worry too much. But if your baby is bottle fed or at a weaning stage then you’ll want to think ahead about your meal options.
You’ll not be able to make up bottles easily so I recommend getting some pre-made up formula which you can get in cartons and they’ll store without needing to be in the fridge. Even if you do have a cold storage area, space will be at a premium.
For meals the same applies. Take something that’s easily warmed and can be stored simply. Most unopened baby food can be stored easily and out of a fridge. Think about the package sizes and how much your baby eats to avoid waste. Any leftovers might be ok in a cool box if you have one.
Basically you want to make life as simple as possible for you.
Think about storage for nappies
Hopefully the campsite that you choose to stay in will have plenty of bins for you to be able to put soiled nappies in, but if you’re changing nappies at night time, or if the bins aren’t that close by, you might want to have a dedicated area to put them.
A plastic bag might be enough for you, it depends on how many you might have to change. A small bin with a lid might work better and will keep smells at bay.
If you’re taking washable nappies you’ll also want to factor in how you’ll store them. It’s doable, but requires some forethought! Many friends I knew would transition to disposable nappies just for camping trips.
Take a big picnic blanket you can lay out
Having a large space where your baby is safe to play on is a really good idea. If your baby is still not mobile then a smaller blanket will suffice but once they start moving you might want a larger space that they can roll over, crawl and shuffle to their hearts content!
A waterproof backing is essential for damp mornings before the sun has dried up the grass and of course those rain showers that often happen!
Bring some favourite, but washable, toys
Keeping your baby occupied while camping might depend on their age so my recommendation is to bring along what toys you have that are easily washable should they get dirty at the campsite.
Crinkly toys were always a favourite with mine. You might think about a baby gym to put on the mat.
Of course going for walks with your pram or pushchair is also a good way to keep babies occupied.
Try baby wearing
Carrying your baby in a sling or a baby carrier is one way to make sure that you don’t spend your entire camping holiday tied to your babies sleep routines.
It could be a good way to try it out as well and see if your child enjoys it. I’ll confess I was never great at it myself, but I have friends who swore by it and who could do almost anything with their baby attached to them.
It’s also a good option if you want to go on walks nearby that aren’t necessarily pushchair friendly.
Take sun protection
If the weather is due to be sunny you’ll want to remember plenty of sun protection for your child.
I used to always bring UV protection sun suits for my babies. I could rest easier knowing that they were mostly covered. The clothes would wash and dry easy too which was a bonus! Of course, sun cream is also a must.
You might also want to consider a UV sun shelter for babies – these are invaluable for campsites and playing because you can move them to fit in with the weather.
Check the weather before you go
It’s always advisable to keep an eye on weather forecasts before a camping trip whether that’s with a baby or not!
If the weather is looking bad you’ll need to weight up if it’s worth the trip – keeping babies occupied in the tent when they want to crawl and get out isn’t always fun!
Try it out in the garden or close to home
If you’ve made it this far with these tips and you’re still raring to give it a go then do a trial run in the garden. This is a great idea to make sure you’re happy with the bed set up and how you’ll put the tent up with a baby around.
Start small with weekend or overnight trip
When you’re ready to try out your first camping trip with your baby then I recommend a couple of nights somewhere close by. This will give you confidence knowing that you don’t have a large drive to get home if you forget something or if you’re not feeling comfortable for whatever reason.
I’d love to hear about your camping trips with your babies – let me know how you got on in the comments!