If you’ve never gone camping with a baby before, you might think it’s a no-go. Being a new parent doesn’t mean having to give up hobbies like camping though! Camping with a baby isn’t as difficult as it seems if you prepare ahead. Below we’ll break down the benefits of camping with your baby plus tips to help make your trip worry-free.
Benefits of Camping with Baby
Camping is beneficial for children of all ages. Did you know children today are spending less time outside than is recommended? Camping is just one way to get your child outdoors more often.
With camping, there are benefits for your baby beyond just enjoying family time in a tent. There are real physical advantages to babies being outdoors.
For instance, these are the kind of benefits your baby can glean from being in the great outdoors:
- Better sleep – Wait, really? Yes! In 2004, a study was published on the subject in the Journal of Sleep Research. The researchers found that babies exposed to more sunlight during the day slept better at night.
- Early language development – Babies will hit their milestones when they’re ready, but to help the talking one along, get outside! Nature is full of new things for babies to see, hear, and touch and studies have found this encourages babies to verbalize the experience.
- Strong immune system – A microbiologist named B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D. authored a book titled Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World. The title is relatively self-explanatory, but still, you can read more about it here.
Sounds awesome, right? If you want all this for your little one, it’s time to head out to the campsite.
Choosing the Right Location
With a baby in tow, you shouldn’t choose just any campsite. If you’re a veteran camper, you may have a preferred spot, but it may not be ideal for your baby.
You should avoid pitching your tent near any bodies of water. I know, it’s great for a quick dip on a hot day, but you’ll end up worrying the whole trip about your baby getting too close.
In your pre-baby life, you may have chosen camping as a pastime for quiet solitude and to get away from it all. However, until your baby grows up a little, stick to sites with access to facilities like bathrooms. With diapers and bottles, you’re just going to want running water.
For the first few outings, you may even want to choose a site close to home. In a pinch, you can always pack it up and get your baby back to their own crib.
Everyone knows the newborn stage means no sleep. If you’re going to be experiencing sleepless nights, why not be in the great outdoors?
When packing for your camping trip, keep in mind all of the aspects of safe sleeping. All these rules still apply even in a tent.
A quick reminder: babies should be placed on their backs, alone, on a firm sleeping surface. These safe sleep rules decrease the risk of SIDS.
As cuddly and cozy as it may sound, your baby should not be nestled up with you in your sleeping bag. You will have to pack a specific sleep surface for your infant.
If you don’t already own such a thing, there are plenty of options out there. You can purchase a travel bassinet or crib. If you don’t want to spend the extra money and your tent has space, you can even bring along your pack and play.
Luckydove Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet
Munchkin Brica Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet
Dream On Me Travel Light Playard
Is your baby dependent on a sleep aide like white noise? My baby always needed white noise to sleep and he even still prefers to sleep with it as a preschooler. If your child is the same, don’t forget to pack a portable white noise machine. Some have hooks so you can attach them right to a bassinet or play yard. If it’s a long trip, don’t forget extra batteries!
Breastmilk, Formula, and More
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’re all set. You are your baby’s only source of nutrition and that doesn’t require any coolers or bottles.
For those who pump or bottle feed, you’ll need to pack a few additional items. For pumping, of course, you’ll need your pump. If you plan on bagging any of your milk, you’ll need a cooler.
If you want to be as minimal as possible, you may need to pack a different bottle than your baby is used to. I know, I know. Doctor Brown bottles work miracles, but all those parts on a camping trip will be a major frustration.
If your baby can stand it, pack a bottle without extra parts. A standard nipple and bottle will be the easiest. You can also try a bottle with drop-in liners. Be sure to properly dispose of them after use.
If your campsite has a bathroom, you can wash your bottles in a sink there. Be sure to pack a bottle of soap. There are also products like sterilizing tablets that allow you to sterilize your child’s bottle with cold water.
If your child is old enough for solid food, you’ll have to pack enough sustenance for them. Thankfully, most baby foods and snacks are packaged to be easy and convenient! You can always pack up jars of pre-made baby food or prepare your own.
Babies, of course, should eat while in a seated position. This means you’ll need to bring along a high chair or an acceptable substitute. When my son was little, we touted around a travel high chair like this one. It made everything easier!
Toys and Fun
Sometimes, the task of keeping an infant happy and entertained can be overwhelming. Knowing this, you may feel tempted to pack up all of your baby’s bright and colorful toys and keep them in your tent.
If you want to pack a toy box’s worth of playthings, you can absolutely can. I want to tell you though that it’s not completely necessary. Your baby is this brand new human and you can’t underestimate how fascinating they find the world around us.
A must-have for your camping trip should include a waterproof mat or even a simple blanket or towel. Spread out the mat or blanket on an area of ground free of rocks and let your baby just observe. Laying on their back, your baby has a chance to watch the clouds move across the sky or check out birds flitting from treetops.
Tummy time is an important activity for babies developing neck strength so don’t forget to flip them over. Rocks, sticks, and grass make great sensory objects. Just make sure to keep a close eye so these things don’t go right to the baby’s mouth!
If you’re near a body of water, pack some swim diapers and a flotation device if you plan on diving in. If you’re not feeling like taking your baby to the water, bring the water to them! There are pop-up tents intended for beach use that keep your baby protected from the sun while letting them splash in an inch or so of water.
RELATED: How To Teach A Baby To Swim
Nature can be all the entertainment your little one needs! With all that being said, I do love a cute baby toy. If you decide to purchase some camping-related toys, I wouldn’t blame you at all.
For instance, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you this adorable GUND My First Campout playset. It includes a marshmallow rattle, a crinkle marshmallow bag, a campfire sound toy, and a squeaky canteen. Most importantly, it is beyond adorable.
Also, every camping trip needs a lantern. Hopefully, you bring one for the adults, but Fisher-Price has a lantern for your little one as well. This toy lantern plays music about colors and opposites and lights up in multiple colors.
Camping isn’t something you have to delay until your child is walking and talking. You can start building traditions and memories in the great outdoors with your baby right away.
The key to a successful camping trip with a baby is to plan ahead of time. If you pack all your necessities and prepare, you and your baby can hit the road and set up camp whenever!