If you are thinking about camping with a baby, it may seem a little daunting with all the potential extra kit you may need to bring.
However, getting outdoors and disconnecting from day-to-day life is so fulfilling. Not to mention you get some great quality time when you go camping with baby!
We have always had the mindset that regardless of where you are, there are always going to be testing times dealing with a baby, so why not be somewhere beautiful doing something that you enjoy?
We have four children, two of whom are eight months old now! I have been camping with all of them whilst they were little. The first time was a little overwhelming and I over packed.
Now we have had some practice we have figured out our baby camping essentials! Whether you are planning to go camping with a baby in the cold/hot weather or need a camping with a baby checklist, we have all your bases covered here with lots of camping with a baby tips.
Camping With A Baby
There are so many beautiful spots around the world to go camping. Whether it be in a tent in one of the National Parks or a car roof pop-up tent, the options are endless.
Once you have decided to go on a baby camping adventure you will need to ensure you have access to all the necessary ‘camping with baby gear’. The second decision is where to camp.
Will the site be serviced (running water and toilets) or non-serviced? Many of the beautiful camping spots on the beachfront may not be serviced. You will need to ensure you have a sufficient water supply, a solar shower and a portable camp toilet if you opt for a non-serviced site.
I am a total wimp when it is raining or windy at night in a tent. However, it is pretty amazing how much battering a good waterproof tent can take.
Here I share with you my top tips for camping with an infant: whether you are family camping in the UK, Campervanning In Switzerland or planning a 2 Day Yosemite itinerary. Everything from planning the trip to ideas for gear you may like to bring with you (and baby) is covered.
If camping feels too rough for you, you can also check out some of these amazing glamping sites!
You might think choosing a non-serviced pitch might be more difficult with your little one. However, that was not our experience from when we’ve camped with our little ones as babies.
Realistically all we needed to do was ensure we had the right equipment. There were a couple of other key things to consider, especially if baby is starting to move around. Choosing a pitch for example!
Choosing The Right Camping Spot
Quite often campsites get booked up in advance so it’s good to plan ahead if you can, especially if it’s one of the National or State parks in America in which case you need to book at least 6 months before your trip.
When choosing a camping spot with a baby, you will be looking ideally for a flat area with no holes or gullies, try to avoid low-lying areas. This might sound obvious, but it is no fun waking up to find your tent in the middle of a pond or small river after a night of rain.
Also if your baby is on the move you don’t want to set up camp near a body of water or steep drop-off. I find it is worth asking the ranger for the most appropriate spot with a little one as they will have the best knowledge of the area.
It is also a good idea to think about the type of camping you can manage with your baby, you may have been very adventurous before baby arrived, but now they are here, choosing a spot with amenities with onsite toilets and showers etc can make a world of difference to how enjoyable your time is.
Many campsites have online maps. It can be quite handy to check it out if you do choose to have services. It might be easier to be based nearer the facilities for example and then you can request a spot.
It may not always be possible but choosing a pitch situated away from fellow campers is also recommended, especially if your little one is a screamer during the night.
Most people understand, but it’s important to consider others in this situation and remember they may not wish to be disturbed by a crying baby during the day or in the middle of the night.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered depending on what time of the year you wish to go camping with a baby, camping with a baby in cold weather is a lot different to camping with a baby in hot weather.
Both come with their own challenges, shade can sometimes be an issue when camping with an infant, so we always try to get some natural shade if there are some trees on site.
Tents can get incredibly hot over the day in direct sunlight, so finding some filtered shade from a tree or a gazebo is a good idea for summer camping.
Choosing A Tent
With so much variety of tents on the market today, it can be difficult to find one that will best suit your needs for your family. Choosing the best tent for camping with a baby can be the deciding factor in the success of any camping trip.
Most tents these days are incredibly compact and come in convenient carry bags, saving all important space in the car.
Deciding which size tent to go for depends on your family size and how many camping accessories you may have. Camping with a baby will inevitably result in you bringing more items, so you need to factor this into your decision.
We have found it’s best to have a tent in which you can stand up rather than hunch over while inside.
This is even more important while camping with a baby as more time will be spent in the tent than normal, whether changing nappies or getting the baby off to sleep.
Some dome tents are durable in adverse weather conditions as they can bend and flex in the wind. The larger tents also have room separators which are useful to section off baby during nap time from the other living areas of the tent.
The popular pop-up style tents can be assembled in a matter of minutes as they have foldable poles which spring into shape. Just make sure to do your research on this type of tent as some brands prioritise speed of set-up over quality and durability.
If you are new to camping or have just purchased a tent for a trip, make sure to have a test run of setting it up before camping with a baby.
There is nothing more stressful than arriving at a campsite and struggling to assemble your tent due to you being unfamiliar with it, with the added pressure of small children thrown into the mix.
Setting Up Camp
It is always a good idea to be as organised as you can in the days leading up to the camping adventure. This allows you to arrive at the camping destination earlier in the day giving you the maximum amount of daylight to set up camp.
Putting a tent up in the dark is not the way you want to start a holiday trust me!
One of our top camping with a baby hacks is always bringing a tarpaulin to lay on the ground inside the tent. This will prevent baby (and everybody else) from getting cold on the ground at night.
Most tents just have a thin plastic baselining and doubling this up a few times with a tarpaulin or even a mat makes a huge difference to the comfort inside.
Make an area within the tent for the baby’s cot or baby camping bed. It is definitely best to use a portable cot slightly elevated from the ground to prevent the baby from getting cold and allow airflow to reduce the possibility of things getting damp.
This can double as a clean dry and safe play area if the weather turns for the worse.
You may want to section off an area outside the tent for playtime if you are camping with a crawling baby.
Depending on how much equipment you wish to bring, portable baby safety fences or enclosures are available here.
How To Keep Baby Warm While Camping
This is what I worry about most when camping with a baby. When I first took our little girl camping it was summer, and she was seventeen weeks old. After doing some research online we discovered you could get a camping sleeping bag for baby.
At night she wore a vest, a baby onesie, a baby sleeping bag, and a light blanket on top with a hat and mitts. Her little face did feel a bit cool in the middle of the night, but she was otherwise generally a nice warm temperature.
She slept better than most nights, so I presume she was feeling ok! At first, I did not use the hat and mitts, but she felt cold without them.
This amount of layering was only required when our daughter was a newborn. Our boy was always such a hot baby, he never needed it, even in the same temperatures.
Best to have a few extra layers just in case, along with considering purchasing one of the many baby sleeping bags for camping available on the market.
Camping With A Baby Gear
In terms of baby camping gear, there are only a few extra things you need for baby specifically. Items such as a baby camping chair, come in handy at meal times and when you need a break from holding.
Stay For More Than One Night
If it is your first time camping with a baby do your best to try and stay for more than one night. Many parents will find the first night probably quite challenging as baby adjusts to their new surroundings. On the second night, things should get easier.
You will have hopefully figured out what works and what doesn’t in terms of getting a good night’s sleep and being able to enjoy your time in the great outdoors.
Camping With A Baby Gear
Baby food and sterilising
Luckily on our first camping with a baby expedition, we did not have to do food or sterilising as I was exclusively breastfeeding. However the second time we were starting to establish solids.
I am not personally that keen on sachet/ jar food unless it is fresh with no additives. Equally, my baby is extremely fussy about food.
Luckily we had access to a portable fridge which is ideal for keeping home-cooked food fresh for baby. This was particularly handy as she still had puréed food. I blended quite a bit before and popped it in the fridge to keep fresh.
If your baby is in a specific routine pre-camping trip, try to stick with their normal nap, feeding times as much as possible. Choosing a campsite that can provide potable water is also important when it comes to making formula and keeping things clean.
If baby is a bit older you may only need a masher and they can eat what you are cooking ! Make sure to bring a big pot to boil water if you need to sterilise bottles or other baby paraphernalia.
By the time we took our second baby camping, we were much more relaxed. As all second time round parents are, right? We had a slightly different approach with baby number two as we tried out baby led weaning. It worked really well and made meal times so much easier when camping.
Bring A Baby Carrier
One of the essentials for camping with a baby has to be a baby carrier. A baby carrier is an invaluable piece of equipment on a camping trip as it keeps baby contained and allows you to be hands free.
It will give the freedom to set off on a hike or allow baby to take a nap comfortably (and sometimes even nurse!) without having to take them out or stop what you are doing on the move. If planning on doing a lot of strenuous hiking you may want to consider an actual hiking carrier over a regular carrier.
A hiking carrier usually comes with a metal frame that holds your child higher up then a regular soft carrier and it also usually has much larger pockets.
The metal frame in particular can make hiking much easier because it allows for much better airflow. With a normal carrier, you and your baby will be pressed together which can heat you up quickly.
There are tonnes of baby carrier brands on the market and sometimes it can be hard to choose which are the best baby carriers for travel and everyday outdoor use. We have written a whole blog on the subject which you can read here.
Make sure to bring plenty of nappies and wipes if you are using disposables. If you ordinarily use reusable nappies make sure you have access to a sufficient amount of water that you can boil for sterilising purposes.
Most of all, once you are settled, kick back and relax!
Family camping checklist
- Baby camping bed or Travel Cot
- Baby onesie or baby sleeping bag
- Tarpaulin or camping mat
- Baby carrier
- Sun cream and sun hat
- Silicon bib
- Nappies or Reusables
- Wet wipes
- Ziplock bags
- Insect repellant or citronella candles
- Baby camping chair
- Mosquito net
- Solar shower
- Baby Toys
- Bucket or large basin
- Big pot for boiling water
Have you been camping with a baby? Share your tips in the comment box below. I love hearing from you!