If you love camping, there is no reason to put it off until your baby is older. Babies generally do well on camping trips: they enjoy the fresh air, sleeping next to their parents, and having new places to explore. Making your first camping trip close to home may give you the confidence you need to pack up and go. Choose a drive-in campground so you’ll be able to access your car for extra storage. Then, keep things simple and focus on your baby’s major needs.
Feeding: If your baby is breastfed, a nursing pillow will make nursing in the tent or camp chair more comfortable. If your baby drinks formula, consider buying prepared solutions: while pricey, they are convenient and don’t need to be refrigerated until opened. Disposable plastic liners ease bottle washing duty. Bring plenty of bottled water and a few no-spill cups if your baby is over 6 months old. If your baby eats solid foods, jars of fruits and finger foods such as banana slices or teething biscuits are good snack options. Instead of packing a lot of baby food, give your baby appropriate versions of what you’re eating such as a baked potato cooked over the campfire, soft canned vegetables, or well-cooked pasta. Look for a sturdy portable high chair that can attach right to the picnic table.
Keeping Clean: Bring twice as many diapers and wipes as you think you’ll need and plenty of plastic bags for soiled diapers and wet clothes. Don’t skimp on baby clothing, it doesn’t take up much space and mobile babies are likely to get quite dirty. A portable clothesline is handy for drying hand-washed clothing and towels. Bring hand sanitizer to use after diaper changes and a portable baby tub. And accept that your baby won’t stay quite as clean as they do at home; it’s all part of the charm of camping.
Playing: Pack a few sturdy toys but be realistic your baby may be more interested in the sticks and rocks. An old blanket makes a nice, clean spot for a nap or quiet play time. Portable play yards are great for times when you want baby to stay safely put for awhile. A wide brimmed hat and sunscreen are essential, as is a good insect repellant. Lightweight, long sleeve shirts and pants will fend off sunburn and insects. For very young babies, a bouncy seat or infant carrier is convenient. If you’re concerned about insects, invest in a mesh canopy for your play yard or a screen house that fits over your picnic table. If you’ll be doing any hiking, bring a baby backpack. We have used and can recommend those made by Kelty (frame backpacks) and Ergo (soft backpacks).
Sleeping: If you have older kids and a baby that doesn’t sleep particularly well, you may want to use two tents to give your other kids a little space (hey, at least someone should sleep). If you’re buying new sleeping bags, look for ones that zip together so your baby can sleep right next to you, this will help with any anxiety that may manifest itself in midnight screaming sprees. Be flexible with sleeping arrangements, we have had to resort to one parent “sleeping” in the car with baby while the other stays in the tent with the older siblings. And if your first night is rough, don’t be too quick to give up; the second night is almost always better. If not, take heart: you really will find the experience funny some day.