How to Survive (and Actually Enjoy) Camping With a Baby
Camping with a baby seems like a lot of work. In addition to all your standard camp gear, you’ve also got to think about packing an endless list of supplies for your little one. But despite all the extra work, camping is actually a fantastic way to introduce your kids to the great outdoors, and it’s never too early to light the fire. For many parents, short camping trips can serve as a trial run for longer, more involved outings, so think of them as practice.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before that first trip to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
Don’t bring nice stuff
The campground isn’t the place to bring your fancy baby gear. Pack only the stroller, toys, playpen and clothes you don’t mind beating up.
Pack the cooler like a pro
Learning how to pack a cooler is a life lesson you will turn to again and again in your life, especially as a parent. Where you once had to worry only about hot dogs and cans of beer, now you have to think about keeping your child’s food fresh. Pack your breastmilk in storage bags in a separate cooler or in a cooler rack away from your other food. Many mamas recommend using dry ice to keep breastmilk cold while traveling.
Wait out the newborn phase
This tip holds especially true if you’re going to a busy campground. A crying baby in the middle of the night can disrupt the campers around you and compromise the peace and serenity of the environment. Wait until your baby is sleeping through the night to plan your first campout or request a remote site.
Lock your tent with luggage locks
Crawling, toddling and reaching kiddos love to play with zippers. To prevent them from opening the tent — and letting in heat, humidity and pesky bugs — use luggage locks to secure the zippers.
Bring the playpen
We know it takes up a ton of space, but it’s worth it. There are two reasons why the playpen is your best friend when camping with a baby. First, it creates a comfortable and familiar place for baby to sleep. Second, it creates a contained play area that keeps your little one safe from any hazards of the campground, including the fire.
Embrace the dirt
Your child will get dirty while camping. It’s better to embrace and accept this fact than to fight it. Just make sure to dress her in clothes you don’t mind messing up and pack twice the number of baby wipes you think you need.
Watch like a hawk
Let kids explore, but be sure you’re observing everything they do. Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t baby proof, and your little one could come across some real dangers — poison ivy, wildlife, bugs, fire — if not supervised.
It always helps to have your hands free when setting up camp, prepping dinner and hiking, so don’t forget to pack your favorite baby carrier, sling or wrap. Again, pack one you don’t mind getting dirty and always remember to never wear your baby while building a campfire.
It never hurts to warm kids up to camping with a little backyard practice session. An overnighter in the tent will help ensure they’re comfortable at the campground and will help you prepare for the real thing.
Play it safe
Safety is a major concern for cautious new parents, and there are many potential risks to consider while camping. Be sure to pack your heavy-duty backpacks with baby-safe bug spray and sunblock. Be sure to keep any curious or toddling little ones away from the fire, the grill, knives and other dangers. If you’re camping by a lake or river, make sure your baby has a life preserver that’s comfortable enough to wear even when you’re just lounging around.
Like any kind of outdoor expedition, camping with a baby requires one thing above all else — smart preparation. With the right prep and a few good supplies, you can be sure camping will become one of your very favorite activities with your new family. Pelican is here to help you prep with the best gear, whether you need a rolling cooler or a watertight case to stash all your extra stuff.