Tips for camping with a baby
February 17, 2014
We’ve taken both of our kids camping in their first year of life. Here’s what we learned in our experience:
1. It’s totally doable
2. The babies didn’t scream all night and cause glares from other campers, and
3. We all survived
1. It might get pretty cold at night. We brought some winter layers and had to use them during cooler days by the lake and also at night.
2. Insect repellant sprays are not recommended for children under two. We dealt with this by covering the baby up more, and staying away from mosquito prone areas such as deep woods. We were able to go for a forest hike and just placed a breathable cloth over the baby (who was in a snuggly on my chest) when going for a walk. Of course, I frequently fanned the cloth to make sure the baby didn’t get too hot and got adequate air.
3. Night time crying. Although we always spend a lot of time choosing sites with good privacy and stay in campgrounds meant for families (where noises are part of the experience), I’m always very concerned about the babies disturbing other campers at night. To minimize night crying I:
i) Had the baby sleep right beside me so I could monitor if he’s getting too cold or hot,
ii) Brought lots of extra bedding in anticipation of nigh wetness accidents,
iii) Had anti-itch ointment ready (such as cortisone cream, or solution of baking soda.) for when those insect bites start itching again in the middle of the night
iv) …um… it really helps if you’re still nursing.
Thinking back of my camping experiences, when my babies cried, it was only for a little bit and I think it was not disturbing to other campers. Similarly, I have no memorable of experience of not being able to sleep due to other families’ babies crying, --I find dogs much more disturbing.
4. Having a safe place to put them. We’ve never carried our play pen with us, so having a safe place to put babies is a bit of a challenge. When we camped with my son, who was only about 3 months old, I mostly carried him in the snuggly or sat him in a kids’ camping chair (while I played with him). A few months later, when he started playing on his belly, we spread out our big tarp, put a blanket on top of it and let him exercise there.
We recently looked over our photos of our kids’ first camping experiences. Although they can’t remember the experience themselves, they have this proof of having been camping right from the start and solidifies this as part of their makeup – I’m a camper. Camping is not something all their friends from school do, so these photos give them some confidence – I’ve been camping since I was a baby.