.For couples who love the outdoors, having a baby might feel like it means that they’ll have put their adventure boots in storage for years until their little one is old enough to appreciate the joys of camping. However, this doesn’t have to be the case – there are many different ways you can head to the outdoors with your little one, as long as you consider all the aspects and take the necessary precautions. Read on to discover some tips for how to camp with your little one and still have fun.
Where can you go camping with a baby?
Many of the places that you might want to go camping as an adult are suitable for bringing a little one along. That means private campgrounds, state parks, and national parks are all viable options. As you try to figure out exactly what you want, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Limit your driving time
If the thought of camping with your baby seems intimidating, then don't add a long, tiring trip to your list of things to do. For your first camping trip with your little nugget, choose a campsite that's not too far from home. That way, you won't have to wake up at an unreasonable hour to make it to your destination, plus, if things don't turn out as you planned while camping, you can always pack up and go home without having to worry about a long drive home.
If you want to eliminate the stress of driving altogether, consider setting up your camping tent in your backyard so that you’re just a couple of feet away from your house.
- Look for campsites that offer amenities
A campsite that comes with a bathroom and playground nearby is probably not what you envisioned when you plan your camping trip, but those conveniences can be nice to have when you have a baby in tow, especially on your first outing.
- Get some distance from other campsites
If you intend to make reservations ahead of time, consider looking for a site that has a bit of distance between it and the other campsites. The extra space can help reduce your concerns about noise disturbances (your baby will inevitably cry), as well as make your camping experience feel a bit more remote.
How to dress your little one for camping
Here are some dressing tips to help keep your baby comfortable on your camping trip.
- Bring some layers
You want to bring some layers for your little one so that it's easy to adapt to changing weather. Pack an outer layer that will protect against elements such as wind and rain, a middle layer that provides warmth, and a base layer that is in direct contact with the skin.
If you’re camping in warm weather, a lightweight long-sleeve shirt and pants that are made of breathable fabric will keep your child protected from the sun. If you anticipate rain, make sure to pack a shell jacket to shield against raindrops.
- Diapers and more diapers
Pack as many diapers as you’ll need for the number of days you’ll be camping and then pack a couple more just in case. You’ll also want to bring with you a waste bag where you can dispose of diapers.
Keeping your baby safe from bugs and the sun while camping
- Limit exposed skin as much as possible
You will inevitably come across bugs spending time outdoors, so you should be well-prepared. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you should avoid using insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. On the other hand, the Environmental Work Group recommends that you should wait until they’re at least 6 months old.
If you won't be using repellents, try limiting the amount of exposed skin to protect your little one from bug bites. Consider tucking pants into socks, and dress them in a long-sleeve shirt and a hat. If this isn't sufficient, you can take it a step further by having your child wear head nets, lighting citronella candles, or setting up a screened-in shelter in your camping area.
- Seek shade
According to the Federal Drug Institution, it’s important to check with your doctor before applying sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months old. When it comes to protecting your little one from harmful UV rays, your first option should be to keep them away from it as much as you can. If possible, find a shady campsite. You can also use sun-protection clothing as well as an umbrella to block the sun.
Sleeping with a baby in a tent
If you’re being realistic, a solid night of sleep at home is highly unlikely, and when you add the unfamiliarity of a camping trip will probably wake you and your little one a couple more times throughout the night than is usual. Here are some tips on how you can handle the sleeping situation.
- Try to be adaptable
Camping will inevitably disrupt your baby’s usual nighttime routine, so try as much as possible to be adaptable. For example, you might find that you have to allow your tot to stay up later than usual, or breastfeed more frequently at night to offer comfort.
- Bring a portable crib
If your baby is used to sleeping in a portable crib or play yard, consider bringing it with you on your camping trip. The familiarity of such a sleeping environment may help your baby settle down faster.
- You will need a sizeable tent
If you have a roomy family camping tent, take it with you. All that extra space will allow you to easily spread out and get comfortable. Plus, a big tent gives you the space you need to use a portable crib or play yard.
- Don’t forget his/her favorite items!
Bring a couple of your child’s favorite items from home to help comfort him/her in the strange new environment. Pack things like the stuffed animal that he/she can’t sleep without, or the book you read together at bedtime.
Given how much time you spend indoors when you have a baby, taking them to an unfamiliar – especially one that is as unpredictable as the outdoors – can feel daunting. Use these tips as a reference when planning a camping trip with your little one (always discuss any specific concerns you might have with your pediatrician).