The very thought of spending a night outdoors with an infant sounds crazy to some parents especially those who believe that babies are fragile and cant adapt well to an unsterilized environment.
Okay, we don’t deny it, babies are remarkably hardy creatures and need to be handled with extreme care. But if you have the right gear to manage risk and any other away-from-home baby-related issues, you can take your little ones just about anywhere.
Camping with a baby is doable. As long as you invest in a good tent, pack the right good, and dress the baby properly, you will be fine. Of course, we won’t promise you stress-free nights but come on, don’t you think sleepless nights under the sparkling stars are way better than those where you have a ceiling looking down on you? We thought so too!
So, here is a guide to get you started. Whether you have a two-week-old, a two-month-old, or even a two-year-old, the following tips will help you take your baby camping without losing your mind. Ready?
1. Prepare For it!
It’s camping people! This means, being away from the comfort of your home including medical care. So do yourself a favor and make sure that your little one is healthy, eating, normally, and well hydrated before packing your camping gear.
Find out if there is any hospital near your campsite. It would also be a good idea to bring someone familiar with kids’ life-saving techniques. And please, this is just not the time to leave your first-aid kit behind. If possible, let it be the first thing you stash in your car.
But wait! Is your baby going through some sort of a growth spurt? Teething maybe? Well, you may consider pushing your trip to a later date. Growth spurts are hard enough to deal with, even at home!
However, if you feel like the trip can’t wait another day, consider a spot close to home. That way, even if things go terribly wrong, you can always bail.
Camping closer to home will also help you get an idea of all the stuff you need, to spend a night in the wilderness with a toddler. You really don’t want to start figuring things out when you are at a spot that is 10 hours away.
2. Choose The Right Spot
Many times, campsites get booked many months in advance. If you are serious about getting a good spot for camping with a baby, plan early enough.
The ideal area for spending a night with a toddler will be flat with plenty of space for them to move around. Consider a grassy surface too as this will be easier for them to navigate. If you can find one with natural shade, go for it. Otherwise, just pack up a tent canopy and you will have enough shelter from the sun.
If it’s your first time camping with a little one, find a place that is not too cold. Babies are delicate souls and may not respond so well to cold. So if you don’t want to start your baby camping on a sour note, just get a warm spot.
To make your search easier, make online forums your best friend. You will find real stories of people who have successfully gone camping with their kids, the dos and don’ts, and most importantly what baby gear you should bring.
Make good use of online maps too. Most camping grounds have these and it would be wise to check them out before selecting a spot of your liking. That way, you will know exactly how far the spot is from social amenities and what public facilities are available.
3. Bring A Baby Camping Gear
Kids may not require complex camping gear as we do. All they need is a feeling of home away from home.
Think about it for a moment – you will need to buy a camping shower for yourself for bath time, while your baby will only require a basin. You will go through the trouble of buying camping chairs, while a baby can sit on grass the whole time. Okay, if you want to bring a camping blanket so they can sit on while they play, that’s fine but let’s just say, a toddler will do just fine anywhere provided they have their toys.
In fact, you may not need to buy any specific gear for the baby as you can bring what you already have at home for the time being. Later when you have mastered the art of camping with a toddler, you can purchase all the equipment you need.
But there are additional items that you must not forget to pack for this trip – a baby sunscreen and sun hat. You will be spending the best part of your day outdoors so it’s only fair that you keep your little one protected from the harmful UV rays. Don’t forget a mosquito net. The last thing you want is to find mosquito bites on your baby’s skin when you wake up.
4. Have A Nighttime Strategy
The biggest challenge about caring for a toddler in a tent is ensuring that everyone gets some good night’s sleep. Inside a house, things could be a little different because you can find plenty of things to lull the baby to sleep with.
The problems in the wilderness are real. If you are not trying to keep the baby warm on chilly nights, you are probably trying to look for toys in the dark!
Plan a good strategy for the nighttime. Bring warm clothes to keep you and your baby warm. If your kid’s sleeping bag is too light, consider getting a thicker one. You can also have a baby pillow placed next to your sleeping pad to make their sleep more comfortable.
If your tent is big enough and can fit a portable crib and your baby’s toys, the better. This will make it more homely, which is all your baby needs to get to sleep.
Just don’t forget to bring a camping lantern or flashlight to make your nighttime changes manageable. Keep this at a reachable distance so that even if you want to check on your baby, it will be easy for you to grab.
5. Feed Your Baby
If you are breastfeeding, feeding your little one will be easy. Breast milk is a convenient package and you might not need to bring any other food on this trip.
If you are bottle-feeding though, you need to be a little careful with the hygiene of what the toddler eats. Filter and treat the water including that used for washing the little face and hands.
The idea here is to keep waterborne bacteria as far away as possible from your baby. One big problem with sick infants is dehydration, which can be a result of bugs found in the wilderness. These pathogens cause intestinal distress, something you don’t want your baby to experience.
If your crawler is at the stage of eating, give them what you are having. Just mash it up a little. Generally, a fork will do a great job but if you want things ground a little finer, you may consider buying a small food mill.
And don’t worry too much if your baby collects a wild fruit from the ground and eats it. Sometimes a little dirt is good for them. Sure, you should have everything your kids eat rinsed off first, but hey, didn’t you eat some dirt when you were little and are still alive?
6. Layer Them Up
Scientifically, 18% of the heat lost from your body is through your head. Babies tend to transfer more heat from their bodies than adults because their head to body ratio is much higher.
Headgear is essential for kids. Hoodies and beanies are great too as they keep the heat locked inside the body.
Don’t expose those little toes and fingers to the cold. You need to keep them covered. Remember this; your baby is not generating heat because he is not moving, so your best bet is to keep a large part of his skin covered.
Dress them in layers so that even when it gets hotter and they start to sweat you can easily adjust the clothing. If the weather is warm, do more loose-fitting clothing and make sure they are hydrated.
Keep a keen eye on your baby, as they can’t tell you when they are too cold or too hot. You will, however, know when they are not comfortable.
When it comes to choosing the fabric of your baby’s clothing, go for one that dries quickly and doesn’t get sticky when wet. Avoid cotton at all costs. For starters, it loses heat faster and if the baby sweats, it will hold moisture, which will later cause rashes on the skin of the infant. Not what you want on your baby.
Look for merino wool. Even when it gets wet you can just wring it out and before you know it, it will be all dry.
7. Bring Nappies
Everyone poops! That’s the sad reality about all living creatures. Whether you are at home or enjoying life outdoors, you will have to obey this rule of creation.
Now, when camping with a baby, things are no different. The only difference is that you will be bringing an extra bag of diapers. Forget these standard diaper bags – we are talking about something that can seal the bad odor in.
Think of it as a dry bag. Do you see these bags that canoers store in their boats to keep their valuables dry? Same thing. Only that in this scenario you won’t be worried about kicking water out but keeping human waste in.
Once you are back home, dispose of your chunky diapers in the toilet. If you are lucky to find a dumpster close to the campsite, the better as you won’t have to do a 10-hour drive with filth in your car.
Some prefer bringing cloth nappies on trips like these. Okay, these are great because they are environmentally friendly and all that but seriously, who wants to spend their first baby camp dealing with human waste, or rather cleaning and drying diapers?
8. Look Out For Critters
You want your baby to crawl and move about but have you taken some time to examine the ground before setting than on it? It’s the wilderness, not the usual kids’ playing room, so you ought to be careful about what junior “walks” on.
Beware of ant colonies. Know if there are any beehives near your camping spot too. If there is long grass near your tent where ticks and other bugs could live, make sure to trim it off before you settle in.
Ensure the ground is free of sharp objects too that can pierce the child’s skin. Infant’s skin is fragile and will be defenseless against irritation from elements and bug bites.
To make sure your baby is unharmed when he moves around, look around to see if the ground is safe. Watch them closely to ensure that nothing dangerous is in the picture.
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Camping with a baby is fun and actually not as hard as most people are made to believe. As long as one has prepared enough, obtained the right gear to keep the little one warm, and fed them with clean healthy food, then the baby will be just fine under the stars.
If you are doing this for the first time, you can start with a place close to your home to learn the ropes and gain some confidence in this. Kids will be fine anywhere. They will not tell the difference between the beach and a nice lake near your home. So don’t stress, just pick a spot that you are comfortable with. If things don’t turn out as expected, no one will judge you for picking up and going back home.
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- 25 Tips For Camping With Toddlers & Babies, eatingrichly.com