Ahh, the great outdoors! If camping has always been a favorite activity, there's no reason to give it up when you have a baby to bring along. With some well-chosen equipment and child safety guidelines, the smallest camper can be comfortable on the campout and begin a lifelong relationship with the wonders of nature.
Start close to home. Make your first infant-accompanied camping trip to a destination close to home, and plan to stay only a night or two. Remember some basic common sense rules. If you're camping in a tent, a portable playpen is a safe place for the baby to sleep and play. An infant carrier, stroller and some toys are basics to pack. It's essential to keep the baby's schedule as normal as possible, so be ready to manage feeding, bath, nap and sleep times. Tired, hungry or wet babies get cranky! Keep the baby warm, and always bring more clothing and diapers than you think you'll need.
Don't forget sunscreen and a good hat with a chin strap. Babies under six months old shouldn't wear insect repellent, so have a large piece of mosquito netting to drape over the stroller, crib or playpen to protect them from bugs. Sensitive skin doesn't take much exposure to sun to burn and become painful. Slather an appropriate sunscreen on your child, and keep their tender skin covered. Never leave the baby in direct sunlight too long. Just like adults, infants need to stay hydrated, so be sure the baby is taking in enough fluids. Give plenty of water along with breast-feeding or formula.
Your baby can sleep and play on an air mattress covered with a blanket.
Bring along a plastic tub to make your baby's bath time easy. Check supplies in your first aid kit before you pack it, and be certain it includes a thermometer, an infant-appropriate fever reducer and antibacterial cream.
If you're bottle-feeding the baby, it's convenient to use bottle liners when camping so you simply have to sterilize the nipples over your camp stove. Premixed formula is easier than powdered, but for safety's sake, be careful to keep the cans cool until you use them. If your baby has progressed to finger foods, pack some choices that won't be compromised by lack of refrigeration. Jarred foods are easy and sterile choices that can provide quick nutrition. Make a list so you won't arrive at your campsite only to discover that you've forgotten some baby essentials. It's better to pack more than to be caught in the woods without a critical item!
Once you set up camp, put the baby in your carrier and get moving! There's a whole world out there to explore, and the infant will enjoy and learn from the outdoor experience.
Need more great ideas for spending quality time with your baby? Check out Baby's Day Out City Guide — you'll discover all the top baby-friendly destinations and how to enjoy them with your little one.
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