Family camping trips can be a whole lot of fun — roasting marshmallows, hiking through the woods and sleeping under the stars. However, the thought of bringing your baby on one of those trips can seem like a nightmare for many parents.
If you are considering taking your baby on his first camping trip, there are many things that you should know before you go.
The first thing that you should think about is where your baby is going to sleep. Whether you are camping in a tent, a cabin or an RV, bringing along a portable crib or a playpen is a must. A firm air mattress can also help older babies and toddlers be more comfortable.
If you are breastfeeding, then you don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to feeding your baby. However, if you are bottle feeding, you must keep in mind that you will need to bring a supply of safe water or filtered water while you are camping in order to mix your baby’s formula. You can premix formula, but you’ll have to keep it cool until you use it. If you baby eats finger foods, bring along plenty of Cheerios, goldfish crackers and other options.
You can’t let your baby to get too hot or too cold. For that reason, spring or fall camping may be a better idea than summer or winter. A sleep sack should keep him warm enough at night in mild temperatures. Just remember that you can’t just pile more blankets on your baby when it’s cold outside. A portable fan or heater might be a good option as well.
Babies under six months old are too young for insect repellent, so invest in a mosquito net to keep him protected. Talk to your doctor and find out at what age you should start using sunscreen on your little one. Some don’t recommend sunscreen for kids under 6 months old, while others will say babies are never too young for sunscreen. Whether wearing sunscreen or not, babies should be kept out of direct sunlight — plus a big floppy hat and sun-protective clothing will help. Also, make sure your campsite offers plenty of shade.
Consider your baby’s personality before deciding if you should go on a camping trip. Does your baby adapt well to new environments? Does he enjoy being outdoors? Can he tolerate a long car trip to get to your destination? You may want to consider camping at a nearby site for your first trip.
When camping with your baby, you should pack more than you think you’ll need — especially when it comes to things like diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer. Even if you use cloth diapers normally, you might want to switch over to disposables for your camping trip to make things a little easier. Bring a waterproof blanket or tarp to create a play area for your baby, as well as a bouncer or portable swing to keep him contained. Of course, your baby carrier or sling is a must to wear your baby during hikes.
If you aren’t sure if your little one is ready for a camping excursion, you might want to give it a trial run. Set up a tent in your own backyard and see how your baby does with a camping “trip” at home for the first time.
Bring along a first aid kit for minor cuts, rashes and abrasions. Be prepared for emergencies. Take a CPR training class and also know where the nearest hospital or urgent care facility is located to your campsite.