The thought of camping with an infant or toddler frightens many parents, but as long as you’re somewhat prepared, it will be a whole lot more fun than you think. My husband and I took our son camping for the first time when he was 3 weeks old and again when he was 6 weeks old and he did awesome! Here’s my advice when it comes to camping with young children…
Don’t Be in a Hurry
Make sure you bring plenty of snacks and books for the car ride and expect to take a couple breaks on the way there and back. As long as you set the expectation with yourself and your spouse that it will take you much longer to get to your destination compared to what Google Maps tells you, you’ll be much more relaxed.
Bring plenty of blankets, hats and warm clothing for the evening. For infants I’d recommend a fleece bunting (like the one made by Patagonia) that encloses their feet. Otherwise make sure to keep them wrapped up in blankets. For toddlers that toss and turn in bed where you can’t keep any blankets on them, consider purchasing a sleeping bag that they can’t wiggle out of (here’s the one I use)
Don’t force the 8pm Bedtime
If you try to stick to your schedule and put your kids to bed at 8pm, you’ll only end up frustrated. Unless your child is passed out where putting him/her to bed is super easy, don’t even attempt it. Trying to get them to go to sleep in a new area (such as a tent or a camper) can be pretty scary for a toddler, especially when you leave them alone and go back to the campfire. Just strap a headlamp to their head and let them hang out with you until they either crash or until you decide that its your bedtime as well.
Bringing along a stuffed animal night light (or equivalent) can be great in case your toddler gets scared of the dark. You can set it so the light goes off after a set amount of minutes that way it’s not on all night.
Normally I’m not a fan of giving juice to my kids due to added sugar but when we’re outside all day in the hot sun, it’s good to carry a few options (like juice boxes or squeezable food pouches) other than water to help them stay hydrated.
Warming Up Bottles
If you have an infant that is going to want a hot bottle make sure you bring along a thermos and make sure it is always full of hot water. Add some hot water to the formula (along with regular temperature water) until its the right temperature.
Backpack or Infant Carrier
For hiking around during the daytime make sure to bring along an infant carrier or backpack for your child to ride in.
Dealing with Nap Time While Camping
It’s best to plan either a hike or some driving time around the middle of the day (or whenever nap time is). That way they can easily fall asleep in the backpack or their car seat.
Toys for Around Camp
There’s only a couple toys that you need to bring along in my opinion:
- a bike (balance bikes work great for the uneven terrain but watch out, toddlers can disappear really fast on a bike so make sure to keep your eye on them)
- pail and shovel
You’re going to want something to place your infant in at the camp spot while you’re busy with other tasks. This could be a bassinet, bouncer or some type of portable pack ‘n play.
That’s it. Any questions? Let me know how it goes and if you have any other advice or tips please share it in the comments section.