Read this article to ensure your child is comfortable enough during your outdoor trip so that every family member can enjoy the adventure.
As long as you are prepared, it’s never too soon to take your baby camping. Taking them out while they’re young gives them a chance to get used to sleeping in strange new places. Choose a location close to home for your first camping trip. A familiar area and quick access to extra supplies will take some of the stress out of your journey. Take another family along for company and extra hands to help out around the campsite.
Leave yourself plenty of time to arrive early and inspect the campsite. Check the ground carefully for sharp rocks, garbage or cigarette butts left by previous campers. Debris or unknown plants could make their way into your child’s curious hands or mouth. Set up a play area away from the fire pit, open water and the cooking area.
Ensure you have one bag packed with any medications your child needs, a first aid kit, extra formula, sunscreen and other essential supplies? Keep this bag organised and within easy reach in case you need it.
Parents can expect family camping to be slower paced and more relaxed than singles or couples trips.
You will spend more time at the campsite cleaning, preparing food and changing diapers. It still leaves plenty of time and room to let your baby explore the environment around them. The key to keeping them safe, comfortable and entertained is to create safe zones. Let them munch on twigs, play in the grass or dirt and maybe even discover a bug or two.
Babies under six months old enjoy watching the activity around them. Use a standing seat or back carrier to keep them safe and let them check things out from a new point of view. Use rolled blankets or a playpen to create a safe area for crawlers to venture around in. Toddlers require constant supervision so have one adult on toddler duty at all times. Use games and activities to keep them busy.
Taking into consideration peak sun times (between 11 am and 3 pm) and the time of day when bugs are at their worst (usually around dusk). Since insect repellant and sunscreen are not safe for use on children under six months old, hats and protective clothing are necessary. Loose, breathable cotton clothing is best for hot weather camping, while warm layers will help to keep your child comfortable in cooler climates.
Babies and toddlers can become excitable or homesick while camping. To ease bedtime worries, ensure that your child has a comfortable, quiet area for sleeping. Make it free of biting bugs and weather extremes. If there is room in the tent, set up a playpen for the baby to sleep in. They will be comfortable and secure for the night. Familiar scents soothe babies, so lay a parent’s worn t-shirt or light jacket over their bottom sheet and tuck the corners underneath. Allow toddlers to bring their favourite toy to bed with them. Use layers of light blankets to keep them warm. Young babies should wear a light cap in warm weather or a knit hat with earflaps to bed on cooler nights.
Breastfeeding mothers don’t need to worry about bottle sterilisation while camping, and formula feeding parents can make this an easier task with the right supplies. Use disposable bottle liners and pre-mixed formula for easier feeding and clean up. Nipples should be boiled after each use. Bring a good supply of sterile water for cooking, drinking, mixing juices and washing dishes. To save room, use a large pot both for cooking and dishwashing. Wash it out last, after the dishes and bottles are finished. Avoid placing your cooking area within 100 yards of your sleeping area to reduce the risk of a curious animal stopping by for a snack. If your family comes across a wild animal in your travels, respect their space and remove the child from the area immediately. You can always go back and clean up any mess they may have made later.
Antagonising a racoon or bear with your presence is very dangerous – especially when small children are involved.
Make sure you have the right tent for your family!
Games and activities are a great way to introduce your child to nature and keep everyone entertained throughout the trip. If you’re hiking with a toddler, bring plenty of snacks and fluids. Plan a trip that is within comfortable walking distance for the child. Younger babies love the view from a back carrier as you trek across the countryside. Avoid slippery slopes, unsteady rocks and open water to keep the hike safe and enjoyable. Campground chores are also fun games for your child. Collecting firewood can be a scavenger hunt, even if they only bring back a few small twigs. Sitting around the campfire just begs for spooky stories to be told. Washing dishes and laundry is an excellent opportunity for a water fight!
Make the most of your trip by enjoying every minute with your child. Let them get dirty; you can wash their clothes later. Let your baby crawl and explore in the safe zone you’ve created for them. Explain to your child what you are doing and why. They’re learning from your every action so set a good example. Teach them to respect the campsite environment by removing your garbage, appreciating the safety zone around the campfire and obeying campsite rules. Family camping shouldn’t be intimidating, even for beginner campers. It just might be the most fun you have this season!