Summer is a great time to go camping with your family, even your wee little ones. Provided you go prepared, taking your baby camping can be a fun experience you will cherish forever.
Here are some tips I learned taking my baby camping:
1. Take “baby” steps. Pick a campsite close by.
For our first camping trip, we went to the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. We had an amazing time, but the six-hour drive home was hard on the baby.
Instead of doing your dream trip to Yellowstone, pick a camping location that’s close by in case things go poorly, and you need to bail. Keep hikes short, three miles or less. While you may be able to handle a much longer hike, your baby is still new to this.
2. Bring extra clothes.
Dress infants in light-weight, light-colored clothing to keep them cool, and pack at least one extra set for each day because, at some point, your baby will blow butt. If your baby’s diaper explodes on a hike, and you need to change a diaper on a boulder (like we did), keep a change of clothes and a foldable diaper pad in your hiking pack, as well as baggies to contain the mess.
Also, babies in the carrier often get sweaty and keep in mind that most babies’ clothing is made of cotton, which takes forever to dry once it’s wet. A change of clothes at the end of a hike will help keep them comfortable.
3. Your baby needs shade.
Increased outside time means more UV exposure. Even if it’s not hot, your baby can still get a sunburn. Apply baby sunscreen regularly (if they are over six months old), and keep them in the shade in the afternoon, when the sun is most intense. It helps to have a carrier that has an attached hood but don’t forget his hat and sunglasses.
Escape the sun by heading to the visitor’s center during the hottest part of the day. Plus, the little theater for the educational videos on loop is a great place to sit in the air conditioning and nurse! (I now know everything about the reintroduction of the bison to the Wichita Mountains).
4. Set up a place to breastfeed and rest.
A portable hammock between two trees or a fold-up chair will give you and your baby a chance to rest and nurse. Don’t let yourself sleep in the hammock with the baby, as that could create a fall hazard. Nap time is safer lying flat in the tent.
5. Keep the air mattress at home.
Beware of air mattresses, as most of them are not suitable for infants under two years (check the manual beforehand). Try a sleeping pad instead. Double sleeping bags are great for co-sleeping, although take care to keep the sleeping bag away from baby’s face.
When it got chilly at night, I kept the sleeping bag cover at torso height and used a separate blanket around my shoulders, while my baby was wrapped up in his own sleep sack.