Camping with Baby:

Tips to make your outdoor adventure as smooth as possible

July 1, 2019 | by anna rogers

There is nothing like getting out into the fresh Montana air and reconnecting with the beautiful, natural world that surrounds us. Sleeping under the Big Sky for a family camping trip is a great way to make memories and bond together away from daily stresses and responsibilities.

For parents of little ones, though, taking a camping trip can be a daunting task. Despite being so tiny, babies require a lot of stuff: diapers, wipes, extra clothes, baby carriers, bottles, specific food, and the list goes on. On top of that, these precious babes have many requirements for maintaining a happy disposition: naps, nursing, and of course, nighttime sleep!

With all of its challenges, camping with a baby is worth the effort and sets a precedent for a lifetime of adventure. Check out these tips to help your next camping trip with baby go as smoothly as possible.

Plan Ahead

When a camping trip is coming up, I start at least three days before with a list. On day one I jot down all the items I’ll need to pack for baby. As I go through my daily routine, I discover things here and there that I forgot to add to my original list. Inevitably, I always remember something very important on day three.

Another helpful trick is to put a sticky note right beside the door for items that can’t be packed until the last minute, like refrigerated food or a favorite blanket or pacifier. These last-minute items are most easily forgotten yet most very important.

Start Simply

For your first few camping trips with baby, select a location not-too-far from home and car camp. Access to the car and no long hike enables you to pack without limitations and have an easy exit strategy should things go awry. Start with just an overnight to see how it goes. As I always remind myself, anyone can go ONE night without any sleep! 

If you loved backcountry camping in your pre-baby days, try out a backcountry spot with a short hike in after you've had a successful car camping excursion. Yellowstone National Park has a great backcountry trip planner that helps you select an ideal site for your family.

Be Weather Prepared

Montana weather can be unpredictable and fast-moving. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and remember to factor in elevation if in the mountains. Bring gear for yourself and baby to protect against wind, snow, hail, sun, or extreme heat. Always maintain a good water supply, especially for breastfeeding moms!

Bring the Gadgets

There are some great baby gear items available to make family camping a breeze. Hiking baby carriers support baby’s weight and offer storage space for necessities. Many come with a foldaway sunshade that protects from harsh sunlight or unexpected rain. Folding travel high chairs are perfect for including baby in campsite fun and allowing mom and dad to be hands-free when needed.

Sleeping on the ground is the warmest option for little one and provides the ease of not having to pack a crib. A sleeping pad offers insulation and comfort, and buntings over layers are a great alternative to sleeping bags. If camping in cold weather, it’s worth investing in a quality wool bodysuit and pants as a base layer instead of the cotton or polyester used in most baby clothes.

If sleeping on the ground just isn’t working out and your tent is large enough, try out a travel crib with a mattress that lays on the ground if the temperature will be dropping at night.

Give Baby Credit

I always assume the worst and spend unnecessary energy worrying if my sweet bundle of joy will be warm enough, comfortable enough, or sleep well enough. I'm always amazed and pleasantly surprised at how well babies adapt. Children are resilient, and we'll never know the joy of camping with our little ones if we never give it a chance!

Originally printed in the July 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

Never miss an issue, check out SFM's digital editions here! 

related articles: