Every summer, families enjoy the fun and relaxing activity of camping. However, if you have a baby, camping might seem out of the question for a while. After all, babies need a lot of gear and attention.
It’s true that camping with a baby means more work than camping with adults and older children, but it can still happen.
Time Your Trip Carefully
Adults can go camping for long periods of time, in bad weather, or on the spur of the moment. If you want to go camping with your baby, however, you need to plan things out with their needs in mind.
If the forecast predicts particularly hot, cold, or wet weather, you may want to delay your camping trip. Temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are considered comfortable temperatures for your child to play outside. Above or below that are uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions for your baby.
Choose a Safe Camping Spot
Once you've settled on the best time for camping, you need to choose a safe camping spot. Things many adults consider normal background scenery may be dangerous for your child. Even small things like shallow creeks or gravel can pose dangers for your baby. If your baby knows how to crawl, it's important to think about what's within their reach.
Look for safe, flat, grassy camping areas. This avoids the risk of a baby drowning, falling, or cutting themselves on rocks and gravel. While it may not be as scenic as your normal camping locations, it’s still safer for your baby.
Give Yourself Some Space
A crying baby is one of the most noticeable sounds in the world. The human brain is primed to notice babies crying and to find it difficult to ignore. In an otherwise quiet campsite, a crying baby can and will catch the attention of everyone in earshot.
If you’re going camping, it’s important to be polite to your fellow campers. When your baby is along, look for campsites away from other campers — by several hundred feet if possible. This will help you handle any fussy baby behavior without keeping your neighbors awake at night.
Protect Your Baby
The great outdoors sound fun, but they're not without risks. When your baby comes camping with you, you should take steps to protect them. If you’re annoyed by the sun and the bugs, think about how much worse it is for your child.
To keep your little one from getting sunstroke or sunburn, choose age-appropriate sun-protection measures. Infant safe sunscreen as well as brimmed hats, long-sleeved clothing, and portable shade screens. During the heat of summer, it’s also worth avoiding spending time in the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Bug bites are another big worry for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that no bug repellent is safe for children under the age of two months, and products with DEET shouldn’t be used on younger children. Instead, they recommend dressing your child in long-sleeved clothing, socks, and closed-toes shoes, and use bug nets when possible.
You can also apply bug sprays to your tent and other lotions to your child’s clothes to keep ticks away.
It takes a village to raise a child, and camping is no different. Having more trustworthy adults nearby makes it easier to keep your baby supervised and cared for while you’re camping. Bringing extra family or friends on your camping trip can also make it easier to carry extra gear, like baby food, bottles, diapers, playpens, extra clothing, and toys.
Have a Diaper Plan
If there’s one thing that babies will always need, it’s more diapers. Whether you’re planning a single overnight stay or a longer camping trip, you’ll need a plan for how to handle soiled diapers while you’re out.
If you choose a camping ground with amenities like public bathrooms, this is simpler. You’ll just need to bring enough diapers to last the entire trip. It never hurts to bring backup diapers, though. You should also pack your typical diapering equipment, like diaper rash ointment and wipes.
If you’re going to a spot that’s a little more secluded, then you’ll need to have a way to compost diapers or bring used diapers back out of the park. A washable, waterproof, and smell-proof bag for soiled diapers is a worthwhile investment if you’re going to camp off the beaten path. Otherwise, compostable diapers can be buried just like other waste.