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Camping with a Baby: How to Make it Fun and Safe

You had a baby, but you don’t want to give up your adventurous lifestyle—who else can relate? 

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Becoming a parent rocks your world; your priorities change almost overnight and your free time dwindles to a fraction of what it once was. Now that you’ve brought this squishy bundle of joy into the world, though, you want to start enjoying life with your new family as soon as possible. 

Well, here’s your sign. Camping with a baby is within reach, especially if you’re willing to be flexible. Babies and toddlers benefit from spending time outdoors, and the family bonding time will be worth the extra effort.

Here are some tips for camping with a baby so it’s safe and fun for all.

Family camping
Credit SzymonBartosz via Getty Images

Plan for Safe Sleep

A pack ‘n play is perhaps the best way to get your baby sleeping safely in her own space while still being within arm’s reach. Choose a pack ‘n play that’s lightweight and fits within your tent or camper. (Pop your tent up in the backyard and measure it all out before you buy a pack ‘n play, if you can.)

To keep your baby warm at night, consider a wearable sleeping bag or a wearable blanket, depending on the weather. These products will stay put all night without the risk of riding up over your baby’s face. If you’re still in the swaddling phase, you might look for a swaddle made for cold weather and layer it on top of warm footie pajamas. 

Hats for sleeping babies are not recommended under a certain age. Do your own safe-sleep research before you head out to make sure you have what you need to keep your baby comfortable all night long.

If you use white noise at home, invest in a battery-powered portable sound machine to bring camping. Use for bedtime and naptime, as needed.

Credit Morten Falch Sortland via Getty Images

Gear up

You will need to refresh your camping gear post-baby, and that may include upgrading your good ‘ole two-person tent. It’ll also be helpful to have a foldable rocking chair on hand, as well as a portable high chair, if your baby is old enough for solids. 

Consider what you’d like your baby to play on or in while outdoors around the campsite. This could be as simple as a nice, thick blanket under some shade, or you can bring the pack ‘n play out for a place to keep your baby safe when she’s not being held. (Don’t forget to let her play in the dirt, too.)

If your baby is walking, then let the fun begin. Embrace the mess and let your little one explore within whatever limits you decide to set for his safety.

When you have a fire, keep an adult on baby/toddler duty at all times. Consider putting a barrier around the fire, like a pet exercise gate that’s well staked down.

For hiking, if your baby can’t hold up his head yet, stick to a basic wrap or structured carrier with infant insert. If your baby is walking, you can let him walk as much as possible, but you’ll want something to carry him in when he’s too tired to carry on. Get yourself a nice baby hiking backpack that’ll work for a wide weight range, so you can use it for the next several years.

Credit Jessica Peterson via Getty Images

Let Go of Routine Perfection

Routines are life when you have an infant, but outdoor adventuring with your baby will require some flexibility on your part (and on your baby’s part). Naps may happen at inconvenient times, or they might not happen at all. Consider ahead of time how to best recreate your routines for bedtime and nap time(s) at the campsite, but also try to be OK with the fact that it won’t be perfect.

Babies are easily overstimulated, so don’t expect your little one to fully appreciate your favorite pastime quite yet. As she gets older, your baby will learn to love the great outdoors as much as you do, especially if you make camping part of your family culture early on. 

Have you camped with a baby? What other tips do you have for new parents?

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