Parents – Keeping Your Baby Or Toddler Comfortable While
Camping with a baby or toddler
seems intimidating. But while it requires a bit more work and
preparation, the rewards are also great. Camping is learning experience
for both baby and parents! Knowing how to keep your baby or toddler
comfortable throughout the trip will make the experience a good
one for the entire family.
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 trip. 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
Have one bag packed
with any medications your child needs, a first aid kit,
extra formula, sunscreen and other important supplies. Keep this
bag organized 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. This 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 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.
Dress your child for
the weather, taking into consideration peak sun times
(between 11am and 3pm) and the time of day when bugs are at their
worst (usually around dusk). Since bug 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. Babies
are soothed by familiar scents, 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 favorite 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 ear flaps
to bed on cooler nights.
don’t need to worry about bottle sterilization 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.
Antagonizing a raccoon or bear with your presence is very dangerous
- especially when small children are involved.
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 a great 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!