Getting outdoors is essential no matter what your age. Spending time away from the hustle and bustle of city life is a great way to unwind and connect with nature, even if you are a baby. People have been camping with young children since before we had a word for camping because it was just ‘life.’ In modern society, it’s more important than ever to take some time out, get away from scenes and highways and other distractions to simply spend time together outside. Taking your baby camping can be a wonderful bonding experience.
Unfortunately, it can also be a nightmare if you don’t pack everything you, especially your baby, need. No one wants to hike out to a lovely remote camping spot where you can see nature for miles around only to realize that all the diapers are in the car and you didn’t bring any clean baby socks. The good news is that there’s an easy solution. A checklist is the best way to make sure you pack everything you need. Of course, getting it from your vehicle to your campsite is up to you.
What Is a Camping with a Baby Checklist?
A Camping with a Baby Checklist is a simple, effective tool to help you get out and see some nature with your little one. Babies have a lot of needs that adults and older children do not, and they often cannot use certain products like bug spray until they’re older. Naturally, it takes a little more preparation to camp with a baby. Having a checklist will ensure that you don’t forget anything essential.
Babies have been going outside with their parents forever. If you are an experienced camper, you’ll need to make some practical adjustments to camp with an infant, but most of your existing experience will help. Meanwhile, for anyone who is new or intermediate in camping, it’s best to choose a campsite with some reasonable accommodations.
New campers with babies may want to choose a campsite with access to a bathroom. This can make diaper changes simpler. Additionally, seek a shady spot for your tent to stay cooler and more protected from the elements. It’s also nice to have trash cans and running water, such as you might find at some KOA locations and other organized campgrounds.
You can camp with babies in extreme heat and cold or when it’s raining, but it’s not the easiest or most comfortable experience. Moreover, it takes much more planning and equipment, especially in rain or snow. This list is designed for moderate-weather camping. If it’s your baby’s first trip, or you want to make things easier on them and yourself, it’s an excellent idea to check the weather first.
Like other forms of travel, it’s easier when you can pack light. That looks very different when you have a baby with you because they have unique needs other campers simply don’t have to worry about, like diapers.
The Ultimate Camping with a Baby Checklist
You may be ready to get out and enjoy some nature with your little one now that the weather is warm, but you need to get organized first. The Ultimate Camping with a Baby Checklist will ensure you have everything you need for moderate weather camping and suggest a few optional ‘luxury’ items that can make things a lot easier for you as well. Babies love being outside; this is the best time to start sharing the great outdoors with them, so they develop a lifelong love of camping. Just follow the list and check things off as you pack them.
Babies typically go one of two ways when it comes time to sleep at camp. Either they are worn out from all the fun, and they sleep like a rock, even better than they do at home, or the opposite. All the stimulation and new experiences can lead to an overtired child who is unwilling or unable to rest easily. Plan to spend more time than usual on bedtime or naptime.
- Up-Sized Tent- The more extensive your tent is, the easier it will be to camp with a little one. Making space for a baby’s extra gear, a playpen or port-a-crib, and other things means you need more space. Plan to give a baby as much space as 2-3 adults to ensure their needs will fit in your camp.
- Port-A-Crib or Play Yard- Having this inside your tent for your baby to sleep in is incredibly helpful. Plus, you can set it up outdoors when you’re hanging out at camp so the baby stays safe where you can see them.
- Sleep Sac- A means for swaddling a baby can help immensely when they are learning about sleeping in a strange environment.
- A Blankie or Comfort Toy- If your little one is old enough to sleep with a blanket or toy, then you should bring their favorite with you, so they feel more at home.
Like adult campers, babies need various clothing and layers to wear. It’s always a good idea to pack at least one winter-weight outfit and some rain gear, even in summer when you expect perfect, warm, cloud-free skies. Furthermore, since babies cannot use bug spray for anywhere from six months to two years, they may need loose long sleeves and pants on days when you’d think a t-shirt and shorts were a better choice.
- Shoes- Babies at camp need shoes to keep bugs off their little toes. Pack 2-3 pairs.
- Socks- always pack extra socks for babies.
- Onesies or Shirt and Pants Combos- Plan to cover your baby from ankles to wrists when you’re outdoors.
- A Hat With Mosquito Netting- This is the simplest way to keep bugs away from your baby’s face. In fact, you may want to pack two in case they mess up one of them.
- Warm Layers- Having some clothing to put over a onesie or other daytime wear in case of cold evenings will help your baby stay comfortable.
- A Jacket- Pack a cold-weather jacket in case of some oddball weather anomaly, especially if you plan to camp in the mountains.
- Rain Gear- This is essential in case of unexpected wet weather.
- Comfortable Weather Appropriate Pajamas- Bring one set for each night plus one.
The most significant comfort to your child will always be having you near. However, packing a few familiar or comforting things can also help your young one enjoy the trip a little more. Avoid over-packing when you take your baby camping and stick to 1-2 small, portable comfort toys at most. If you plan to hand a toy to your baby while they are in a stroller or wagon or even carried on your back, then it’s a good idea to tie a stretchy cord to the toy and attache it securely so it won’t accidentally fall (or get thrown) out on a trail somewhere.
- Baby Sunscreen
- Aloe Vera
- Pacifiers on Cords with Clips
- A Favorite Bedtime Book
- Battery Powered White Noise Machine
- Lavender Baby Lotion- This helps babies sleep and prevents dry skin.
There are no stores in nature, and while you can probably run to town in a pinch to get what you need, it may spoil the fun. Instead of wasting time traveling back and forth, ensure that you have enough diapers, wipes, and other potty-related materials for your little person before setting up your camp.
- Diapers- Whether you use cloth or disposable, make sure you have ten per day at least, and add a whole extra day’s worth of diapers to be sure.
- Dirty Diaper Bags- You want to be able to dispose of diapers properly while you camp. Bags, especially the sort that prevents odor from escaping, are essential.
- Wipes- You can get travel packs of diaper wipes, make your own, or use a washable cloth. Keep in mind that it is time-consuming to wash things while you camp.
- Zinc- Pack a diaper rash cream with zinc to help keep your baby comfortable outdoors.
First Aid and Medication
You should always have a first aid kit with you when camping. However, you need additional baby items. Make sure you include anything your child regularly needs at home.
- Medication- If your child needs medicine, carry enough for the trip plus two days extra in case something happens.
- Kid Size Band-Aids
- Nose Aspirator- These are commonly known as “booger suckers,” and they are invaluable for mucus and any little bugs that might get in a baby’s nose.
- Other Medicines- If your child is old enough, consider packing a homeopathic or OTC for allergies and a little bit of Pedialyte or other helpful kids’ medicines like pain and fever reducer. Most of the time, they won’t need any of it, but if they do, having it along is a lifesaver.
Feeding babies while camping is relatively straightforward and similar to how you do it at home, but without a highchair or other at-home amenities. You can get a travel version of almost anything they need easily.
- Breastfeeding- If you are breastfeeding, there’s nothing you need except a nursing pillow for comfort.
- Formula- Formula babies will need enough solid bottles to use one per meal, plus extra nipples since sterilizing in nature can be challenging, and you can’t exactly refrigerate your unused formula. However, bottles with removable, disposable liners are easier to manage since you only need the liners, lots of clean nipples, and a couple of bottles.
- Solids- Babies who are eating solids will need travel pouches. You can buy premade pouches or reusable pouches to wash that you fill with homecooked foods.
- A Bumbo Chair- These simple sit-up chairs are small, light, portable, and can sit on any flat surface. If your baby is sitting up to eat, then you may want this little luxury along for mealtimes while you camp.
A Note About Baby Food, Messes, and Diapers: When you camp with babies, you may not always have an easy place to dispose of dirty diapers, barfed-on clothing, and other baby messes. It’s important to treat these things like food and avoid leaving them inside your tents, especially when you’re away from camp. Animals and insects like to get into human camps and enjoy the various items we leave behind that they might consider edible. Hanging things up high in a tree can help. Otherwise, you may want to put them in your vehicle before you sleep or leave the campsite.
Nature is full of fascinating things, and babies don’t need all their toys from home when you go camping. They will be plenty stimulated by simply enjoying a novel environment. That said, if your little person is especially attached to something special, you can bring it for them so they feel more relaxed and at home outside.
Travel (In-Vehicle and Outdoors)
Traveling with a baby can be simple, but you’ll need a couple of things to make the trip easier. For example, some older babies and toddlers may need Dramamine for motion sickness in the car. However, most of the travel needs are more about portability.
- Car Seat- All babies and children require a car seat to travel inside a vehicle. If yours has a detachable bassinet, it may make things easier for you to carry it with you to camp.
- Sling or Baby Backpack- Carrying a child on your body is the easiest way to hike and explore outdoors.
- Baby Hiking Boots- If your little one is walking around, make sure they have the correct shoes to protect their feet outside of camp.
- All-Terrain Jogging Stroller- This is definitely a luxury item, but being able to push a little one can leave room for you to carry a backpack more easily.
- A Wagon- If you don’t have a jogging stroller, a wagon is great for easy, flat trails and general exploring if the terrain isn’t too bumpy.
There’s no better way to foster a love of the great outdoors than camping with your baby from a young age. Warm summer nights beneath the stars, the wind in the trees, a babbling brook, and the trail ahead are good for people of all ages. Don’t be too concerned if your baby has a little trouble sleeping or fusses a bit at the new experience. They are surprisingly adaptable and will get used to it soon enough. By using The Ultimate Camping with a Baby Checklist, you can ensure your little one has everything they need and more so they can camp in comfort.