Tips for camping with a baby

Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


One of my favorite outdoor activities — with or without kids — is camping. I love everything about it. Unless it rains. I’m not a fan of rain.

Our older two began camping when they were about six months old. And in two weeks, Ellie will do the same. Camping with a baby might be intimidating but it’s really not hard if you plan well.

Things to think about before camping with a baby:

  • Where will the baby sleep? This will depend on your normal sleeping situation and what kind of sleeping bags you are bringing. We have always had our babies in a pack and play in the tent. Though the older two began sleeping in sleeping bags before they had moved into a bed at home. If you are going to use a pack and play, is your tent large enough for it in addition to the big people’s sleeping bags and luggage? Make sure you have enough warm clothes or sleep sacks because it often gets cooler at night than you expect.
  • Where will the baby hang out? Our babies happened to all be in the 6- to 12-month stage during camping season. We bring an exerciser so the baby isn’t spending too much time sitting in (eating) the dirt. You can also just bring the pack and play out of the tent and put toys in it during the day.
  • Do you need special equipment for certain activities? For example, you’ll need a backpack carrier or sling if you’re going to go hiking. You’ll need a life jacket if you’re going boating.
  • What will the baby eat? If you’re bottle-feeding, you’ll need a way to heat water for formula like a grate and tea kettle for the fire. Jar food is easy to bring along, of course, but you can also bringing bananas and other fork-mashable foods.

Once they get a bit older, what’s the most important thing to bring?


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8 comments for “Tips for camping with a baby

  1. June 8, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I have been pestering Tom to try a family camping trip. I camped with my family when I was little, I’ve done several trips as an adult, and he was an Eagle Scout – we should be able to swing it, right?! He’s hesitant b/c Kieran is kind of a sleep spaz. But we have a queen sized air mattress, so I’m confident it will be better than he imagines (we cosleep at home). We also have another family willing to go with us and split the food/responsibilities – and our kids love each other. Really, what else could we ask for?!

    • Jen
      June 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

      If he sleeps with you on the air mattress it will be no different than home.

      And having another family along is really helpful. I don’t think we’ve ever camped alone with the kids. There’s always grandparents or friends along.

      Go pick a weekend and schedule it now! :)

  2. June 8, 2010 at 9:54 am

    We haven’t been camping in a few years. Pre-babe and pre-living abroad we did bunches of camping and backpacking. Thanks for the reminder that we can, and should, get out with the babe. I bet he’d love it!

  3. June 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    We’ve been camping once, last year when Mikko had just turned 2. We slept in a tipi, which was cool, but we don’t have any actual camping gear, so we all huddled on one of the platform beds under our usual blankets from home. The foam mattress was a double size, vs. our king size at home, and Mikko kicked his father all.night.long to try to get him to move farther away!

    So I think we’ll borrow legit camping gear if we go again, which we hope to, even though Sam and I both kind of loathed camping as children. For some reason, it seems more fun now we’re in charge. Go figure!

    Also, adorable S’mores picture! Love it.

  4. June 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    We’re going to do our first camping trip this summer as well. Our daughter is 14 months right now. I’m okay with trying it and am not super excited about it.

    I enjoyed camping years ago until I got a job where camping was part of my job. It’s hard to shake that feeling that it’s just going to be a ton of work.

    I like your site a lot and am glad to find you through the Carnival :)

  5. June 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I love the idea of camping, but when it comes down to it, I really don’t like it. The biggest (and really almost only) problem for me is the bugs. Not even just regular bugs, but spiders. Spiders and I do not get along. And inevitably, every time I go camping, I run in (often times, literally face to face) with the scariest spiders out there.

    I do imagine, however, that we will be doing plenty of backyard camping as the girls get a little older. A friend of mine has a fire pit in his backyard, so we could easily recreate at least a portion of the campsite appeal.

  6. June 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Camping with little ones *is* a ton of work, but that is part of what makes it worthwhile in my opinion. I never appreciate hot running water more than after returning from a camping trip!

    We’re hoping to get out to do some camping soon too, if it ever stops raining. I am not much of a fan of camping in the rain either…

  7. June 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    CAMPING! We LOVE camping- Willow had her first night sleeping under the stars when she was three months old! <3

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