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How to Go Camping With Baby in Tow

Katlyn Joy |13, June 2014


When you have a baby, your life is changed. You may have to skip or drastically change some of your recreational pursuits for a time. However, you don't have to give up camping just because you have a baby in tow. Like everything with children, planning can make all the difference.

Before You Go Camping With Your Baby

1. Choose the time carefully. In many areas, July and August are intolerably hot. Too late in fall, the nights may get too cool. Remember, babies can't regulate their body temperatures as adults can. Extreme temperatures aren't baby friendly.

2. Choose the place carefully. What kind of facilities are available at the campground? Will you have a bathroom nearby with showers and flush toilets? Will you have electricity to run a fan, if it's getting warm, or other conveniences? How close is a grocery store or big retailer? You may not want to take a very young child too far into the wilderness, where it can be a major trek to an ER.

3. Take a mini-trip, or two, before the big, real one. Camp out in the back yard or at a nearby campground before going the whole distance. Let baby get used to the idea of sleeping somewhere unfamiliar when you are still relatively close to home.

4. Make a list of everything you could conceivably need. While packing light is typically a virtue, while camping with an infant, it's impossibility. You can't just run down to the front desk and request what you forgot when you're camping.

What to Bring

  • Diapers, diapers and more diapers. Pack more than you think your baby could possibly go through.
  • Wipes. Plenty of wipes, not just for diaper changes, but for the plethora of cleaning that will be required.
  • Familiar objects to soothe your baby at bedtime, or when crises arise.
  • Blankies, loveys, whatever you call them, the scent will bring a sense of calm and home to every situation.
  • A fully loaded first aid kit, especially geared to baby.
  • Medicines for allergies or colds, diarrhea, and topical ointments for bug bites or rashes.
  • Medical tape, gauze, antiseptic cream, bandages, tweezers, and anything else you think your child could possibly need.
  • Sunscreen, if your baby is over 6 months of age.
  • Bug repellent for skin, if baby is over 6 months.
  • Plenty of clothing for multiple changes, and for every type of weather. Plan on layers.
  • A portable playyard or travel crib. This will be a lifesaver.
  • A baby carrier.
  • A lightweight umbrella stroller, if it will work at your location.
  • A poncho or five, to wear, to cover items you want to protect, and possibly for creative uses.
  • Plenty of ziplock bags, to bag up messy items, to keep items dry when needed, and to keep track of small items.
  • Toys and items to keep baby busy and happy. What if it rains? What will you do to keep baby occupied?
  • Camera or camera phone, and charger.

While You're There

Choose a good camping location.

Roughing it far in the outback, off the main trail is not a good idea with a baby, especially for a first trip. Find a level site, not close to dangers like bodies of water, steep drop-offs, or such things.

Keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible.

Sunburn is a health hazard, and a sure way to ruin a camping trip. Use hats, shade and lightweight but long-sleeved clothing.

Use the baby carrier

If you are bringing a carrier for your baby, and those are great for camping trips, get comfortable using it before you go on your trip.

Stick to the trails

Stick to trails that are simple to navigate and not too far out into the wilderness. Choose a location that lends itself to short treks.

Give your baby a variety of activities throughout the day, but don't overplan.

Baby needs stimulation, but not overstimulation. To make things as easy as possible, maintain baby's normal sleep schedule as much as you can.

Let your baby enjoy the simple joys of playing with sticks, while supervised, of course.

Let baby dangle his toes in a cool creek, or smell pine needles. Introduce your child to the joys of the outdoors and find your own joy in that.

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