The world is generally split into two types of people: Campers, and Non-Campers. If you are a Camper, the thought of living in the wild, feeling close to nature and detoxing from digital life fills you with excitement. However, even the most enthusiastic Campers can feel a little apprehensive when taking their baby camping for the first time. Fear not, as our Top Tips for Survival have covered everything from what to pack to how to nap, so you can feel a little more prepared for your adventure.
And as for Non-Campers, this could be the perfect opportunity to change your mind! Camping with kids brings a whole new perspective – the glee on their faces when faced with the novelty of living outside could convert even the most resistant among you. Not to mention the money saved in comparison to a hotel… You never know, it may even become an annual family tradition!
1. Talk About the Trip
When it comes to toddlers, they love to know what is going to happen as it helps them feel in control of their environment (thus avoiding meltdowns!) So, about a week before you go on your trip, start to talk to them about what will be happening, Even if they can’t talk yet, they can understand a lot of what you say. Talk excitedly about sleeping under the stars, playing outside in the fresh air and exploring a new place. Draw a picture so they can visualise it, or even practise sleeping in their pop up travel cot. All these things will sink in and they wont’ be so overwhelmed when they arrive.
2. Choose your Campsite Wisely
Pre-baby you may have wanted to be totally off-grid, but with a little one in tow you will probably appreciate some home comforts. Family bath and shower rooms, a playground, and on-site cafe can make the world of difference to everyone’s happiness.
3. Pack a Piece of Home
Kids often feel attached to a soft toy, a favourite book or a cosy blanket, so pack some familiar items to help them feel secure. Remember, this is the first time EVER they have slept outside so it will be a really new and somewhat daunting experience for them. Having their favourite teddy to snuggle up to will make the whole trip much more manageable.
4. Layer Up
Experienced campers know that you can often see four seasons in one day, especially if you are near the coast or in the mountains. So pack for all eventualities, from suncream to waterproofs.
It can be surprisingly cold at night, even in the height of summer. If your tent is large enough for a proper travel cot, this is ideal, as it’s raised off the cold ground. However if their bed is on the floor, make sure you put a ground mat and a blanket down first, to insulate them from the ground up.
Baby sleeping bags are great for regulating temperatures, but you may want to pop an extra layer on baby such as a vest under their pyjamas. And covered feet will help keep those toes toasty too. Once you are in the tent with them, your body heat will prevent them from getting too cold.
Note: It is not advisable to bed share or put a hat on baby whilst they sleep. Always follow sleep saftey guidelines.
5. Revel in Routine
The Bedtime Routine is sacrosanct to some parents, while others are more relaxed, but if you want a baby who will settle well, sticking to a routine can really help when camping. You may not be able to bathe them, but a little wash with a warm flannel whilst playing with some familiar bath toys will help to send those sleep signals.
Although it may be tempting to put baby to bed a little later because it’s still light, they are likely to be exhausted from a day filled with fresh air and new experiences. Therefore we recommend you try to stick to their usual bedtime, even if they don’t seem tired. They may take a little longer to settle to sleep too, so factor this in.
6. Stash the Snacks
If your baby is still only having milk, then your life is going to be pretty easy when it comes to food. However, if they’re used to a full breakfast by 7am, you need to be a little more organised! Pack plenty of non-perishable snacks for them to munch on until you’ve cooked breakfast or gone to a local cafe. A low sugar granola bar and carton of long-life milk should suffice first thing in the morning.
7. Navigate Naps
Naps are crucial to a happy baby, and no doubt at home you have blackout blinds, a comfortable cot and a solid pre-nap routine. But how do you get them to sleep when you’re camping? Chances are, baby will be unlikely to nap when he’s in an unfamiliar tent with lots of noise and light around him. So your best bet is to stick them in the sling or backpack and set off on a long walk. The motion almost always sends kids to sleep, and they will be close to you so feeling safe too. They might not have as long a nap as they would at home in their cot, but even a short sleep can help get them through until bedtime.
8. Get some Genius Gear
Camping may be all about travelling light, but a few pieces of kit will make your life a whole lot more comfortable. A gazebo is crucial for creating shade. A simple waterprooof mat makes a space for baby to play. A large basin works as a makeshift bath. A bumbo seat is great for mealtimes. And windbreaks can help to make a safe enclosure for inquisitive toddlers.
The post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.