Camping isn't all rainbows and butterflies when you're with a baby. It takes effort and there are some aspects that are difficult, but I assure you, nothing beats family time in the outdoors. My favorite mornings start by waking up in a tent with Zay and Jamie. There's something special about cooking on a camp stove, bed times stories in a tent, and sitting around a fire without an iPhone in sight that makes a camping trip the perfect (and affordable) adventure with your little one.
Before you venture out in the great outdoors, check this list to see if you have everything you need or want.to make camping easier.
1. Pop N' Sit Portable Booster
We went a few days camping without this seat and mealtime was difficult. The picnic tables at campsites were a constant hazard as Zay would fall in between the seat and the tabletop if we weren't paying attention, eating with a squirmy toddler on our lap was no fun, and sitting on a picnic blanket opened the door for Zay to put rocks and dirt in our food. Then we discovered this. This beautiful, wonderful gift to camping parents. Mealtime became less of a hassle, Zay actually ate, and we were one small happy family again.
This seat is seriously great for mealtime. You can use it from the time your child sits up on his or her own until 2-3 years old when they no longer need it. You can also use it in your everyday life by strapping it to a seat and using it as a booster.
Still using the Pop n' Sit at age 2
2. SOMETHING TO KEEP YOUR BABY WARM AT NIGHT
Camping can get cold (even in the summer), especially if you're 25 lbs with only a thin layer of baby fat on you. The best way to keep infants and toddlers warm during the night in a tent is a sleep sack or fleece bunting. Sleeping bags are just too dangerous for my liking until our son has more control over his body and can make deliberate moves to "unsmother" himself.
We have a couple fleece sleep sacks (pictured below) that we layer on depending on how cold it is and pair it with his jacket and a sweater. These were free hand-me-downs (hence the pink butterflies and purple flowers), but they work and I wanted to show you that you don't need the fanciest and most expensive gear to get outdoors. But, if you can't find any good hand-me-downs that will do the trick, there is this bunting from 3 Happy Owls that has sizes ranging from 0-24 months (though they run a little big), and sleep sacks like this one from HALO.
Pink butterflies for the win!
If you are looking to throw down and get your baby some high-end camping threads, Patagonia has this down sweater bunting and The North Face also has something similar.
Also be sure to bring a winter hat for your little one, layers (we love fleece tights because they're cheap and a good base layer), a jacket of some sort, and a good amount of warm layers. Again, depending where you are, it can get really cold even in the summer, so you just want to be prepared.
3. An inflatable solar light
What's better than bedtime stories in a tent?!? A lot, but bedtime stories are still super fun while snuggled up. Phone flashlights and headlamps are harsh on the eyes and don't exactly create a bedtime ambiance that gets your child rubbing their sleepy eyes. The LuminAID Solar Light can be left out in the sun to charge, or by USB in your car on the way to your destination. It's waterproof and also doubles as an emergency light in your home. It diffuses the light nicely and has a high and low setting depending on your lighting needs.
Beans for every dinner when camping. Thank God it's Zay's favorite food. (This is clearly before we got the Pop n' Sit booster)
4. An insulated sleeping pad
The majority of these items are things to keep your baby warm at night, because that is the struggle for real. I suggest getting a good thermal sleeping mat. When there is air between your baby and the cold ground, their body will heat up the air inside, keeping them warm.
There is always the posh option for car camping: a blowup mattress for your tent. If it is not self-inflating or there is no plug-in at the site, be sure to get an inverter to blow it up from your cigarette lighter in your car (an extension cord may be needed as well).
Jamie on breakfast duty in Joshua Tree
6. TRAVEL BED (FOR INFANTS AND SMALL TODDLERS)
If you're starting your little one young, a travel bed is a great item to have for camping. The KidCo PeaPod offers shield from the sun, bugs, and wind while you're doing your thing setting up the tent and cooking dinner. It will also give your baby a barrier in the tent (if your tent is big enough) so you don't have to worry about smothering.
That one is the Cadillac of baby travel tents that can be applied to lots of different scenarios other than camping, but if you're just looking for a travel bassinet for an infant, the BRICA Fold n' Go travel bassinet works really well.
hammering in the stakes because the forecast is calling for a windy and cold night.
In conclusion, if you are into the outdoors, if you loved camping pre-kids, if you want to disconnect from technology, and if you are looking for quality family time, a night in a tent under the stars is the way to go! Let me know if you have any questions!