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 my kids and Jamie. There's something special about cooking on a camp stove, bed time 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. A TENT
If you are part of that #vanlife or have a camper, a tent isn't important. But if you're looking for an outdoor home for you and your family, we have and love the Big Agnes tents. We have a Big Agnes Big House 4 person tent. However, I do wish we had the 6 person version for a little more space as our family grows.
This is obviously for car camping. If you are going backpacking, you'll obviously need a smaller and more lightweight tent. We do not have but have heard great things about the Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent.
2. POP N' SIT PORTABLE BOOSTER
We went a few days camping without the Pop n' Sit Booster 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.
While that one is short, here is also the portable highchair which is basically the same thing, but has higher legs to be table height. It's also a little pricier.
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
3. 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. What you need for your baby is dependent on two things: how old and how cold?
Whatever PJs you have at home. I wouldn't go crazy with anything special if you're not worried about cold temperatures. Just bring warm pajamas and maybe a sleep sack for backup.
"Warmer" weather 55 degrees and up
50 degrees can still feel cold, especially if you're a brand new human. You don't have to go full on crazy with a down suit, but you do want to make sure you're well prepared.
I like bringing a bunting like this one from Columbia. This may be warm enough, but I always bring a warm sleep sack as well just in case. Honestly, any will do, but if your looking for a warm sleep sack that will fit your child (typically) for the first 2 years of their life, Woolino's sleep sacks are a great option.
There is also a company called Baby Deedee which makes sleepwear for babies. Nothing is for really cold weather, but their pajamas and sleep sacks are good quality and made with camping in mind. You can also use the code BORNABACKPACKER_20 for 20% off your entire order.
Cold weather (50 degrees and below)
Full court press here. It's really important that you prepare well for cold temps or it could make for a really miserable night.
We used a Patagonia Hi-loft down sweater bunting. If they're available, look on Patagonia's Worn Wear to see if you can find one slightly used for a much h cheaper price. If not, here is the link to the regular Patagonia store.
Babies grow out of things so quickly, especially their first year of life. There are so many second hand stores where you an find these items so lightly used for so much cheaper. Look for children's consignment shops in your area, check on OfferUp or Craigslist, check mom or parent groups on Facebook. I don't think a single thing that we have for camping with our babies is new except for the things that were gifted to me.
4. 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. For half the price, you can get the Overcrest Travel Bassinet that does the same thing.
If you already have a Dockatot or something along those lines, you can use that. I've even heard people use laundry baskets to make a barrier between the parents and the infant.
Also, if you have a big tent that is one you can stand up in, you can even just bring your Pack n' Play or portable crib.
hammering in the stakes because the forecast is calling for a windy and cold night.
5. CRAZY CREEK
After giving birth, your ab muscles are shot. I found it very hard to breastfeed my newborn in the tent at night without any back support. A Crazy Creek was the perfect support I needed that I kept next to me for night feedings. I would say this is not important once your child is even 3 or 4 months old, but if you're starting early, I would find something like this.
Camping for the first time as a family of 4 when Lai was 3 weeks old
6. A MED KIT
Don't forget your med kit at home! I put a list together on our Staying Healthy page for what we typically bring when we travel and camp. Be prepared for anything!
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!