Camping with Babies :: The Fun, Organized, and Easy Way!

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Have you taken your baby camping? I was an avid tent camper my whole adult life before having kids and I heard stories about my grandma taking my dad at 6-weeks-old. So, naturally, when my first was born I had visions of taking him camping all the time and it wouldn’t be a big deal! Boy was I wrong!

The amount of work and overwhelm that went into our first camping trip with a baby (which didn’t happen until my son was 10 months old) was more than I had imagined.

Fast forward 2.5 years later from that first trip and I have learned a few things about camping with my now two littles–the fun, organized, and easy way!

camping with babies

8 Tips for Camping with Babies

  • Sleep is important, but will likely be less than normal. Accept that and let your kids experience campfires at least for a little bit, but also do what you can to get as much as you can! This meant the Mac Daddy tent for us. And an easy to assemble one. Personally, we LOVE this Coleman Instant Tent for its ease in set up and large size (though next time I’m getting one with multiple “rooms” or room dividers now that my babies are 1 and 3). This size tent fits two twin air mattresses (one for me and one for hubby), a floor bed big enough for my three-year-old, and a Pack N Play for my 1-year-old. Yes, I brought the Pack-N-Play and it was TOTALLY worth it. I may have even put a SnoozeShade over the Pack-N-Play to encourage a start to the day later than sunrise!

{Read More: Want to go on a Family Camping Trip? No Tent Required!}

  • Also on the sleep front, bring all the things that are familiar! Their lovey and/or blanket, books to read before bed, even a battery operated white noise machine is great (there tends to be a fair amount of noise in campgrounds from 7 pm-midnight from campfires and chatting.
  • Depending on where you are located and the time of year, bring warm sleepsuits for your littles. Even preschoolers don’t stay in a sleeping bag well and babies definitely need something warm to wear over PJs at night. This one was perfect for Texas in November for my 1-year-old! For toddlers and preschoolers who use a regular sleeping bag, here’s a quick hack so they don’t scoot too far down: put a hair tie around the bottom below where their feet land, so it fits them just right.
  • We don’t own this (yet), but our neighbors on our last camping trip had this gazebo and I thought it was a GREAT idea for a safe play space while you’re making dinner, starting the fire, etc. if you have kids under 2. 
  • Pack extra clothes! Let your kiddos play in the dirt and make all the outdoor eating messes they need. Simple clothes, with lots of layers for spending all day and all night outside, is key. But also, playing all morning in last night’s PJs is totally acceptable!
  • Don’t forget sunscreen, baby wipes (even if your kids aren’t in diapers, you’ll want wipes!), hats, gloves, coats, multiple pairs of shoes (they will get dirty and/or wet), and fun outdoor toys (for my boys this was every dump truck or excavator we owned….they LOVED digging in the dirt at the campsite with their trucks).
  • Plan your meals smartly (I’ll have more camping with littles mealtime ideas next month)!
  • Do a trial run that isn’t too far from home, in case you forget something crucial and/or have to come home early on this first attempt.
Don’t skip a camping trip just because you have little ones, but planning ahead and bringing all the supplies you need regardless of how much you hate overpacking, will make it MUCH more enjoyable!
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Hilliary Giglio
Hilliary grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, but has lived in many places across the U.S., settling in Dallas in 2018 with her husband and (now) two sons. She is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist and Family Coach, and owner of Tranquil Beginnings. Prior to this, she spent much of her professional career working to improve the lives of children and families, utilizing her education in psychology, social work, and nonprofit management and fundraising to provide care for children, support little ones with developmental disabilities, teach trauma informed yoga and mindfulness to youth who have suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and raise money for healthcare systems and mid-sized nonprofits. When she isn't changing families' lives through her work, she can be found enjoying the city's kid-friendly activities, working her way through Dallas' culinary scene, exploring the outdoors, practicing yoga, and enjoying live music!

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