So getting outdoors used to be one your favorite pass times. But now shouldering your backpack has been replaced by shouldering your baby carrier. Never fear! Getting back outdoors and introducing your baby to it is not as complicated as you might think. You might not be the minimalist packer that you once were, but just add a few things to your packing list and you'll be back outside.
Start off choosing a familiar campsite not too far from home. Trying a practice trip in your back yard lets your baby get used to sleeping in a tent while allowing you to make sure your trip list is complete. As well, aim for a trip in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler. It is easier to add clothing layers then to try to cool down your baby.
Layer up! Put your baby in a number of lighter layers that you can easily add or remove to accommodate temperature fluctuations. Bring snap crotch garments so you don't have to completely undress your baby to change diapers. Fleece clothing is great for keeping your baby cozy. Remember to bring thick socks, mittens and hats, socks can easily double as mittens.
Arrive with lots of day light to set up camp and relax.
- Pack & Plays are ideal to have around camp. Your baby can be near the action but out of harms way. As well, it is great for baby to sleep in. To keep mosquitoes away, buy a large piece of mosquito netting to drape over the playpen.
- Remember to bring a tarp big enough to spend the day under should it rain.
- A baby front pack is useful so you can keep your baby close while you set up camp.
- Don't worry about your baby getting a little grubby, its all part of the fun.
- Putting your baby in a stroller for campfire time lets them feel part of the action, while keeping them safe.
- Your first trip might involve just hanging around camp. But as soon as your baby is old enough to go in a baby backpack (once they can sit up on their own) you can try doing some short day hikes from your camp site.
Bring the same bedding that you use at home so your baby will have something familiar. If you use sleep sacks at home, these are great for camping. Try to duplicate your home bedtime routine. Lining the bottom of the play pen with a fleece sheet keeps your baby extra cozy through night. Go to sleep early because your baby will most likely be up with the sun. Bring a baby monitor to place inside the tent while you are around the campfire. Some people have found creating some white noise with a small battery operated fan helps their baby to fall asleep.
If you are breast feeding this part is easy. However, if you are using formula it is easiest to bring pre- made formula which is more expensive, but sterile. If you are using powders, bring bottled water to mix it as water at campsites can be questionable. To avoid having to clean the bottle, try bringing disposable liners. Bottle nipples can easily be boiled to re-sterilize them if needed.
Keep a check list and review it after each trip. Find a sample to start with here.
Tips and Tricks
- Infants under 6 months should not wear sunscreen unless pediatrician recommends it. As well, even in the shade a baby can be exposed to a great deal of reflected sunlight. This is another reason to try for spring or fall camping.
- Remember to bring lots of diapers and wet wipes.
- Use headlamps instead of flashlights to keep your hands free
- Wait until babies are 6 months so their immune system is fully developed
- Bring hand sanitizer
- Don't forget your camera!
Contributing author Jill Koehler deals with babies and camping both personally and professionally. Contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.kohlrbaby.com