More and more families are choosing to holiday at home, and camping has always been a great way to do so. Low cost and the ultimate chance to leave the gadgets at home and enjoy some family time! The arrival of a baby doesn’t mean that the tent has to be packed away. Natal HQ even managed a camping trip last May with their 5 week old! Here are our top tips for camping with your baby…
- Pick your tent
There can be extra considerations about space. You need room for everyone to sleep but also space to change them and to move around with them on rainy days. For safety you are likely to want to keep your baby close, so your sleeping compartment needs to be big enough for you and them. If you have other children, you also need to consider space for them. And of course you may need to consider how long it will take to pitch your tent (and dismantle it again) and how many people are needed to do it. With children in tow, quick and easy is often helpful.
Tents which are great for families are:
* Tunnel tents – these often allow standing room throughout which is helpful when you have a baby to carry around. Traditionally they have a sleeping compartment at one end of the tunnel, and a living space at the front – handy for rainy days. They aren’t always the quickest tent to put up though so make sure you are practiced!
* Bell Tents. You can purchase inner pods in these to create separate sleeping areas; however, they are often used without and just as open living / sleeping spaces. This is very handy if you have several children who you want to be able to share sleeping space with. The downside is that because they are so large inside they can feel cold, so it is worth investing in some floor mats or rugs to help insulate them. Big pro – they can be put up by one person very quickly as in essence there is only one pole which holds the whole tent up!
2. Pick your campsite
Some campsites are more family and baby friendly than others. It is usual at campsites for
there to be a fair bit of noise until people start going to bed between 10-11pm when it becomes dark. This means that there is unlikely to be a completely quiet environment when it comes to time for your baby to have a nap or settling down for the night. If noise is something which worries you, look for campsites which have a no music policy or which are less busy, so you can pitch your tent with a little more space. This also has benefits if you are worried about your baby crying in the middle of the night and waking everyone in the campsite up! Check out reviews for campsites on sites such as UK Campsite or Out&About Live.
3. Be prepared for variable weather!
Check the weather forecasts in advance so you know what is likely but also be prepared for them to change. Layering can be especially helpful, as temperatures can change very quickly. While it might be a warm on sunny days, the lack of clouds which made it so sunny can mean it is colder at night – warm days do not automatically mean warm nights!
4. Think about baby clothing!
The little cute baby hats come into their own when camping! These are perfect to pop on around the campsite to keep little ones a bit warmer, especially on an evening. Babies hands can also become extremely cold overnight in a tent, and whether you use scratch mitts or not usually, they have another fantastic use for camping, helping keep baby a little warmer! Integrated ones can’t drop off, get muddy or lost which is handy, but any kind of scratch mitts will have the same effect.
5. Baby sleeping bags
As with duvets, having babies in an adult sleeping bag has some serious suffocation risks. The safest option is to take a high tog baby sleeping bag suitable for your baby’s age and to adjust baby’s layers beneath it according to the temperature. You can also purchase baby sleeping bags with sleeves – these can be very handy. For older babies and toddlers consider the suits which are the same thickness as sleeping bags but have legs so they can walk around. For children who are unused to sleeping bags, these can be a great alternative.
6. Camping doesn’t mean you have to change your parenting choices!
Camping doesn’t mean you ‘cant’ do anything or you ‘have to’ change how you usually do something. Some things can be trickier, but there are always choices. Disposable nappies are pretty easy to use when camping – you may want to make sure that you have somewhere to immediately dispose of dirty nappies until you can throw them away somewhere suitable. You can still use cloth nappies if you have enough to take with you to last your trip. Used nappies can he put into a wet bag or bucket (ones with lockable lids can be handy for camping as this stops any possible dirty nappy escape incidents in the tent or car!) and washed when you get home. As long as you wash them within around 5-6 days of being used they should be fine. If you are going away for longer than this it may be a bit trickier, but not necessarily impossible! A hybrid nappy like a gNappy, which has a washable outer (easily hand washed if required) and uses disposable inserts which you can then dispose of, can be a way to use the best of both worlds for ease.
7. Embrace the onesie!
If you are breastfeeding your baby while camping, this is pretty easy as your equipment is pretty portable 😉 Button down onesies are handy, as they allow you to open the front of your clothing to feed the baby without getting too cold. This is particularly relevant when it is the middle of the night, and you have to zip down your sleeping bag to feed your baby or if you are sitting outside star watching when baby wants their feed! Onesies are the unofficial camping uniform, so you’ll see plenty of people on a morning walking around in theirs with a pair of wellies 😉
8. Buggy or babywear?
Whether you take one or other of these, neither or both, is entirely up to you and what you usually use. Depending on the size of your car and how much space your tent and all your stuff takes up, your decision may be made for you. If you are taking a buggy it can be useful to have one which is able to travel off road – if you want to use it around a campsite you may find parts which are more muddy and bumpy. Baby wearing can be handy when camping as a wrap or carrier take up very little space and allow you to carry baby over any terrain.
9. First foods
If your baby is weaning it is still possible to go camping. Whether you are being more baby led or doing purées, fresh fruits or cereals are easy to use while camping. A fork will mash up foods. Even with only basic equipment, it is quite straightforward to warm up some soup, make a sandwich or some toast. Do consider in advance how and if you will store foodstuffs. If you have a cool box you are able to keep chilled (either electric or via a constant replenishment of ice blocks) then food should be able to be kept for a couple of days.
10. Bottles and sterilising
If using bottles, a campsite which has some basic kitchen facilities will be useful for washing up, although you can do this even without any facilities. You can just boil up some water and wash up in a bowl. Milton tablets are also handy for sterilising and only require cold water. You can make up formula by boiling a kettle as you would at home, or you can use the ‘ready to drink’ cartons for the duration of your trip – these are more expensive but can be very convenient.
11. Windbreaks and mats
Wind can make sitting outside cold, so windbreaks can be handy to try and keep the chill factor down for your little one. They can also create handy shade in sunny weather. Packing rugs is also handy as you can sit or lay your little one on them.
Most campsites have access to showers but not so many have access to baths! Some parents find this tricky, but you can overcome this in several ways. You could take a washing up bowl and double it up as a baby bath, using the shower to gain hot water! Or you could just top and tail your baby while on holiday. However you choose to bathe your baby, be aware of what the temperature is if you are outdoors or in an unheated building, as small babies can get cold very quickly.
13. Staying dry
Even the smallest bit of rain can make you quite soggy when camping – so make sure you have waterproofs and wellies to hand if you want to stay dry! The all in one waterproof suits which cover baby from head to toe are great, as it means they can crawl around / fall over / sit in muddy puddles as they wish, and their clothes stay nice and dry.
So that’s it! Those are our top tips for camping with a baby. Do you have any you would like to add?