The First Camping Trip with Baby.

If you were a camper and hiker before the birth of your son or daughter, chances are you can't wait to get back outdoors and share the experiences with your new family member. The most common question related to camping with babies is, 'When is the perfect time to introduce them to camping?'. The answer will be different for everyone depending on their camping experiences and the temperament of their baby. But know that camping with a baby can not only be done, but it can be fun as well! You don't have to cancel memorable yearly family trips once a new family member comes along. Instead, plan to introduce them slowly, but surely, and before you know it, your baby will love being outside and love camping with you!

There are some excellent reference books available for people who want to take their babies along on outdoor adventures, including TheParents' Guide to Hiking & Camping: A Trailside Guide by Alice Cary.
  1. Start out small: Test the waters. Plan a short camping trip an hour or so from home. Stay only a night, maybe two. Plan the trip for the best weather. If you're really nervous, you could try setting up a tent in the backyard and sleeping there for a night.
  2. Pick the perfect campground.  If you are unsure about this whole camping thing, choose a campground that has resources nearby like a grocery store, restaurant or maybe even a hotel just in case you need to make a hasty retreat if necessary.
  3. Dress for success: Be prepared for any weather and bring more clothes than you think you'll need. Your baby will get dirty, but that's part of the fun. Bring a large sun hat for your baby, and keep his limbs covered. Babies under six months should not wear insect repellent , but a large piece of mosquito netting can be draped over a stroller or crib for protection from bugs.
  4. Keep clean: Bring a large plastic tub for baby bath-time. You could use one of the containers you pack supplies in. Empty it and fill with water and voila – instant bathtub! Bring hand sanitizer for yourself and extra wipes.
  5. Prepare meals ahead of time: If you're bottle-feeding, think about using bottle liners for the length of your trip and just boiling the nipples over the camp stove. Premixed formula is much easier than powdered – just be sure to keep the cans cool until you use them. If your baby is eating finger foods, think of bringing some that don't need to be refrigerated. Jars of commercial baby food are an easy and sterile way to provide quick meals. Stick as much as possible to your child’s normal foods.
  6. Think about safety: A basic first aid kit is a must. Make sure it has a baby thermometer, as well as a baby fever reducer and an antibacterial cream.
  7. A good flashlight: A headlamp is not necessary but it can make after-dark chores easier. If your baby uses a night light at home, think about hanging a mini-flashlight in the tent while the baby sleeps. Bring a battery-operated baby monitor; this means you don't have to go to bed at the same time as your baby.
  8. Create a play area: A waterproof blanket or a large tarp under a blanket creates an instant outdoor play area for non-mobile babies. A folding playpen is helpful for a more mobile baby.
  9. Keep moving: Take a baby carrier and get out into the woods. Once the kids are mobile, you'll want to find a campground that has things for them to do, like a playground or a kid-friendly swimming area.
  10. Stay warm at night: Use a firm air mattress to provide a layer of protection from the cold ground. Bundle your baby in a warm sleepsack and a blanket. A toque can keep baby warmer on cool nights, and socks on the hands can double as mittens. Cuddle up next to your baby and you'll be surprised how well you all sleep.
  11. Bring some friends: Having other people along isn't essential, but an extra set of hands can sure be helpful, and might actually give you a chance to relax.
There's no doubt that camping with a baby is hard work. But as you sit by the campfire with your baby cradled in your arms, it will be worth it.

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