Last weekend we went camping for the first time with our baby. November is camping
season in Texas, which is still crazy to me, but it’s also a slightly rainy time of year. It rained a little bit, but we powered through! I took a lot of time to prepare, did a bunch of research and I want to share with everyone so hopefully I can help make it less scary to camp with a kiddo. It can be especially daunting to camp with a little one and you might have a lot of excuses not to go, but it can also be SO FUN!
Know your limitations. Don’t plan too much. If you think you’re going to go on a 20 mile hike with your baby in tow or if you want to have every hour of the day planned out, you will probably be kicking yourself for pushing your family too hard or not getting to everything you wanted to do. Just plan to go with the flow for most of the trip. Babies are needy, that will not change when you’re out in the wilderness.
Try to get an idea of how intensely you want to camp and what amenities you want at your park/site. For starters, which of these things are a priority to you?
Primitive? Glamping? Somewhere in between?
Nearby, full bathroom
Firewood and fire ring
Have a backup plan for everything you can think of. You may have to change your plans for food, shelter or even the trip itself.
Remember the reasons you’re camping. Take time to enjoy the elements and nature. Instead of relying on your phone to tell you what kind of spider that is, maybe bring a picture book about the local flora and fauna. Field guides are really handy and they’ll never be out of battery/signal.Keep your music low, if you must have it. Respect the other campers and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Accept that baby will dictate a lot of what you do or don’t do. I usually like to spend a major part of the camping trip sitting next to the fire, but that wasn’t really possible with my daughter. There were times she wanted to crawl at the fire, she would get too hot sometimes and there was even one time a huge ember popped out and got stuck to her clothes! So we spent most of the time wandering around the woods or on walks in the stroller.
If you’re camping with a group choose your fellow campers wisely and discuss the baby-specific needs ahead of time. It is nice if you can all help keep an eye on the dangers of the area and be supportive of each other’s needs – like snacks, quiet time for sleeping, entertainment and baby-breaks.
Try to see things from the baby’s point of view for safety and for fun. This is not an adult camping trip, it’s a baby camping trip. Your baby might get overstimulated or scared of things that are new. On the other hand, your baby might end up chasing a beetle for an hour and be super entertained by the different things in nature.
Don’t be afraid to stray from your normal routines. We ended up using disposable diapers for the trip and the bedtime routine went out the window, to name a few.
Things might get crazy. My husband ended up getting stung by a bee on his tongue and having a mild allergic reaction where his tongue swelled up super huge. It was terrifying but we had good supplies (like Benadryl) packed to help him right away. This is why it’s good to be close to home or a hospital or both. I also keep what I call “The Apothecary” full of natural remedies nearby at all times.
Look up some lists of what to bring and have an up-to-date inventory. Go to classes if possible. REI actually had a free camping class right before we went. It was more for beginners, but they had a lot of good reminders for us and told us some great Texas-specific tidbits. They’re really helpful anyway if you just go there and ask a bunch of questions. You can also visit their site for a camping checklist.