How to Camp with Babies and Toddlers

Think you have to wait until your kids are older to go camping? Think again.

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Camping with Toddler in Colorado

It’s time for your epic summer camping trip. Up until now, this trip has given you the solitude, memories, and millions of stars that keep you charged all season. But this year is different… you just had a baby and are not sure about taking this new little treasure into the backcountry. Hundreds of questions start streaming through your mind: What additional gear will I need? Will this tiny person take away from the solitude I have come to value on these trips? Will it still be fun? Is it even worth the extra effort? Yes! Things may have changed, but now the real adventure begins. You get to share your love of the outdoors with your wee one, and with the right preparedness and gear, there is no need to give up your love of stargazing and remote solitude just because you have a tiny person in the mix.

Play

Wenzel Shenanigan Tent

Play tents are a must when camping with little ones. A small play crib like the Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib or the Wenzel Shenanigans tent (any inexpensive 4 person tent will do), is perfect for giving young children a safe place to play while at camp. This is especially helpful during set-up and take-down of camp, when trips to the car are prolific. When using larger tents, bring a big, thick blanket or an old quilt to act as a carpet on the floor of the tent—especially if you have a crawler.

For daytime excursions, a hiking pack, like the Osprey Poco AG Premium Pack, is perfect for wee adventurers. This pack is so comfortable for the babe that if you time things right, naptime can happen on the trail—this convenience provides some consistency in the day which inevitably also helps keep the witching hour madness at bay. And while most hiking packs have a sunshade, a full coverage sunhat and baby sunglasses are worthy additions to your day hiking kit.

Eat

Keep your little one safe and secure during meal times with the ciao! baby chair (or Bumbo chair for smaller children). Both chairs are easy to wash, lightweight, and extremely portable. The ciao! baby folds up small, making it an easy addition to any car camping kit and best of all? Your little one can safely enjoy s’mores by the campfire.

For babes that are drinking milk or formula and need middle of the night feedings, keep water warm throughout the night in an insulated Hydroflask stored in Stanley’s Adventure Cooler. This cooler is big enough to store bottles, servings of formula, and a Hydroflask all while being small enough to keep at arm’s reach in the tent.

Camp cooking is an adventure in and of itself and doesn’t always go the way of a baby’s palate. Stay prepared with go-to snacks that older babes will love. Meal pouches, granola bars, goldfish, cheese sticks—whatever your tot will need to stay satisfied if the meal du jour strikes out. 

Sleep

Lulyboo Mod Carry Cot

When camping with babies, go big with a tent like the Nemo Wagontop 6 Person Tent. This tent has ample room for luggage, sleeping bags, portable cribs and best of all, it is tall enough to stand in, making maneuvering and middle of the night feedings a breeze.

The most challenging aspect of camping with babies is keeping them warm. But with some clever products and good insulation, everyone can rest easy knowing that the littles one’s toes are toasty. Reima wool baselayers paired with Morrison Outdoors Little Mo 20 Down Baby Sleeping Bag, is a great start to keeping your baby warm overnight.

Keep baby close by in the Lulyboo Mod Carrycot. This portable bassinet provides a cushy crash pad for the babe and can double as a changing station during the day. It comes with a mesh cover for outdoor use and can be worn like a backpack for easy transport. Boost insulation with an inexpensive foam sleeping pad that can be cut down to size and placed under the bassinet for maximum warmth.

Lastly, don’t forget to bring whatever keeps your bedtime routine consistent, like favorite stories, a night light, etc. Little magazines like Babybug are fantastic books in the car, tent, or even on the trail. They are small, sturdy, diverse in content, and because they are magazines, there is no concern with the damage that comes from inevitable chewing and tearing. For illumination, the Goal Zero Mini Lighthouse Lantern can hang, stand up, has multiple settings, is rechargeable, and packs down small—making it perfect for storytime, midnight feeds, or early morning bathroom trips.

Clean

Keeping babies clean while at camp can be easy with the right products. Talc free baby powder works miracles when camping somewhere sandy—just dust on your damp kiddo and brush off sand with ease. Bring extra baby wipes for everything from snotty noses, epic spit ups, and late night wipe downs before bed. And for a portable camp bath, use a kitchen wash tub along with Pura Naturals Soap Infused Sponges. These sponges take one step out of washing, can be reused, and even come in a lavender scent to help calm your babe before bed.

So whether you camp at KOA, join the masses in Yosemite Valley, or find an off the grid dispersed campsite, you can bring your tiny and still have a great time.

What are your favorite tips for camping with little ones?