Camping With a Baby Like a Pro
Summer is here and for me, that means camping time.
I love camping! My hubby and I used to camp together for years before we had our LO. We decided that we would keep this tradition when we had kids and would continue to enjoy the outdoor life as much as we could. We started to go camping with a baby very soon after we became parents.
Every year, when people start planning their summertime, I get a ton of questions from my friends and family about my camping experience with my LO. This year, I decided to write it down so you all can enjoy this info.
So far, my experience includes 5 long weekends of camping. This includes our first camping trips with a 9-month-old baby and our trip a year later with a 20-month-old toddler.
Is camping a good fit for a baby or a toddler? Yes, it is and it is so much fun.
My family doctor told me that spending time outside, especially in a forest, is very important for your health. The sun, the foliage, and the clean fresh air are like therapy for your body.
It is very important for both the health of us as parents and for the health of our kids to stay outside as much as we can. Canada’s summer is so short that you have to make the most of it by going camping.
How to go camping with a baby
First, if you haven’t ever camped in your life, I wouldn’t recommend you camp for your first time ever with a baby.
It can be a bit challenging to go camping for the first time with a baby, so if you’ve never slept outside before, you might want to stop and reconsider this trip.
However, if you’re someone with a long history of being outdoorsy and you’ve enjoyed your experiences camping, go for it and have fun with your all family including your baby.
To go camping with a baby you will need more preparation time. You have to plan your trip and your camping spot carefully as well as do more packing. I will write everything you need to pack in my notes below.
What about my car? Do I need to rent a van?
I know that many like to pack almost everything they own when camping. When we first started to go camping as a family, we drive in our Nissan Versa, which is very small and compact. Despite how small our car is, we have room for everything we need. So don’t worry if you don’t have an SUV or a big van.
When we started to go camping with 2 kids (and we still drove small car), we added a car roof box for extra storage space.
Planning Your Trip- Camping with a baby
First, you need to choose the park that you would like to visit. We usually go camping in one of the Ontario provincial parks. These parks are close to Toronto and there are so many to choose from.
Because you are travelling with a baby, I would recommend choosing a park that is located no more than a 3 to 4 hours drive from your place. You don’t want to spend more time than that of driving. You can book your campsite in one of the Ontario’s provincial parks here.
There are also many private campgrounds in Ontario. You can also use Google Maps to locate one.
Ontario’s parks are usually fully booked for the long weekend months in advance. If you plan to go camping on any other weekend or on weekdays, you will find plenty of campsites to choose from.
What to look for when you book a campsite?
- The walking distance from Water/Washrooms.
- A campsite that has at least partial shade, so your LO won’t be out in the sun all-day
- The distance of your campsite from the main road to the park. You want it to be quiet and safe (especially if your LO is a good runner).
- The walking distance to washrooms and the kind of washroom (compost or regular with water)
Family packing list for camping with a baby (or toddler & kids 🙂 )
If you would like to download the printable PDF of this packing list- Click here
- Tent. We used the Coleman 5-Person Tent, which is just the right size for 3 people (or 3 with a baby)
2 years ago we moved to Coleman 8-person, which have 2 sections and it fits easily 4 beds and some area in the middle for our bags.
- Camping Tarps. I recommend to take two with you. one to place under the tent and one above in case of rain.
- Sleeping bags. Keep in mind the summer nights in Ontario can be chilly.
- Camping mattress pads or air bed (including pump) However you prefer to sleep.
- Blankets and pillows
- Outdoor mat or picnic blanket
- Camping Chairs. We bring with us 2 adults chairs and 2 kids camping chair for kids.
- Towels. Beach towels and for shower.
- Clothes including bathing suits
- Warm clothes for night time
- Mosquito Protection: Spray, Candles, Clip-On, and others
- Hats for everyone
- Shower utilities
- Toilet paper
- Camping Stove or Barbecue for cooking
- Camping Cooking utilities like pans and cutting board
- Cooler- the one that you will use is really depend on your car size and how much space you can dedicated. The space saver cooler will be more expansive. We used the small Coleman, when we camp with one baby. No we are using family size.
- Portable water tank
- Dining utensils: Forks, Spoons, Knives, Plates, Cups. We don’t use disposable plastic.
- Kitchen paper towels
- Table Map
- Food: Fruits, Veggies, Meat, Eggs, Bread, Drinks, Spices and more.
- Soap and sponge to clean your dishes
- Flashlight and Headlamps + extra batteries.
- Lighters or matches
- Books if you like to read
- Phone charger
- First aid kit
- Umbrella and raincoat– trust me on that, always bring umbrella and plastic rain covers.
- Garbage bags
Baby’s packing list
- Pack n’ Play Playard, Playpen or a travel bassinet for sleeping
If you camp with an Infant I would recommend taking a Pack and Play anyway. This way you LO’ can stay there while you busy cooking, assemble your tent and etc.
- Baby Carrier and/or backpack baby carrier.
If you plan to do some trekking or some walking in the park, it will be better to use a backpack baby carrier. For all other times, you can use your regular carrier.
- Bedding and warm blanket for night time.
- Mosquito Net for the bed and the stroller.
- Receiving blankets for changing time
- Extra clothes and extra shoes- Take more clothes than you would think you will use.
- Warm clothes for night time.
It can be very cold at night time, so you should bring warm slippers and a jacket for early morning time.
- Baby Formula if needed
- Baby food- I used to bring oatmeal, and fruits that are easy to smash with a fork like banana and avocado.
- Baby Food utilities
- Booster for feeding time– If you have a small one that you can place on any chair or camping table it will be ideal.
- Diapers and Wipes- Bring as many as you can, you don’t want to be left without diapers.
- Small bags for dirty diapers.
- Sunscreen and hat.
- Mosquito protection– always check labels.
- First aid kit including thermostat, medications to treat fever and after-bite cream.
- Shower utilities and towels
- Hand sanitizer Gel– To clean your hands before feeding and after changing diapers.
- Bathing suit and Swim Pants
If you planning to go swimming every day, bring more than one bathing suit.
- Beach Tent or Sun Block Beach Umbrella
If you plan to go to the beach or if you have a sunny campsite, you will need to provide some shade for your LO’.
- Beach kids gear like baby float and sand toy set
- Toys, games, balls, books
If you camp with a toddler:
- Toddler camping bed or kids travel air bed. We use the Regalo Baby camping bed. the kids love it and it is also an extra bed for kids who staying for sleep over.
- Kids Sleeping bag
- Toddler camping chair
- Potty chairs
- Many extra clothes.
Click here if you want to download the full list as a PDF
What you do NOT need to pack for camping with a baby
When you go camping with a baby you don’t need a stroller. From my experience, it only takes up space in your car. Take your stroller only if you really think that you are going to use it.
I know some babies will only sleep in their strollers- so this would be the only case you would need to bring it with you.
Also, you don’t need all of your baby’s gear such as their high chair, baby swing, and others. Try to keep it simple.
Food ideas for camping with a baby
If you go camping with an infant or a baby, you can still feed him with fresh food. Here are some simple ideas that you can make while camping outside.
- Potato and sweet potato mash.
- Cereal like oatmeal, cooked with water or milk.
- Avocado, banana, other fruits you can bring with you
- Boiled eggs or scrambled eggs.
I hope you found this helpful and you will have lots of fun!!
If you have any questions about my experience or if you would like to get advice, just leave me a comment below and I would be happy to help.
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