Judah, age 15 months, NOT sleepingSome people are born campers. I am not one of those people.
Last weekend we went on a multi-family camping trip and while it was completely awesome, my baby did his part to make everything more complicated, dirtier and completely exhausting. It was still a fantastic time, but if I had to do it all over again I would change a few things, or at the least, not pack like I was going to the Holiday Inn instead of the wilderness.
Here’s what I learned from making rookie camping mistakes with my one-year-old:
Create a Familiar Sleeping Environment
If your baby is like mine, he knows when things are different and that makes him too excited to sleep. At all. Also, having an entire sleeping bag covered tent to roll and walk around in does not, in fact, wear out a little camper. It just makes him so amped he rattles the entire tent to the point where someone calls out, "Are they making the next Jurassic Park in there?"
A friend recommended we bring a pack ‘n play the next time and surround him with his blanket and lovies. That way we can trick him into thinking he’s not on vacation and therefore not in danger of missing any of the action.
Bring Your Own Sterilizing Equipment
I knew there would be a bathroom near the site, but I didn’t count on it being a cold water only facility with no soap. In addition to kid-friendly hand sanitizer, you want to have another option for washing baby bottles and sippy cups that doesn't involve hunting and gathering kindling.
Luckily our co-campers brought a portable Coleman gas grill and a tea kettle so we could boil water and sterilize. Otherwise I would highly recommend you purchasing 20 bottles and sippies to bring with you -- which, of course, no sane person would do.
Another alternative, don’t wean your baby until after your camping trip. No sterilizing necessary.
Depending on the time of year and your location, the nighttime chill can take you, and your baby, by surprise. Luckily I have a fear of being cold that even surpasses my fear of reptiles, so I was prepared come nightfall.
Most important to remember, don't think you can't overdo it. Dressing your baby in footies may not be enough for the outdoors. Bring extra socks, a sleeping cap and if they’re still digging it -- a swaddle.
Whether you have a new walker, a rabid crawler or none of the above, you will still need to control your baby’s mobility (there's fire nearby, remember?) and strollers aren’t exactly campsite friendly. Be sure you have a trusted baby carrier; one you've used multiple times before and know exactly what it feels like for you and your baby if you carry him for extended amounts of time.
If our trip was any indication, that baby will spend more time on mom and dad than in the tent and you want an easy option to carry and comfort your little one.
This camping trip showed us the advantage to having a meat-loving baby, one which we had not thought of before; as he ate sausages for almost every meal. Just like the adults!
But if your baby is veg, or just doesn’t want to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner, do not scrimp on the finger foods that require zero preparation. You don't want to be in the middle of nowhere with a picky baby who's starving.
Also, accompany those snacks with lots of Ziplocs and wipes.
Have you gone camping with a baby? What's your best tip?