By Guest Blogger Jen Mearns

It used to be that the thought of camping with babies sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t fathom an instance when I would be OK with bringing an infant along to sleep outside, no crib, no actual containment methods, aside from the tent. It seemed like madness. Until I did it. And it wasn’t so bad!

One thing to consider when thinking about bringing a small child camping is the age of the child. Honestly, a non-mobile infant would be easier than one who can walk. I went camping when Jack was one and it was definitely challenging.

Let’s break it down.

Camping with an Infant Age 0 – Crawling

Bring along your Pack n’ Play so you can pop him inside when you need to set him down. If your tent is large enough, you can set it up inside for him to sleep in at night, as well! Or if not, there is no bed for your baby to roll off of. Just make sure you follow safe-sleeping guidelines in the tent as well. If you’re breastfeeding, huzzah! You have your feeding apparatuses built right in. If you’re bottle feeding, it will be more challenging to mix formula and clean bottles, so make sure you bring plenty of fresh clean water and dish soap. You don’t want to be cleaning bottles in the creek or lake!

Do bring along a baby-wearing device, whether it is a wrap or structured carrier. This way you can carry your child on hikes or just around the site to have your arms free.

Camping with an Infant Age Crawling

Crawling babies are the worst for camping. I’d advise you to skip this time period! Just kidding. You will still need the Pack n’ Play and baby carrier for this age because no one wants to let their crawling baby maneuver all over the campsite, picking up rocks and bugs and trying to eat them. Likely, your baby is starting baby food or table food, so bring what you’ll need. Make sure you’re aware of the choking hazards of campsite food. Hot dogs, marshmallows, chips, things you may not give your baby but she could find anyway.

Camping with an Infant Who Can (*gasp) Walk

Here we are. This is where my real area of expertise comes in! My husband and I, this past spring, took our three boys camping. Instead of trying to cram us all in one tent, we brought two and Jack and I shared the smaller one. He was off bottles, eating regular food and we didn’t bring the Pack n’ Play. We did, however, bring the infant carrier because, as it turns out, much like moths, babies are attracted to fire. We needed it to save him from himself.

When it came time to sleep, however, baby Jack seemed to have forgotten how. He was so excited to be in the tent that he had to explore every crevice, every object in it and everything everywhere. He stole my phone, sat on my head and didn’t fall asleep until after 11 p.m.  He also slept on top of my sleeping bag sealing me inside with nary a space to twitch my legs, despite the fact that he had his own little nest to sleep in.

It was exhausting, but it was fun. If you’re into camping and you don’t want to wait until your kids are 10+ (because, honestly, that’s the earliest they may actually be helpful on a camping trip–and that might be pushing it), throw caution to the wind and bring your babies! Wait, I mean, baby. Just one baby. Don’t get overzealous.

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