We made it. We got through our first camping trip with an infant. We weren’t eaten by mosquitoes or mountain lions, we didn’t fall off a cliff or into a stream. I’d say it was a success… for the most part…
Our little five-month-old baby girl is SUCH a picky sleeper. I don’t know if infants can be OCD, but if they can, she probably is. She KNOWS when she isn’t on her home turf. Even if I’m setting her down as she is dead asleep in her same bassinet she sleeps in at home, she will instantly wake, wide eyed and fussy again and again.
I truly believe I have gained some kind of mommy super power of patience because if this were happening two months ago I would not have made it through the trip. But now, even though our girl whimpered the entire one night we were up camping, I kept my cool the whole time. Sleep deprived and all. There should be an award for these kinds of milestones of motherhood.
There were a few things that kept me going that I’d love to share with the mama world and things that I wish I had on hand with a baby while camping but had to get by without. Hopefully, on your first trip, you can be a little more prepared than I was from this list of tips and tricks on your first camp outing:
If your husband is a shooter…
My main squeeze just LOVES the guns. He spent about 80% of the time on our camping weekend with a shotgun or pistol in his hand running around with his pup killing chipmunks and squirrels. He just turns into a little kid whenever he camps and wants to play all day with his toys.
I don’t know how I missed it, and it seems SO obvious now. Guns and babies don’t mix. Guns are loud. Babies have little ears. And on top of it all, if your baby is a picky sleeper… It makes one annoyed mama. I wish we would have taken baby ear gear. Do what I didn’t, get them here before you forget.
Carrier + Pack N’ Play makes for sleepy time on the go.
The only time our baby girl slept longer than two minutes while in the great outdoors was when she was in her pack n’ play or attached to mama. Especially when she was attached to mama in a carrier. We went on a lot of walks and hikes with her strapped to my back and she zonked out quickly as long as I kept moving. (And I lost two pounds on this trip because of it! Woot!)
We made it fun with a few games, scavenger hunts, and the biggest hit with the kids was making “nature bracelets”. You take a piece of masking tape or duct tape, wrap it around the kids’ wrists with the sticky side out, and they can go around sticking flowers, leaves, bark, moss and whatever else they might find, to their wrists to make bracelets for themselves and everyone around the campfire. It was a hoot! My niece (six) and nephew (eight) were occupied for a good hour as we walked around the woods and baby slept. Win-win.
Then, when I would be exhausted from carrying around a baby for hours, a good alternative would be our bassinet/pack n’ play combo. It was off the ground more than a typical pack n’ play, nice and ventilated, and actually doubled as a good changing station when I needed it. Baby was content as a cucumber and able to rest from all the crazy kids running around.
Essential: Bug Repellent and Sunscreen (All Natural).
I remembered sunscreen like a good mama but forgot bug repellent. Then I forgot to put sunscreen on her on a cloudy day and she got a little burnt on her face. Don’t worry, already beat myself up a little bit, but it makes her a stronger baby, right?! Luckily my sister-in-law remembered bug repellent made of essential oils, just being the super mom I’m aspiring to be, so she didn’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes on top of her red face. 😉 She was always smiling though, and loving the outdoors.
Make Food Entertaining.
My favorite part of this trip was trying out new ways of cooking different foods over the campfire or on our little propane stove. We tried this hot dog n’ biscuit idea and this cinnamon roll skewers idea which were both a hit with the kids! (We were up there with other family members, cousins ranging from two years old to eight.) And I don’t know about others out there in the camping world, but I can get bored pretty easily camping and love these fun new things to do, especially if it turns out as a delicious meal.
And don’t just think about meals – snacks should also be an adventure! While we all know the old stand-bys like s’mores and trail mix, why not try something new? We tried roasting bananas wrapped in tinfoil over the fire, which was super delicious. As for our baby, Beech-Nut Baby Food has a wide variety of snacks for babies and toddlers, so you don’t have to worry about packing something special for them. Just bring along the packaged food, some water, and a bowl to feed them.
Finally, an indestructible Air Mattress.
We tried to have camping with an infant down to a science this first time by pulling out all the stops. Sometimes you can’t predict it all, and we assumed our girl would be able to sleep in the same bassinet she sleeps in at home but she did not. We don’t know if she was too cold, or the tent was too unfamiliar, or if she was just so overtired from not napping throughout the day that she needed her mama and dada. Whatever the reason, we ended up co-sleeping with her for the first time since she was born… And I couldn’t sleep at all because I was so worried that the air mattress would deflate and she wouldn’t be able to breathe, but all the worry was for naught.
Our air mattress stayed inflated beautifully and although I lost sleep that night, she slept like an angel with the snuggles. I wasn’t complaining too bad the next morning because those snuggles are totally worth the lack of sleep.
Everything summed up to a great first family getaway, and it was MUCH needed. Regular, consistent vacations are best for keeping us refreshed and rejuvenated and I know camping will become a big chunk of those vacations. We will probably invest in a trailer for the future though because I don’t know how those parents who tent it up with babies do it. I’m only willing to do it once, not again. Kudos to those back woodsy peeps who master the outdoors without a toilet, I like my little bathroom in the middle of the night.
Hope my tips help you out! Share below if I missed any tips your family has to make camping with kids and babies the perfect vacation.