There’s no doubt about it—camping with a baby is a lot of work. But as many die-hard camping families know, it’s the good kind of work that comes with big rewards. Introducing your child to nature from a young age can expose them to new, unfamiliar sensations that help boost their physical and cognitive development. Additionally, camping with your little one is a great way to make cherished memories while fostering a lifelong appreciation for the great outdoors.
While the prospect of camping with a tiny infant can be daunting, it’s totally doable with the right gear. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of essentials for camping with a baby.
When it comes to dressing your baby for the great outdoors, layering is key. Babies can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults can, so it’s up to you to keep them comfortable with the right baby clothing. Check the forecast before you go camping and make sure to pack the following essentials:
- Onesies® Brand Bodysuits: No matter what time of the year you go camping with your baby, you’ll want to pack plenty of Onesies® Brand Bodysuits for your little one. Thin Onesies made from breathable cotton are a great choice because they can help keep your baby cool in warm weather and don’t take up much space. Bodysuits can also be used as a comfortable base layer when temperatures dip in the evening.
- Long-Sleeve T-Shirts: You’ll also want to pack a few long-sleeve t-shirts for the baby, even during the peak of summer. Although long sleeves may seem like overkill in warm weather, they can actually help shield your baby’s skin from painful bug bites and UV rays.
- Pants and leggings: Similarly, long pants and leggings can also provide some protection from bugs and UV rays. Skip the uncomfortable denim and choose stretchy pants and leggings for the baby instead.
- Socks: Don’t forget to bring a few pairs of baby socks for your little one! Specifically, look for ones that won’t slip off their cute little piggies (you have enough to worry about without searching for missing socks in the woods). For additional protection from mosquitoes, tuck your baby’s pants into their socks.
- Fleece Pajamas: For cold nights under the stars, you’ll need to bring the right baby pajamas for your little one. Fleece blanket sleepers are an excellent option for your little one because they’re lightweight yet incredibly warm and have front zippers that make for easy diaper changes. You can dress your baby in a bodysuit underneath the blanket sleeper for extra warmth at night.
- Fleece Jacket: Fleece jackets are useful for early mornings and cool evenings because they can be easily layered over the baby’s existing outfit. If you buy a baby fleece jacket during the peak of summer, you’re more likely to get a good deal.
- Baby Cap: A lightweight baby cap is a must-have for your camping trip, especially if you’re planning to do a lot of hiking with your baby. Not only do baby caps provide a bit of warmth for the baby, but they also help protect your little one’s skin from the sun. Plus, they look adorable!
Getting a good night’s sleep with a baby can be challenging enough at home. But when you’re sleeping under the stars in an unfamiliar environment, there’s a decent chance that your baby will wake up throughout the night more than usual. Here are a few essential items to help everyone get a better night’s rest.
- Travel Bassinet: While a travel baby bed isn’t strictly necessary for camping with a baby, it can make your life easier. A portable crib or bassinet gives your baby a safe place to snooze without taking up too much space in your tent.
- Pack n’ Play: If you have a large tent, you might be able to fit a pack and play inside. This is a convenient option because it can double as a playpen during the day.
- Sleep Sack: Keep your baby warm and comfortable without blankets by using a baby sleep sack that’s suitable for outdoors and camping.
- White Noise Machine: Campgrounds can be pretty noisy at night, even with posted quiet times. You may want to consider bringing a white noise machine (or using a white noise app on your phone) as a solution to boisterous camp neighbors. To get your baby used to the white noise machine, use it at least a week in advance of your camping trip.
Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to camping with a baby is figuring out how to deal with diaper changes in the wilderness. Unlike adult human waste, you can’t bury a disposable diaper in the ground. To be a good steward of the earth, you should pack out what you pack in—including your baby’s soiled diapers.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring:
- Diapers: Keep track of how many diapers your little one goes through in a day and bring that amount for every day you’ll be away from home, plus a few extras.
- Wet-Dry Bag: If you’re using cloth diapers, we have good news. You don’t need to give them up for your camping trip! You just need to bring a wet-dry bag, which is essentially a reusable, leak proof bag that keeps odors and liquids from escaping. Using disposables? If you don’t have access to a garbage can at your campsite, a reusable wet-dry bag is a must-have for camping with a baby.
- Portable Changing Pad: A changing mat or a blanket can provide a comfortable space for diaper changes on the trail. For hiking, you can’t go wrong with a fold-up changing mat.
- Wet Wipes: Bring lots of biodegradable wet wipes with you. They’re extremely useful—not just for your baby, but also for the entire family.
- Travel-Sized Diaper Rash Cream: Don’t let a diaper rash ruin your baby’s camping experience! Pack a travel-sized diaper rash cream to stop flare-ups in their tracks.
- Hand Sanitizer: If you’re on the trail or otherwise don’t have soap and water, a bottle of hand sanitizer will work in a pinch.
- Extra Baby Outfits: It’s always a good idea to pack a couple of backup outfits for your baby, especially if you’re planning to hike with your little one. If your baby has a blowout on the trail, the last thing you’ll want to do is hike back with an unhappy baby on your back.
Feeding your little one may end up being the easiest part of camping with a baby. That being said, there are a few items that can help make mealtimes a lot more comfortable—and a lot less messy!
- Burp Cloths: You can never have too many baby burp cloths, even in the wilderness. Along with keeping messes off your baby (and you), burp cloths are extremely useful for wiping up random spills, runny noses and food that didn’t quite make it to the baby’s mouth. Our cotton flannel burp cloths can pull double-duty as a cozy blanket for your baby and feature a cute bear design that is perfect for camping!
- Bibs: If your baby is eating solids, pack some baby bibs to keep their food off their little face.
- Portable High Chair: Portable high chairs, also called travel high chairs, give your baby a safe spot to chow down at your campsite. When you’re not camping, you can use your portable high chair for restaurants, grandma’s house and to save space at home.
Nature is chock-full of benefits for your baby. But let’s face it—the natural world can also be pretty intimidating! Your baby may feel uncertain in a new and unfamiliar environment. Comfort items, along with a regular routine, can go a long way in helping your child “warm up” faster to their new environment.
Consider bringing the following comfort items for your little one:
- Blankets: An ultra-soft baby blanket will give your child extra comfort and warmth on a camping trip. Baby blankets with cute animal attachments—like this adorable hedgehog security blanket—are ideal cuddle companions for babies and toddlers.
- Pacifier: Don’t forget to pack a baby pacifier—preferably, one that isn’t easy to lose, such as a WubbaNub Pacifier. Besides soothing your fussy baby, pacifiers are also great for keeping dirt and other nasty things out of your child’s mouth.
- Baby Toys: You’ll want to have plenty of baby-safe toys so your child can play independently in a play area. Although you’ll still need to supervise your baby, toys can help buy you a little time to tidy up the campsite and cook a meal.
- Camping Books: If reading is part of your baby’s bedtime routine, bring a couple of books along on your camping trip. Books about the great outdoors are sure to get everyone in the camping spirit.
Additional Camping Items for the Baby
In truth, babies don’t need a ton of stuff to go camping. As long as they’re dressed comfortably for the weather and have a safe place to sleep, eat and play, they should be fine.
That being said, the right gear can make your baby’s first camping trip a lot more enjoyable. Here are a few more items to pack for a family camping trip:
- Outdoor Blanket: Whether you’re on the trail or having some alfresco fun, an outdoor blanket is perfect for tummy time outside.
- Child Carrier: Thinking about hiking with your baby? A quality baby carrier with comfortable straps will be worth every penny.
- Basic First Aid Kit: Every parent should have multiple baby first aid kits: one at home and one in the baby’s diaper bag. Make sure your baby first aid kit is well-stocked before your camping trip.
- Umbrella: If your baby is too young for sunscreen, a UV travel umbrella can protect your little one’s skin and provide shade wherever you go.
- Baby Mosquito Head Net: On a similar note, mosquito head nets are a great option for babies who are too young for bug repellent. Head nets are especially useful if you’re camping near a large body of water in the summertime.
- All-Terrain Stroller: For parents who do a lot of hiking, an all-terrain stroller is a worthy investment. For maximum usability, look for a hiking stroller with a locking front wheel that can be used for jogging as well.
Exploring the Great Outdoors with a Baby
Camping with a baby is a great way to build fond memories and spend quality time together as a family. The key to any successful camping trip is making sure to bring the right gear along to help make your life a little bit easier. With this essential packing checklist, you can safely introduce your little one to the natural world and set yourself up for a great outdoor experience!
Need to spruce up the baby’s wardrobe before your next camping trip? Shop the latest styles of baby clothing at Gerber Childrenswear and make sure your little one is ready for their next big adventure.