Here are some things that my husband and I learned while we took our 1 year old daughter camping for her very first time.
Expect a longer ride than usual. Our trip almost doubled in drive time compared to our GPS eta. If you can, spread travel time over a couple days. We camped 6 hours away, so halfway through our drive we stayed in a hotel for a night. It made a HUGE difference!
Use overnight diapers if you can. It made for less blowouts and stops.
- MOST VALUBLE ADVICE: keep toys, bottles, water, etc. at hands reach so you can distract an “on the verge of a melt down” baby. We had multiple sippy cups filled, so when she dropped one, another one was passed to her. Same was true for her toys. We wanted her to be as occupied as she could be, so we brought toys that she loved, but hadn’t seen for a week or so. That way the toys kept her attention a lot longer.
- Don’t play nap-time music! We thought that it would get her to fall asleep, but all it did was make us sleepy. Bad idea!
- Recommendation from a dear friend: Leave near the baby’s bedtime so they will sleep the majority of the drive. We did not take said advice, but nonetheless it was a very good suggestion. This is only recommended if you are stopping at a hotel near the halfway point. It’s never fun to arrive at your campsite in the dark.
WHAT TO PACK
- Lots of clothes! I think we brought almost Penelope’s entire wardrobe, and came back with zero clean clothes. That was for a week. Include sun hats and beanies for sunny days and cool nights.
- Sun block. I will expand on this below in things I learned.
- Anything you use on a regular or semi regular basis. This includes medicines, vitamins, teething tabs, milk, and juice. My little lady is on a daily regiment of probiotics and fiber to help with some tummy issues, and we found that it was best to keep these in a separate small cooler so everything was easily accessible. This was especially helpful for bedtimes and morning wake ups.
- Overnight diapers. Not only were these useful for the long drive to and from the campsite, but we are in the “pee through her Pajamas every night phase”, so these were a must. It is not awesome to have to do laundry while camping—I will tell you that!
- Our Ergo Baby Carrier! We used it everyday for hikes! This was by far the most used baby item (other than her pack and play).
- Pack and play. This was our baby corral while we unpacked the car, and the crib for naps and bedtime.
- Some things were not necessities, but were welcomed warmly and found to be very useful. We brought a travel highchair, long baby gate, and a CD player to play naptime/bedtime music. We also found bubbles to be a wonderful distraction.
WHAT WE LEARNED:
- Keeping a baby warm at night isn’t as hard as we were expecting. (Our temperatures stayed in the 50o range so it wasn’t so bad to begin with) For her pack and play we lined the mattress with a fleece blanket then covered it with a crib sheet. On top of the sheet was a baby sleeping bag with a bassinet pee protector inside. She slept in fleece foot pajamas and a sleep sack and in her sleeping bag. She was just the right amount of warm even though as it sounds like overkill. I have to admit she slept better camping than she does at home.
- She needs CONSTANT supervision! More than at home which is already constant. Someone always had to have an eye on her. She ate dirt, put rocks in her mouth, and tried to escape the campsite on numerous occasions! Also, she fell a lot because of the uneven campsite.
- No matter how clean we tried to keep her, she was always dirty. She had 3 showers throughout the trip, which didn’t last longer than 10 minutes because as soon as we were back at the campsite she would fall, and eat more dirt.
- It’s exhausting to camp with a baby! It is also fun to camp with a baby. It was an adventure, and we will do it again with the next one.
FOR THE NEXT TRIP/ NEXT BABY
- Choose a better sun block and apply sun block more often. It made me feel like a bad mom to have a sunburned baby.
- Bring an easy up for the campsite incase there’s too much sun, and a shade tent for beach time.
- Don’t bring canned foods like peas or green beans—just bring the good stuff and cook it. Penny didn’t care for it, and it ended up being a waste of money.
- Bring a little laundry detergent to clean clothes. Penny peed through her last pair of clean pajamas by the 4th night, and there were still 2 left to go. Along with this is to bring a clothesline with clothes pins to dry wet clothes and towels. This is just good to have in our camping gear anyway.
- Have a section of the campsite fenced off for the little sprout to run around and play, so we don’t have to have such a constant eye on her during times like meal prep.
Camping with our little lady was the most memorable off all my camping trips, and I can’t wait to do it again!