Friday, July 13, 2012

How To Camp With A Baby/Toddler

I have done it and you can too! With a little planning and an adventurous spirit, you favorite bundle can go anywhere you go.

Plan Ahead! Where will he sleep? What will he eat? How will he play? How will he bathe?

~ I can't say enough good stuff about the Go Crib. It's lightweight. It's compact. And it's a breeze to set up (aka inflate). Whatever you choose, make sure to bring a portable crib or pack'n'play with you.
~ Pack more blankets and sheets than you need. You never know when little one may have an accident or the weather may turn cold. I always pack a few extra.
~ Bring a selection of favorite luvies. Just because you're in the woods doesn't mean he can't have his favorite teddy. It will make him feel more at home.
~ Bring battery powered fans and nightlight. REI sells a combo fan and light. We have two. For hot afternoons the tent might be broiling. We sit the two hanging fans on the floor of the tent next to the Go Crib to keep our lil guy cool. Then we hang them from the ceiling for the nightlight when it gets dark.

Lessons I've learned:
~ Tents are bright and hot. Vent your tent well. And expect some trouble getting to bed on time unless little one is used to sleeping in bright light.
~ Cold weather woes. Bring flannels and lots of blankets if it's going to be cold. Let him sleep in his jacket if you have to. I even put my little guy in the sleeping bag with me one night when it got below freezing.
~ Hot weather woes. I always bring shade with me and I check the weather before I go. It's never a good idea to take your little one out into excessive heat. Just be smart.
~ Always be prepared for weather changes. It might be hot hot hot in the afternoon and chilly at night. Pack for both, regardless of the forecast. Better to be prepared than to have a fussy baby.

~ Have a way for your little one to sit at a "table" to eat. As a baby I brought a stroller that had an eating tray. It worked great for meals. As a toddler he can sit with relative ease at the picnic table for meals.
~ Buy individual milks and freeze them before you go. This will keep them fresh and cold as the cooler starts to warm up on your trip. Or, if you're using formula, portion out each bottle and bring it with you with bottled water ready to go. Remember to always bring extra in case one spills or you end up out longer than expected. TommeeTippee makes a great bottle system with formula containers that drop into the bottle for on-the-go carrying.
~ Pack lots of non-perishable snacks to bring with you, including fruit.
~ Make sandwiches to take and keep cool so you can eat lunch in a hurry without having to prep the fire and make all of the food. Lunch comes up fast when you're camping.
~ Bring cereal for breakfast. Keep it simple and avoid having to cook for the breakfast meal.

Lessons I've learned:
~ Having lots of healthy snacks on hand is the best way to go. Your little one is going to get off schedule quick, so having food you can give him immediately will keep him happy and you relaxed.
~ Disposable is always better. Having cleaned formula bottles at a campsite, avoid having to do this if possible. Same goes for plates and spoons. And that way you can ensure the item is clean and ready to use.

~ Pack a blanket and a bag of toys. Have a variety of toys. The blanket is to lay on the grass so your little one has somewhere to play. This works from sitter to toddler. It keeps them clean and gives the older kids a home base to play.
~ Bring the Go Crib out of the tent and put it in the shade so your little one can play outside but contained.
~ Bring your own shade. Some campgrounds have very little shade. Bring a shade tent, giant tarp, or beach umbrella so little one has shade to play in during the day. We don't want sunburned babies!
~ Make sure to include activities that involve the campground or surrounding sites. You both will love getting out and away from the tent.

Lessons I've learned:
~ Plastic is best. Pick toys that are easy to rinse and clean.
~ Pack a few favorite luvies, but leave the rest at home. And make sure they stay in the crib and don't wander around the campground. You'll both be very unhappy if his favorite luvie gets lost.
~ Don't bring toys with lots of small pieces. They are easy to lose and then the set is no longer complete. Instead, bring variety but keep it simple.
~ Avoid battery-operated. The other campers are out to enjoy nature, not hear "Oh, Susanna!" 500 times. It's a good break for you too from the singing/blinking toys.

Getting there:
~ Pack lots of food and toys for the car.
~ Take breaks to get out, but if you're going 5 hours or less I recommend only 1 break ~ the kid won't want to get back in the car so don't let that become an issue. Just don't stop.

Lessons I've learned:
~ French fries cure lots of car ride ills. It's vacation, splurge a little and let him have some fries to keep him happy.
~ Mountains plus a 6 month old are a bad mix. If your ears pop more than once going up and down the mountain, you're sure to hear lots of screaming the whole way. Pick a campground that doesn't require driving over the mountains.

Most of all, have fun!

We camp a lot with our lil guy. If you have a question about camping with small people, feel free to email me or comment here.

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