If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that a few years ago, Charlie and I got into going camping. We absolutely LOVE it. It was extra nice that we loved it so much because when COVID hit and we weren’t comfortable doing much, we were able to continue going on fun little getaways. We’ve collected a decent amount of gear over the years, and I was really hopeful we’d continue to be able to go camping with a baby once our daughter was born. Well, we went on our first camping trip with our seven-month-old this weekend, and it was amazing! It definitely took a little bit more planning than going alone would have, but we had such a wonderful time and it was worth every second.
In this post, I’m going to put together a camping-with-baby packing list, as well as answer a few FAQs from my Instagram story.
Baby Camping Must-Haves
Here is a list of must-have items for camping with a baby.
Safe Sleep Space
The first thing you’ll want to make sure you have is a safe space for your baby to sleep. We packed this travel crib and it was perfect. It's easy to set up and take down, folds up really compact, and our daughter was extremely comfortable in it. We also packed a bassinet sheet to use for the crib.
Portable Sound Machine
I don't know about your baby, but our daughter sleeps SO much better with a portable sound machine. I especially found this to be important while camping, because you can't always control the volume level of your camping neighbors, people walking to the bathroom, dogs barking, etc. - this helps keep it nice and quiet in the tent. We packed this portable sound machine and in order to make sure it didn't die in the middle of the night, we plugged it into a portable charger overnight.
Depending on the temperatures while you're camping, you'll definitely want to pack along a sleep sack - these are our absolute favorites. It is not safe to put blankets in your baby's crib, so layers and a sleep sack are the best way to keep your baby warm.
Depending on the temperatures, you might consider packing a portable fan. We always pack one of these camping fans in our camping crates and just keep it on throughout the night if needed.
General Camping Equipment
I cannot express to you how helpful it is to have a place to set baby down that isn't on the ground. I highly recommend this baby camping/booster chair or bringing this table seat. The table seat is amazing if you have a picnic table that you can attach it to - we also love using it at restaurants! The booster chair is amazing because it doesn't need to attach to anything (it can just be placed on the ground). It also has a built-in tray for eating.
Baby Bug Spray
If you're going to a wooded area, you might consider bringing some baby-safe bug spray like this one. To note, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend DEET products for children younger than 2 months old and cautions against using any repellent with more than 30 percent DEET on children of any age. Your safest bet is to stick with 10 percent DEET. The one I linked above is DEET-free.
Bringing along a baby carrier is especially helpful if you planning on doing any hiking. We actually left our stroller at home and only packed along a carrier - it is so nice to be hands-free (always, but especially while camping with a baby!) Our favorite baby carriers are this fabric carrier and this carrier, which is a little bit more structured.
This obviously isn't a total necessity, but if you can swing it, I HIGHLY recommend a portable playpen/baby tent like the California Beach Co. Tent! This one has shade and it's so nice to have a place to put your baby where they can play/crawl around a little without picking up and eating a bunch of leaves/sticks.... oh, just my baby? Ha.
Goes without saying, but bring along a couple fun things to keep baby entertained!
Portable Changing Pad
I'm sure most of you already have this in your diaper bag, but if it's helpful/more comfortable for you, I recommend bringing along a portable changing pad. Obviously pack some diapers/wipes as well!
As I mentioned above, I highly recommend this baby camping/booster chair or bringing this table seat. The table seat is amazing if you have a picnic table that you can attach it to - we also love using it at restaurants! You can buy the tray separately here. The booster chair is amazing because it doesn't need to attach to anything (it can just be placed on the ground). It also has a built-in tray for eating.
When you're out in the woods camping with a baby, you won't have immediate access to a sink. I recommend bringing hand and face wipes - like these - to clean your baby up after eating. You can also use these to clean the tray after baby eats - or if you prefer, you can also pack along high chair wipes for that.
I recommend packing along your favorite bib to help with the mess!
If you're nursing, I highly recommend just planning on exclusively nursing while you're on a camping trip - it's so nice to not have to deal with packing a bunch of bottles/etc. That said, even if not, it can still easily be done! If you're pumping, I recommend packing these quick clean sterilizing pump wipes, along with a travel bottle cleaning brush/soap and some water bottles. I also love my Ceres Chill for storing breast milk and you can toss it in the cooler! If you're formula feeding, you could easily pack formula, bottles, and the travel bottle brush/soap with water bottles.
Make sure you plan ahead for food - if your baby is eating solids, pack some along with you!
Especially if you plan on doing any hiking where you won't be able to find shade, make sure you pack along a sun hat for baby!
I recommend packing layers for pajamas. We brought one regular short-sleeve onesie as well as a long-sleeve onesie that has fold-over hands and feet. Obviously this will depend on the temps, but between those two layers and our sleep sack, our daughter was golden!
Feet are prone to get colder while you're outside all day (duh) - so just don't forget to pack a pair of baby socks!
FAQ - Camping with a Baby
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions I received about camping with a baby on my Instagram when I posted about my trip.
Q: Did you leave your daughter in the tent alone to sleep before you went?
A: Yes! We would put her down to sleep around her normal bedtime at 7ish. This is when we would have our alone time - start a fire, having some drinks, play cards, etc. 🙂 Eleanor did fine falling asleep when it was still light out without any blackout curtains or anything (probably because she was exhausted from being out and about all day!) but if you are worried about this, you could consider bringing something like the Slumberpod to keep the space darker for your baby.
Q: Do you worry about night temperatures camping? Making sure she's not too hot or cold?
A: No! If it was going to be outrageously hot or cold, we would have canceled our trip - but everything in-between is easy to work around. I recommend packing LAYERS for baby if needed (again, no blankets or hats while sleeping!), or fans if needed (which we always pack regardless!) I also remind myself that central air didn't always exist - babies are adaptable and like I said, while I would have canceled for extreme temps, we weren't at all afraid of it not being exactly 70 degrees all day or night.
Q: What did you do about lighting in the tent?
A: Honestly... nothing really! We would just let it get dark and when it was time for us to go to bed, we would either use the flashlights on our cell phones or our headlamps for the few minutes before crawling into our sleeping bags.
Q: What did you do about bugs?
A: If you're going to a wooded area when camping with a baby, you might consider bringing some baby-safe bug spray like this one. To note, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend DEET products for children younger than 2 months old and cautions against using any repellent with more than 30 percent DEET on children of any age. Your safest bet is to stick with 10 percent DEET. The one I linked above is DEET-free. Our daughter didn't have any issues with any bugs all weekend!
Q: Did you wait until she was a certain age (sleeping through the night, eating solids, etc.)?
A: We did not! We actually had a camping trip scheduled for back in May (Eleanor would have been almost four months old), but we canceled it because it was going to be in the mid-90s all weekend and it was just too hot to go. Of course if your baby is still waking up multiple times a night and you are in a place where camping just generally doesn't sound enjoyable, then pass! Your baby definitely does NOT need to be eating solids to camp!
Make sure you check out some of my travel itineraries here!