Camping season is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like my family, you can’t wait to get out of the house, “get out of Dodge,” and get up to the mountains.
If you’ve recently had a baby, you might have noticed a few things have changed...
(we’ll just go ahead and let that be the understatement of the year).
If you’re planning to go camping with your new Little Addition, there are a few things to keep in mind. I’ve put together a short list of things that were helpful to me when we first started camping with babies nine years ago, but I’ll start with this little tid-bit:
It does get easier, mama! This may be the hardest season of your life, but hold on, Dear One, because—I promise—it does get easier.
1) Equipment Matters
That first summer with a baby, it was challenging for my husband and I to change our mindset from backpacking as a couple to car camping as a family. So many pieces of equipment that were great for our high altitude adventures, were no longer appropriate for our new little tribe. One thing I’m so glad we purchased early on was a five person tent. Now, years later, there are only four of us altogether, but I’m still thankful for that extra space. You will need it, even if it’s just three of you, especially if you plan to set up a pack-n-play for the baby to sleep in.
A second piece of equipment I highly recommend is a very warm snowsuit for the baby, preferably something made of down with mittens, a hood and booties. A girlfriend had them in various size, and I found myself borrowing the size we needed every summer because it was so essential for keeping the baby warm during those high altitude nights. As I often tell families before a portrait session in colder weather, bundle up because a cold baby is not a happy baby!
Finally, I mentioned earlier that you’ll want a pack-n-play for night time and nap times. Something similar to this version from BabyJorn was given to us, and I can’t speak highly enough of it for its simplicity in design and set-up. And trust me, if you’re going to get out there weekend after weekend, you’re going to want something that is easy to set up and take down.
2) Expectations Matter
I think it’s important to have realistic expectations from the beginning of the trip. Things may come off without a hitch, and that’s awesome! But things do come up with babies, and it’s important to have an open mind from the beginning. I can remember at least one trip where we drove for hours to find our friends up on some mountain pass, we unpacked our stuff and set up our tent, but as the sun went down, my six month old son got fussier and fussier. We had been to the pediatrician earlier that day for shots, and I could tell he just wasn’t feeling well. Rather than push through the night and keep the whole group awake with his crying, we packed everything up and headed for home in the dark.
Did we make the best choice? There’s no way to know, but I think having realistic expectations from the beginning helped both my husband and I accept what was or wasn’t meant to be.
3) Preparation Matters
Finally, it’s important to be prepared! The fact that you’re reading this blog, shows that you’re willing to put some energy into having a good experience when camping with a baby and not just flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best (although, there is something to be said for those adventures, too)!
Give yourself some grace, you will get better at this year after year. Also, there are just so many more THINGS when you bring along a baby! I found that making a list of what to pack for our camping trips and keeping it year after year was a great way to keep from forgetting any key items. (Final Tip: don’t put “#34 Poop Shovel” on the back page where you might miss it)!
Well, those are my thoughts on camping with a baby. If you have any great tips you’ve discovered along the way, please leave a comment below and share your ideas with everyone, because, let's face it, if we're doing something...anything...with a baby, we need all the help we can get!
Holly Freeman is not an outdoors expert. She may not even qualify as an outdoors enthusiast, but she humors her husband year after year by participating in a plethora of camping trips all over Colorado. Her true passion is photography, helping families capture that special connection that makes them unique, and she firmly believes a family's love is reinforced by breathtaking art on their walls. For more information on scheduling a portrait experience, please reach out.