Any family can enjoy a camping trip, no matter how young their kids are. But some ages are tougher than others and taking a crawling baby camping can be a challenge.
We’ve learned from experience that taking a few key items with you can ensure your camping trip with a crawling toddler is a success.
So, can you go camping with a crawling baby? Yes, all you need to do is make sure you pack three crucial things:
- something to contain them, such as a travel cot
- something for them to crawl on that gives them a little more room, such as a padded picnic blanket
- something to protect their knees while they crawl, such as thick cargo trousers
There are a few more items you can take, and hacks you can try, to make sure your camping trip with a crawling baby is a success. I share these in more detail below, so read on!
3 Ways to contain a crawling baby on a campsite
Babies love to explore, but sometimes, they need to be kept in one place for their own safety. If you’re cooking or if there’s a campfire nearby or if you can’t give your baby all your attention at any point, then it’s much safer to keep them contained so they can’t get into any trouble.
1. Travel cot
The easiest way to do this is to use a travel cot as a playpen and fill it full of toys to keep them entertained while you get on with your chores. Travel cots are great for babies to sleep in when you’re camping too, as they’re off the ground so will keep your baby warmer, they also pack reasonably small as well.
2. A portable camping fence or windbreakers
A portable camping fence is just that, a fence that can be transported and put up easily on a campsite, without needing to be secured into the ground with posts. These fences will keep toddlers and older children secure too, as well as babies. Although useful and sturdy, this will be an expensive and bulky choice for a weekend away, so only invest in one if you plan to camp regularly and have a vehicle large enough to transport the fence.
A much cheaper alternative to a camping fence are windbreakers. You can use a couple of windbreakers to create a penned off area for your kids to explore without the worry of them escaping. The downside of using windbreakers is that you can’t see through them, so you’ll need to stay close to keep an eye on your baby.
Whether you choose the camping fence or windbreaker technique, lay a large tarpaulin on the floor or a blanket to protect your baby’s knees. And, of course, fill the area with toys!
3. Use your tent
Pop your crawling baby in your tent and zip the bottom half of your tent door up. Put some toys in there and they should be happy enough as they’ll be able to play and still see you. This won’t work for older crawling babies though, as they’ll probably work out how to pull the zip down and escape!
For older babies, zip the fly screen door of the tent up completely, you’ll still be able to see them but they’ll be less likely to escape.
This technique is particularly useful if you’re camping in an area with lots of creepy crawlies or snakes as they won’t be able to get into the tent.
Whichever technique you use, make sure you keep your baby in the shade in sunny weather, for example by using a large parasol or positioning the enclosure in the shade of a tree.
How to help your crawling baby safely explore the campsite
You won’t want to keep your baby in an enclosure during your entire trip and your baby won’t like it either. It’s good for them to explore and, as long as they’re supervised and comfortable, they’ll have a great time on camp.
Create a designated baby area using mats (such as foam play tiles that slot together and protect babies’ knees on hard floors) or with padded picnic mats. If you don’t have these then simply use blankets and a ground sheet to protect your blankets from the floor and to create a softer surface for your baby’s knees.
Pop some toys in the middle of the area, or use camp items they’ll be interest in playing with such as pots, pans and wooden spoons. You could put up a small play tent for them to hide in and explore and add some items from nature such as smooth stones (large enough for them not to be a choking hazard), fir cones, a small bowl of water, sand and leaves. They’ll have a fantastic time exploring nature without having to crawl very far at all!
If you have room, take a push along baby walker or ride-on with you, that way they can go further afield without having to crawl.
The best clothes to protect a crawling baby when camping
Babies crawling over nettles, sharp rocks, dirt and mud are all possibilities when camping, so for your peace of mind and your baby’s safety, try these tips for protecting them when they’re crawling around the site.
- Dress them in an all-in-one rain suit. Unless it’s hot, an all-in-one rain suit will keep them comfortable while they explore and protect them from dirt and mud. An all-in-one with a hood will keep them nice and dry if they want to crawl around in wet grass, so is ideal if it’s raining.
- Give their knees extra protection by snipping the foot off a pair of old socks and using the top section as some homemade knee pads. These can be worn with shorts in warm weather too. You can buy baby crawling knee pads, but it’s much cheaper to make your own.
- Pack some shoes that will protect their feet from rough terrain. Clarks range of pre-walking shoes are ideal for babies who can’t yet walk unassisted but who can cruise along furniture and they’re flexible enough for babies to crawl in them too. If your baby isn’t yet standing, then choose soft leather shoes to protect the top of their feet, such as the range from MiniFeet Shoes.
If it’s wet or muddy then cover their feet with over-booties such as these waterproof rain footies from Play Shoes.
- Protect their knees and shins with cargo trousers or jeans as these are thicker than leggings and will add a layer of protection.
What are some easy outdoor activities to try with a crawling baby?
- Roll a small football and let your baby crawl after it.
- Create an obstacle course with rolled up sleeping bags or blankets, toys, pillows and anything else you have on camp.
- Pour some water on a tarpaulin and add some of your baby’s favourite waterproof toys and let them slide around and explore.
- Bubbles! All babies and toddlers love to play with bubbles.
What are the best toys to take when camping with a crawling baby?
- A play tunnel – they fold flat and you can add them to your babies play mat or place them around the camp to encourage your baby to explore new areas.
- Bubbles – you can make bubbles yourself and catching and chasing them will provide hours of fun.
- Pull along toys – these are great for encouraging babies to explore further.
- A paddling pool – your baby can cool off and play with their favourite toys in the water, and paddling pools can also double up as a baby bath.
- Stacking cups – these versatile toys can be used for stacking, knocking over, filling, banging and are ideal for playing with in water.