What Age Can I Take My Baby Camping?

a family camping and sitting around a campfire at night

When I decided to take our toddlers camping, I was worried that they’d be too young. Our youngest is only 18 months old so I wasn’t sure whether or not they should be anywhere near a campsite.

After looking into what age I could take a baby camping, I quickly found out that you can take a baby camping at any age, even when they’re a new born. However, you will need to plan ahead to ensure they’re warm at night, they have something suitable to sleep in and that you protect them from the sun during the day.

Sometimes just leaving the house with a tiny baby can feel overwhelming, so the thought of camping with one left me feeling terrified! But, after doing some research, it seems that the younger the baby is, the easier a camping trip will be.

The trick to keeping young babies happy during a camping trip

The two most important things to get right when camping with young babies is to keep them warm enough at night and cool enough (and protected from the sun) during the day.

Keeping them warm enough at night starts with what they sleep in. If your baby is still in a Moses basket then take this with you as the thick sides and base will help retain warmth. You could use your baby’s pram carry cot too as again, these tend to have a sturdy base and sides to help keep your baby warm. Taking your baby’s regular bed camping also has the added bonus that they’re used to sleeping in it so they may settle more easily. Add a couple of blankets underneath the cot to help prevent cold creeping up from the ground.

It can get very cold in a tent at night so dress your baby appropriately with a hat, warm clothes and socks on top of their baby grow. If they’re young enough to be swaddled, then this is a great way of keeping them warm.

Layering up with natural fibres such as cotton, wool and fleece will help keep them warm and make it easier to regulate their temperature as you can simply add or remove layers to make them comfortable.

Always make sure your baby is safe when they’re asleep. Regularly check their temperature to make sure they’re not hot as it can be dangerous if young babies overheat. Keep blankets away from their face, preferably no higher than their chest.

The best option for protecting small babies from the sun is to keep them in the shade as much as possible. During the day, keep your baby out of direct sunlight with a pop up tent made from material with UV protection. Choose a tent with mesh panels for air flow to help keep your baby cool and make sure it’s secured properly to the ground so that it’s safe should it get windy.

When you take your baby out and about use a sun hat that’s large enough to protect their ears and the back of their neck – a bucket har to a French Legion style hat are idea.

Keep your baby’s skin covered as much as possible in light fabrics to avoid sunburn.

Sterilising baby feeding equipment on a campsite

If you’re just going camping for the weekend (which is probably the best idea if you’re taking a young baby camping for the first time!) then just take sterilisation tablets (such as Milton tablets or liquid) for your baby’s bottles.

You can then clean your baby’s bottles in the campsite facilities, pop them in the sterilised water and you’ll have clean bottles for 24 hours. You don’t need to buy a cold water sterilising box as, provided the bottles are fully submerged, you can use any large plastic box with a tightly closing lid. This will be cheaper but just as effective.

You can also buy bottle sterilising bags or use large, sturdy zip lock bags to sterilise bottles in. Simply fill the bag with the recommended amount of water, add a sterilising tablet and hang the bag up so the bottles are fully submerged.

As an alternative to using sterilising tablets, and if you want to travel light, you could wash bottles in the campsite facilities and then put them in boiling water on the camp stove for a few minutes.

For short trips, it maybe easier to bring cartons or bottles of remade formula, rather than a large tin of formula that needs to be made up.

Why slings and carriers are better than prams and buggies when camping

If you’ve ever tried to push a buggy over uneven ground then you’ll know that even the most ‘all terrain’ buggies fall short when hiking or exploring the countryside. Unless the path is smooth and flat you’re going to struggle.

I’ve carried my two toddlers in a sling since they were a few days old. My eldest is now three and a half and she still goes in the sling from time to time. Slings allow your baby to experience what you experience when you explore the countryside near your campsite, rather than being separate from you in a pram.

A sling will mean that any terrain is possible, including paddling in water or negotiating stepping stones. They’re useful for keeping your baby close and comforted while you get on with jobs around the campsite such as washing or tidying up.

Slings also take up much less room than a pram so are ideal if you’re travelling light.

How to cope with a crying baby on a campsite

Before we went camping, I was worried that if our kids woke up in the night, their crying would wake the rest of the campsite up! Although babies crying in the night is to be expected and most other campers won’t mind, if you’re worried about your baby disturbing others then you can try out these tips:

  • Camp on a family friendly site – if the campsite is geared up for families and children then no one will be surprised to hear a baby crying in the night.
  • Pitch your tent away from other people – although easier said than done if it’s busy, if you know your baby is likely to wake up and cry during the night then pitching your tent away from other people can give you a bit more peace of mind that they won’t wake the whole campsite up.
  • Go for a drive – if your baby wakes up and you know they won’t settle then take them for a drive.
  • Pop them in the sling and go for a walk – both of our children have always settled quickly in the sling, no matter how upset they’ve been. Walking with them in the sling means that you can calm them down away from other campers. Obviously take care at night by sticking to the main campsite paths and taking a torch so that you don’t get lost or fall down if you can’t see! If it’s raining, you could take them to the toilet block or washing facilities to calm them down somewhere dry, away from other campers.

There you have it, any age is a good age for kids to go camping provided you do a little prep.

Further Resources

Can I take a one month old baby camping?

Yes, you can take a baby camping at any age. For one month old babies choose a campsite with good onsite facilities such as showers, washing and laundry facilities and electrical hook ups. The best way to ensure camping with a one month old baby is a success is to keep them warm enough at night and cool and protected from the sun during the day.

If it’s your first trip then choose a campsite within an hour’s drive of your home and choose a weekend when the weather’s nice.

How do I feed my baby in a tent at night if they wake up?

Breastfed babies are easy to feed at night in a tent, just do as you would do at home. To feed a formula fed baby, make sure you have a bottle of prepared formula or a clean bottle and a preprepared carton within reaching distance of your bed. Keep a torch nearby too so that you can see what you’re doing.

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