May 21, 2023
Curious whether it is doable to take a baby camping? I was thinking the same thing when I first became a mom and now, 3 babies later, found the secret sauce, the right baby camping gear!
Camping with a baby can sound like a lot to most people. Tell them you are taking a baby, a toddler and preschooler tent camping with your mother and strangers will start to think you lost your mind. You didn’t, I promise you. You are installing a love for the outdoors in your children and providing great opportunities for outdoor play.
Camping outside is a great experience. Imagine falling asleep with the sounds of nature around you while you and your family are packaged away in your family tent. Idyllic if you ask me, but again some might think I’m crazy, they might be half right.
Most babies love spending time outdoors and taking a baby camping facilitates this love. However, there is some key baby camping gear you will want to own or rent before you start exploring camping with a baby. Some of these item you might already own if you have baby gear for the outdoors, but some might be new to you.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.
Each baby is different so it is hard to define the best age. A newborn who has not yet gotten in a pattern of sleep during the night would be more challenging to camp with than a baby who can sleep stretches during the night.
Your baby doesn’t have to be sleeping through the night to go camping. My youngest was not when I started taking her and she does fine.
A baby who wakes once or twice is easier to take camping. For me that has always been once my babies are 4 months plus. At this stage of my baby's life I have established bedtime routines making nighttime easier when camping.
A sweet spot to start could be before your baby is crawling. Once a baby is crawling it becomes harder to keep him/her to one spot.
Didn't start when yours was a baby, check out Best Toddler Camping Gear instead.
A baby can’t sleep in a traditional sleeping bag, this is unsafe sleep for a baby. A baby should sleep in his/her own space on a firm safe mattress. I find a travel baby crib the best when I camp with my baby.
A baby can sleep in a wearable baby sleeping bag, such as Little Mo 40. A wearable sleeping bag ensures a baby can’t suffocate and has access to clothing near your baby’s face while still keeping your little one warm.
Clothes that are made for dirt. Camping in the elements is messy. You will want clothes that can handle that. I put my older baby in an Oaki Trail suit, which is waterproof, windproof and strong.
A trail suit as a top layer means my older baby can crawl around and my mind is at ease. I don’t care if the ground is wet or muddy, the trail suit protects her.
For a younger baby I like to dress him/her in a bunting fleece layer when camping. If it is warmer outside I will delayer, but always happy to have layers as an option.
The most important thing to remember is bringing enough clothes to keep your little one warm when camping.
Under-layers made of merino wool are great base layers for your baby when camping. Merino wool is a natural insulator and breathable material. Babies have not yet learned to regulate their body temperatures and you need fabric that is moisture wicking, breathable, soft and odor resistant.
Camping with a baby requires preparation. One important aspect of it is ensuring your baby will be fed. Now, if your baby has not started solid foods yet the gear will be minimal; especially if you baby is breastfed.
However, once your baby starts solids you will want to bring the right camping essentials for your baby to eat outdoors.
I have breastfed all three of my babies, currently still feeding my last. Luckily I had no issues and enjoy the bond breastfeeding brings me. One major benefit of breastfeeding is that it requires less baby camping gear when out with your baby.
When camping with a baby who hasn’t started solids yet there is little to no gear regarding feeding you need to take a baby camping.
The one camping gear I would recommend to breastfeeding mothers when camping with a baby is a chair to feed your baby. I always found it more comfortable to sit down in a chair to nurse rather than the ground.
Granted when hiking or out I don’t always have a chair with me. For these occasions I am happy to sit on the ground, a rock, or tree branch to nurse. But given the choice I would choose a chair.
Any chair is better than no chair, but I like to be practical. When camping you don’t want to lug around heavy large items, if not necessary. **My camping chair**s were selected for their lightweight, compactability and comfort. I set this chair up outside my tent, in less than a minute, and have a nice comfortable spot to nurse my baby while camping.
These chairs also work great around a campfire or for kids to sit in.
My 1 year old relaxing in our Joey camping chair
If your baby is formula fed you will have a couple items to bring camping with a baby. Formula should be heated to sterilize for the safety of your baby. There are a couple options you have; a portable baby bottle warmer or ability to boil water.
If you have a travel baby bottle warmer this will work great when camping. Simply use it as you normally do when traveling. Ones like this Tommee Tippee Portable baby bottle warmer is a great pick. It doesn't require a power source or batteries making it a great option for camping.
The other option is to boil water and pour into a mug or large cup. You can then place the baby’s bottle in the oversize cup/mug to warm up. Before feeding the baby make sure the formula/milk isn’t too hot.
Choosing this method also means you will need gear to boil water with. Below are your options
Pro Tip: Don’t forget a lighter!
If you are using bottles when camping with a baby you will need a way to clean your bottles. Most campsites have restrooms and running water. Therefore, a simple travel bottle cleaning kit will do the job. Think cleaning product, brush and mini drying rack.
If you are only camping for one night you can bring enough bottles so no cleaning is necessary. I would suggest at least rinsing out the bottles in this case.
It is great when your baby starts eating solids. You don’t want to lose momentum with eating while camping. With a couple of ideal baby camping gear items for feeding, your baby won’t miss a beat.
One of the most used baby gear items I own is a portable highchair that doubles as a camping high chair for a baby. Having a dedicated spot for a baby to sit and eat that is not in your lap is a game changer.
Hiccapop Ominiboost is a great camping highchair for a baby and one I have used for all my babies. It can strap to a chair or sit flat on the ground. A baby is strapped in and therefore can’t get out. Once in the chair you can click on an eating tray that the baby can’t remove. I have used this chair for all three of my kids and can’t sing its praises enough.
Another benefit of bringing a camping highchair is that it doubles as a safe spot for a baby. If you need to eat yourself, tend the fire, or look after other kids you can strap your baby in the highchair.
My babies have always been happy to sit in their travel highchair and watch their surroundings with or without food.
I love silicone bibs, not just for camping with a baby, but for everyday. A silicone bib is 100% easier to clean than a traditional cloth bib.
When camping with a baby you want to bring as little as possible. Having a bib where you can simply wipe clean with water and reuse just makes sense. Once you start using silicone bibs you won’t ever want to go back to any other type!
A staple baby outdoor gear is a spill proof snack container. Babies love to knock things over, just ask my youngest, she knocks everything onto the floor!
Nature should be left the way you found it. That means not leaving with lots of puffs all around the campsite. A great solution is to pack all snack food for babies in a spill proof container. Therefore, when your little one wants to eat he or she won’t be littering.
If you are anything like me you can’t go away for a night and not have a nice cup of coffee. Coffee is a very important part of my life and even more so when camping!
However, instant coffee isn’t an option. Maybe I am a coffee snob, and I am 100% okay with this. I have explored all the options and the Aeropress is my favorite while camping. It is easy, portable, light, quick, easy to clean and makes decent coffee!
It is advertised as an espresso, drip coffee and french press coffee maker in one. For the Aeropress maker to work all I need is to bring freshly ground coffee, a small filter, the ability to boil water and a mug to drink it in.
I insert the medium-fine coffee grounds in the Aeropress then add in the boiling water. Stir and wait 30 seconds. Finally press the coffee into your coffee mug and enjoy.
A ground mat makes a huge difference when camping in a tent. The ground is cold and not insulated. When I sleep in a tent without a ground mat I am cold. The investment for a ground mat is warmer nights camping!
I have a super lightweight and easy to blow up ground mat. The Klymit Inertia Zone sleeping pad works great. It blows up in one breath and features body mapping technology. I have had mine since my days of backpack hiking before kids.
Taking a baby camping means figuring out where your baby will sleep. For me this was where I spent most of my time researching, I wanted to be certain my baby was set up to sleep as best as she could when camping.
You have a couple options for a baby camping bed. The most important factor is that it is safe. American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are:
After considering the safety guidelines and knowing my large family tent I choose to camp with my babies in a travel crib. It was important for me that my baby has her own space that she is familiar with.
The first big baby camping gear you will need to invest in is a tent. I have two different size tents, a small 2 person tent used primarily when hiking with my husband and a large family tent.
When camping with my baby and other children I value the space of a large tent. A large tent provides a safe spot for your baby to crawl around in, an area for diaper and outfit changes and also fits a travel crib and other family members.
Downsides to larger than necessary tents are that they lose heat quicker, often take longer to set up and may be difficult to fit back into tent bags when breaking down the tent.
I personally don’t camp with my family when it is below freezing so I am less concerned about tents not rated for 4 seasons.
For my purpose of camping with my children and baby in weather with nighttime temperatures as low as 40 degrees I love our affordable family tent. It is a 9 Person Core Family Tent.
When traveling or staying with families it is common to have a travel crib. This is a perfectly safe sleep option when camping with a baby. As long as your tent is large enough to fit your travel crib this is the safest and most straight forward option.
Best Overall Travel Crib
Carrying Bag That Fits In Overhead Compartment Set Up In 15 Seconds Quiet Side Zipper Door
Lightest Travel Crib Budget Friendly Travel Crib
Carrying Bag With Handle. For Storage Easy To Clean Breathable Mesh Sides Reinforced Locking System
Longest Use Travel Bassinet/Play-yard Best Outdoor Infant Nap Bassinet
Compact Size Carrying Case Included Lifetime Warranty Waterproof Mattress Detachable Sun Canopy
Best Traditional Travel Bassinet
Bug Net And Sun Shade Folds With Carrying Case Ability To Rock Washable Cover
When camping with a newborn a travel bassinet would also work. The main distinction is a safe spot that is solely for your newborn to sleep.
When I took my daughter for the first time camping I took my pack-n-play. I set it up in the opposite corner as my two boys.
A baby can’t sleep in a normal sleeping bag. A baby could suffocate and die. It is very important that a baby sleeping bag not be able to cover a baby’s face in any way.
Another big concern when camping with a baby is warmth. When sleeping outdoors you cannot control the temperature. Therefore you must plan ahead and bring appropriate clothing based on forecasted temperatures.
The best solution is a wearable baby sleeping bag. I have my baby sleep in a Morrison Outdoor baby sleeping bag. This wearable sleeping bag is designed for safety and rated for different temperatures.
I personally own the LIttle Mo 40 and Big Mo 40 for my baby and toddler. As much as I like camping, I don't camp with my children in freezing temperatures. The Little Mo 40 and Big Mo 40 are rated for nighttime temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees.
Camping with a baby in cold weather you could purchase the Little Mo 20. This wearable baby sleeping bag is rated down to 20 degrees C.
Lastly, if you are camping with a baby in warmer weather, above 60 degrees, I would use a lighter sleep sack which I use at home.
In colder weather you will want to bring a baby hat. Wearable baby sleeping bags are great, but do not keep a baby’s head warm. Also useful during the day when out exploring!
This baby camping gear is optional. If your baby is used to falling asleep to a sound machine you might want to bring one along.
One of the benefits of a portable sound machine is it will help to deaden the voices and noises if your baby will be going to bed before you and others. For me my baby goes to bed before her brothers. The sound machine helps her stay asleep while I do bedtime with her brothers.
An additional note when camping is nature which provides a great sound machine for a baby. There are crickets in the background in the evening and birds chirping in the morning.
Pro Tip: If you forget a portable sound machine, your phone often works as one.
The fun bit of camping with a baby is daytime activities you can do with your baby. The reason I like to camp with my baby is to experience long time periods out in nature with my baby.
I love to go hiking when camping with my baby. I enjoy exploring the trails and putting distance under my feet. The best way for me to achieve this is to carry my baby in a hiking backpack.
With a young baby I have my Lillibaby Carrier set up in the front inward carrying position. Around 3 months of age I switch my babies to the front outward facing position when hiking.
Once my baby is older than 6 months I transition to a back carrier hiking backpack. The hiking backpack allows a baby to ride on your back and distributes their weight. A hiking backpack also allows you to carry other items in compartments, helps with air ventilation, and is more comfortable for both you and your baby.
My husband and I both have a Kelty Journey PerfectFit Signature hiking backpack. For us this is the perfect hiking backpack for many reasons:
Camping with a baby means lots of time outdoors. Not all campsites will have nice grass sections for your baby to explore. Packing an outdoor play mat or outdoor blanket for tummy time and exploration time is smart.
Once your baby is crawling you can’t guarantee your baby will stay on an outdoor mat. At this point you will want to make sure you have your baby dressed in proper clothes for outdoor fun!
Pro Tip: If I need a safe spot for my crawling baby to explore when camping I can put her in the tent. This works well when you are camping with a large family tent.
Babies are not fun when they are sunburnt. You should always be protecting your baby from the sun’s rays. The best way to do that is through protective clothing, a sunhat and sunscreen, if your baby is older than 6 months old. A baby younger than 6 months can’t wear sunscreen.
Camping is not a bug free activity. Unfortunately you will encounter bugs. I don’t spray my baby directly with bug spray and I will only use family friendly bug spray around them.
I spray my baby’s clothes, hat or hiking backpack with bug spray. This helps keep the bugs at a minimum when camping with a baby.
Safety first when camping with a baby. You never know what is going to happen, therefore be sure to have a travel first aid kit with you. I also like to pack baby ibuprofen (6months+) and Tylenol in case my baby gets sick when camping or teething roars its ugly face.
Camping clothes are 100% based on weather. As a mom I check the weather and will pack ample clothes for the forecast. When camping with a baby you will want to pack clothes that are made to get dirty and protective.
A trail suit is the perfect top layer camping clothes item for camping with an older baby. My youngest can crawl around in the dirt and wet dew with no worries. Underneath her Oaki trail suit her clothes are dry and clean.
For a younger baby who is not yet crawling and exploring a fleecy bunting outfit works great. This will ensure your baby stays warm!
It is important to consider how you will change diapers when camping with a baby. A baby needs to be changed frequently so best to come with a plan. And I can't promise you won't have any baby diaper blowouts while camping.
A small portable changing mat can be used anywhere. I take mine every-time I leave my house with a baby. It lives in my diaper bag so no matter where I am I have a spot to change my baby’s diaper.
Camping with a baby means collecting all dirty diapers and stashing them till you leave. Dirty diapers smell and you will not want to keep smelling them after the fact. Bring a roll of odor free poop bags to seal in all the diapers till you can properly dispose of them.
If you are planning to camp with a baby for multiple nights there are a couple other baby items you might consider.
Babies are great at getting dirty, especially out in nature. A travel baby bathtub will come in handy when camping for multiple nights.
Most campsites will have facilities and you can fill up the tub with warm shower water and bathe your baby. Don’t forget a towel to wrap your baby in afterwards.
A wagon to push your baby around is helpful. You can load your little one in and have room for toiletries to take to the bathrooms or a small bag to go walking around the campgrounds.
I will use our wagon to pull my children and older baby to the playground at the campsites.
Download PDF version Here