Before we went on holiday I looked around for tips about what to pack while camping with a baby/young toddler. What I did find didn’t always answer my questions so while I was away I started on a list of tips for camping with a baby.
Depending on where and when you’re camping along with what the weather is doing you may find you need extra layers at night. We found that Jaxon would go to bed really toasty but by about 2-4am his hands would be cold because of the drop of temperature in the tent. The temperature in the day usually around the low 20s (Celsius that is!) which was warm enough to go out without a coat but need a jumper. Although baby will seem really warm and not need the layers at bed time, around 2-4am the temperature drops (even in Summer!) and so I would advise that you put them in the extra layers at bed time. If you’re restricted for packing space, day layers can double as night layers – if the onesie is clean (or only a tiny bit dirty) it could still be worn overnight. Keep a jumper or coat handy should it turn cold and/or wet unexpectedly. Even in the summer it might be handy to put on a vest under normal clothes.
Towels and blankets can be used under the baby’s bed to insulate them from the cold ground – even if during the day the towels serve their intended purpose (just make sure the are dry before they go back under the cot/bed.
Four of us, three tents, three sleeping bags, three air beds, four bags of clothes plus all the kitchen stuff soon added up in our car so we were unable to fit our buggy in there too. We took our Boba 4G and Connecta carriers to use in place of the buggy, in the end the Boba was used as a carrier and the Connecta got tied round one of the camping chairs to try and double as a high chair while Jaxon ate his meals. On quite a few day trips we found that if we had used the buggy we would have really struggled. By carrying Jaxon it was just like carrying an extra backpack.
If your child is like Jaxon and is into everything you will probably find that they keep trying to play with the things that you don’t want them to play with. Jaxon liked pulling himself up on the camping chairs and the camping table and trying to walk round the tent. He also liked moving the food tins around too. We had take a selection of toys but it turned out that I’d picked the wrong ones. I’m not sure what would have been the right ones but it seems the fire engine he got for his birthday would have been a good starting point.
Back to those tins, okay we might not have had space for storage boxes but if we had, had a storage box with a lid it would have removed the temptation for Jaxon to play with the tins. Also it would have been handy for packing away other bits that it shouldn’t have been playing with.
5. High Chair or Alternative
Some children will sit still at meal times and so sitting on someone’s knee or on a camping chair will be fine. Some will even sit on the floor and stay still to eat their meal. Others like Jaxon are wriggles and so won’t sit still. Some days he was cooperative but on the days that he wasn’t it was a real challenge. At one point I attached the Connecta to the camping chair so that Jaxon could sit in it while he ate his dinner – it wasn’t ideal and I don’t think he was entirely comfortable but it did work. We had planned to take our IKEA high chair to bits and then fit it in with all the packing but in the end it just wasn’t possible. (I guess if we’d had the buggy that could have also doubled up. I had suggested using the car seat but Chris said in this case it would have probably ended up stained with food!).
Bonus: Okay so when I was sharing this on social media it suddenly occurred to me that I’d missed one and it was all too much to change it so this is a bonus tip! In the summer in a tent it’s going to get light around 5am, clearly you don’t want your baby getting up that early if you have a busy day exploring. Jaxon has a Little Life Travel Cot (this is the newer version) which has a zip up top with a fly screen, we found that if we put a blanket (one of those spare ones mentioned above) over the cot it meant that he couldn’t see us in the main part of the tent and then get worked up and bed time, and because it went over the top of the cot too it kept it a bit darker in his cot so he was sleeping until around 6am instead.
Image from here. Text additions my own.