We recently took our 2 and a half month old daughter camping for the first time. We were so excited and while many people said it was too early and she was too young, we are not the type of people to think that our daughter is too young to do anything. She may only be 2 and a half months old (at the time of writing this), but she’s already been skeet shooting, shooting at the range, dove hunting, swimming and lots of other activities. We are constantly getting our daughter outside.
We decided to
car Jeep camp, as we felt that would be far easier than backpacking out with a newborn, especially since we had never camped with her before and had no idea what to expect.
Here are some lessons learned from camping with a newborn.
- Heat or humidity will make a baby want to eat more often. We went camping around the end of September, and for here in Texas, that’s a time when it’s just starting to cool off. And when I mean cool off, I mean instead of being 100 degrees, it’s 90 degrees. So, it was humid, but not necessarily super hot. It was definitely hot, but the trees gave some really great shade, so we just mainly had to deal with the humidity. It doesn’t really start cooling off here in TX until around mid-late October or sometimes beginning-mid November. Anyway, she definitely wanted to eat more often. The first night that we got there, I was really worried that we would have to turn around and go home immediately because even at 8:30PM, it was super humid and even after going to sleep for 30 minutes, she woke up again wanting to eat. Then she wasn’t wanting to go to sleep easily. But…by about 10PM, and after 3 feedings, she was ready to go to sleep.
- Comfort? No such thing as comfort. When I had done my research on finding tips for camping with a baby, one blogger recommended taking extra pillows and things to make yourself more comfortable when it came to feeding times. We were tent camping and even with extra pillows, you can’t exactly lean back against the tent for comfort. The only way I would have been comfortable is if I had a chair, but I wasn’t about to go outside of the tent to feed in the middle of the night, or bring a chair inside the tent. So, I just had to slouch and be a bit uncomfortable while feeding her. No big deal. But just be prepared to be uncomfortable during mid-night feedings. Luckily, she only woke up once in the middle of the night to feed.
- I thought I needed extra breastmilk. I took a bunch of pouches of extra breastmilk from our freezer at home, thinking that it would make my life so much easier by just giving her a bottle. My baby will drink milk cold, so I wasn’t worried about how to heat it up. However, I never touched the breastmilk. When she was hungry, I fed her straight from the boob. Mainly because we had the time. It wasn’t like we were constantly surrounded by people, so I had the time and ability to feed her from the boob and that’s what I did. However, if you do use formula, just know that you’ll need someway to warm it up, IF your baby is a picky eater. My baby is not a picky eater, so I wasn’t worried. I was able to keep the bags of breastmilk frozen/cold for the two days that we were out there, by storing them in our Yeti, which worked great. But by the time we got home, they were no longer good and had to discard them. Next time, I may take one bag of breastmilk from our freezer, but that’s it.
- Nobody cares about books. When you’re camping, you’re up and about and exploring and very active during the day. Even for a baby who just lays there and stares at the trees, this is exhausting as it’s extra stimulation. We have a bedtime routine of reading a few books with our daughter every night before going to sleep. I had brought a couple books to do just that on our camping trip, but there was absolutely no need for them as nature was good enough to tire her out.
- No need for toys. For a newborn, toys were unnecessary. Now, some babies may really like their toys and will want to hang onto their one doll that they love and that’s cool. Definitely take the one or two toys that your newborn loves. However, our 2 month old didn’t care about toys. I had brought one doll and it never got taken out of the diaper bag. Maybe when she gets older, a toy might be needed, but maybe not. I will take one or two toys in the future, but camping isn’t about toys, it’s about exploring nature. And that’s exactly what she did, she explored nature and toys simply weren’t needed for daytime play.
- Buy a travel bassinet! My husband found this travel bassinet and it is absolutely the best item we brought with us. We were originally thinking of just putting down a couple mats and then covering her up with a blanket if necessary. But this travel bassinet gave her her own space and kept any dirt off of her and out of her bed space. We have two dogs and they were tracking in dirt to the tent. Plus it kept her away from accidentally getting hit by me, husband or the dogs. She was in her own space! It was the best purchase.
- Babies sleep a lot. You may or may not be aware, but babies sleep a lot. I had a lot of plans of wanting to get out and explore with my newborn, but they still need a nap or two or three. Our baby slept quite a bit, we were able to get out for a walk once, but even then, she was super tired on the walk and just didn’t much care. Now, the older she gets, obviously, she’ll be more interested and awake, but with a newborn, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time at the campsite, simply just so she can get her needed sleep.
- Bring a stroller. Some people like to wear their baby, I’m not one of those people. But I think, even if you like wearing your baby, you generally set your baby down every once and a while. And when you’re camping, you really wouldn’t want to lay her down on the ground because of ants and other bugs. I like her to be comfortable inside of her stroller. Plus, the stroller was a place to set her down while we made food or made a fire or for her to just lay and stare at the world around her. The stroller was really invaluable for when she wasn’t sleeping or eating. By all means, continue to wear your baby, but you’ll need something for her to lay/sit in (depending on if she can sit up on her own yet or not) when you’re not wearing her.
- Mosquito net. We’ve used the mosquito net many times before when we were in areas with lots of mosquitos. We were really lucky that we didn’t need the mosquito net during this trip, but because you can’t put any mosquito repellent on a newborn, the mosquito net is a good option and really works.
- Carry more diapers than you think you need and bring a new pack of baby wipes. Oh and don’t forget the extra clothes. Our first night there, we had to change her clothes because she had pooped all over the onesie we put her in on the drive into the camp site. So there was one set of clothes that we already had to switch out and we had two more that were on standby. We also carried a lot more diapers than we normally use on a daily basis. You never know how much a newborn is going to poop or pee and you may need to change her diaper more often than usual. We also realized that we needed a whole new pack of wipes as the wipes that were inside of our diaper bag were dried up. So having that whole new pack was helpful because it just gave us those extra wipes and they were fresh and new.
- On the drive there and back, be prepared to stop once or twice. We were camping at a location that was 3 1/2 hours away. Many people suggested to camp somewhere near your home, but we didn’t really want to do that. We packed everything we needed and she’s great in the car seat. Plus, newborns tend to sleep a lot, especially in the car. If we had to turn around for whatever reason, we were prepared to do that, no problem. However, she wanted to feed halfway through the drive, even though I had fed her right before we left. Babies eat a lot! So, we had to stop halfway through which extended our drive, which was fine. One time we had to stop to change her diaper because of explosive poop. It’s just something you need to expect. A 3 1/2 hour drive may turn into a 4 or 4 1/2 hour drive because you have a newborn that you need to tend to.
All in all, she did a fantastic job on her first camping trip. Don’t be afraid to take your newborn out on a camping trip when they are very young. Babies are resilient and they will love to sit and watch the trees and nature. Camping is a wonderful experience for all ages.
Have you taken a newborn camping? What was it like?