Are you heading onto the trail with your baby for the first time? Our list is devoted to making sure that your first trip goes smoothly and none of your baby camping gear is forgotten at home. We will discuss not only what to bring, from carriers to ponchos, but also why to bring it, allowing you to understand the necessity of every item.
Besides remembering to bring all the right gear, a good rule of thumb is to start with a local day hike. Then try a campsite near to your home. That way, if things do go awry you can easily ditch the plan and be in a comfortable and familiar environment quickly. Once you have mastered the local trips, move on to farther destinations and slowly continue to lengthen the duration. This slow-and-steady process will allow both you and your child to acclimate to the new environments and routine more easily.
1. A baby carrier will provide safe and easy mobility
A baby carrier is one piece of equipment that is extremely necessary and provides comfort and safety for both your child and you. Smaller young children tend to be most secure in a carrier across the chest, while older children who are able to support their neck and body tend to prefer being on your back.
The back carriers are also better able to support heavier children without straining your muscles, since it should be partially supported by a waist strap. This will also leave your arms free to move around and interact with the environment as needed.
2. A diaper kit will makes messy moment simple
Get creative when making your diaper kit. You will want a lightweight bag that can easily be shoved into a larger pack. The things to remember is that you want plenty of diapers. This is one of the few things the great outdoors will not provide you with and unused diapers are light enough that throwing in a few extra will go unnoticed.
You will also want to pack plenty of Ziploc bags to put the used diapers and wipes into. It can be handy to have one medium stuff sack that all the Ziplocs are placed into for compression at the end of each day.
3. Extra sets of clothes will keep baby dry and warm
Let’s face it, babies spit up, drool, and generally attract dirt. Make sure to pack an extra round of clothes for these instances. If you are car camping this will be easier since you are less limited with weight and space.
When heading into the backcountry, plan more strategically, with focus on packing an extra set of everything, plus a few more shirts or onesies then seems appropriate. Remember, functional is more important than cute when in the backcountry.
No matter what, always keep one set of clothes reserved for the evening. Since babies tend to move around and get sweaty, you will want to put your child in a dry set of clothes in the late afternoon right before the temperature starts to drop off. This will keep your baby nice and warm. As night falls start add the layers.
4. A rain cover and jacket for unexpected weather
Many carriers will allow for the ability to hermetically seal your child into the carrier and away from the cold rain and wind. These features are absolutely amazing and will drastically reduce the likelihood of the little one becoming sick.
In additional to a rain cover, you will also want to make sure that you have a warm jacket or snow suit your baby. The nice option about a snowsuit is that it fits similar to the onsies and covers the entire body (usually including a hood), which allows the little toes and hands to also stay warm. Additionally, since it is only one piece of clothing it is easier to keep track of.
5. A sleeping bag for snuggles and cuddles
There are a few options when it comes to camping with the little one. They make baby and kid size sleeping bags, along with heavier insulated crib-like structures with soft walls that can be put on a mat within your tent.
There is also the option of co-sleeping with the baby in your own sleeping bag. If you decide to co-sleep make sure that you are comfortable and safe participating in this activity at home before switching to the trail.
6. Blankets to handle everything from spitting-up to sleeping
Receiving blankets are the multi-use tool of baby gear. From adding a layer of sun protection, an instant mat for naptime, to catching sit and drool the blankets will get lots of use. Make sure to pack a few blankets. While you will want a few warmer ones in case of cold temperatures, try to pack plenty of lighter blankets that do not take up too much space in your pack.
7. The S Set: Sunhat, Sunscreen, Spray, and Sunglasses
Babies need to be protected against the elements the same way we do, but in a gentler manner. Therefore, do not forget to stop by your local pharmacy and pick up baby sunscreen and bug spray. The addition of a sunhat and sunglasses will greatly reduce their risk for environmental damage to their sensitive skin and eyes.
8. Food and water, because you cannot go without
It might seem simple, but don’t forget food and water (and extra formula – if bottle feeding). Your baby still might be nursing, but if they have started eating food bring some along. Different foods can often be used as a distraction when tantrums start happening but naptime is impossible to take.
A good way to keep your child occupied, if they are slightly older, is to tie a food item onto a string and place it around their neck like a necklace. This will allow them to suck on the food (even if they don’t have the teeth too chew it) without dropping it.
Of course, be sure to check that the string does not get tangled around your child’s neck. One of my favorites foods to use is a bagel on a string. It may seem silly to give to a six-month old, but it is large enough they cannot choke on it, but will continue to teeth and suck on it like a pacifier!
- Do not forget, Mom, if you are still nursing take into consideration your increased caloric needs when packing your own food; this is not your usual backpacking trip!
9. A toy for when nature is just too boring
You might love watching the water flow down the stream as the clouds pass over the mountaintop. Unfortunately, not all children will find this amusing hour after hour. Therefore it is always good to bring one small toy or stuff animal along.
Try to keep it small and something that you know they already get enjoyment out of – like a favorite stuffed animal. A fun trick is to then use the animal as a character a story that teaches them about the nature around them.
10. A poncho for keeping mama warm and easy nursing
The poncho is a nursing mother’s best friend, especially when camping and facing a temperature drop after dusk. In the frigid cold the last thing anyone wants to do is start removing layers. Unlike a jacket, which needs to be unzipped or removed, a poncho allows you access for breast-feeding while you are still wearing it. Either look for a poncho with a low V-neck or keep yourself and the baby warm and feed from bellow.
11. Spare pacifiers and clips for the most trying moments
One of the general rules of the trail is to pack out what you pack in. Even if you accomplish this, pacifiers easily go missing, be it lost or just at the bottom of a bottomless bag. Always keep extra pacifiers and clips in a side pocket. This makes it an easy and quick reach during your more difficult and trying moments.
12. A first aid kit for handling the unexpected
Heading outdoors always comes with bumps and bruises, along with cuts and stings. Be aware that infants are susceptible to allergies and the trail is a great place to see a lot of firsts. Make sure you have plenty of Neosporin and band-aids for the minor cuts, extremely thin-tipped tweezers for thorns and small splinters, along with Baby Benadryl (antihistamine) incase of an allergic reaction to plant toxins or insect bites.
If you know that your child is highly allergic to bees (or anything else), which can result in anaphylactic shock, do not forget to ask your doctor for an EpiPen (an epinephrineauto injector); that will allow you to travel safely into an environment far away from emergency medical attention. Always remember that if your child is seriously injured, take them to the doctor at the earliest availability.
13. The camera for capturing every moment
It seems simple to remember to bring your phone or camera, but you will be surprised by just how many first times and special moments you want to capture. After all, your little one is going to grow up too fast.
So please bring your phone or camera, but also make sure to bring extra batteries or a portable charger. If you are headed out on a multiday trail there are plenty of lightweight, solar chargers that can attach to your pack and charge your electronics on the go. No matter what happens though, remember to be in the moment.
When a butterfly lands on their face for the first time, a ladybug perches on their shoulder, or a first step lands them in a muddy puddle remember to snap a shot, but also just stop and take in the beauty of that exact space in time.
It is important that children get the chance to spend time in nature, and as a parent you want the incredible opportunity of sharing your passions. This list of baby camping gear should allow you to go out and explore, while feeling confident that you have not forgotten anything at home.
If you have your own favorite items or tricks for the trails please let us know by commenting bellow. Please share this guide with any friends in need of a few good ideas and reminders. After all, starting a family is about creating new experience and sharing the world with your children, and where to start than your favorite trail!