I love camping. I grew up camping with my younger siblings and have camped ever since. While I try to keep our camping gear fairly minimal, I’ve identified over 10 types of products that make camping with a baby easier than you might expect.
Some of these products work well for toddlers, too, but there are enough differences that I wrote a different post about that.
Disclosure: Some links on my blog are affiliate links. I may make a commission if you purchase something using one of those links, but at NO additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Baby carriers are one of my favorite baby tools ever. I’ve used a variety but my personal favorites are Ergo and Lillebaby.
I like the simplicity of the Ergo 360. Mine is a gray one that has mesh, which makes it great for camping in the summer time. It has multiple carrying positions and is relatively simple to use. You can use the baby hood to help protect your baby from the sun.
If you use the Ergo with very young babies under the age/size minimums for the carrier by itself, you can use an infant insert according to its instructions. The 360 accommodates up to 45 lb.
I also love my Lillebaby carrier. I own one in an owl print, but can’t find it on Amazon or Lillebaby’s website now, so it might be a discontinued print.
But there are lots of other great Lillebaby options, including this Lillebaby Pursuit Sport with six carrying position options. It also has a removeable hood and POCKETS.
The water resistant part of the Lillebaby Pursuit Sport is made from “100% recycled polyester ripstop fabric.”
If you’re hiking with young children, you can give them their own carrier to take their doll or stuffed animal in. Amazon has some great options with a variety of colors and patterns.
TIP: If your child uses a doll carrier, I recommend taking it on shorter walks and hikes rather than longer ones. If they tire of carrying it or keep dropping the doll, it’s just one more thing to deal with (or carry!) on a long hike. Even if you decide to not take it on a hike, doll carriers can give your child a job and a way to copy Mom and Dad.
Baby sun tent
I tried two different baby sun tents before deciding on this one.
At the time I bought mine, I don’t think there were quite as many options are there are now.
I’ve camped with babies and young children in the woods, at the beach, by the river, etc. The tent above was super simple to set up and works well for protecting your baby from the sun.
We set it up in our back yard and on the beach, too. I love how quickly you can put it up and take it down. I also like that it folds down so small.
According to Amazon, the one we bought opens to 43″ x 27″ x 20″, which works well for an infant.
This one comes in regular and large, and is supposed to be usable for children up to 5 years old, according to the Amazon listing. It also comes in different colors. It’s more pricey than the other one, but more versatile since it works for bigger babies. It opens to 51.5” x 28” x 24.5”.
Both options have UPF protection and can help protect your children from bugs, while giving them a bit of privacy. But there are lots of other options on Amazon, so look to see what will work best for your needs.
We really liked our Bumbo seat. It comes in handy when you’re trying to cook, set up a tent or attend older children.
It costs a little more to get the tray to go with the seat, but it’s worth it. Your child can snack on fruit or teething wafers while you set up camp. Just be sure to keep the seat somewhere low. Don’t set it on a picnic table or other elevated surface in case the chair tips. Also be aware of any hazards, particularly choking hazards.
Summer Pop ‘n’ Fit portable booster seats are rated for babies ages 6 months up to toddlers of 4 years (or 37 lb.). They’re like adorable baby camping chairs with trays.
If you take a baby older than six months camping, sunscreen is a must, even if you plan on staying in a wooded area.
The FDA recommends keeping children six months old and younger out of the sun.
If your child is six months old or younger, you might want to wait before camping on the beach. Try finding a shaded spot and looking at the baby sun tents above as a way to provide shelter.
If you do buy sunscreen for your baby, look for one that is child-safe.
Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any questions about sun safety or safe sunscreen options.
Little sun hats are something that you’ll want to bring with you even if you camp in a shaded area. You don’t want to risk damaging your baby’s skin, and bringing proper sun protection allows you more freedom if you need to change spots, want to go on a walk or hike, visit an event or if you find that you will have more sun exposure than expected. I kept my baby’s sun hats on a lot even in part shade.
Wide brims offer more protection than short ones, and if the hats are flexible they’re easier to adjust if you put your baby in a stroller or baby carrier.
Portable baby bed
This one is tough.
We didn’t have a portable baby bed, so we used a hard plastic laundry basket. (I’m not recommending this. Do this at your own risk.) We also had a pack and play, but it was a standard-size large one. While it worked, I was nervous about ripping the floor of our tent, and it was HUGE in our small tent.
If you have a large tent, a portable bassinet and play yard may be a good option. You’ll want to make sure the ground is even and that no one will roll into it while you’re sleeping. Also check that it won’t damage your tent.
The bonus of using a play yard is that you can set it outside your tent to give your child a safe spot to play. Just make sure that it’s in a shaded spot and keep an eye on the baby. Check for dirt on the bottom before bringing it back into the tent.
This Munchkin Brica Fold ‘n’ Go travel bassinet folds down into a good size for packing. It also comes with a sheet. I love the mesh panels, too, since they’re breathable but can offer some protection from insects.
I’ve owned at least three strollers. The Graco ClickConnect strollers are fabulous since they connect with the Graco ClickConnect baby carseats and have a space for the child to sit without the car seat. (Ours was similar to this but in a different color.) But ours wasn’t rugged at all. Great for sidewalks, but not ideal for trails.
Our umbrella stroller (very similar to this) was great to keep in the car for quick walks downtown or in crowded areas where a large stroller wasn’t feasible to use. But again, it wasn’t great for going on even slightly rough paths.
Our jogging stroller had big, thick air-filled tires which made it great for using on safe but non-paved paths. It was from when my siblings were little, and my parents let me use it. It also had a thick, big canopy to provide sun protection.
Look for a stroller designed for rugged terrain (I love the handbrake on this one.) Some have reflective pieces to boost safety, and suspension to make the ride more comfortable.
I recognize that this is definitely a bigger purchase. If you can’t afford an all-terrain stroller or simply don’t want to put the money in for one, don’t let it discourage you from camping with a baby. There are other options, like the carriers.
This is an inexpensive solution to protecting your baby from insect bites. You can get mosquito nets to go over your stroller and over play yards.
Swaddlers and clothes for the weather
Temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. I’ve camped when it’s been too hot to sleep and when it’s been too cold to. Sometimes it’s warm in the day and cool at night. Humidity levels can change, too.
Try to pick a day with mild weather if you’re going to camp with a baby. You want to avoid them getting too hot or cool.
Layers can be helpful. If you bring long-and short-sleeved bodysuits, socks, thin pants and light shirts or cardigans, you can prepare for temperature changes. Just check the forecast before you go and bring extra clothes, especially if there’s no laundry facilities on site.
I love cloth diapers, but if this is your first time camping with a baby, you may want to consider using disposables. Camping with cloth diapers is doable, but can be a challenge if you’re new to cloth diapers or camping.
Regardless of which method you choose, I recommend bringing at least one wet/dry bag with you– preferably two. They’re great if you need to toss a disposable diaper and aren’t near a trash can. If you’re using cloth diapers and plan on going to a laundry mat, they’re good for storing the used diapers in.
Wet/dry bags are also perfect for soiled baby clothes, wash cloths and bigs.
Make sure you empty the bag frequently, especially if it’s hot. You don’t want mold on your damp baby items or for them to begin smelling.
Backpack diaper bag
If you have a cute designer diaper bag, this is probably not the place to take it. You may end up with dirt, sand, leaves or sunscreen in or on your bag.
I had a cute light gray bag that I took most places, but I used an inexpensive Graco backpack diaper bag for camping, hiking or other places where we wanted something that could get a little dirty or be carried on our back.
I can’t find the one we bought on Amazon anymore, but even Columbia makes backpack diaper bags for when you need something a bit rugged. (The one I linked has a thermal bottle pocket, padded back, changing mat and stroller clips.)
Final tips for camping with a baby
Many of the items on this list are optional, but in our experience, these products made camping with a baby easier than going without.
Even if you don’t have a big budget, there are ways to make camping with a baby easier.
Pick a spot close to the bathrooms and near your car to reduce the time you spend walking. Invest in a baby carrier for hikes and getting things done around the campsite, especially if you don’t get a stroller.
Try finding a campground near your home so that if you need to turn around and go home, you can.
Let your child nap in the carrier or in the tent, monitoring them to make sure they don’t get too hot or cold and that they don’t get sun burns or insect bites. Create a safe place for them to explore, and watch that they don’t ingest rocks, nuts or other items nearby. Keep them away from bodies of water, thorns and plants that might look tempting.
If people are camping nearby with a dog, you may want to move to a different site or ask them to keep their dog leashed.
Bring lots of snacks and a few toys and books. The baby will probably be interested in their surroundings and the new experience, so you shouldn’t need to pack a massive amount of entertainment.
You can read more safety tips for camping with a baby or toddler here.
And RELAX. Enjoy the time with your baby. If something goes wrong, make a note of it and try again to make your next time camping with a baby better than the time before. Preparation and experience really do help.
Camping with adults is fun, but camping with a baby or young child is great since you get to see their wonder as they experience things for the first time.
Have you ever camped with a baby? What was your experience like? What are your favorite tips for making camping with a baby a better experience for everyone?