A lot of camping activities – think kayaking, rafting and horseback riding – aren’t safe with a baby. This doesn’t mean your camping trip has to be boring though. Here are some fun things you can do camping with your baby.
New to camping with a baby? Read:
Tips for Choosing the Right Activities
Only Do One Activity Per Day
It might seem doable to take a scenic drive, hit up the visitor’s center and go for a short hike in one day. But more than one activity per day is generally too much with a baby. You will end up tired and won’t thoroughly enjoy the activities. So take it easy on yourself!
Avoid Guided Tours
Unless you splurge on a private tour, guided tours aren’t great for babies. The other members of the group won’t be thrilled that you brought a baby along. You will feel rushed when you have to stop for feedings or diaper changes. Don’t do this to yourself!
Take Turns with Your Partner
Make a list of activities you really want to do on the trip. Have your partner do the same. Then make a plan so one person watches the baby while the other does the activity.
Choose a Campsite which Won’t Be “Boring”
What counts as “boring” depends on the type of camping you do. Personally, I can stare at a pristine lake or mountain all day long without getting bored. So, I almost always choose to go wild camping at some beautiful secluded spot. It’s so gorgeous that I don’t need to do any activities. Other parents will have more fun at a developed campground with organized activities and other campers to socialize with.
Baby-Friendly Camping Activities List
Hiking is the most obvious activity to do with your baby while camping. Yes, it can be a bit intimidating at first. You’ll need to choose the right trail and plan for lots of extra breaks. You will also need to bring along extra gear and probably pack out diapers too. Luckily, a lot of national parks now have accessible trails which are stroller-friendly.
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Birding is the perfect activity to do while your baby sleeps. Park your baby’s stroller somewhere nice and quiet, or put her down on a pad to take a nap. Then pull out your binoculars and bird ID book and see how many you can spot.
When hiking with a baby, you will likely need to go much slower than you are used to. To make the hike more interesting, bring along a plant book. I started with learning wild edibles and their poisonous lookalikes. By the time my kid was 1 year old, I could forage us a salad for camp dinner. 🙂
Babies can usually start traveling in bike trailers from around 9 to 12 months old. You’ll want a really good bike trailer with safety features like rollover protection. Some, like the Thule Chariot, can even double as a hiking stroller. Depending on where you go camping, you might even be able to rent a bike trailer for your baby.
Plan your scenic drives around naptimes so your baby will sleep in the car. And make sure to be somewhere baby-friendly when the drive is over and your baby is scheduled to wake up!
Geocaching is basically a scavenger hunt for adults. It’s a fun activity to do with a baby because you can do it at your own pace.
Since you won’t be doing too many activities, it’s a good time to catch up on your reading. The dad in this photo has the right idea.
When baby goes to bed, get out the telescope and start looking at the stars. There are some cool apps for helping to identify stars, planets and constellations.
It’s generally best to plan easy meals when camping with a baby. But, if you like the idea of campfire cooking, do it while your child is still a small baby (once they start toddling, you’ve got to worry about them running into the fire!). Just make sure you have a partner to help. Otherwise, your food will inevitably burn when your baby wakes up screaming at the same moment you need to stir the pot.