Top Tips for Camping with your Family, even if you have a Newborn

Top Tips for Camping with your Family, even if you have a Newborn

It’s true that things change a little (okay, a lot!) once you’ve had a baby, but your sense of adventure doesn’t have to. You can absolutely continue to go camping with your whole family, including a newborn baby, as long as you’re properly prepared. We’re avid explorers here at Grow Wild, and we want to share our love of camping and the great outdoors with you, and your little ones.

Did you know, babies love being outside! Fresh air and time spent in nature is great for newborns and children of all ages, with research showing benefits like improved immune systems, decreased risk of allergies, better sleep cycles and even increased bone growth from time spent outdoors.

  1. Flexibility: relax and enjoy your first camping trip

New parents can become a little preoccupied with routines — we know, we’ve been there too! — but staying flexible will help you to get the most from your family camping trip. Try not to worry about when your baby eats, sleeps and plays. Interestingly, research has shown that our body clocks change while camping, as we become more in-tune with the natural patterns of light and dark, which helps to regulate our circadian rhythms.

  1. Weather: when should you take a newborn camping?

When planning your camping trip, it’s important to consider the season, the time of year, and the weather forecast. Stick to the summer for your trip, as night time temperatures can really drop in the colder seasons, which would be unpleasant for everyone. Equally, avoid any heatwaves, as newborns can overheat very easily.

  1. Clothing: How to dress a newborn while camping

Babies can’t regulate their body temperatures like adults can, so it’s really important to dress your baby appropriately for the weather. Simple outfits like sleepsuits, onesies and rompers will do, but be sure to pack more than you think you’ll need, then a few more again! (Don’t panic — in a worst case scenario, you can head off to the nearest shops if you run out of clothing, but it would be much better not to have to.)

Clothing made from merino wool is ideal for camping trips, because it dries quickly if you need to wash it at all, and will keep your baby warm even if it gets a little damp for any reason, (think sick, nappy leaks, sweat, and so on.) You can see our range of merino wool baby clothes for some options. 

A chilly baby will usually let you know when they’re uncomfortable, whereas overheating carries more risk of not being spotted, and is more dangerous, so be sure to dress your baby in lightweight layers in the summer, and check their temperature by placing a finger on the back of their neck. Keep a sun hat, knit hat, light jacket, fleece jacket and UV protection on hand, for any shifts in temperature during the day or night. In the evenings, a wearable sleeping bag can work as a nice outer layer to keep your baby warm and comfortable before bed.

  1. Sleep: Where should a newborn sleep while camping?

Safe sleeping while camping

Sleeping arrangements while camping can be much the same as at home, whether you choose to cosleep or settle your baby in their own crib or moses basket. If you’re sharing the same sleeping space as your baby, it’s worth investing in a firm, self-inflating foam camping mat, as blow up mattresses or camp beds can pose a safety risk to a newborn. Your baby can then sleep safely beside you in their own sleeping bag, or you could even bring your regular bedding from home, which might make nighttime feeding a little easier and more comfortable.

If your tent is big enough, there’s also the option to take a travel cot or moses basket for your baby to sleep in at night, if that's what you prefer.

Top tip: Make sure you insulate your sleeping area from underneath to avoid losing heat. You can do this easily by tucking wool blankets around a foam roll mat, like a cosy bed sheet.

Nighttime clothing while camping 

A baby tends to need one more layer than an adult, so go by what you feel comfortable in, depending on the weather and temperature while you’re camping. Remember, they won’t need as many layers if they’re sharing the same sleep space as you, but will need more if they’re sleeping in a travel cot separately.

If you’re breastfeeding your newborn, we’d recommend pairing a breastfeeding vest with a decent fleece onesie in cooler weather, for comfortable nighttime feeds, (who wants to get their boobs out in the middle of the night when it’s nippy!?)  If it’s warm enough, choose a long sleeve breastfeeding top as a pyjama top. We love the long sleeve bamboo top for easy nighttime feeding.

While we're thinking about nighttime, a solar-powered or battery operated lamp will be useful for those inevitable night wakes, allowing you to see your baby without being too bright, while a head torch will come in handy for any late-night toilet trips.

  1. Location: Where can you take a newborn baby camping?

If you’re feeling a little nervous about your first camping trip with your newborn, pick somewhere close to home, or even practise in your garden first! Choosing a family-friendly campsite with plenty of amenities, like clean showers and toilets, will take a lot of the stress away and allow you to relax and enjoy your time outdoors.

If you’re lucky, your newborn will have fallen asleep in the car en route, which will allow you time to get pitched up and settled. This is definitely trickier with excited toddlers, and of course, not every baby sleeps well in the car, so camping with a partner, parent or friend who can help pitch up or care for the kids will make a difference.

  1. Food: Feeding a newborn while camping

Whether you are breast or bottle feeding your baby during your camping trip, you’ll be spending a lot of time doing it, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable. During the day, you could prop your back with a rucksack for support, or invest in some camping chairs — we particularly like folding ground chairs for ease of packing when space is restricted.

Formula and bottle feeding while camping

If you are bottle feeding, choose bottles with minimal parts to make the sterilisation process easier. Boiling up a load of water in the morning and storing it in a thermos to keep it warm will mean there’s less to think about when it comes time to prepare your formula, or you can buy pre-made formula cartons  (this will be an extra expense, but may be worth it for the convenience.) Formula-fed babies under six months old can be given cool boiled water in between feeds to keep hydrated.

Breastfeeding while camping

For breastfeeding mums, there’s a lot less to consider, but a breastfeeding top like this one will make the process as simple as possible.  Practising breastfeeding while side lying also makes feeding much easier in a tent, especially at night. 

Older kids

For older babies who have begun weaning, short legged baby camping chairs are handy — these come with harness straps and a tray for easy mealtimes, and can also be a place for your baby to sit and play occasionally throughout the day. 

  1. Changing: Changing your baby’s nappy while camping

Always bring more nappies than you think you’re going to need. If it looks like you’ve packed too many, pack some more! Reusable cloth nappies are popular for many reasons, but when camping with a newborn baby, think about the extra logistics of packing your reusables — will you be able to wash and dry them; do you have enough sets to rely solely on these; do you have the storage space needed (they tend to be much bulkier than disposables.) Disposable nappies weigh next to nothing and are usually an easier option for camping.

If you’ve chosen a family-friendly campsite with lots of amenities, there may be baby changing facilities there. Otherwise, just find a flat surface, like your foam camping bed. A lightweight travel changing mat is handy to have with you if you’re planning to go for a walk away from your tent, or you can lay your baby down on a blanket.

Checklist: What should you pack while camping with a newborn?

In addition to the things you’d usually pack to go out for a day with your newborn, you’ll need some camping essentials.

  • First aid kit - thermometer and calpol

  • A comfortable place to put baby down during the day - a sling, pram (depending on the terrain), sleep pod or moses basket

  • Legless camp chairs for you and your baby

  • Lamp and/or headtorch

  • Plenty of spare outfits

  • Plenty of extra nappies

  • Sun protection - sun hat and sun cream

  • Woollen blanket to insulate your camp bed

  • Breastfeeding clothes for the nighttime

  • A sense of humour

So, there you have it. You don’t have to stop engaging with the activities you love simply because you’ve got a newborn baby — you can continue to walk, hike, camp and explore nature, and in fact, your baby will probably love this! If you’re apprehensive at first, camp close to home or even in your garden. Most important of all, remember to relax, enjoy yourself, and find your own adventure!