Thinking of going camping this summer but new to the whole game? It’s not as scary as you think. Keep it simple when you start. Go close to home and take what you need, leave the rest. Here’s a newbie primer for getting started.
If you are co-sleeping great! Put the baby in between you and your partner. Bring a blanket/sleeping bag just for baby (blankets work fine) and then one for each of you so that if baby ends up wiggling a lot you can keep him covered.
If you aren’t comfortable co-sleeping you will want to start by buying a big tent. A cheap one is fine from Walmart or Cabela’s. The more room the better. They pack down small in your car and take two people to put up, but you should be fine together. Make sure when you go to set up you have a way to contain the baby so he doesn’t crawl around. So a Bumbo or infant car seat or Pack-and-Play or portable high chair. Portable high chairs from Fisher Price are awesome for containing a little one for a bit.
For the sleeping you want to be as comfortable as possible. Yes, it’s ok to bring your down comforters and fluffy pillows. I usually just make sure I put them in an old comforter cover so they don’t get too dirty. But be comfortable. Just because you are camping doesn’t mean it has to suck to sleep. I also bring things like my eye mask, ear plugs and if needed sleeping pill (you can’t control the partying teens that could roll in late night!)
With the tent you want to think more space is better if you are not co-sleeping. Here’s a great option for an 8-man and it will only cost you $122.
The Camp Set Up
So once you have sleep covered let’s talk about the camp set up. If you don’t want to hassle with cooking food hit up a Trader Joe’s or somewhere with great pre-prepared food. If you are just doing an overnighter this is fine. BUT if you are going multiple days, you want to think about hot tea or coffee in the morning, eggs and bacon, soup on a cold day, these kinds of things. To start you can just get a cheap-o stove (Gotta love Walmart) but also a good camp stove is worth the investment because you can use forever. REI has a lot of great selections and you just screw a can of rule on, push a button and it’s go time. VERY EASY.
Pots and pans are important. We raided our ones at home and sacrificed the old ones to our camp box. Oh, yeah, the camp box. Get yourself a really nice see through tupperware and make that a camp box forever more. Make a list of what is in the box and tape it to the inside of the lid. Always have that handy so you can see what’s in your box and what’s missing. Here are some great things to bring always:
matches, candles, a camping lamp that runs on batteries, extra batteries, headlamp for late night potty, lots of Ziplock bags, tinfoil, a knife with a cover on it for cutting food, 1 soup pot, 1 frying pan, flipper, plastic plates and silverware. You can get a lot of the plates and pans and such for super cheap at a second hand store or look for clearance stuff at Target. OR the dollar store is great.
Some other things that are great for the kitchen portion if your box: spices that you leave in there, tea packets and I like those instant Starbuck’s packs for coffee. Sugar, honey packets (you can ‘borrow” these from restaurants)
REI Rocks But Budget is Limited Hitting the REI camping section is great for ideas! Take pictures of what you want and if you can’t afford all of the fancy stuff modify by going to a second hand store and finding things like can openers, knives, extra tupperware containers for storing food. I love REI so I don’t want to dissuade you from buying there, but it’s ok to mix and match your collection. Buy new where you need to and buy used where you can and eventually buy new if you find you are camping a lot and wishing you had a higher end product. You can serious buy insane amounts of camping stuff, so just be careful and only get what you need based on the type of camping you are doing.
Also, ask around with your friends. Borrow stuff to start if you aren’t sure how much you will camp.
The Elements of Camping
There are a few things that can spoil a camping trip fast. Bugs, too much sun, or unexpected rain. But you can be prepared for all of these things. Make sure you are no matter what the forecast is. Especially if you are trying out a new spot.
Bugs Bugs! Get a bug tent if you are camping near a lake or swamp! These aren’t that expensive and can be used in your backyard even for your little one to camp in later on!
Bug spray – According to REI you can use up to 30% Deet on your little ones, so look for a low Deet spray or I suggest trying Honest Company Natural Bug Spray (can only get online) or some of the other natural bug sprays at REI.
There are bug candles out there made of Citronella. Get a few of these and light at night and place around your camp to help ward off bugs. Also a good old fashioned smokey fire can help keep the bugs away! Make a fire and make it big!
Sun How are you going to keep baby covered up? Make sure you have a tent ready to cover baby at all times. A tent is too hot in the day so get something like an Alp’s cover for shade. Or just any shade structure will do. Even a tarp or sheet tied to the tree above baby. We got our Alp’s cover on Steep and Cheap (great discounted gear) for around $80.
Rain It could rain on your trip so have a big tarp ready to hang in a tree with some rope and you might want to find a big stick or print hiking poles to make a lean too of sorts. Rain isn’t the best thing with baby so really check your weather reports before you head out. If things are looking really rainy and you want to go for it, just make sure you have lots of areas to hang out under cover. Look for a campsite with a big tree over it.
Tarps are cheap. Get two. one for baby to crawl around on the ground and one for hanging as a shade or rain structure. You can never have too many tarps.
Sol this is just a starter article for your camp adventures. We hope you can join us either August 2, 2014 or August 15-17 on our Hike it Baby camp trips. Good luck and let us all know how it goes. Post pics of your first camp trip.