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The Oliver's Madhouse - 10 Tips For Camping With Babies and Young Children

Jaime Oliver is a highly regarded parenting and family blogger based in Nottingham, who writes about all family and parenting matters on her award nominated website: The Oliver’s Madhouse.

Jaime has 3 children aged 16, 6 and 1 and has been an avid camper in her eldest child’s formative years. Jaime is now about to embark on the joy of camping with her previously non-camping husband and two younger children to share the joys of fresh air and natural sunsets in various locations across the UK.

10 Tips For Camping With Babies and Young Children

Jaime and her clan taking in the London scenery.

If you are considering embarking on a camping escape with your baby or small child in tow… well done!

Many people presume having a small child will mean you can’t camp. However, camping with small children can be a liberating experience and can be fun for all as long as you have the basics covered.

Although there is no minimum age you could camp with, personally I think once the child is in a reasonable sleeping and feeding routine you can pretty much go for your life, and although I loved taking my daughter when I was a single parent and she was around 3, we did camp regularly with family members with little babies as young as 3 months.

Tip 1: Buying the tent

A good quality tent is a necessity and you need to have a decent idea about the space you might need. It’s easy to presume that if there are only 4 of you, you’ll only need a small 4-person tent.

Don’t forget that if you are camping with a baby they will still need more space than a non-cot-sleeping child. Travel cots are bulky in size compared to an inflating bed so a spacious bedroom pod will be needed.

Tip 2: Keeping the baby in and the bugs out

Buying a tent with the groundsheet built in can help keep little crawling babies from trying to flee under the edges. It also keeps the baby toys all inside the tent, as well as keeping the bugs out too!

Tip 3: Gathering the basics

You don’t need to have all equipment when you start out, just the basics:

These are the day to day essentials, along with a table and somewhere comfortable and off the ground to sit. When I first camped, I found buying large plastic storage boxes a great money saver and highly versatile. They are amazing for packing the essentials into and easily stack away in the tent when not needed, they can even double up as clothing or food storage!

Tip 4: Sleeping solutions

A trusty airbed keeps you warm and comfortable.

At first, I worried about my child’s sleeping area and clothing, but found that a travel cot works well and can be used as a playpen during the day.

Extra warm baby sleeping bags were a saviour for my sanity when worrying about keeping little ones warm. You can also buy them for older children so everyone is catered for. Also layering the vest/sleepsuit combo is the way to go, and if all else fails adding extra blankets is always an option so you can layer depending upon the time of year and the temperature.

Tip 5: Bottles and feeding

Dinner time for a baby when camping can be trickier than feeding at home. Sterilising using a cold-water steriliser and sterilising tablets is much easier, particularly as they can help clean a multitude of things along with the bottles and feeding equipment needed that babies require.

Also, if you're camping for the first time, take the pressure off and bring pre-packed foods if possible so tins, jars and packets work well.

Joshua, Jacob and Ollie on a garden camp-out.

Tip 6: Toys, toys, toys

Age appropriate games and activities you can take with you is a necessity. Leave the electronics at home and print out some bug hunt sheets, or take some containers to collect some finds to make scrap books when you return home.

For babies, think mobile toys and think less about loud musical toys, which will annoy the other families camping near you. Go for travel play mats and books. If your baby is teething you will certainly need teething rings.

Tip 7: Night time toilet trips

If your kids are at an age where nappies are no longer an option, but they may still need a midnight toilet stop, don’t fret! This is probably going to sound super gross but a cheap bucket will serve you well if you can’t make it to the onsite toilets in time, and is easy to clean with those sterilising tablets for washing and cleaning in the morning.

Tip 8: Packing the right clothing

Forget fancy and aim for practical pairings. Joggers and t-shirts are ideal, great for interchanging when something gets wet or dirty. Avoid denim clothing as it holds water and takes longer to dry too!

Layering is also a must, the weather can sometimes be quite erratic and so fleeces, hoodies and jumpers are great for slipping on when the temperature drops or the heavens open.

Camping in the garden first is a great way of checking you have everything you need for a proper camping trip.

Tip 9: Let there be light

If you are new to camping you do need to remember you will need to look at getting some in-tent lighting, and there are lots of options available. From wind up lanterns to rechargeable and even battery run lights, they all do the job perfectly. Whichever way you go remember to buy one with a hook or lantern loop, as this mean it can be hung inside the tent during the night and keeps your hands free!

You will also need a couple of head lamps, they are ideal for wandering around getting ready for bed in the tent as well as, night time loo trips.

Tip 10: Waterproof shoes

Slip on waterproof shoes are ideal for small children and adults alike. If you are using the shower blocks you don’t want bare feet! You will also need something easily slipped on for ambling around the campsite. Wet grass can soak trainers in an instant, so water resistant or waterproof footwear is a must.

Are you thinking about taking your children on a camping escape? Tell us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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