The experience of camping with a baby/ toddler for the first time will be nothing like your camping experiences prior to your life without kids. Here's some top tips to help make it as enjoyable experience in the great outdoors as you can.
This article is provided by our friends at Mounts.
At Mounts we aspire to help young families get out into the wild at the earliest possible time, giving parents the ability to get back to their old selves. We want to make all the tools necessary to build a parent’s confidence to achieve outdoor experiences in a safe and memorable way. Find out more about Mounts here.
Consider what carrying system you will need to use for your child. If they are still small enough to fit into a front carrier, then you have the ability to carry a big backpack of gear. However, if they have graduated into the backpack carrier, then you only have room for a small amount of stuff, and if they have outsized even the backpack carrier then you may only be able to travel a short distance.
A campsite, where your car can pull right to your tent location, or a location that is a 5 / 10 / 30 min walk away? Do you plan on walking a trail to your location? Does your location have facilities such as water? Do you want to stay more than one night? Write a full list of the gear your child needs – it is guaranteed to be more than the tent, mat, sleeping bag and headlamp you carried prior to kids! It may in fact be so much stuff that you can’t fit it all into the car or it can’t be carried easily along a short distance.
A child’s age and development dictates what sleep system they can use. Babies typically graduate to wearable (non-swaddle) blankets around 4-6 months and then move onto loose blankets around 2-2.5 years. All throughout this time, they will be using either a crib or a bed with guardrails to prevent them from rolling out of the bedding area. Paediatricians also recommend a room temperature for sleep between 18 – 20°C. You need to solve for two main problems when camping with a baby or toddler: safe bedding insulation against the ground and warmth through clothing layers and/or a blanket.
Think of how often in your camping career your feet have been cold from sliding off your mattress or the side of your body has been cold squeezed against the side of a tent. Babies and toddlers don’t have a natural sleep rhythm that keeps them in one place – they toss, roll, etc. Sleeping bags and camping mats have materials that naturally slip against each other; add an uneven, angled natural surface and there is a high chance of your baby ending up on the cold ground. There are two primary solutions currently used in the family camping community – bringing a camping mat capable of covering the full surface area of the tent, or bringing along a travel crib or cot. With any solution, you need to achieve the correct insulating value. Modern travel cribs and cots are NOT designed for outdoor use, meaning you will need additive insulation.
Ground insulation is two-thirds of the battle. Once a good, insulated bedding system has been achieved, then the correct layering system and sleep wear is needed to achieve cosy, stress-free sleep for both child and parent. At home, sleep wear regulations have an upper heat limit of TOG 3.5 designed to cater for an environment no lower than roughly 18 – 15°C. This means you cannot count on layering and at-home sleep solutions when camping with your children. Mounts Slumber Sack is rated for -5 – 10°C and is the best solution for most environments enjoyed by outdoor families. Rated at TOG 12, it is designed to keep your little one safe, warm and, most importantly, give you the stress-free rest needed to look after them in the wild.
The single most regrettable mistake of all first-time parent campers is not being well prepared for the daytime nap. A napping toddler gives you time to set up camp and limits the chances of a cranky over-stimulated afternoon. For a toddler, the tent environment is exciting, overly hot or overly cold, extremely bright (i.e. no blackout curtains), has no child gates/ doors and is a totally new foreign experience. It is best to eliminate as many elements outside their normal routine as you possibly can. For example: avoid positioning your tent directly in the sun as it will quickly be too hot for the child to sleep safely and comfortably in. Bring light layers for day naps compared to your heavy night-time needs. Consider investing in a ‘blackout tent’.
Consider a trial overnight trip to get the feel for your equipment, daily needs, and capabilities while watching over a child. It will also give you a sense for any potential pitfalls and campsite hazards that you may not have considered before embarking on a longer trip. Once you achieve your first family camping adventure together, you are ready to execute bigger trips!
Typically we recommend a trial overnight trip that avoids the day nap! This removes the chance of a hyper tired toddler and allows you to focus on the needs of the campsite (shelter, food, water) without dedicating all your focus towards them.
Our signature mounts Slumber Sack is only the start of our journey and we are busy on releasing complementary toddler-specific camping mats, family-focused tents, rugged baby-needs bags, foldable child furniture and more. Please find more information on our website, Instagram, or reach out to us @ [email protected]
Mounts is a baby and toddler focused outdoor company supplying gear, tools, apparel, and advice to new parents looking to get back to their pre-child life and enjoy the outdoors. Find out more at mountsstore.com