Camping Trips Thus Far (…with Baby)

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This month we’ve taken our baby camping for the first time, and then for the second time within 2 weeks.  I was a bit fearful as our baby is an actively crawling 10 month old, who is also teething, and whose screaming can really fill up a room now (or a campsite).  Here are a few general tips and ideas on things to bring that I’ve gleaned from this experience.  (We plan on going camping a few more times before the summers over, so this post might get updated)
These first two tips really have to do with the mentality to take with you when going camping with a baby.
1.  Camping is for everyone.  When I was single, I thought camping was for young, single people like me.  When me and my boyfriend woke up to the sound of a baby early in the morning while camping in Yosemite, we were both a little pissed.  But here’s the thing, next time you go camping, pay attention to who is camping around you.  9 out of 10 times, it’s a family.  Probably several families with 10 kids in between them.  Camping is for EVERYONE, families with kids especially dig this activity.  Kids of all ages are noisy, so your baby isn’t going to be the only screaming you will hear.  Just keep that in mind.  And even if you are the only ones with a baby in your campsite, know that these people with kids all once had babies, and they will be more sympathetic than annoyed if you have a fussy one.
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2.  Don’t let a bad night ruin the whole trip.  Just know that your baby is sleeping in a new environment, so even without internal problems like teething to wake them up, they might not like the new arrangement.  We co-slept with our baby on an air mattress in a small tent.  The first time we went for 3 nights, she slept well for the first and third nights, but woke up multiple times the second night.  It’s easy to get disheartened and think that bringing the baby is a mistake, but really her pattern is not that far off from when sleeping at home.  We get bad nights at home too.  Just rally yourself in the morning, and try to enjoy this challenging but fun experiment of incorporating baby into your life.
3.  Encourage independent play, but also make your baby feel included.  For a baby who is not quite walking but super active, we found that the portable crib is a life saver!  Ellie was able to be around us and see what we’re doing the whole time, she can play with her toys when she gets bored, and roll around on her blanket when she gets tired.  We moved the crib between our chairs by the fire and she was absolutely mesmerized by it.  She ended up staying up past her bedtime and saw the stars appear, just contently standing in her crib listening to us talk.
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What to bring:

  • portable crib
  • waterproof blanket (for some crawl time at rest stops or at the campsite)
  • toys
  • DEET wipes for mosquitoes*
  • sleeping sack (or wearable blankets)
  • physical sunscreen
  • baby hiking carrier
*I know we’ve all been conditioned to think that DEET is really bad and we shouldn’t use it, especially not on babies.  But we’ve found that natural bug repellents and tea tree oil just don’t work on the mosquitoes out here (tea tree oil worked for Costa Rican mosquitoes for some reason).  DEET is super effective, and the CDC has approved it for use on babies older than 2 months.  Choose one with lower concentration, which makes it less irritating but not less effective (it just needs to be reapplied more often).  We found some 7% DEET wipes (Cutter All Family) that were easy to use on the baby and make sure it doesn’t get near her eyes or mouth.  The risks of getting mosquito or tick bites greatly outweigh the risk of using DEET in our mind, so we went for it and are happy with the results thus far.  Ellie came away with a few bites on the first trip when we did not have the DEET and she didn’t get any on the second trip when we used it (mosquitoes were present at both places)
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Here are some more photos from our trip to the Eastern Sierras.
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And our trip to Lassen.  We camped right by this beautiful lake with the clearest of waters.  It’s surrounded by lava fields.  The hike to the top of the cinder cone was really cool, it had an amazing view of Lassen and the surrounding painted hills and lava fields.  Such a colorful, diverse landscape!
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