We know the idea of the whole family enjoying the great outdoors is dreamy–but, sometimes, when you have a baby in the house, it stops right there: at the dream level. Camping is a fun way for families to bond and enjoy nature. And though babies might complicate the trip, they certainly don’t have to prevent it. In fact, we think it’s a good idea for your little one to get out there and enjoy the fresh air! Just make sure you’ve packed to prepare for baby’s needs. With this handy guide featuring our top ten picks in Baby Camping Gear, we don’t think you can go wrong.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Ciao Baby Portable High Chair
- Lightweight & Portable
- BRICA Fold N' Go Bassinet
- Comfy & Breathable
- Mosquito Net
- Easy Installation
Criteria Used in Evaluation of The Best Baby Camping Gear
A number one priority with any parent is keeping safe. When camping with an infant, it can be so hard to think of everything you need to keep your little one safe. There are a few main hazards parents need to think of when venturing outdoors including bugs, UV and the elements. It pays to invest in mesh breathable fabrics for tents or waterproof-quality materials depending on the weather. Look for layers of clothing containing polyester, polypropylene, and wool. These materials are quick-drying, breathable and keep you warm.
Mosquitos and storms happen year-round, not seasonally as some people believe. One summer storm can send an ill-prepared family back to the city in a matter of minutes. We recommend looking through your supplies and see if they will hold up to the elements. The sun is another aspect that comes out a lot seasonally but we also need protection year-round. A lot of materials we have listed here have UVA and UVB protection. This helps with sunburns and even things like skin cancer. Basics like sunscreen and sunglasses are an obvious necessity as well.
Always bring plenty of water. Dehydration can occur quickly and a lot of kids will have too much fun outside to remember to drink enough. This is very dangerous and can lead to hospitalization. Not only will you need drinking water, but having a hand- and foot-washing station will keep your campsite clean and your kids germ-free.
You can find a ton of DIY baby camping organization hacks all across the internet, but I’ll list a few. The best system is one that suits your family and your individual needs. One way to keep track of all your packing stuff is by using clear storage tubs. Each tub can contain similar supplies, similar to how you would pack a house. By storing all of your kitchen, tent or kid stuff in individual tubs, it’s a lot easier to pack and unpack. Not to mention, they can be stacked easily inside your car or while you’re unpacking. Plus, these are waterproof to keep the weather from getting in, or the mess inside from getting out into your car.
Instead of purchasing an expensive camp kitchen, try using a shoe organizer to store your kitchen utensils. This can be quick and easy to hang up and easy on your wallet. It would be much smarter to invest in something more useful such as headlamps or quality camping clothes.
The main way to stay sane on a road trip of any type is by keeping the kids entertained. In the car, keeping an activity box of their favorite things can be a boredom stopper. Finding age-appropriate toys around the campsite can really help ease the stress of camping with kids. Parents may want to keep the toys at home so children can appreciate the outdoors, but things like squirt guns, sports balls and even nature crafts like a scavenger hunt can connect your child to the great outdoors.
What Determined the Best Baby Camping Gear
There are many types of products that can aptly be called baby camping gear or equipment. Each of these has its own unique purpose as well as inherent qualities that make them special. However, like the products that we choose for ourselves, all kiddie items are not created equal. Some are definitely of higher quality than the rest. That is why it is important that you know how to choose the right one for your baby. Here are some things that you need to consider when choosing the right camping gear for your precious little child.
- Developmental appropriateness
While it is true that a baby product is specially designed for infants, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s appropriate for your baby. For example, you may think a high chair is great for babies. But, if your child hasn’t mastered the art of pulling himself or herself in an upright sitting position, then this high chair simply is not appropriate even though it is considered a bestseller in its category. What we are trying to say is that, even before you start shopping for any item for your infant, it is important that you understand your young kid’s developmental skills. Can he or she sit without support? Is he or she able to exert some control of his or her movements? These are just two of the questions you may need to answer, alongside many other questions about your kid’s developmental abilities, before you can start choosing the right outdoor equipment for him or her. Check out these Mothercare offers for some possible discount codes for outdoor baby gear.
- Safety of the product
Aside from the developmental appropriateness of the product, it is important to check for the camping gear’s safety features. In our example above, a high chair may be deemed just right for your child because he or she is already able to sit on his or her own. However, if there are no safety features such as rail guards or even seat belts, then it still is a lousy item to get for your young angel. The different materials used in the construction of the item should also be considered. Remember that children below the age of 3 years old have this tendency to automatically put anything and everything into their mouths as a means of exploring their world. If the item comes with harmful chemicals like phthalates, lead, bisphenol-A, and many others, then we are simply risking the health and wellness of our babies by exposing them to these chemicals. So, do check out the different materials used in a baby product before you buy. More importantly, make sure there are safety features that can safeguard the welfare of your infant.
- Level of comfort provided
Going outdoors means there are no plush, super-soft, and comfy mattresses to cushion your baby’s body against the hard surface of the earth. The outdoor clothing that they wear may be too warm or simply not warm enough to help very young infants get through another minute in the woods or even in the park. The point is that you also need to check the comfort that these products can provide.
- Ample protection
Whenever you go outdoors, you are essentially at the mercy of the elements. Not only do you have to check the level of comfort that the product provides to your baby, but you also need to consider if it can protect him or her at the camp. This is why sunglasses, UV protection, and bug sprays are almost always considered as essential things when going on a camping trip.
- Quality of construction
While the safety of a product is always related to its inherent design and construction, it still pays to really consider the strength and durability of the design. Even infant wear should be assessed for its durability. Our example of a high chair, for instance, should be built with a wide and stable stance complete with very secure joints so that infants will not inadvertently fall from these types of baby gadgets and gizmos. Unfortunately, one can never really make a very accurate determination of the quality of a product’s construction until you have given it a try for some time. Sadly, if there are inherent flaws in the design that were not readily apparent during your initial investigation, then it might be too late to avert an accident.
- Reception by other consumers
When there is no way to evaluate or determine the quality and safety of baby camping gear that you are considering on buying, then looking at the experiences of other consumers can provide you with a greater understanding of the product’s inherent qualities. Many consumers leave invaluable feedback including the pros and cons of a particular item so that other potential customers will have an idea of what they can expect. However, do understand that some negative comments may be considered as trivial or as isolated cases. Do exercise caution when looking at star ratings as these do not accurately reflect a product’s overall usefulness and quality.
Benefits of Camping for Babies
There are some parents who are averse to the idea of bringing their very young children, often below 12 months of age, outdoors or going on a camping trip. For them, babies are simply too young to be exposed to the elements as well as the many potential threats and obstacles going, staying, and leaving the campsite. While these are all valid concerns, young infants can benefit a lot from camping. For older children, the psychological benefits of camping far outweigh any concern for a potential safety issue. For younger children especially babies, the benefits can be less apparent but are, nonetheless, very important.
- Optimizes brain development
Babies are not explorers yet because they are not yet fully mobile. However, one of the most important developmental milestones of children this age is their sensorimotor development. According to Jean Piaget, this is the stage where infants begin developing a rough understanding of their world using their actions and their senses. The things that they see, hear, feel, and even smell can help trigger the more efficient firing of electrical impulses across the nervous system. This essentially stimulates different areas of the brain to start developing to their fullest. The flowers and the bees, the trees and the birds, and the other living creatures in the wild open space can provide a host of visual, tactile, auditory, and even olfactory stimulation that things or objects in the home simply cannot provide. These things expand the capabilities of the infant’s brain which will ultimately lead to optimum brain and cognitive development.
- Provides ample opportunity for family bonding
One of the crucial psychosocial developmental tasks of infants is in the establishment of trust-trust in themselves, their primary caregivers, the others around them, and their environment. There are many benefits of camping as a family. For very young kids, the benefits center on the establishment of trust that can only be earned through close family bonds. Because going camping means you have all the time to really focus your attention on each member of the family and not on some fancy gadget like a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, infants learn to trust you as his or her primary caregiver. This is important since, a few years from now, your little man or woman will have to go exploring his or her own world. It is going to be tough but he or she knows he or she will make it because he or she trusts you to be there should his or her journey be uneventful.
- Fresh air, and plenty of it
You can never underestimate the benefit of breathing high-quality, fresh air. Oxygen is what keeps us alive. It keeps our cells and tissues functioning properly. Likewise, the carbon dioxide we breathe out helps plants make food and they give off oxygen in the process. So, it’s a win-win situation. The effects of oxygen on infant development are all the more important as the brain is largely dependent on the adequate supply of this life-giving gas. Brain cells are dependent on oxygen for them to function normally. Without it, many of the cognitive processes that young children need to develop simply cease.
Types of Baby Camping Gear You May Want to Consider
There is no single type of outdoor baby gear that can do all the different things that you expect whenever you’re outdoors. That is why many parents always make sure to have at least one of each of these types of products every time they plan to head to their favorite campsite.
- Portable baby furniture
While conventional cribs are definitely out of the question, you may need to consider getting portable infant furniture like portable high chairs, baby carriers, portable and mini playpens, and even strollers as these can help you provide both safety and comfort for your young child while out in the open.
- Sleeping essentials
Remember that you may not have the comfort of home to put your infant to sleep when you’re camping. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consider getting sleeping essentials like bedtime toys, receiving blankets, night lights, music, and even a portable crib with a mosquito net.
- Play essentials
Infants still need plenty of playtimes even when they are out camping. That’s why on-the-go toys are such a huge hit when it comes to outdoor play. You may also want to consider bringing security toys. Portable playpens should also do the trick.
- Grooming and hygiene
Would you bring your baby to the river for a bath? Again, the trick is to bring camping gear that is designed with optimum portability.
- Outdoor wear
This cannot be overemphasized as not wearing the correct outdoor or camping wear can undermine the positive experience for your baby. Always consider infant wear that is both comfortable and protective against the elements and insects.
- Outdoor protection
Bug sprays and UV protection products are all essential things when you and your baby are going outdoors. You may also consider products that have built-in external protection from insects, dust, and dirt, and even UV radiation. Tents and portable cribs with built-in nets can help in this aspect.
The Bottom Line
Going camping with a baby can bring a host of benefits to your young child’s early development. It’s also a great way to strengthen family ties. In choosing the right camping gear for your kid, it is essential to look at its appropriateness, safety, comfort, security, and other features that your baby will need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will the Fold ‘N Go Travel Bassinet By BRICA fit on an airplane?
A: The product folded should fit in the overhead compartment. When unfolded, it is too big to fit on a lap. It could work well in first-class under your feet or even while in the airport.
Q: What is the difference between a safety harness and a safety belt?
A: A safety belt is how it sounds, a single strap across the lap. A safety harness has multiple buckles or points that make your little one more secure. Three-point harnesses are pretty safe, including a middle strap that goes between the child’s legs and attaches to the belt. A five-point harness is the safest and normally used in car seats. This one has the straps that come over the shoulders and buckles in as well. Any type of high chair or seated function should have at least some sort of safety belt. This is necessary to prevent children from falling out, tipping over and other accidents.
Q: How durable is the Pop N’ Play Ultimate Portable Playard by Summer Infant?
A: The Pop N’ Play really handles the elements of the outdoors well. Sand from beaches just brushes off the material easily and it won’t be tipped easily by winds or rowdy children. The fabric can’t be removed to wash but just wiping it down removes any dirt.