Okay, not really, but it certainly helps to camp with amazing friends who like your kids. And by like, I mean are willing to change a poop-loaded diaper in the middle of the night on a sleeping bag, whilst getting poop on their hands. Or to gently rock one of your kids in a hammock until said kid projectile vomits into their crotch. That is a true friend.
We took the twins on their first camping trip this past weekend to one of our favorite campgrounds – Dolly Copp, nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire just outside the town of Gorham. It was awesome – they slept like rock stars at night. Sadly, the same could not be said for Addison. She apparently awakes with the sun… and the sun was up around 5am each day. This made for long days, but because we were camping with two other awesome couples – Kate and Sara, and Kate and Amy – there were plenty of willing hands to help take care of the kids.
Aside from the occasional rain shower, it was an awesome weekend. Because of the spotty forecast, we didn’t go hiking. Instead, we explored the campground, played with all three kids, hung out by the campfire, and had a lot of laughs and good food.
Tips for Camping With Infants
So aside from amazingly patient friends, how did we manage to take all three kids camping? Lot of planning, and using what we learned from camping with Addie when she was an infant. Not to mention, we have an embarrassingly large tent – an REI Kingdom 6. That is not to say we don’t love said tent. We do. But oh my goodness it is big. Our friends like to joke about our portable palace. We bought it in 2011 when we took a then 11 month old Addie on a five-week cross-country road trip. Kendra had one ultimatum before we left – buy a tent she could stand up in, or she was not camping. The next day we were at REI, and brought home our gianormous tent.
Though the tent seemed silly when we had one kid, now that we have infant twins, it’s perfect! This weekend we put each twin in a pack and play, with Addie sandwiched between on a cot. We took the other side, and used the space under the pack and plays to store clothing and gear.
So this is always a tough one – like I wrote earlier, Addie was up at the crack of dawn last weekend. Unfortunately tents don’t come with blackout shades, so the minute the sun is up, the entire tent is bright. With the twins, it’s easy to put a blanket across the top of the pack and play to block out light, but we haven’t come up with a solution for Addie now that she’s in a sleeping bag.
We also bring a portable sound machine – the gentle rain sound calms the babies, and helps block out the sounds of other campers while they sleeping.
Because the twins aren’t in sleeping bags yet, we bundled them up in their Patagonia buntings, which work really well to keep them warm. Fleece Halo Sleep Sacks are also a great option when the weather is warmer. Addie has a Marmot Kid’s Trestles 30, which she loves because it’s pink. We love it because it keeps her toasty warm. When she went camping with me in April, and the temperature dropped into the 30′s, she was warm and cozy.
Both the twins are bottle fed, so before leaving we filled enough bottles for the weekend with just water, and added the formula as we needed each bottle. Rather than trying to clean them at the campsite, we brought a giant ziploc bag and tossed the dirties in to be cleaned at home. For food, we really love squeeze pouches because they pack well, are easy to carry on the go, and make great hiking snacks for Addison. (Happy Family, Sprout, and Ella’s Kitchen are our favorites)
For mealtimes, we use a clip on booster seat that we attach to the picnic table. The twins love it because they get to sit right at the table with us. We love it because it’s a lot easier to feed a baby when they are not in your lap. If you don’t have a seat, strollers can also double as high chairs.
Playing and Exploring
The best thing to do is bring along an incredible dog that has infinite patience and gentleness, like Kate and Amy’s beautiful dog Bella. Even if you don’t have a dog at the campsite, make sure you bring along some small toys from home and a blanket to spread out on the ground. The twins loved being able to roll around and tug on the grass.
For walks around the campground we put the twins in our Bob Revolution Pro Duallie stroller, or strap them into their Ergobaby carriers. We use the Ergos for hiking too, as well as our Deuter Kid Comfort III carrier.
Be Flexible and Have Fun!
Camping with babies is not easy. They are in an unfamiliar environment with new sights and sounds. It is not the same as camping with your friends – hiking plans may have to be scrapped, the babies will inevitably eat dirt, nap schedules might get thrown off. The trick is to just stay relaxed and adapt to the situation.
For more great tips about camping with babies, check out these posts from my fellow Outdoor Family Bloggers:
- Mommy Hiker: Discovering Big Sur California – The Land of Supreme Beauty
- Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies: Family Camping Made Easy – Baby Adventures
- The Adventures in Parenthood Project: 10 Tips for Camping With Baby
- Melissa Avery: Family Camping Gone Bad – How to Recover
- Wilderness For Kids: Babes in The Woods: Hiking, Camping and Boating with Babies and Young Children
- Bring the Kids: Tips for Camping with an Infant
- Adventure Tykes: Tuesdays Tip of the Day: Camping With Your Tyke For The First Time