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How To Camp With A Baby, An Expert’s Guide

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Courtesy of Kelsey Sheofsky

Spring time is here, which means it’s also prime camping season. For those of you who think you might have to sit out on the outdoorsy fun, thanks to your extra-little ones, Kelsey Sheofsky, owner of supremely cool camping company Shelter Co. and mama to 15-month-old Louella, is here to give you some advice and hope that it can be done!

When did you start camping with Lou? Was it easier to camp with her when she was a smaller baby or now that she’s over 1-years-old?
“Technically I camped with her while 9 months pregnant, which was pretty funny. I think it’s more fun now that Lou can walk, so she can explore and we don’t have to bring as much stuff specialized for a baby (like food, etc.). We never camped with her when she was crawling, because that just felt like a dirty nightmare.”

What are the pros and cons, in your opinion, of camping with a baby?
“I love bringing Lou on crazy adventures. In her first year I think she slept in probably 50 different places, which has made her really low maintenance when it comes to traveling. So, I think that’s a huge pro. I grew up camping as a kid and think it’s such a great way to connect as a family. Starting Lou young will make it a tradition she loves…or at least we hope so.”

Is any type of location more ideal than another?
“Spots with a good bathroom situation are most ideal. Also, I like being at least an hour (or less) away from civilization, in case of emergency.”

Is any type of tent more ideal than another?
“Well, I’m biased since I have a camping company and sell tents, but our tents are pretty awesome for families. They are really big, so there’s plenty of room for parents, baby, siblings, luggage, toys, etc.  They also work great (and look cool) in your yard for non-camping events, like birthday parties or even for overflow guests. More bang for your buck.”

How does the sleeping situation work with a baby?
“Lou has always been a really amazing sleeper, so when we are camping I just stick her in the Ergo until she’s asleep and then put her down in the Pack ‘n Play. She’s never been a family bed kid, but for families who sleep with their babies, that’s a great solution, as well.”

 What are packing essentials when camping with a baby?
“When it comes to general gear, camping doesn’t change too much when you have a baby, in my opinion. We have traveled pretty extensively with Louella since she was born and always rely on the same list of stuff. So, here it is, plus some notes.”
*Pack ‘n Play—When Lou was small we would bring her Rock ‘n Play bassinet. It folds down flat and you can just pull it up anywhere you are sitting or use it as a crib instead of a Pack ‘n Play. Just remember: Everything gets super dirty in the woods, so don’t bring anything too precious or hard to clean.
*Bedding—Extra blankets or a warmer sleep sack for camping if it gets cold at night.
*Baby Hat—For night sleeping.
*Baby Clothes—Bring double what you think you need, especially if your baby is mobile.
*Wipes—Not just for little bums. We use them for hand washing, face washing, even wiping down plates in a pinch.
*Headlamp—Because you don’t want to get poo on your flashlight when changing a diaper.
*Baby Bug Spray
*Baby Sunscreen
*Large Water Jug For Washing
*Baby Carrier—We mostly use Ergo. 
*Milk/Formula/Food—Lou was on formula from 4 months on and anytime we traveled to places less than ideal for mixing formula (like the woods) we would bring the little pre-made bottles that you can just attach a nipple to. There’s less clean up and you’re less likely to get dirt or bugs in the bottle.
*High Chair—Get one that attaches to the table. We love ours and bring it everywhere. You can attach it to a picnic table for both feeding and play.
*Favorite Toy That Can Get Dirty—Lou is obsessed with her puppy. And so long as she has that, she can sleep anywhere. Luckily, it can go right in the wash when we get home.
*Cute Camping Outfit—Because you can’t go to the woods and not Instagram a camp baby photo afterwards!

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