Tips for RV Camping With a Baby
My husband and I got into camping just after having our third child. She was 6 months old when we bought a camper and decided to take exclusively off-road vacations for the foreseeable future.
Adults and older children need very basic items on a camping trip; a place to sleep, food to eat, clean water, and some sort of a plan for pooping. Babies need the same basic things, only specialized versions.
A Place To Sleep
Our camper claims it can sleep 8 people, though I imagine only 6 would be comfortable in there. The two boys sleep on the bunks, my husband and I sleep on the queen sized bed, and the baby sleeps... in the kitchen.
Part of loading our camper up for each trip is making sure that we bring along the portable crib (Pack'N'Play). I set this up in the most open area of our camper, which for us is next to the dining table. It provides a secure and comfortable area for a baby to sleep.
This year is our second summer camping, and my daughter now CAN climb out of the crib, but very rarely actually does. So once again, she is sleeping in the Pack'N'Play in the camper, and quite happily I might add!
Pro-tip: You can move a Pack'N'Play outside of the camper (in the shade, of course) place the baby in it, and cover it with a fitted twin size sheet. This keeps the baby contained, covered from the sun, blocked from nearly all bugs, and you can lounge in your chair nearby with your book.
Feeding The Camping Baby
Feeding a baby on a camping trip is probably the second-hardest challenge to solve.
If the baby is exclusively breastfed, the answer is simple! However, if the baby is bottle fed or is old enough that he or she is eating solids, the solution is a little more complicated.
Warming up milk for a baby in a camper can be a challenge. The simplest solution, of course, is to simply use the microwave. But if you are on a campground and it is 5 in the morning, starting up your generator just to turn on the microwave is somewhat frowned upon.
In those cases, the solution is to heat water up on the stove, then pour the hot water into a container, then set the bottle in the container until it comes to the desired warmth for the baby. This takes some time, but will not upset any fellow campers nearby!
Older babies will want a high chair to sit in while eating more solid foods, as anybody who has attempted to spoon feed a baby on their lap knows this is a disaster waiting to happen! Chicco makes a clamp-on high chair which can be clamped onto the table and tightened securely. It holds up to a 40 pound child. My daughter was happier in that chair, eating cereal, than she was anywhere else in her first camping trip!
A Place For Pooping
The most difficult conundrum while camping with a baby is the diapers.
If you cloth diaper and are planning on camping for more than 1 or 2 days, you will probably want to bring along supplies to hand-wash the dirty diapers.
If you use disposable diapers, there is less to clean up, but then you have to contend with the stench of baby poop.
My family has worked around this by hanging a garbage bag in a tree nearby and putting the dirty diapers in that bag, then tying it up and hauling it out with us when we leave the campsite. This keeps the smell out of and away from the camper, but we keep it close enough to us that we do not forget about it and leave anything behind. Tying it into a tree keeps it up away from the dogs and the other children.
Camp Site Baby Safety Tips
Remember to consider the weather for your camping destination. We camp at a much higher elevation, so even at the height of summer, the nights can be quite chilly. It is necessary for us to pack warm clothes to sleep in and lighter clothes for day wear. This especially applies to a baby who has less control of their clothing and body heat than an adult.
Also keep in mind the sun. If you are comfortable with using sunscreen on your baby, bring along twice as much as you can imagine needing. Apply frequently and thickly. If you do not wish to use sunscreen on your baby, bring along an umbrella or some other way to keep the baby out of the sun.
Bugs may also be a concern. It is hit or miss for us. I'm not aware of any bug spray that can be used on a baby, so my solution was to keep her away from the areas that were swarming (around water, etc). However, equally important is to know what a tick is and how to remove it. Brush up on this before you leave, then keep your fingers crossed that you won't have to worry about it!
Finally, campfire safety is paramount. A baby or toddler that can move independently (walking or crawling) needs to have an adult with them at all times, of course, but two sets of eyes on them around a campfire is a must. I contend that it is never too early to begin teaching youngsters that fire is hot and encourage them to look but not touch. Be sure to have a burn kit in your camper, and be familiar with what to do should you baby manage to get a burn.
Keeping these tips in mind, you too can have a fun trip with your family while RV'ing!