Camping with a one-year old – how we did it

We finally did it!  We went camping with our one-year old for the first time!

If you’ve read the previous post about this, you’ll see that  my husband was much stressed and scared about this new adventure with our child.

On my side, I must admit I was a little stressed but felt confident things would go well.  In the end, here’s what happened during our first camping trip with our one year old son. 


1 – Everything went well, overall.

Well, almost.  The baby had a blast on our campsite.  I’ve almost never seen him so happy for such a long period of time.  His smiles more than made up for all the camping gear carrying and organization it required.  He absolutely loved it.  He got crazy dirty. Running around outside, toying with sticks in the dirt, playing hide and seek behind trees, watching the birds and squirrels, everything was excitingly new to him. Even for bath time, I did not hear him complain when we put him in a warm-watered storage bin as a makeshift bath.

The hubby was concerned about sleep time, and I guess he was partly right.  My son, who isn’t used to sleepovers, did throw a fit when we tried to put him to sleep in his playpen alone in the tent. He did not nap in the afternoon, nor did he sleep for the following morning nap.

He didn’t want to sleep alone at night.  We had to go to bed at the same time and it took me about 30 minutes to soothe him into sleep. It was so cute, he’d fall asleep and a few minutes later wake up alarmed, begin whining until I soothe him again, and then fall asleep once more.  He did this a few times before he went dreaming away for the night.  

He did not wake up after that until the very next morning at 7AM!  Wow, that’s an hour later than usual! Woot woot!  I must admit he was so exhausted from running around outside all day I wasn’t surprised about this lazy morning.


2- Even with a list in mind, I forgot some key items.

I am probably the most organized person I know but still ended up forgetting some pretty important stuff, such as my glasses, my son’s sleeping pouch, his highchair or Bumbo seat and his sun hat. This did not prevent us from camping as planned, but his highchair would’ve made mealtimes more enjoyable for our family.  The forgotten sleeping pouch also meant that I was more concerned about my son’s body temperature at night.  I woke up a few times just to verify he was still inside the sleeping bag and even added an extra crocheted blanket to make sure he wasn’t freezing.

To make things easier and more comfortable for him, I had brought some toys from home and a book for bedtime reading. His sand toys, his trucks, his blankie and cups for bath time helped him normalize this situation and contributed to his feeling of security.  

I did have to sew a jacket from an old sleeping bag I had on hand (I’ll keep this for another post) to make sure he’d be warm enough in the evening and early morning. Here in California it seems that buying a warm jacket this size (size 2, more or less) is harder than finding a needle in a haystack.  He ended up sleeping with it when we found out I forgot to pack the sleeping pouch.


3- Make sure you can secure the campsite.

Our son stayed within our campsite boundaries for a few hours, but then discovered there was a whole other world beyond our spot. After crossing the street and roaming on other campsites, we had to find a solution.  We ended up using two ropes around the parking area of our campsite to prevent him from going into the street.  It wasn’t a perfect solution but kept us from saying “No!” too often.


4 – Don’t believe what the naysayers say.

Okay, my husband was scared that the baby would not sleep at all.  He was wrong.  Not only did the baby slept during the night, he did not wake up until the next morning. It wasn’t perfect but it was enjoyable for everyone. Do not trust the naysayers.  If you really want to do it and are willing to make the effort it requires to get organized, things will go well. And if it doesn’t happen like you thought it would, at least then you’ll know.


In the end, I would do it all over again.  It was a great experience for him, and even for us as a family.  It is indeed much harder with a little one in tow than when we were camping as a couple but it is also rewarding when you see the smiles and giggles on his face.  

Next time we are camping with my extended family, so it should *hopefully* be easier.  Then, we’ll see if my husband is willing to repeat the experience with just our small family.  I am certainly up for it, but let me get back on my feet from this trip first, I’m exhausted…








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