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My husband and I are interested in going camping and/or backpacking with our child in the spring (when he'll be just over 1 year old). We live in Colorado so even in full summer night time can get down in the 40s F (4.5 C). For those of you that have done this, how do you make sure the baby is safe and warm enough?

Co-sleeping seems to be the obvious answer but we don't do this at home so I'm really nervous about the idea. I did see this answer which is helpful but I'm not sure about the logistics once you involve sleeping bags. We have two mummy bags we zip together. It sounds like we shouldn't put our child in between us but rather to my side. Both of us sleep snuggled down in the bags with the fabric over our faces. At 1+ years, is this still dangerous for our baby? Are most mummy bags big enough to an add extra (small) person?

I've seen some parents who take the portable cribs/pack n' plays with them camping. This sounds like a reasonable idea to me except we only have a backpacking tent. I'm also wondering if he would stay warm enough by himself. One of the things I'm considering is breaking down and buying a "family sized" tent for car camping but I'm still not sure if this is a good idea or not.

asked 29 Dec '09, 21:02

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
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Great question! We're hoping to do some camping next summer when our baby will be just over a year, as well. Looking forward to seeing some suggestions.

(29 Dec '09, 21:39) cat_g

If you try co-sleeping you may end up with an issue if bed-times are different anyway (when we camped, our daughter went to bed at 8 pm, and of course we stayed up much later). It will get cold before you go to bed.

Our setup was:

  • We had an 8-10 person dome tent (up-sized from the 4-6 person tent we had before)
  • She slept in a play-pen (kept her off the ground, which helps with warmth, and makes you worry less about bugs and critters)
  • We put a mosquito net over the play pen
  • She wore an extra warm one-piece pyjama, and we put a blanket over her (after she'd gone to sleep, if memory serves).

The temperatures probably got down around 10C at night. It was summer. She slept very soundly, and seems no worse for wear.

Before we camped, she was a great sleeper, but the unfamiliar surroundings put her off a bit, so the first night there was about 5 minutes of crying when we put her to sleep, and while this seems like a long time in your own house, I assure you it's extremely long in a camp site. We had a visit from the neighbouring site just to make sure we weren't using electro-shock therapy on her, and to give us some moral support.

I definitely suggest upgrading to as big of a tent as you can. I'm a minimalist, but being able to stand up in the tent makes life a lot easier.

Other stuff I would suggest (assuming you're a minimalist, within reason, as well):

  • If you don't have an electric camp site, consider one of the new propane coolers. Going to the store for ice all the time is a pain. The ones you plug into your vehicle will kill the battery in a single night, so don't use those.
  • Those single burner propane stoves that just screw on top of the small propane cylinders are great for boiling water quickly if you need to sterilize something, and we used it with an old fashioned coffee percolator for brewing coffee in the morning.
  • She was just crawling at the time, and man did she get dirty fast. Baby clothes are small... bring lots.
  • We didn't want to use DEET based bug repellents on her skin, but we put long sleeved shirts and pants on her and we bug sprayed that first, plus her hat. Unfortunately a few got past the inner and outer defenses. I don't know what else you could do...

Overall, it was a great camping trip!

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answered 29 Dec '09, 21:48

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edited 29 Dec '09, 21:53

Thanks for the answer. I didn't even think about different bed times. Good point.

(29 Dec '09, 23:39) Kiesa ♦

+1 for a really well written answer.

(30 Dec '09, 08:23) Emi

We have a full tent and took her crib. Just like Scott she wore some extra clothes and had a pretty large pile of blankets and sleeping bags in the portable crib. Our kid tends to move around a lot at night, so the blankets staying on was a real worry, but I checked her a couple of times and she opted to stay warm.

It was a little cold, but she went straight to bed and slept great, just like at home. I suspect it was from all the playing around we did during the day that made her tired like a log.

I used to be an ultra-light hiker, but +1 on needing and really wanting the large tent.

Camping was great fun and I hope she loves it as much as I do. We didn't take her until she could walk, and we had a few nights in the tent in the back yard too. (We were working on the house, not practicing, but it worked)

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answered 30 Dec '09, 05:16

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edited 30 Dec '09, 11:21

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Scott ♦♦
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+1 for practicing. (even though it wasn't your intention)

(30 Dec '09, 08:22) Emi

I'd suggest co-sleeping with the child between the two of you. Because you haven't done it much, practising co-sleeping at home before the trip might be a good idea. I have no experience with co-sleeping in a zipped sleeping bag but I can't see why it wouldn't work that way as well.

If you decide to let the child sleep separately, wear her in winter clothes and a sleeping bag during the night.

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answered 02 Jan '10, 13:21

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Asked: 29 Dec '09, 21:02

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Last updated: 02 Jan '10, 13:21