We went camping twice before my daughter was one year old. Having done a lot of back country camping before we had a baby, we were excited to go car camping for a change. Both trips were the highlight of our summer.
Camping with a six month old baby was fairly easy. We brought two tents so naps were in one tent while we slept in the other. We also brought a playpen and a net that went over it to keep the bugs out. We used the playpen at the campsite and we took it to the beach. We brought our umbrella stroller but we found it too hard to push on the gravel roads around the campground.
No Reservations, No Problem?
There was a heatwave in the city in July and I called Killbear and they told me they had campsites but they couldn’t be reserved so we drove up the next day and got a campsite without a problem. It was was another story at Algonquin Park. It was the day before a long weekend, and when we got to Cannisbay campground it was 11 am, and there was a crowd waiting to get campsites. We got a campsite because someone with small kids was moving out of their non-reservable site to a better and bigger campsite and gave us their site. In the meantime I was driving around to other campgrounds along highway 60 trying to get in line for a site. In the subsequent years we have reserved 5 months in advance to avoid that hassle.
It’s still light out
The biggest challenge was getting our baby to sleep at night. The days were long and it was still light out when it was time to put her to sleep. We would take turns walking her to sleep around the campground. The other person went exploring around the park taking pictures of the sunset and trying to catch a glimpse of the bears that were walking around the perimeter of the campground. By the time it became dark we were so tired that we went to sleep so the bugs didn’t bother us that much in the evening.
It’s cold at night
In August in Algonquin it was colder than we anticipated. Our daughter was sleeping in a sleep sack but the sack didn’t have any sleeves and we bought her a cute fleece pullover that said Algonquin Park to sleep in at night. Since then we have bought her a sleeping pad and sleeping bag for her. She doesn’t sleep in her sleeping bag though. She always likes mommy’s or daddy’s bigger sleeping bag better, and then one of us is stuck with a sleeping bag that is too small.
No fridge? No problem
For food we had to warm up our water on a camping stove to make formula and we fed her bananas, rice, avocado and baby food since she had started eating solids. At Killbear we visited the general store on the road outside the park where we bought extra food when we ran out. We bought ice to keep our food cold in the cooler but after a while we didn’t have much stuff to keep cold, and made our meals from cans or dried food instead. Our meals consisted of canned veggies, pasta, pasta sauce and cheese for dinner, sandwiches for lunch and oatmeal for breakfast.
We went on several hikes at both Killbear and Algonquin. We even saw a Massasauaga Rattler on our hike at Killbear. Since my husband was tired from the go/go/go of our day trips we had to sit at the beach and do nothing too.
You can easily go camping with kids who are still in diapers. We were using cloth diapers during the day and disposable at night. For the cloth diapers that were soiled I brought large ziplock bags to take them home in.
Whenever we go swimming in pools and lakes we use our cloth diapers as well so I never have to buy disposable swimming diapers.
If you’re backcountry camping I would also suggest you use cloth diapers. You can dump the poop and wash the diapers by hand with biodegradable laundry detergent. When you are using laundry detergent or biodegradable dish soap you should be at least 200 feet from any water source. The detergent is meant to biodegrade over time so should not be used directly in the lake.
Using cloth diapers in the woods is much easier than having to bring back the diapers with you, and most places expect you to pack out all your garbage. You never want to burn the diapers in the fire, because that will release harmful chemicals that you don’t want to be breathing. I still remember the bad smell after some teenager on a camping trip I was on threw a pair of his socks in the fire.
How many diapers to bring?
Depending on the length of the trip, you may have to wash the diapers during your trip. I usually had enough cloth diapers to last me three days, so we had enough for a long weekend. Since we were swimming a lot, we ended up using a lot fewer diapers. So all I had was a lot of poo diapers at the end of the trip, and if you’re using diaper liners it’s not so bad.
DIY Camping Cloth Diaper Set
If you don’t have cloth diapers, you can use around ten old receiving blankets as diapers and buy two or three diaper covers. The ones with velcro are better because they are more adjustable than the ones with snaps. Make sure the diaper cover is a good fit so it doesn’t leak. Once a diaper cover is wet, you can hang it up to dry on a line while you use another one. After a while if the diaper cover starts to smell, you can rinse it by using it to go swimming.
What else to bring?
Don’t forget to bring baby wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer.