TIPS FOR CAMPING & BACKPACKING WITH CHILDREN


 

Babes in the Woos

It's difficult enough to plan a camping or backpacking trip for adults. When you have children, whether they're infants or preschoolers, the idea of planning an outdoor adventure can be completely overwhelming. Luckily, author Jennifer Aist does it all the time with her four children, and her book Babes in the Woods passes along all of her knowledge.

Worried about warmth? Food? Dirt? Weather? Puddles? Babes in the Woods makes the added stressers of hiking and camping with babies and young children completely manageable. With some preparation and the right gear, your children will learn to love the outdoors as much as you do.

It's all about the clothes: Jennifer compares clothing kids with frosting cakes. You'll need plenty of layers to cover up, stay dry, and keep warm. Make sure your kids have a base layer, an insulation layer, and an outer layer, usually a wicking t-shirt (not cotton!), a fleece or wool layer, and a rain coat. One-piece rain suits with billed hoods over long-sleeved shirts and fleecy jackets will keep your kids toasty warm on the trail or in the tent.

Bring lots of socks: You can use wool socks for anything, whether you're day hiking, car camping, or backpacking with your kids. Cut of the toes of wool socks to make a warm base layer for your infant's legs. Slip wool socks on under your kid's water shoes for warm toes on cool days. And always bring extras to exchange dirty or wet socks for dry ones.

Hats: If it's chilly, bring fleece hats to tuck under hoods. If it's sunny, bring wide-brimmed, floppy sun hats to protect young skin from the sun. If you and your children are protected from the elements, whatever they might be, your camping or hiking trip will be significantly less stressful.

Eat up! For day hikes with kids, bring plenty of extra food. Convenience foods, like crackers and pretzels, are not actually convenient, since they'll leave your children feeling tired and lead to meltdowns! Instead, bring calorie-dense snacks, like nuts, cheese, seeds, whole grains, peanut butter, and meat. Stop often for snacks: as your children run up and down the trail, climb rocks, and stamp in puddles, they'll be burning lots of calories. Make sure they eat enough so they can keep up their energy!

Play drinking games: Keep your kids well-hydrated by turning water breaks into games. Throw pebbles at a rock and take swigs for every miss. Even just a "one, two, three, everybody drink!" can make sipping from water bottles less of a chore for the little ones. Jennifer also suggests flavoring water if your kids aren't fans of boring water. Squeeze some lemon or lime juice into the bottles before you leave, or melt hard candies for weak but tasty Kool-aid.

Jennifer's book has extensive tips for planning camp meals, finding the right footwear, staying safe in the sun, avoiding bugs, keeping clean, sleeping well, and more for camping or hiking with children.

If you need a checklist to make sure you have the right gear, or just a comforting word of encouragement that camping with babies and young children isn't just possible, but easy, too, be sure to buy Babes in the Woods. And as Jennifer says, warm clothes and good food make happy kids, and happy kids make happy parents, and happy kids and parents make for a great trip!

 

-- Adapted from Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping, Boating with Babies & Young Children by Jennifer Aist (The Mountaineers Books, $16.95 paperback)

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CLICK HERE to download the chapter on "Child Carriers" from Babes In The Woods

 
 
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