We just returned from a beautiful weekend in Lewis County, Washington, about 2 hours south of Seattle. Ike Kinswa State Park, where we stayed, is a little over 450-acres with most of it’s focus on camping. To the east is the Cowlitz River, to the west is the Tilton River, and at the confluence is Mayfield Lake. Mayfield Lake was created by the Mayfield Dam located in the nearby town of Mossyrock.
Along with camping, visitors also enjoy recreational boating, fresh water fishing, and swimming and water skiing in the warmer summer months. We were just happy to enjoy some solitude and time away from the city with plenty of opportunity to hike and explore nature as a family.
Based on our experience at Ike Kinswa, along with our adventure at Samuel P. Taylor State Park in California, and all the fun that we had camping when Bergen was a baby, I wanted to share a few quick tips! As you’ll see we took some “short-cuts” here, and some might even dare to say that we weren’t actually camping, but for our purposes (vacationing and enjoying the outdoors in a park as a family), I think we did just fine!
5 Helpful Tips for Camping with a Baby
Stay in a Cabin or Yurt
There’s a lot of work involved in setting up camp even for just a few nights, and we appreciate taking the tent assembly out of the equation. Also, when the weather is hard to predict (and planning far in advance is necessary), we appreciate a guaranteed warm and dry shelter! We’ve stayed in numerous state park cabins and yurts over the years, and find them so delightfully cozy, comfortable, and affordable.
We get the best of both worlds. We still get to be immersed in nature, but also get those comforts of home such as heat, electricity, and a bed to sleep on.
Don’t Travel too Far
We love that we don’t have to travel hours and hours away from home in order to feel far away from the hustle and bustle of regular day to day, in our case, city life. Ike Kinswa State Park is just two hours away, but it’s location in rural Lewis County, Washington is a completely different, non-congested place!
Long car rides can be hard on babies and young toddlers. They want to be able to move around, and aren’t able to be occupied by books or technology for long periods of time. We timed our departure (to and from) around Georgia’s (16-months old) nap, which worked well.
Make (loose) Plans
To some it might sound restricting, but to us it’s actually freeing to have at least a few things planned out and scheduled with realistic expectations and flexibility. This time around, we did the research to find a hike that was relatively close by with doable mileage and interest for Bergen (our 4-year old) for our 2nd full day knowing that we’d explore the park on the first day, and would probably be looking for more by day 2.
I also researched things to do (activities, coffee shops, restaurants, parks) in the area in case we found ourselves going stir crazy back at the cabin. Turns out that we hardly used any of the suggestions that I jotted down, but it felt good to at least have options!
And finally, MEAL PLANNING! We’re big on knowing when our next meal will be, and what we’ll be eating, so while it wasn’t fancy, we at least made sure that we had a plan for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Stick with Routines
We love our routines at home for getting the kids to bed, and getting ready for the day in the morning, so we do our best to replicate those rituals while we are away. It’s important to plan ahead for those routines. I go through them in my mind while I’m packing for the trip to make sure that we have all the items that make it work (pajamas, books, security items, toothbrushes, sound machines…).
We do it for our sanity too! Slaed and I look forward to and cherish that quiet time after the kids go to bed, and it’s no different when we are camping–we just happen to be sitting in front of the campfire instead of catching up on one of our favorite shows on TV!
Bring the Right Gear
It may make packing a royal pain, and if you are like us, you might question whether or not you can actually get everything in the car (even with a topper) once you have it all laying out, BUT we bring along the items that make life easier with a baby. Here are some ideas based on what a baby typically does: SLEEP, EAT, PLAY:
- Sleep: familiar travel crib, security items (lovies and blankets), sleepsack, books, sound machine
- Eat: bottles/sippy cups, portable high chair, bibs, easy finger foods, snack trap
- Play: backpack carrier, outdoor toys, board books, or like Georgia, baby can just play with the dishes!
And a bonus tip? Pack simple, no-fuss clothing! Georgia is modeling our latest creation from The Patchery–A fun baby jumpsuit using their Sonic Organic fabric line. The material is so soft, and has held up (she’s worn it a ton) to multiple washing and all her crawling (a lot of her other pants have started to rip at the knees). I also love that it’s just one piece (less decision making!), but since we got to combine fabrics, the jumpsuit still has a lot of character and pizzazz.
Diaper changing is also a breeze with this Patchery jumpsuit since it has a snap leg closure, and isn’t the little tree design just perfect for our Pacific Northwest camping adventure?
As I mentioned in the last 2 sets of posts, as an ambassador for The Patchery, we are given products in order to review and share on the blog. If you’re thinking of purchasing a baby jumpsuit for your little explorer (or any of the other adorable clothing pieces on their site), you receive 15% off with our special code! Just use “WildTale15” at checkout. In February, we featured Bergen’s hoodie, and in March we featured Bergen’s lounge pants.
Stay tuned for May’s Patchery post! Bergen took the wheel and designed his own long-sleeve t-shirt, and I can’t wait to show you the result!
Have you gone camping with a baby? Share your tips–we’d love chat!
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