I started my little guy 3 -4 with a kiddie tent to play in while in the house. When he was around 5 or 6yo, I always had a ratty tent in the backyard for us to sleep in the occasional summer night. Then I had him sleep in it or forts by himself in another room (den, living room). We started camping at local state parks around 7 or 8ish twice a year and extended the trip each time e.g. weekend, 4-5 days, 10 days. At each stage we worked on camp basics, pack management, health and safety stuff as age appropriate. Last year (age 10) we road trip car camped with various stops leaving MA and landing in Big Bend NP, including some dispersion camping--3 weeks total. This last summer was over a month and a half at TRNP, Glacier, YNP, Badlands and more. We have two tents a quick 2person and 4 person for longer stays; he can pitch them both proudly. He's been starting campfires since last year. For safety reasons, I still check his backpack for longer, higher elevation hikes. I would say start them as early as they will tolerate and GEAR THEM PROPERLY (REI, I'm looking at you! :). If they are uncomfortable (with shoes, packs, temperature regulation), they will learn to hate it fast and it's hard to go back. Invest in leukotape as it is a miracle for blister management..seriously. Get out as often as you can so it becomes the norm. Have fun!
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Hi! We just got back from camping trip #2 with our little one (now almost 8mo) our first trip he was 4 months and it was cold- we car camped and lugged a pack and play. He slept in layers (onesie, fleece footed pjs, and a warm sleep sack) and we put a thermarest kids sleep pad under the mattress. He slept like he was at home! (Note- we have the 6 man dome tent so this all fit with a kingdom air mattress for mom and dad) he had more trouble this trip because it was warm. We were in Shenandoah National Park and even at the top of loft mountain it was muggy and didn’t cool off much. He slept in his pack and play in just footed pjs and was fine. In terms of during the day our best investment was a kid co GoPod. It folds up like the popular camp chairs but is a stand up (with a footpad so no dirty feet) play space kind of like a not bouncy jumparoo. Don’t forget a hat- more for bugs than the sun. We did a short easy hike with a soft carrier and I had a ring sling for around camp. I also recommend a freestanding playpen Gate and a blanket if your going somewhere big enough once little one is trying to crawl- but at 3mo we didn’t need anything like that. My best advice is to just do it! It seems a lot scarier before you leave and we’ve enjoyed it both times. Plus we know we’re going to want to camp when he’s bigger so we’re just teaching him early. Good luck!
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