Kids get dirty while camping, so you’re going to need to know your options for bathing a baby while camping.
Camping puts you in some messy situations. From campfire smoke in your hair and skin to muddy puddles and sticky s’mores—the combinations are endless. Things tend to get messier when children are involved, but it’s all part of the fun.
One of the things we’ve learned through our years camping is how to get clean as you go. For grown-ups and older kids, this is easy peasy.
But, what about bathing a baby while camping? Here are 4 of our top tips to keep baby clean and cozy at camp.
Bathing a Baby While Camping Tips
The first thing to know is that bathing a baby every day isn’t a necessity. It’s not always easy, and outside it’s easier for a baby to catch a chill while damp.
Generally, we recommend washing your child’s face, hands, and feet (in that order).
I’m a nurse, but even I feel that it’s good for small children to get dirty once in a while. It’s one of the reasons we take our son out in nature so regularly.
A little wash-up before bed is usually just fine, but if you feel the need for thorough bathing, here are a few tips.
Wait for Warm Weather
The best time for a bath, apart from bedtime, is when the day is at its warmest. Using the afternoon heat of the sun to keep the baby warm reduces the chance of a chill.
Playing in water is an easy way to sneak in a “bath” as well. You can play with buckets or in the rain, just don’t play in a thunderstorm.
It also helps the baby dry more quickly since hair dryers and the like are generally out of the question.
Just Wash the Essentials
In our house, we call this the ‘wash your stinky bits” rule, which is a hit with our son. Usually, these are the areas we generate sweat throughout the day. In the summer months especially, little ones can sweat just like adults.
A little wipe under the armpits, behind the elbows and knees, is quite refreshing. Of course face, hands, feet and genitals are still important.
Wait Until you get Home
If possible, we recommend waiting until you get home to indulge in a full-on bath experience for your baby. The “just wash your stinky bits” rule is perfectly fine for a one or two-night camping trip.
Test Your Water
As parents, we all know water temperature is important, but camping is tricky. You have to warm the water yourself (unless you’re on a site with hot water). We light up the Jetboil to get warm water fast.
Be sure there are no hot pockets of water as you mix hot and cold to make the right temperature for your child’s bath water.
Bath in a Bucket
There was a time in history when we didn’t have the luxury of hot showers and bathtubs. In those days people bathed in barrels, lakes, or any other water source.
Luckily, today we have many portable options for a baby-sized bath. Just heat up some water, grab the soap and you’re good to go.
Plastic Tub or Bucket
A simple plastic tub is something we already organize in on all of our camping trips. They’re easy to clean, and the right size for a baby in need of a bath.
A large bucket may also work to dip the baby gently into warm water. All you need is soapy water and a towel and you’re good to go.
Collapsible Camp Sink
If you want a great multitool for camping with a baby, invest in a collapsible camp sink. These things are great for washing hands and dishes, but they also double as a baby bathtub.
We like the collapsible sinks because it gives us extra space in the kitchen box.
Some campers bring it all, and some campsites have it all. Whether you call it glamping or camping with amenities, sometimes showers become an option on-site.
Here are a few shower options to consider.
Portable showers come in different shapes and sizes. Some come with pumps, others with pressurized water. There are pop up shower tents, and bags you hang from trees.
Whatever your preference, a portable shower is a good alternative to a bath if there’s no basin around. If you’re using a solar shower, be sure to keep it in the sunlight as long as possible.
If your campground has a full bathroom facility with a shower building, you’re in luck. This is a great place to take baby for a warm wash under the spray.
One thing I would be careful of with showers is keeping water out of your child’s mouth. Not all camp water is potable (drinkable).
Lake or River
If your camp is based on or near a lake or river, you can always bathe in a natural body of water. Two things we recommend for this are:
- Lifejackets: Babies are slippery when wet. An infant lifejacket ensures your little one is safe throughout the bathing experience.
- Biodegradable soap: The water you’re bathing in is a natural habitat for lake dwelling creatures. Use natural products that are safe for the planet when bathing in nature.
There are also a few additional safety precautions to take, including:
- Swimming bans: Check that the water you’re camping near is safe for swimming. Stagnant water in lakes collect bacteria from birds and other wildlife, or pollution. Contaminated lakes are dangerous for everyone, but especially babies.
- Water flow: Some rivers move quickly, making them unsafe for bathing or swimming. Don’t attempt to bathe in a river with fast flowing water or rapids.
- Test the temperature: Babies can’t regulate body temperature the way adults do. Dipping a baby into cold lake water could bring down their core body temperature and even lead to hypothermia. Like we mentioned above, a warm day when the sun is shining is best for bathing your child outside.
When safety precautions are followed, lake and river baths can be a lot of fun.
Wet wipes are a great choice for on-the-go bathing. Wipes are great for spills, sticky hands, and camp baths.
Standard Wet Wipes
Standard wet wipes are easy to come by in most grocery, pharmacy, or beauty supply store. There are many brands to choose from. For babies, we recommend looking for an unscented product for sensitive skin.
This is a great product to start with for a general baby wipe. They come in a 64-count package and are phthalate, alcohol, paraben, fragrance, dye, and chlorine-free.
They’re also eco-friendly and hypoallergenic, which is great for the environment, and your baby.
Specialized Bath Wipes
If you want something more niche for your camping experience, there are also specialized bath wipes. These are intended for cleaning your body, and are made with ingredients that reflect this.
Sage No Rinse Bath Wipes
These bath wipes are lightly scented, but hypoallergenic and ultra-soft. They come in a 64-count like the Seventh Generation wipes, and are rinse free.
These are especially good for bathing because unlike generic wipes, they’re extra thick. So they don’t tear while you’re washing.
Sage wipes are pH-balanced and include vitamin E and aloe to soothe irritated skin. Babies have super sensitive skin, and all the sunscreen and wood fire smoke can be a bother.
These wipes wash away the dirt and grime and leave skin feeling refreshed and soothed. I use them on patients at work and finally got some for camping trips when I realized how well they work.
Lume Deodorant Wipes
These wipes are perfect for high-stink areas. We all have them, even our youngest family members get smelly while camping. Lume wipes come in a 45-count package and have a low pH. In fact, the company claims the wipes control body odor for 24-hours.
For a quick shower or bath on the go I’ve found these wipes to be a lifesaver for adults and children. They’re cooling and have a light cucumber scent that fades rather quickly so I just find myself smelling fresh.
I use them anywhere sweat gathers like armpits, under breasts, belly buttons, and more. They are quite thin because they’re designed to break down quickly.
These HyperGo wipes are a new product to me, but I tried them out hoping they’d be amazing for camping. I think they are.
The wipes are quite large, (12″ x 12″ or 30.5cm x 30.5cm) which is awesome for wiping your child’s whole body with one wipe.
The grapefruit smell is fresh and amazing, without being overwhelming. My son and I have sensitive skin and these wipes don’t bother either of us. I’ve used them everywhere on my body with no issues: face, pits, underboob, groin, feet and hands.
Bathing a Baby While Camping FAQs
We hope this blog has offered some tips for your next family camping trip. Keeping babies clean and comfortable is important anywhere, but especially when you’re away from the comforts of home.
I’m Molly Foss, aka Momma Critter. I’ve been camping since I was 9 years old and I always wanted to be Robin Hood and live in the forest when I grew up. I’m excited to share my love of camping with my son as he grows up. My favorite thing to do while camping is roast marshmallows over the fire.