As the first part of a sequence focusing on the dynamic response of composite caisson-piles foundations (CCPFs1), this paper develops a simplified method for the lateral response of these foundations. A Winkler model for the lateral vibration of the CCPF is created by joining the two components, the caisson and the pile group, where the four-spring Winkler model is utilized for the caisson and axial-lateral coupled vibration equations are derived for the pile group. For determining the coefficients of the four-spring Winkler model for the caissons, embedded footing impedance is used and a modification on the rotational embedment factor is made for the sake of the geometrical difference between shallow footings and caissons. Comparisons against results from finite element simulations demonstrate the reliability of this modified four-spring Winkler model for caissons in both homogenous and layered soils. The proposed simplified method for the lateral vibration of CCPFs is verified also by 3D finite element modeling. Finally, through an example, the idea of adding piles beneath the caisson is proved to be of great significance to enhance the resistance of the foundation against lateral dynamic loads.