Before I had kids I loved to go camping, although admittedly I didn’t do loads of it. The thought of camping with a baby though? Well it didn’t seem possible at first – how would we all cope?! I’ve always wanted to take my kids camping, I love getting them out in the countryside and I knew they would get a kick out of spending the night outdoors. Last summer my husband and I decided that enough was enough and it was time to introduce our three year old son to the joys of camping. There was only one small issue though, his still rather small baby sister. Could we cope with camping with a baby?! So, we did what seemed sensible at the time, bought a tent and decided to just give it a try before we spent another year putting things on hold.
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Camping with a baby: 10 tips that saved our trip!
I am not an earth mother type, it’s pretty hard to be when you live in Essex (non-UK friends, I’m not sure what your version of Essex is but I’m guessing its ‘that state’). I like hot showers, my hair needs blowdrying every day and I’m a total sucker for routine with the kids. I get stressed really, really easily and I can’t cope with anything less than really hot weather. We found a way to go camping with a baby though that made it so easy that we did it again as soon as we could and this year we’re all desperate to get the tent out again and get back outdoors. I thought I’d share my tips for camping with a baby in the hope it could help someone else to try it out. We had so many people tell us it wasn’t too late, that we could cancel the campsite but I’m so glad we went and I hope you’ll be that glad you tried it too.
Not only are my kids not massive fans of long journeys but me and my husband aren’t actually that quick at putting the tent up. Staying local means less ‘faffing’ time and more time having fun. Plus you’ll know that if the weather turns awful you can just jump in the car and drive straight home, this was a massive stress reliever for me!
Get a big enough tent
Most tents will tell you how many people can lie down in it, but if you’re taking a baby camping and not co-sleeping you’ll need room for a travel cot. We bought a tent that had two rooms, one of which was apparently big enough for four people to sleep in but actually was the right size for our son to have a blow up mattress and our daughter to have her travel cot while my husband and I slept in the other room.
Buy blow up mattresses
This has made one of the biggest changes to my camping experience since my younger days. If you’re camping with a baby chances are you’ll still be up in the nights doing feeds (I was), even if you’re not chances are you’ll just be knackered because that’s what kids do to you. Blow up mattresses give you a much comfier sleep than sleeping mats and are in my opinion a worthy investment!
Take a bedroom thermometer
Tents can get hot during the day and cold at night. Like most parents I’ve had my worries about my baby being too hot or too cold so a bedroom thermometer helps take the guesswork out of it. You can buy ones with rechargable batteries like this one, but I’ve always used the ones that come with Grobags as they’re so easy to carry around!
Pack lots of sleepwear options
Not sure what the weather will be like? We take thick and thin baby sleeping bags, vests, sleep suits and fleece sleep suits for our baby and then dress her according to what the thermometer says.
Don’t expect your normal routine to work
Sigh. When we camp our kids are not in bed by seven, there’s way too much fun going on. If you’ve ever struggled to get your kids room dark in the summer months you’ll be able to guess that you’re not going to be able to cover your tent in black out blinds, plus the chances are that your campsite will have other kids running around which also helps to convince kids of any age that they don’t want to sleep! Our son will normally stay up for an extra couple of hours before he gives in to tiredness and we get the baby ready for bed and often pop her into her buggy for some of the evening. I’ve had several buggies for my kids but my default is an Out and About Nipper which is brilliant for anything off road.
Pack cartons of formula
If you’re formula feeding your baby (we were) it’s nice to not have the worry of boiling water to make up bottles or worry about bugs getting into the tub of formula. Individual cartons may cost more but I think they’re worth the investment if you’re camping.
Plan what they can eat
If you’re weaning your child then pouches of food like Ella’s kitchen are great to pack. We did baby led weaning with our daughter so we had to make sure that we planned meals and snacks that she would be able to eat (ie no badly barbequed chicken or things that would go warm in our tent). Another good option is to look for campsites with cafes or pubs nearby where you can go to eat, this saves on the washing up too!
Take a picnic blanket
Our daughter was crawling when we went camping, not only was the picnic blanket great for us to eat on, it was perfect for letting her have a bit of a wriggle without getting mucky. Just make sure you pick one that has plastic backing.
Try just one night
Of course you can take your baby away for a week if you want to but for me I knew this would be way too stressful to start. We stay one night, have a great time and then head back to civilisation to get a Starbucks the next morning. This suits me perfectly!
Have you tried camping with a baby? Do leave any hints or tips in the comments below!
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