How to go camping with a baby

We’re keen campers, and basically we usually spend as much time as possible in a tent during the summer months.

So it was quite an important test for us to see how the baby would cope with camp.

We’ve just returned from his first camping holiday – nearly a week on the Dorset coast. He was three-and-a-half months old and I’d been concerned that this might be too young. Asking and reading around, I’d found no consensus on when is the right age for a first camping trip, so I decided to plump for a time that was convenient for us and hope for the best.

I’m pleased to say he was a little star – he wasn’t really any more trouble than he is at home. Yes, our camping experience was different in some ways, but the same in most. He fitted in with us just fine.

Here are a few things I learned during our first camping trip with a baby:

What you need for camping with a baby

  • Prepare for keeping warm, and cool. As any camper will tell you, the hardest thing about being in a tent is regulating the temperature. Whether our baby would freeze overnight or boil in the mornings was my main concern, but I’m pleased to report he did neither! You just need to take a few sensible precautions.

We pitched our tent under a tree, so it was shaded from the morning sun. I took a warm sleep suit for Sam to wear in the mornings and evenings, so he didn’t get too cool while we were sitting outside eating. He had a 2 tog sleeping bag to sleep in, and a couple of blankets. I took plenty of clothes and some hats, so I could put layers on and take them off when needed. We always try to camp where we can hook-up to electricity, so we had a heater which we used to warm the tent a little around his bedtime.

His sleeping pattern was largely unchanged from what it is at home – and one night he even slept for a near-constant stretch of 10.5 hours which is his record so far, home or away!

Essentials for camping with a baby | Koo-di pop-up travel bubble cot

  • A tent for everything. It kind of felt like we were living within a big, canvas Russian nesting doll at times. We had the main tent, then a tent extension to provide valuable extra living space for storage and sitting and playing when the weather was poor. (Our tent is a few years old, but this is similar). Then Sam had a little tent to sleep in, and a tent to keep the sun off him when we were playing outside. We had a Koo-di pop-up bubble cot and a pop-up UV sun tent from Early Learning Centre.

Essentials for camping with a baby | baby sun tent

Incidentally, that little cloud, sun, moon and star mobile by East Coast was a good buy for travelling with. It clips on so we could use it in his travel cot, the sun tent and on the pushchair. There are chimes inside so it makes a lovely noise when the wind catches it (or when Sam kicked the side of his tent to make it wobble!).

  • What is useful at home is also useful at camp. Although it added to our already full car load, we took a couple of extras – rather than essentials – that are handy at home and proved equally valuable when camping.

His activity playmat that he loves gave him something to do while we were pottering around the tent. And his chair – I bought a Baby Björn bouncer chair from eBay because it can be folded flat for travelling – gave us somewhere to put him down when needed where he would be safe and secure.

  • Try a shower instead of a bath. Usually, the only washing facilities at campsites are small sinks and showers, so I tried our baby in a shower a couple of times before we went away. At home I wash him in the bath with a baby support. At camp, although it was a bit tricky, we managed a shower together. I took his bouncy chair to the shower block and put him in it while I got washed, dried and dressed. Fortunately the cubicles were nice and big.
  • Sterilise the ‘old-fashioned’ way. Although I’m breastfeeding, Sam has a bottle of formula for his last feed before bedtime and he uses a dummy to help him sleep. At home we have a Philips Avent electric steam steriliser, but for camping and being away from home we’ve bought a Milton cold water steriliser and tablets – which is super easy to use. I actually sort of prefer it to the steamer.
  • Have a suitable buggy or baby carrier. Usually, campsites are in fairly rural areas so think about how you’re going to get your baby around. You’ll need a pram or pushchair with suitable wheels or a carrier – we took my beloved sling wrap and borrowed an Ergobaby carrier from a friend. We also bought a new, compact buggy – the Baby Jogger City Mini – which is a little expensive but folds nice and flat with just one hand and fully reclines so baby can nap in it. We figured we’d need it for future travels as my Joolz pram and base, much as I love it, practically fills the car boot.

Golden Cap campsite, Seatown, Chideock, Dorset, England UK

I hope this post is helpful for anyone considering going camping with a young baby – but I would definitely encourage you to just do it. We all really enjoyed ourselves!

Just a few days until the next camping trip to Wales :)

Have you any experience of or advice for camping with a baby?

Our camping holiday in Dorset

We’re recently back from nearly a week of camping in Dorset.

You might have read about our short break in a cottage in Pateley Bridge, but this was a slightly longer holiday (five nights) that was further away and – crucially – the baby’s first time in a tent.

I’ll write another post about how we managed camping with a three-month-old, but for now I’ll just fill you in about what we did while staying in this beautiful part of the south coast of England.

The campsite

We camped at Golden Cap Holiday Park in Seatown near Chideock. Seatown is a hamlet with just the campsite, a good pub and a beach – all you need, some might say.

The campsite has a lot of static caravans (some for hire), camping pods and a good sized field for tents, caravans and motorhomes. There was no sea view from the camping field, but the pebble beach is a very short walk away along a bridleway. The site is right on the South West Coast Path, which was one of the reasons I chose it. Just three miles along the path from Seatown you can find West Bay, which is where the TV series Broadchurch was filmed.

The campsite shop sold pretty much everything you might need, including tasty ice cream and takeaway pizzas in case you get fed up of cooking at camp.

We ate at the pub – The Anchor Inn – on the first night and had really good fish and chips (£14). There are plenty of tables outside looking right onto the beach and sea. Unfortunately the weather didn’t allow us to sit outdoors and enjoy the view. Inside it’s cosy, but a bit too snug if, like us, you have a baby and a buggy.

Thatched cottage Dorset, England UK Golden Cap campsite, Seatown, Chideock, Dorset, England UK Golden Cap campsite, Seatown, Chideock, Dorset, England UK

// babywearing again :) and looking over Seatown and Golden Cap Holiday Park from the South West Coast Path //

Day 1 – Lyme Regis

I had low expectations of Lyme Regis (I think I was confusing it with the unfortunately-named Bognor Regis) but it’s actually a very attractive and pleasant town. It’s small enough to walk round in one go but has interesting buildings, walks and passageways that could keep you occupied for hours.

Lyme Regis has the historic Cobb and harbour, a lovely beach with pretty pastel beach huts and there seemed to be a lot of nice-looking places to eat. We chose to have lunch at The Good Food Store, a bakery, café and deli, where I had an excellent spinach and feta pie.

Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK Lyme Regis, Dorset, England UK

Day 2 – walk over Golden Cap to Charmouth

On our second full day the weather promised to improve and stay fine, so we decided to walk part of the South West Coast Path. It’s 630 miles of coastline in total, the longest national trail in the UK.

From Seatown we turned west to walk over Golden Cap – the highest point on the coast – and on to Charmouth. It’s a walk of around 4.5 miles, so we thought it might be possible to walk back too, but we found it a tougher walk than expected. The route is hilly – and we were carrying a 14lb baby. We arrived at our destination pretty exhausted and a little hot and bothered.

But the views getting there along the Jurassic Coast had been truly spectacular. Just when I thought what I was seeing couldn’t get better, I’d turn a corner and be blown away again.

At Charmouth beach we sat on the grass for a little while, watching body-boarders and eating salted caramel and fudge brownie ice cream. (It was Marshfield Farm ice cream, which is delicious and available around Dorset). Feeling refreshed, we took the bus back. I tried not to feel put out that we’d walked for hours over quite tough terrain, only to find that getting home by road took a mere 10 minutes. It’s about the journey not the destination, they say :)

South west coast walk Golden Cap to Charmouth, Dorset, England UK

South coast walk Golden Cap to Charmouth, Dorset, England UK South west coast walk Golden Cap to Charmouth, Dorset, England UK South west coast walk Golden Cap to Charmouth, Dorset, England UK South west coast walk Golden Cap to Charmouth, Dorset, England UK

Day 3 – rest!

We had more sunshine the next day, so we relaxed at camp allowing our bodies to rest and our legs to recover. I even read a few pages of a book – the first time I’ve done that in months!

Day 4 – Weymouth, Chesil Beach and Symondsbury

The following day the weather was poor again so we spent it driving to a few places of interest. We went to Weymouth which we found unappealing although it had a nice, sandy beach. We came back via the 18-mile long Chesil Beach, a World Heritage Site.

Chesil Beach, Dorset, England UK

We also stopped off at Symondsbury, a family-owned estate village that has a few independent and antique shops and lovely café, Symondsbury Kitchen.

Symondsbury Kitchen, Symondsbury Estate, Dorset, England UK

Though the weather could have been kinder, we had a great time exploring this lovely part of the world.

Have you been to Dorset? Where are your favourite spots?

Day at Leeds Waterfront Festival

Sometimes there are days (though they’re not that common) when I think, yes, I have this parenting thing nailed.

We had one such day recently, when we decided to have a day out in Leeds for the Waterfront Festival.

It was much like life on summer weekends pre-baby: we got a little dressed up, we took the train, we had a few drinks, we sat outside bars in the sun.

But the baby was with us – it was his first train ride – and it was lovely to have his company. He was hardly any trouble and we returned home victorious that being a parent does not need to stop you doing everything.

Although being a parent did go on to stop me sleeping for most of the night, as is usual.

It filled me with confidence that our summer camping holidays and the month-long European road trip we have planned are doable and travelling with a baby may even be relatively stress-free. I think we are gonna be OK.

What I wore. Mint green jeans, embroidered peasant top What I wore. Mint green jeans, embroidered peasant top

I don’t get a whole lot of time for meandering around clothes shops these days so I while I was doing my supermarket shop the other day I grabbed this peasant top with black, pink and turquoise embroidery from George at Asda. Continue reading “Day at Leeds Waterfront Festival”

House tour: garden ideas

Having shared with you the progress we’ve made so far on the back garden, I thought I’d also give you an insight into my inspiration and ideas for how I’d like some of the space to look when it’s finished.

In my mind, the garden has three areas: the decking; patio; and lawn and flowerbeds.

Perhaps the part that is most pre-occupying – and usually at the forefront of my thoughts when browsing Pinterest – is the patio. Maybe it’s because I feel this area has the most potential prettiness, and it should be the hub for fun summer evenings spent with family and friends.

It will be a fairly square space with a curved outer wall. I picture built-in seating with removable cushions, surrounding a fire pit-cum-barbecue.

I’d like climbing and trailing plants, strings of festoon lights and outdoor mirrors to create a feeling of extra space*.

Wood seating area and festoon lights in garden Garden seating area under pergola with climbing trailing plants climbing plants around garden seating area (2) wood seating, outdoor cooking area, black wall built in garden seating grey render and wood garden outdoor mirror garden festoon lights (2)

I’ll be pretty happy if our patio ends up resembling any of these lovely outdoor spaces! You can find all these images and more garden ideas on my Pinterest board. Continue reading “House tour: garden ideas”

House tour: back garden update

Do you fancy a little update on my house renovation and a look at how things are going with fixing up the back garden?

I’ll be honest: progress has been a little slow, what with having a baby three months ago and breaking off to do work inside the house over winter. My husband started on the back garden last year, but he broke off to finish the hallway and do the nursery, which is close to being completed. I’m looking forward to showing you the baby’s room; it turned out nothing like the ideas I had in my head at the beginning of the year!

I’d love to be getting stuck in and helping him with these projects, but I’ve had to take a back seat over the last year because of being pregnant, and now looking after the baby. I’ve still been very involved in the design and planning though and I’m so pleased at how everything has come together. I’m never sure whether these ideas in my head will come off and look right in real life!

Here’s a reminder of how the back garden looked before. You can read more about our plans and some of the problems we’re having to overcome, and see more ugly photos in this post.

back garden before photos (4)

The next photos were taken after a few weeks’ work. You can see he’s done some of the clearing and built a retaining wall for the decking to sit on. Continue reading “House tour: back garden update”

Women in Business: Maud’s House

More than once, Skipton has been named the best place to live in Britain. And the North Yorkshire market town just got better with the opening of a new lifestyle shop which I dare say will make folk even prouder of where they live and content with their lot in life.

Maud's House lifestyle shop, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Maud’s House has been opened by 25-year-old Hattie, who wanted to bring something new to Skipton and give a helping hand to small businesses and young designers.

Hattie has a background in design and illustration and previously worked for branding agencies in Leeds and as a website assistant for fashion brand AQAQ.

She’s been helped by her 26-year-old boyfriend Jonathan, a freelance illustrator working from the couple’s home in Saltaire, which they share with their “crazy” terrier Ralph.

The pair set up their own illustration and design studio, Little Tail, over a year ago, but Hattie has been looking for something else of her own to get her teeth into. Continue reading “Women in Business: Maud’s House”

Crafty Fox Market, Leeds

Since having a baby I haven’t been able to get to all the events I used to, to share them with you on the blog. But, when the Crafty Fox Market came to Leeds this month, I put the baby in the sling and made a special effort to visit.

Crafty Fox say they “shake up the average craft fair”, usually holding their events for emerging designer makers and artists in London.

The two-day fair at the Black Swan in Leeds was their first outing in the north. It being held in a pub, the vibe was immediately different to other craft fairs I’ve been to. (No fusty village hall or knitted apple cosies here). As well as stalls there were workshops – on making jewellery and macramé plant holders – pizza slices on sale and a cool DJ.

Crafty Fox craft market Black Swan Leeds

Over the weekend there were more than 70 sellers involved, curated by Harriet from Leeds design store Chirpy. I was already a Chirpy fan, as you may remember from my post about Chapel Allerton, but Harriet had really done her homework – the standard of the stuff on sale was outstanding. Continue reading “Crafty Fox Market, Leeds”

10 uses for deckchair fabric at home

There are few things that evoke British summer time like the traditional deckchair and its iconic fabric.

The wooden chair and its multi-colour stripes are as much part of our seaside holidays as beach huts, knotted hankies, piers and Punch and Judy.

Seaside deckchairs

But there’s no need to restrict deckchairs to the beach. A cheery deckchair can brighten up a garden while conjuring a scene of outdoor relaxation. And indoors, the bright colour combinations make the fabric perfect for using in summertime décor or homes with a touch of bohemian style. Continue reading “10 uses for deckchair fabric at home”

A new ‘mum’ wardrobe?

The other day I opened my wardrobe doors and decided I hated pretty much everything inside.

When I was pregnant I didn’t buy much or pay a great deal of attention to what I was wearing: I had a few necessities and work and casual outfits that I wore in circulation (and was completely bored of after eight months).

A few weeks after the baby was born I decided that, after not really buying clothes for the best part of a year, I was back in the game big time and subsequently went on a fairly big (for me) shopping spree.

One of the things I bought was this pink stripe patch shirt from Zara, which I wore for my first night out with the girls, when the baby was eight weeks old. I teamed it with a pair of white jeans and these super-cool black and white geometric mules, which I bought last summer. I think they look like they could be by Sophia Webster – but I actually found them in Matalan.

New mum wardrobe! Zara pink stripe patch shirt, white jeans, geometric shoesNew mum wardrobe! Zara pink stripe patch shirt, white jeans, geometric shoesNew mum wardrobe! Zara pink stripe patch shirt, white jeans, geometric shoes

Continue reading “A new ‘mum’ wardrobe?”

Review: Leesa mattress

Being a new parent, sleep is at a premium. It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about, hoping for and looking forward to.

My husband and I are asked how much we’re getting, we talk to each other about whether we’re having enough, and we want to know whether other couples with babies of the same age are getting more or less.

Getting as much uninterrupted shut-eye as possible is pretty important to being a happy parent, I think. A good night means I have the energy and patience to feed and entertain the baby the next day, my husband can go to work and not fall asleep in meetings – and we have enough left in the tank to pay attention to each other at the end of a day.

It must be hard to come across a couple who have exactly the same requirements of a mattress, and we’re no different. We will often have a different amount and quality of rest from the same bed – he suffers with a bad back so likes a firm surface, while I like it softer (but not too soft. Goldilocks, moi?). While our current Ikea mattress is fairly new I’ve never particularly looked forward to sleeping on it; it’s a bit too hard for me.

So when Leesa got in touch offering one of their ‘one-size-fits-all’ mattresses for review, I was intrigued and more than a little sceptical it could suit us both. They say their mattress has been designed to fit the needs of all sleepers, and they’re so sure you’ll like it that they offer a full refund if you’re not sleeping better within 100 nights.

But after sleeping on it for a week or so, there’s no way this mattress is going back. In fact I decided that after the first few minutes. Now I really look forward to getting into bed each night. It’s what a bed should be. It feels indulgent and rejuvenating.

Leesa mattress review Continue reading “Review: Leesa mattress”

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