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:
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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?