If you are thinking of camping with a small baby, then I salute you. The decision to introduce your child at an early age to the great outdoors is wonderful. In our modern age of sanitized, urban, screen-focused living, a whole generation growing up disconnected with nature. So, power to you for not letting it happen to your kids!
Camping is a beautiful activity that gives our children the opportunity to learn about their true roots - animals dependent and interconnected with the entire natural ecosystem.
Okay, so now I've patted you on the back and given you my idealistic spin on why it's good to sleep in tents, let's come back down to earth. Camping can be daunting, especially when it's baby's first trip.
Let's dive straight in, looking at a six simple tips that will make your trip easier and more relaxed.
Stay Close to Home
This is simple but very effective. Staying close to home means that you don't have a long, stressful drive before you get to your camping spot. It also means that psychologically you are more relaxed, knowing that if any mishaps were to go down (ie baby gets sick), then you'll be home in a jiffy.
Aaah, feel the relaxation increase!
Pack Simple and Smart
There is the temptation to go wild and pack enough for a round-the-world trip. Don't. You won't use half of it, and it'll just make the car journey a pain.
Make sure you have a good diaper bag. Fill it up and then look inside. Ask yourself, "what will run out in a week?" Pack extra of those things. No more.
Next, for the week leading up to your trip, at bath time, make a note of what you use. Only pack what you normally use. Not tons of extra bits.
Other than that, a small medical bag and some baby sunscreen and insect repellant. That's about it.
Don't Forget Your Playard
Of course your baby will play among the leaves, rolling around and eating dirt, but this won't be all of the time. Whilst camping, 'free play' like this needs to be closely supervised as there are natural choking hazards and biting insects.
Make sure you bring your babies pack and play. You will definitely use this more than you think. It will be perfect your baby to nap in during the day and for her to play in whilst you are busy. It will provide you with peace of mind whilst she still gets to feel the wind on her face and be surrounded by trees.
(An extra little tip. Bring a light gauze blanket and some clothes pegs. You can use this to create a bug-proof layer over the top of the pack and play.)
Pack a separate 'dry night bag' for the baby. This will contain only dry night-suites (at least one for each night). It can be hard to judge the temperature whilst camping, so start light and add one layer at a time as it gets colder.
Bring Plenty of Baby Food
Yes, you will be cooking your special strange camping concoctions and dad will be attempting a "real" barbecue, but make sure you have plenty of healthy baby food with you. If you pull off a delicious meal and somehow have time to prepare baby's fresh food too, great! But if it's all getting a bit much, it's way more relaxing if you can just grab a tub of puree for the little one.
Holidays are your time to unwind. This means using as many time and work savers as possible. Don't feel guilty, go for it.
Speak to Your Neighbors
When you pitch up, if you are staying near to other campers, then introduce yourself and let them know about your baby's sleeping patterns. If they know what to expect, then they'll be happier to make allowances. And, even more importantly, you'll feel more relaxed when your baby cries for milky at 1am knowing that your neighbors are cool with it.
You'll normally find that people are very friendly and understanding.
There we go. A few simple tips to help your camping trip run smoothly. I hope you have a blast.