Camping with a baby

A few weeks ago the four of us went camping in Penzance for a weekend. Ophelia had just turned four-months-old and I’d wondered for weeks what camping with a baby might be like. As it turned out, the camping was a breeze, the four-hour drive to Penzance with a baby who hates the car on the other hand…

While chatting with a friend who recently took a similarly-aged baby camping, her first child, I mused that I never could have done it with Talitha. That’s partly because she was a frequent waker, generally stressed out baby and I was still supplementing, and partly because I was so tightly wound.

The fact that I agreed to give camping a go while Ophelia is so young proves to me just how much more relaxed I am this time and how much better it’s all going. I am not a natural camper so I did take some convincing.

camping chair for a toddler

I benefited from tips that others gave me before we went so I thought I’d share a few here:

Throw out the routine
Not that Ophelia has an iron-clad routine anyway but we do tend to lull her to sleep sort of 7ish and she does tend to wake up around 8.30. We accepted, though, that neither of the girls were very interested in sleep at the usual time. I guess it was light, a different setting and they could hear us chatting so it was clear that we weren’t going to sleep. They both made up for lost sleep with naps on the move the next day.

Dress them in layers
I dressed Ophelia in the same number of layers I was wearing to bed. She wore vest, babygrow, fleecesuit, baby sleeping bag, hat and then went into the sleeping bag with me. The advantage of being close was that as soon as morning struck, I instinctively peeled layers off her while half asleep. It was really handy that everything zipped down the front. She didn’t rouse much and I could easily feed her back to sleep for a bit longer.

camping with a baby

Bring a spare
Friends warned me that things can unexpectedly get wet when you’re camping. I brought spares of most things but forgot to bring a spare hat. Consequently, that’s what got wet. As it turned out, our second night was warmer than the first so we didn’t need it but lesson learned for next time.

Sling that baby
We wear Ophelia all the time anyway, but I was especially glad that we do when I saw the campsite Laurence had chosen. There’s no way a buggy would have coped with it and it was useful to sling Ophelia for a bit in the evening until we were ready to settle her in for the night.

babywearing while camping.jpg

Upsides: Talitha was desperate for all of us to go camping together so it was lovely to give her that experience this summer. At four months, Ophelia is exclusively breastfed so no need to think about what to feed her and she’s not mobile so no stressing about her getting into mischief. She also loved just lying and looking up at the tent.

Downsides: Our sleep was shocking. I think Laurence and Talitha were out like lights but Ophelia woke so much – just momentarily to find a boob then drift back to sleep. So, actually, I think she slept fine but I was exhausted the next morning! I also tend to naturally arrange my body protectively around hers, which meant that I was stuck in one position all night. That’s manageable in bed but it’s not a great idea if you’re effectively sleeping on the ground. Ah well…

Have you been camping with a baby? Would you? Do you have any tips and ideas to share?


24 Comments

  1. July 16, 2014 / 8:21 am

    I haven’t camped with an under one before…,. but we’re hoping to do a festival again next year when we’ll have a six month old in tow…. we’ll see!
    Polly recently posted..Packing list for a family festival

  2. July 16, 2014 / 9:39 am

    I’ll be honest, I’m not going to do it until my daughter is at least Talitha’s age, if not older! I go on hols to relax, and to me relaxation is a sleeping child in the evenings that I don’t have to tiptoe around. My sister recently took my 2.5yr old niece camping with friends. The first night they ended up having to leave the tent and drive home at 1.30am because she was so hyped up and refused to sleep. The second night they drove her around for 2 hours to get her to sleep and went back to the tent. I think this is because niece has been used to a totally blacked out, silent room since birth (they put tinfoil on the windows when they come to mine!!) and her lovely curious self couldn’t cope with the change in routine. Her advice now is to practice practice practice in the garden first, and also not make it such a big deal in the build up – the more you hype it with a toddler, the more they respond. Having said all that, your photos show that your experience was pretty gorgeous and has given me more positive inspiration!
    Eleanor (thebristolparent) recently posted..St Nicholas Market, Bristol – good for kids?

  3. July 16, 2014 / 10:20 am

    I think it is easier to camp with a baby – we have a massive tent and took our travel cot. Now to go when he’s a bit older and doesn’t really understand that he can’t wander out of the tent when he wakes up scares me. Great tips.
    Pinkoddy recently posted..Butlin’s Skegness Review June 2014

  4. July 16, 2014 / 12:32 pm

    We did camping last summer for my sisters wedding and My eldest is used to getting up and using the bathroom adn the toilet block was a 5 min walk away. He woke about 3 times a night and we had to alternate in taking the torch and taking her. I found it so stressful! She wouldn’t go behind the tent or in a potty as she was 4 and a “big girl”. x
    Keri-Anne recently posted..The little rabbit

  5. July 16, 2014 / 12:59 pm

    Oh camping with littlies – I’ve had good experiences and bad. I know what you mean about them being easier when they are smaller. portable and breastfeeding! Great tips. P.S. Your babe is so cute.
    Kathryn (@KatGotTheCream) recently posted..On the road with Boden – Part One

  6. July 16, 2014 / 4:10 pm

    I love the idea of camping but it would take a lot of bribery and probably blackmail to get me in a tent. Hats off to you for doing it, your preparation certainly paid off.
    Louisa recently posted..Make do and mend

  7. July 16, 2014 / 4:46 pm

    I don’t think I would be brave enough so well done you…………..Love that little chair xxx

  8. July 16, 2014 / 5:37 pm

    Good post. I know what you mean re the rubbish sleep – even with older children, your sleep is woken much more because someone is always falling off the air bed or they wake up with the early morning light. I think it’s something you just have to accept with camping. There are lots of upsides, which helps.

  9. July 16, 2014 / 6:04 pm

    We are going glamping in Sept but given their is a king size bed and cot I don’t think it counts! I don’t think I will be brave enough to camp camp until next summer but I think if you are going to do it with a baby then definitely before they are mobile and weaning is the best time! She is so gorgeous by the way! x
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted..A Day At The Beach

  10. Ceri
    July 16, 2014 / 9:12 pm

    We camped when Jake was 5 months & Connor was 22 months & it was crazy (7 kids under 2) but great fun. I’m no camper but we’ve since bought all our own gear (we borrowed most of it the first time). I dressed Jake exactly the same as you dressed O but I was lucky, Jake slept really well (first & last time lol). We’re going camping again next month so fingers crossed we have nice weather again 🙂

  11. July 17, 2014 / 12:46 am

    With your open and honest comments you give me hope that I could cope with you (we are trying). The tightly wound so resonates with me. LOVE the camping tips and photos.
    Liska x
    Liska @NewMumOnline recently posted..End of An Era

  12. July 17, 2014 / 1:14 pm

    Some really great tips here. Great to think about taking a sling as most campsites wouldn’t be accessible. Glad you got through it, even with a little less sleep than normal!

  13. July 18, 2014 / 11:59 am

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never camped!! So therefore none of my kids have, although Teen has with friends now. I’d love to go and I’m looking into doing it soon. Love the sling Ophelia is in. She’s gorgeous x

  14. July 18, 2014 / 2:52 pm

    Wow, you are guys so brave. I don’t think I would attempt a camping trip with a baby this young… I think I like a comfort of my house protection just a bit too much.

  15. July 18, 2014 / 4:39 pm

    I don’t think I would sleep in a tent, I’d worry too much. We have a touring caravan with an awing that the teen sometimes sleeps out in!

  16. July 19, 2014 / 9:07 pm

    I’m not a natural camper either but I do remember it being fun when I was little so it would be something I’d like to do for Wilf at some point. I have made T agree to do it in the garden at some point as a practise run for how Wilf sleeps! x
    Fritha recently posted..An Engagement (part two)

  17. July 20, 2014 / 1:52 am

    I’ve never got on with camping well – I’m not organised enough for it I think. Camping in the garden might be fun though 🙂 x
    Sarah Bailey recently posted..#SilentSunday

  18. July 20, 2014 / 9:22 am

    Very brave if you to camp with such a little one. I find it difficult with tweens at times due to the weather, bugs etc! Great idea with the sling, getting a buggy across grass/mud would be hard work! x

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