I would be telling a lie if I told you I willingly went camping with my seventeen week-old baby. It took a fair bit of convincing. Originating from Ireland, where the climate is generally colder, I am not a particularly seasoned camper! My partner and his family camp regularly. In fact it seems the entire population of New Zealand camp regularly. So I did a little investigating with other mums and they confirmed ‘yes… It is absolutely fine to go camping with a baby’. I must point out that the climate in NZ is generally warm and I would only camp with little ones in the summer and autumn months.
Once you have decided to go camping you will need to ensure you have access to all the necessary ‘gear’. The second decision is where to camp. Will the site be serviced (running water and toilets) or non-serviced? Many of the beautiful camping spots on the beachfront may not be serviced. You will need to ensure you have a sufficient water supply, a solar shower and a portable camp toilet if you opt for a non-serviced site. I am a total wimp when it is raining or windy at night in the tent. However, it is pretty amazing how much of a battering a good waterproof tent can take.
Top tips for camping with a baby
- Check the weather forecast before you leave!
- Choose your plot wisely– If you choose to travel over a public holiday it may be worth leaving a little earlier, especially if the camp site is popular. Make sure the area is safe with plenty of grass for those that are crawling/toddling. Choose an area with plenty of shade or bring a gazebo.
- Setting up camp-Bring a tarpaulin to lay on the ground inside the tent. This will prevent cold coming from the ground at night. Make an area within the tent for baby’s cot. It is definitely best to use a portable cot that is slightly elevated from the ground to prevent baby from getting cold. If you have to nurse or feed baby during the night it may be best to have an air bed with regular bedding rather than a sleeping bag. This will ensure you both stay toasty while feeding. If your baby is on the move you will want to section off an area outside the tent for play time.
- Keeping baby warm– This is what I worried about most. When I first took our little girl camping it was summer and she was seventeen weeks old. At night she wore a vest, a baby grow, a baby sleeping bag, a light blanket on top with a hat and mitts. Her little face did feel a bit cool in the middle of the night but she was otherwise generally a nice warm temperature. She slept better than most nights so I presume she was feeling ok! At first I did not use the hat and mitts but she felt cold without them.
- Make sure to bring– Plenty of sun cream, a sun hat, pram weather cover, insect repellent and citronella candles. I also brought a mosquito net to put over the top of the portable cot (can you tell mosquitoes love me). I always like to bring over-the-counter baby analgesia in case of any teething issues. A solar shower is awesome even if you are on a serviced site. You can bath baby in or outside the tent in a bucket. You can either pour the solar water into the bucket or pore it over her like a proper shower.
Age seventeen weeks Age seven months
- Baby food and sterilising– Luckily on our first camping expedition we did not have to do food or sterilising as I was exclusively breastfeeding. However the second time we were starting to establish solids. I am not personally that keen on sachet/ jar food unless it is fresh with no additives.Equally, my baby is extremely fussy about food. Luckily we had access to a gas
fridge which is ideal for keeping home cooked food fresh for baby. It even had a very small freezer section. This was particularly handy as she was still having puréed food. I blended quite a bit before and popped it in the gas freezer. If baby is a bit older you may only need a masher and they can eat what you are cooking ! Make sure to bring a big pot to boil water if you need to sterilise bottles or other baby paraphernalia. I used a silicone bib and bowl for meal times as they are so easy to clean.
- Nappies– Make sure to bring plenty of nappies and wipes if you are using disposables. If you ordinarily use reusable nappies make sure you have access to sufficient amount of water that you can boil for sterilising purposes. Bring a bucket, rubber gloves and washing powder decanted into a zip bag to save space. Bring a rope to make a washing line to hang out the nappies to dry in the sun
- Most of all, once you are settled make sure to kick back and relax!
The view from our camp site Bay of Islands, NZ, January 2015