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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Camping with Babies!

Finally I'm able to get around to this post! I've been itching to write this for over two weeks now!

I love camping. I grew up camping and some of my most cherished childhood memories come from those trips and experiences. Chris didn't grow up camping but fortunately wants our kids to experience camping as part of their childhood. If Chris didn't feel this way it could have been a deal breaker... PHEW!

Going into parenting we really wanted to strive to make sure that having a baby didn't cause us to stay cooped up in our house all day saying goodbye to our social life and hobbies.

Before I dive deep into this post talking about our camping experience I'll give you my check list for camping with baby making it convenient if you just quickly dropped in to grab an idea or two! If you're curious about the specifics on our sleeping and napping arrangements you'll be about to read that in the blog along with an explanation for some of these items. 

I can honestly say that camping with a baby was a breeze easier than anticipated! So I guess set the bar low in expectation so you're glowing with pride over your little one's adapting abilities. We went camping with Chris' brother and his wife and their 5 month old- yes we went camping with BOTH a 5 month old and a 11 month old and enjoyed every bit of it, honestly!

The biggest question my sister-in-law Sarah and I had about camping with our babes was sleeping. We both spent a lot of time on pinterest searching for anything and everything and though we found a lot of blogs about camping with kids no one seemed to really address the sleeping arrangement.

The first night was trial night for both of us. Gabriel has a bedtime routine of changing into PJs, brushing teeth, nursing and reading the same three books. When it comes to sleeping I've learned that routine is key because it cues baby into what is happening.

First night for my 11month old: For PJs we put him in a thermal onsie, pajama pants, socks, and fleece footie zip-up Carter pajamas. I folded a down comforter in quarters to make a little bed and placed that between my and Chris' mattress (the idea was to have him sleep between us so that he didn't sleep against the side of the tent where it can be colder and damp from dew). I went through the routine, laid him down, put a blanket on his lower half and left the tent. A couple minutes later while we were at the campfire we hear a quiet little hand scratching at the tent. We all got a little laugh at it and assumed he had just rolled over onto Chris' bed. When I went to check on him an hour or so later I couldn't find him!!! I was kneeling just outside the tent shinning a dulled flashlight in the back of the tent and he was no where to be found! I was starting to panic a little thinking maybe he crawled under a mattress or something and when I went to get inside there he was on the cold bare floor of the tent right at the front door, curled into a ball, sleeping. Here we made him a nice warm bed to sleep on and he was on the cold ground! What we heard earlier was him scraping the door of the tent- he must have tried to follow me out. I tried picking him up and placing him on his 'bed' but he woke and didn't want to go back to sleep by himself so I crawled into the tent and had him sleep with me. I couldn't fit us both in the sleeping bag so instead I opened up the sleeping bag and used it as a blanket and piled a couple more blankets on top of us. It was a rough night compared to a regular night of sleep at home but for camping I expected worse. Gabriel likes sleeping on his belly, with his sheep, and his butt up in the air- whenever he tried to get into this position under blankets cuddled up to me he'd wake up and fuss because he couldn't freely move. Every time he'd wake up I'd have to nurse him back down which meant I was partially exposed to the cold air. If I tried to snuggle myself back into the warm blankets he'd wake up and I was terrified that I'd smother him with blankets if I pulled them up higher. We woke up quite a bit this night but my own personal warmth was my biggest complaint.

Second night for my 11month old: Since he didn't seem to stay under blankets when we laid him down the first night we added a zip-up hoodie on top of the PJs we put him in the night before. For his bed the second night, rather than making a nice neat bed in the back of the tent we placed the blanket folded in half the length of the tent so if he crawl anywhere he'd either be on his bed or one of our beds. We did our nighttime routine the same as the night before which is the same as at home. An hour later when I went to check on him he was partially on his bed and partially on Chris' bed. Since he was comfy and settled I took this opportunity to place a blanket on him before heading back to the fire. Come bedtime for us adults since Gabriel was taking up 2/3 of the tent Chris and I snuggled into my bed which solved my 'being cold' problem from the night before. Because Gabriel had all that room to himself where he could toss and turn without running into me he actually sleep quite a bit better! Chris and I were able to get about 5 hours of straight sleep! SCORE! Early in the morning Chris and I woke because despite cuddling we were getting a little cold- Gabriel woke about the same time so we expected the same was for him. Chris went back to his bed and Gabriel came over to me to snuggle like the night before to warm up. I learned from the previous night and pulled the mattress away from the tent wall so I had more to lay on giving Gabriel more space on our twin mattress to move around. Gabriel slept nicely until morning time! 

Gabriel's 5month old cousin slept wrapped in a blanket snuggled in his car seat and this worked great for my sister-in-law Sarah. The first night they slept in the tent as a family but she ran into the same problem as I did with nursing her baby back to sleep, being exposed and cold. The second night (because of the cold) Sarah decided to have Miles sleep in his car seat in the car, she slept in the front seat of the car, and Mike slept in his hammock (he commented in the morning that it was the best night of sleep he has had in a very long time). The second night was also much better for them too!

Napping was done either in the ergo or stroller for Gabriel and Miles was a rockstar and napped in his car seat in the car.

Something else I was wondering about was where Gabriel was going to play. I don't mind Gabriel getting dirty and messy... when I have a bathtub to clean him in! I saw on a blog where a mom suggested bringing a kiddie pool, line it with blankets and fill it with toys- GENIUS! This idea worked perfectly for our little kiddos! Also note that for easier clean up once home, taking with only dishwasher or washing machine safe toys is most convenient. Gabriel did do some crawling around the campsite but most of his play was in the pool. For crawling around in the dirt I was glad that I had brought his baby Carhartt pants (gift from Minnesota family) and thick jeans. I read many blogs suggesting bringing along a large number of wipes so we did but we really didn't need that many because of the pool and appropriate attire.

Bringing Gabriel's booster chair for meals was also a great idea because we were able to strap him in and set him up to eat just like we do at home.

Other items that were helpful with a baby included: herbal kid's bug spray, a bug candle, different types of layers of clothing, hand sanitizer, stroller, baby carrier (ergo) and twist off top baby food bags

Some of the items on the list are items we wish we would have brought and will take with us on our next trip. We tried to get a sports umbrella to provide some shade for the babes but they were sold out everywhere! What neither or us thought to bring but would have made things a lot more convenient and comfortable was a breast pump and bottles. Mike and Sarah got stuck in a lot of traffic and while in completely stopped traffic in Seattle a breast pump would have been pretty handy.

Have you been camping with baby? We're going camping again in a week and a half, what are we forgetting?! 

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  1. I love this! You all are such a cute family :) Great camping list, a good attitude...along with a beer is key ;)

  2. LOVE THIS! Lena you are so cool!

  3. YES! Shock Top and Blue Moon where the drinks of choice that weekend. :)

  4. This place reminded us of Dworshak when we went camping with you guys and others that one summer.

  5. That last photo is the best. Love it!

  6. This is so helpful! We haven't been brave enough this year to try camping with our daughter (7 mon), but maybe next year we'll give it a try. Your post has given me hope!! :) I'm pinning this for future reference.

  7. When I was little my parents would set up a pup-tent (the really small ones) as a play tent and my sister and I would do our playing of toys in there, never would have thought about a kiddie pool.

  8. What kind of herbal bug spray did you use? I work at a natural food store and we are always trying to get new things in!

  9. You can do it! We're going on another trip this weekend.

  10. We got it at REI, All Terrain Kids herbal armor.


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