When I found out I was pregnant last year I knew that my life was going to dramatically change and the days of spontaneous camping trips and last minute plans were pretty much over. I knew even back at the beginning of the pregnancy that I wanted to continue to do the things I love the most when our daughter was really young. I was about 3 months pregnant when Jeff and I decided that we would book a 15 day mostly camping trip when Rosie was to be 9 weeks old. I wanted to write this post to share our experience and hopefully inspire other families or single parents to get out there and do it, it can be done!
First of all I want to say that we knew it might be really tough camping with a tiny baby. I had a complicated birth with quite a bit of blood loss and Rosie was not the easiest newborn. In the first 6 weeks she cried a lot in the evenings, sometimes for hours, which caused me a lot of anxiety. Many times I thought there was no way we could take her camping!! But things did improve and as she got older she cried less, so we decided that no matter what we were going to head off on our trip on the day we said we would and if it got too hard we would simply come home. We would at least give it a go and not feel like failures if we decided to come home. I can happily report that we lasted the whole 15 days 🙂
BEFORE WE LEFT:
The extra things we took with us:
Before we left we made a list of all the extra things we needed to take for baby Rosie. Her stuff definitely took up a lot of room but not as bad as I initially expected.
- Travel Cot: ours was $29 from Kmart.
- ‘Bub Nest’: which we put inside the cot for extra comfort.
- Fit Ball: an absolute must for us! Sometimes bouncing on the ball is the only way she will stop crying.
- Bouncer: great for her to chill out in and watch us set up camp.
- Play Mat: she spent a lot of time on this.
- ‘Mountain Buggy’ 3 Wheeler Pram: this pram is like a 4wd pram, we took it on hikes, on the beach, everywhere! She also spent a lot of time sleeping in the pram when we were out and about or if it was too hot in the camper trailer.
- Baby carrier: we have an Ergo Baby carrier which was great when we went anywhere the pram couldn’t go. She generally sleeps well in this too.
- Collapsible Washing Basket: which we used as a baby bath (cutest thing ever!).
- Beach Sun Shade: We spent a bit of time on the beach and she slept soundly in this protected from the sun. It was especially important because she is too young for sunscreen.
- Ipod: I downloaded a white noise app and brought my spare ipod so that I could play it while she was sleeping.
- Mozzie nets: to put over the pram.
- Breastpump and formula: I am breastfeeding Rosie which is super handy because I don’t have to warm up any milk. I did bring my pump and formula just in case I had a few too many drinks (which I didn’t end up using). If you are formula feeding a good tip would be to bring a good quality thermos and make up warm water before you go to bed.
- Other stuff included her clothes (lots of warm clothes for night and lightweight clothes for hot days), about 4 muslin wraps, her sleeping wraps, blankets, baby hats, swimming gear, a little pram fan, lots of nappies, wipes and a padded makeshift change mat.
Here is a 5 minute video we made showing you most of these things..
Pick places that are close to things & where you will be happy to chill at camp:
Before I had Rosie most of my camping trips were packed with exploring and doing heaps of stuff during the day. You could try and continue this with a baby but it is heaps easier to plan maybe one or two things a day that are close by, or plan nothing at all and hang out at your campsite. If you pick camps that are walking distance to things you want to do or are in a beautiful spot that you don’t mind not leaving all day, you will enjoy your time more and be more relaxed, with the likelihood of having an unsettled baby out and about or in the car significantly reduced!
I would also recommend staying places that have amenities like running water and hot showers for your first trip with a bub (unless you have an epic set up that is!).
Stay in places for a few days:
Setting up and packing up camp is never really fun (unless you have good music and cold beer!), doing it with a baby is even harder. To make our trip easier we made sure we had booked places for 3 nights minimum. This meant that we weren’t constantly on the move and could relax a lot more. We are pretty lucky that our camper trailer is pretty easy to put up and Jeff could do it on his own if I was breastfeeding or looking after Rosie. Ideally we would stay in places longer than 3 nights, I think in the future we will do more time in one or two spots instead of less time in lots of places. I have just booked camping at Ningaloo for 7 nights in June, we can’t wait!
Getting a good camp spot: Ring up and let them know you are camping with a baby:
When I booked each campsite I rang up and let them know that we would be camping with our 2 month old baby and could we please get a site that was in a corner or away from other campers if possible. I was so worried that if Rosie cried it would annoy other campers. It turns out most people don’t mind a bit of crying and completely understand. I was worrying way more than I needed to! Because it was school holidays most of the fellow campers were families with kids so many had been in the same boat.
We were so lucky with our camp spots, at all the places we set up our trailer we were away from other campers and had heaps of space. It really pays off to simply call and ask 🙂
DURING THE TRIP:
Rosie’s most unsettled night was the first night, after that she actually slept better camping than she does at home! We think it was the fresh air and all the new things she was taking in every day. Her brain was developing so much! It is so cool to think that a significant part of her little life has been spent outdoors in nature and she changed so much in the time we were away. She did cry every day, but this was always around 6pm after her bath and only for about 15 minutes. There were times that were worse than others but nothing that we couldn’t deal with. When she was really crying one evening we went and sat in the car. The fit ball also came in really handy for getting her to calm down and sleep.
At home Rosie sleeps in a really really dark room with white noise, we knew this wouldn’t be possible for the trip so I was a bit apprehensive. It turned out that she was a great sleeper and fell asleep even in broad daylight. She didn’t need the white noise machine because she had actual white noise – waves crashing, the wind, birds chirping, the sounds of the night. I did bring my iPod and played white noise for her when she slept in the camper trailer, mainly to drown out the sounds of other campers at night. I just had to make sure I charged it in the car every day.
Here are a few tips for during your trip:
Plan your day and especially big drives around when your baby sleeps:
Making sure Rosie slept enough was a major priority to us. Because she is growing so much she needs to have really good naps during the day and sleeps at night to help with her development. Also if she is tired she cries!! It is not fun for anyone to have an overtired crying baby!! So we planned our days around her naps. She generally has her biggest nap in the morning or around lunchtime so if we were moving to a new spot we would try and pack up quickly and get her in the car before one of these big naps, and then with a bit of luck she would sleep the whole car journey. We are lucky to have a baby that likes being in the car, I think we helped this by taking her out and about in the car from a very young age to get her used to it.
When we went on day trips it was really handy for us to have the pram because she would sleep well in it, so if we were going on a bit of a walk we would time it with when she was due for a sleep. We took the pram everywhere! It did quite a bit of 4wding on trails and even on the beach. The baby carrier was also good for this but we did find she sleeps better in the pram.
Note: it seems our lives now revolve around this tiny humans sleep! Will she go to sleep without crying? How long has she slept? Did she sleep long enough? How many naps has she had today? How long has she been awake? How many times will she wake up tonight?….Life has certainly changed!!
Keep it simple
When I say keep it simple, I mean everything really. As I mentioned before, don’t plan too much with your days, relax at camp as much as you can, go for walks, don’t cook elaborate meals that require a lot of banging around (we were basically like ninja warriors after she finally fell asleep for the night! sneaking around and whispering). Accept that it will be very different to what you are used to (well for us anyway). Not in a bad way though, just different.
Keep your bub away from bugs
Especially mosquitos! We made sure we always had the camper zipped up and we brought a mozzie net for over the pram. We actually didn’t end up using it much because Rosie was always in bed before dusk and was never outside the trailer when there were mozzies around. We were pretty lucky with the flies also, there weren’t many around during the day.
I won’t lie, I was kinda sh*tting myself before the trip, who takes a 9 week old camping?! Only crazy people right?? Well actually I realised a lot of people do it and it is not that hard. Of course it depends a lot on what kind of baby you have but really anyone can give it a go and if it gets too hard, just come home early, simple as that. I am so glad we did it because I know that it was so good for her little brain development. I hope she loves the outdoors and camping as much as we do when she is older. Why not plant the seed early 🙂
It was also so good for her to spend so much quality time with both her mum and her dad. She is such a little legend and we love her so much (even with the daily poonami’s that required multiple outfit changes and even car seat incidents, thank goodness we could remove and wash the newborn insert!!).
If anyone has any questions please comment below we would love to help! Also if you have any other tips on taking babies or really young kids camping that would be awesome.
Lauren, Jeff & Rosie 🙂
Here is a video I made of the whole 15 day trip. Music credit to the amazing John Butler Trio with the song ‘Ocean’. More photos below for anyone interested 🙂