One of the many ways in which travel changes after you have a child is when you first go camping with a baby.
Something I used to really love about camping was that it could be really spontaneous. Unlike most holidays, we could decide at the last minute that we wanted to go somewhere, chuck all of our stuff in a bag, and head off.
That is until we had a baby. Then, in the same way that even just leaving the house to go to town takes ten times longer, so does any kind of overnight trip we might plan.
But it’s definitely not impossible to go camping with a baby, you just have to be a bit more organised than you maybe were before.
Here’s some of the things we had to think about/change in order to go camping with our little one:
Choose a tent
Prior to having our little adventurer we had a two-person tent that we just used to sleep in. It was very small and practical, but once our sleeping bags were in it there was very little additional space and you couldn’t stand up straight inside. As soon as we started discussing the possibility of camping with a baby we decided that we would need to invest in a bigger tent. We wanted something that would be large enough for our little adventurer to sleep independently of us in and also somewhere with additional living space, so that if it rained we would have somewhere to sit, rather than having to seek refuge in the car.
After visiting a few camping shops and seeing just how crazy big some of the tents can get – honestly, think the size of a small apartment – we settled on a five-person tent which had a living area and a large bedroom, which can be split into two with a dividing screen.
If you’re not sure if camping is going to be your thing it might be worth looking online to see whether you can get one second-hand. We managed to buy one for a quarter of the price it would have been new and the family had only used it for a two-week holiday before.
Think about where they’re going to sleep
There are different options of where and how your baby can sleep when camping, but we decided to take our little adventurer’s travel cot, as it is somewhere she has slept before so would be familiar to her. We also didn’t want to have to worry about her rolling anywhere or picking up something she shouldn’t be picking up in the tent.
Choose a location you feel comfortable with
Campsites have different facilities and it’s important when you’re camping with a baby that you go with what you feel comfortable with.
At one end of the scale is ready erected campsites/glamping which include facilities such as hot showers, baby changing facilities and shops, while at the other end of the scale is wild camping, where you have absolutely nothing.
We went for an option somewhere in the middle, staying at Britchcombe Farm Campsite in Oxfordshire. The site has a number of fields campers can choose from and each one is equipped with portaloos. Unlike many campsites, the owners also sell firewood which allows you to enjoy an open fire in the evenings. It also has hot showers and flushing toilets at the farmstead, as well as The Teapot Tearoom, which serves yummy afternoon teas.
It’s also within walking distance of White Horse Hill, which boasts a giant horse made of chalk, in Oxfordshire.
We’d stayed at Britchcombe Campsite before we had our little adventurer so knew what to expect and one of the things I liked about it is that it’s not too far from home so if things were going disastrously we could always have got back in the car and gone home. (It’s never a bad thing to give yourself a get-out pass.)
Pack food that will keep well
The weekend that we went away was boiling hot and it was obvious that food wasn’t going to keep fresh for long. At Britchcombe Campsite they do have a communal fridge and we were lucky that our friends we were camping with have a fridge in their Land Rover. However it’s worth thinking about the food you’re going to take for your little one. We took lots of dry food and also a couple of babyfood sachets, as we knew they wouldn’t go off, as well as fruit and vegetables that didn’t need to be kept in the fridge.
Be prepared for any weather
As the weather was so ridiculously hot, I almost forgot to pack jumpers and jackets as we hadn’t been wearing them for a few weeks. However luckily I remembered to include them at the last minute, as I’d forgotten that it does it actually still get quite cold in the evening and we needed all of the layers.
Accept that their schedule may change
We don’t really stick to a strict schedule with our little adventurer, but one of the things we do try to do is put her to bed at 7pm, otherwise she tends to get very grouchy. However in a field full of excitable children who were running around until much later it was impossible to get her to sleep. In the end we just accepted that it was going to be a later night than usual and not to sweat about it. Likewise a combination of the heat inside the tent (eeeewwww!) and the brightness of the morning sun meant that our little adventurer was up even earlier than normal (sigh).
Enjoy the family time
Sure, our camping style may look a little different these days, but it’s no less fun. It took a bit more organisation than previously to get us out of the house, but once we were there it was totally worth it. Our little adventurer loves being outside and something tells me this is going to be the start of many camping adventures together.
Have you been camping as a family? What are your top tips?
If you enjoyed this post check out The Truth About Travelling with a Baby and Five Things to Think About When Planning Your Baby’s First Trip