If there’s one thing camping can guarantee (apart from endless fun and giggles) it’s unreliable, ever-changing weather. So with this is mind you’ll need to pack clothes for all occasions. You also need to make everything else as stress free and easy as possible.
I like to think of myself as an expert camper. I’ve been camping out since I was six years old, so that’s thirty years experience under my belt. I’ve camped in torrential rain in New Zealand, blistering heat in France, under the stars in Thailand, in thick mud at Glastonbury, during storms in Wales, in the snow (what were we thinking? Never again!) and many times just wild, with the wind.
Now I have an 11-month old baby our camping jollies have taken a new direction – one that involves common sense and planning. Forget throwing a rucksack in the car and seeing where you end up.
Below are a few essentials I think every new mum/ dad needs to take on their first baby camping trip:
Top 10 essentials for camping with a baby
1. Small, portable travel cot – we use LittleLife Arc 2 Travel Cot which is a fantastic, pop-up baby tent. During the day you can fold it back into its backpack and take it to the pool/ beach/ river as it has a sunshade for outdoor, afternoon naps. It comes with an all around anti-mosquito mesh too. This was the saviour of our first baby camping trip!
2. Baby Carrier – using a buggy isn’t suitable for walking along riverbanks, down cobbled paths or through markets – a carrier is much easier and more comfortable. We use the BabyBjӧrn We as you can carry your baby on your front or back depending on what you’re doing, how far you’re walking and how you’re feeling.
3. A reliable cooler – if like me you’re bottle-feeding having a robust cooler is essential for keeping milk cool and fresh. We use a 50QT TriColour Xtreme Wheeled Cooler which can keep ice frozen for 5 days and is great for family camping as it’s big enough to double up as a table or seat.
4. Decent barbecue – my husband likes to cook on an open fire but when you’re feeding a baby convenience and practicality win for me. We take a Campingaz 1 Series Compact Barbecue which is really easy to use, portable and very compact. It’s powerful so makes breakfast/ lunch or dinner quick and stress free. I also use it to boil pans of water to heat up baby food/ milk.
5. Paddling pool with shade – a great way to keep your baby occupied around the tent, on the beach or by the river knowing they’re safe and out of the sun. Perfect to fill with water on hot days or balls on cooler days.
6. Seat harness – highchairs aren’t always available when you go camping so these are the perfect alternative. We use a Gro Bag Chair Harness which folds up into a small pouch and can be stowed in your rucksack/ bike basket ready to be used on chairs at any restaurant, café or picnic area.
7. Kettle – if you have electric hook up this is a wonderful, lazy treat when camping. No one wants to get up at the crack of dawn to boil a pan of water, half dressed, half asleep to make their baby’s morning milk. A kettle makes that first feed a lot easier!
8. Travel sleeping bag – great for holidays as you can transport a sleeping baby from the car into their cot, which, after a mammoth motorway drive is perfect. The two-way zip opening means they can be used in a pushchair or car seat. We use a Travel Gro-Bag 2.5 tog
9. Baby floor seat – a brilliant camping substitute to a high chair. Baby floor seats are small enough to pack in your car and perfect for feeding, playing or just watching the world go by. You can sit on a picnic blanket with your baby and feed with ease.
10. Wicker basket full of toys – you will completely underestimate how long it takes to pitch your tent, empty the car and organise your new home. For this you need a selection of toys, on rotate, to keep your baby happy and occupied.