I have been a camper since before I can remember. My dad's side of the family has been camping in the same place since he was little. (I'm keeping that place a selfish secret, because it is my heaven and I need to keep it sacred and private...sorry!) Even given all my years of camping experience, I was nervous about camping with my son. I thought it would be so much harder, so I put it off much longer than I should've. With experience, wisdom from my family (including an aunt who is mom to seven of my cousins, one of whom came out with us when he was just 6 weeks old), and tips from Jennifer Aist's Babes in the Woods, I've learned a bit and thought I'd pass it on to those of you who would also like to camp with your babes this summer.
- Don't bother bringing toys. Nature is one giant toy!
- Check the weather and pack accordingly. Pack layers. Pack only one extra item of each clothing type. Don't go crazy.
- Don't over-plan. You don't have to have a hike, bike ride, swim session, and canoe ride planned for every second of the day. Throwing rocks in the lake will be fun for a long time. Just enjoy your surroundings.
- Wear your babe in the way most comfortable for you. There is no real need for a fancy backpack carrier when you have a perfectly good Moby already.
- If your babe is old enough, teach him or her to drink out of your CamelBak before you go on your trip. It can be tricky to get the hang of at first and you want everyone to be hydrated.
- You can still cosleep in your sleeping bag. No need for extra bags for babes.
- You can still cloth diaper if that's what you normally do. Just bring a larger wet bag. If you'd rather, switch to g-diapers for the trip, so you don't have to feel the guilt of using disposables, but can still have the convenience of trashing them as you go.
- Hats are a must.
- Be wary of bug repellants. Do your research. They definitely come with risks. Avoid DEET.
- Don't bother trying to keep babe clean. Just don't.
- If in or near the water, fit babe with a life jacket and keep it on at all times.
- First aid, first aid, first aid! Have a kit and know your stuff. Chances are you won't need any of it, but if you don't have it, you're sure to need it.
- If biking, use a trailer, not a bike seat. Trailers are 40% safer than seats.
- Bring a disposable camera so babe can take pictures, too!
- Breastfeed and there's no need to bring bulky extra food. Score!
It's really nowhere near as intimidating or difficult as I thought it was going to be. Sure, things take a little longer, but that's the nature of being a parent. Sure, you have to fill your car just a little bit more, but not much, since nature provides most everything you'll need. The truth is, though, any inconvenience is marginal and doesn't even compare to the beauty and wonder of learning to camp all over again with your babe.
Oh, I almost forgot my most important tip: Relax and enjoy. It's really that simple!