Monday, May 17, 2010

Camp Baby.

It's really funny how very different the reactions were from coworkers this morning when I told them my family went camping this past weekend. I add in the "with the baby" phrase and the results varied even more so. But no matter how strange, wonderful, exciting, or insane you think it is to head out to the mountains with a six-month-old, you can't really know what it's like until you do it.

And for us, it was actually a decent experience. My only regret (other than forgetting our pillows) is that we stayed one night. When you haul all your baby gear off to the woods and you bop baby back and forth between yourself and husband to get your tent set up like a little family palace, it is quite a shame to tear it all down within twenty-four hours. It was sort of interesting to pump in the car on a Sunday morning, too...

Baby-specific camping issues?

Buggin' Out.

You need to keep the bugs away as best you can because it just isn't fair to let your baby get bitten over and over and over. A great option? Eco-friendly herbal bug spray for kiddies (6 months+). We picked up Herbal Armour Kids (basically you turn your kid into a citronella candle). I used it, Gabe used it, and my husband used it. I think we made it out bite free despite the unusually large spring bug population at the campground. Other herbal options are available from Burt's Bees (I originally went out looking for this item last week, but couldn't find it on a shelf anywhere.)

Tent Life

You don't need a tall tent to camp with a baby, but it made it so much easier for us that we used a tent with a six-foot apex. Why? My husband could stand up and lift Gabriel out of the Pack and Play. And yeah, the Pack and Play fitting in the tent was a plus. Obviously this tent is not backpacking-friendly, but we figured having a family tent separate from our good backpacking gear made sense. It was almost like having our own little hotel room sans heat . . .

Not Hot Mama.

When Gabriel was born, the nurses told me the best way to gauge whether a baby is warm enough is to check the temp of his or her nose. Well, Gabe was in a onesie, sleeper, sleeper bag with arms, sleep sack, and swaddled, but his little cheeks, nose, and head were FROZEN cold after just about an hour asleep in his Pack and Play on Saturday night. But there is one thing that keeps baby warm, and that's me. So my husband gave up his REI thermal sleeping pad for Gabriel, we situated Gabe in the crook of my arm nursing, and we pulled a blanket over me and baby instead of me sleeping entirely in my super duper warm sleeping bag snug as a bug. So baby was warm. My husband was warm (though uncomfortable since he lost his pad and wound up on crunchy Rocksylvania ground). I.was.very.cold. We're planning on our next camping trip for an evening with an overnight low above 50 degrees Fahrenheit!

Trail Travel

There's something so relaxing and natural about exploring with your child. If you are hiking parents, I highly suggest purchasing an all terrain jogging stroller with three wheels. It makes hitting the trail that much easier. Our stroller is a Jeep, and its real tires and shock absorbers kick butt on uneven, rocky ground (though Gabe was not up for a long bumpy ride just yet).

Helpful tips for camping with baby?

Wear a headlamp.
At night, you can see and be hands free! It makes diaper-changing much easier in the dark. Just be careful not to shine the light in baby's eyes.

Use disposable wipes.
Everyone is a little dirtier while camping. Using some disposable wipes is worth it for your baby and your own cleanliness. Of course, keep with Leave No Trace rules and pack out everything you pack in-- no littering, no leaving behind the mess.

Enjoy breastfeeding.
Seriously, is there anything easier than not cleaning bottles? I love weekends because I am with my family, but I also love them because I (or my husband) don't have to clean bottles after work. While camping, it was doubly wonderful not to fuss over that.

All things considered, camping with Gabriel was a huge success, and we will definitely be doing it again. Yes, we used cloth diapers with ease while camping, too.

Oh, and Goober wasn't the only baby in the woods last weekend...

P.S. Here's a dirty secret. Against all likeliness, I am possibly Gossip Girl's biggest fan. Anyone else watch? The season three finale might have just ruined my life.


  1. Oh my goodness, I just adore you! People always think we're nuts for camping with our babies too. I think it's some of the best stuff of life, having the kids out there in the woods. Pure joy.

    I see you're a journalism major too! So am I. Worked as a reporter/assistant editor at a newspaper for 5 years before becoming a stay at home mom, and now I am a columnist.

    LOVE your blog and can't wait to read more! XO

  2. I love to camp!! We have not camped with the baby yet, only while pregnant :)! I love BFing so super easy and on the go!!

  3. Erin, I admire you for this. We haven't camped at all, but it looks like you had a wonderful time. Gabe is so lucky to have two wonderful parents :)

  4. ok, so i finally watched gossip girl this morning! omg. my life is ruined too. do u think chuck is really dead? i heard some characters were leaving...agh!

  5. Hands Down, Best Vacation Ever! His cuteness defiantly fills the woods, and your blog!