Today’s post is part of a three-day post on camping at Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario. Come back tomorrow for the ‘Do’s and Don’ts of Camping’.
When P and I were hammering out our summer plans, we decided that going camping was a must on our lists. Having enjoyed our visit to Bon Echo last year we decided to go again. However, this year was to be significantly different than last year since we were bringing our 7 month old!
Camping with a baby wasn’t that big of a deal for us. Max is a very well-behaved, ‘cool as a cucumber’ type baby who is adaptable to many different situations (I did drag him to track and field meets every week for the spring). However, there are some considerations we had to make in order to continue keeping Max a happy baby.
We own a Graco Pack and Play which serves as our portable crib. We have dragged it everywhere and you bet we brought it camping. We removed all the spare parts from it (change table, mobile) and just brought the crib portion. When we set up camp, we put Max in his Pack and Play and he just watched us while playing with his toys. Then came the night:
It gets kind of cold at night when you are camping. Although Max had his pajamas and two sleep sacks (winter one and his summer one), he was still cold. In hindsight we should have brought a hat (other than his sun hats). The first night he ended up sleeping in the ‘big boy bed’ which was our air mattress. I think for next time we will just get a bigger air mattress and all sleep together.
If you are still just breast-feeding, you are good to go. If you are on solids/bottles, a little bit more planning needs to happen. We brought all jarred food for Max (we use PC Organics) as well as oatmeal cereal. For bottles (Max is only breast-feed in the morning now), I pre-boiled a large amount of water at home, utilizing every bottle we owned (including my medela ones). We we ran out of that water, we boiled the camp water for 5 minutes to make bottle water.
If you make your own baby food and freeze it – just remember that it will probably melt if you are just doing the tent-style of camping. If you make it fresh using a blender – well, you will have to find a plug to blend food. So my suggestion is: just get some organic jarred food.
Note on pumping: I do own a battery-powered Medela pump, but I didn’t use it. Something about hearing the motor going at 11pm (when I typically pump) made me not want to use it. Since I am not pumping much anymore, I didn’t pump. If you want to pump – go for it, just remember that you will need to charge your batteries.
We brought some of those anti-fatigue play mats and set up the play area where ever the sun wasn’t hitting (so yes, it moved). Keep in mind that the mats WILL get dirty. For toys we brought a selection, but the ones that were out in the camp area were all plastic/wooden toys – no cloth-based. The cloth-based toys will simply get dirty and disgusting. So don’t bother dragging those outside.
Another thing to keep in mind – babies like to play with dirty and explore. The outside camp floor is filled with objects that babies can choke on – you must watch your baby at all times and be careful when they start digging around.
Reminder that babies cannot wear bug spray – so you can either buy a bug jacket or just watch baby if they bugs got bad. The mosquitos were not bad at all and Max only got one bite. We did attempt to go on a trail – but both P and I got bitten numerous times in less than two minutes, so we ran out of the trail.
Sunscreen is a must for the beach – but only if baby is older than 6 months. If baby is younger, use longer sleeved shirts and have an umbrella/keep baby in the shade. Personally if Max wasn’t 7 months he wouldn’t have been in the water on a sunny day.
Leave those crappy plastic wheeled strollers at home – they will get damaged and are pretty much useless at the camp site. The strollers that everyone had at the camp were rubberized, big-wheel strollers like the Chariot, Bob, and MEC strollers. Anything with a big rubber wheel is fine!
Carriers are also another great option. Max tolerated being in his Beco Gemini for once – so he was in that. He also went on an hour long ‘hike’ in his MEC Happy Trials Carrier. He enjoyed looking around in that!
We didn’t have room for a big bath tub – so Max got ‘hosed down’ in the accessible showers (the one with a telephone shower holder thing). It was a bit of challenge, but he liked it. Basically, we hosed him down with water, then filled a bucket with soap/water. Washed him down with a soapy face cloth, and then another rinse of water. For changing, we quickly zipped over to the laundry room on the other side of the comfort station and changed him.
To sum up the information above, here are my Ten Tips for Camping with Baby
1. Bring a winter sleep sack and a skull-cap type hat
2. Bring mats/playard for playing outside
3. Leave the ‘mall stroller’ at home and bring a stroller with big rubber wheels
4. Use only plastic/wooden toys outside. Cloth-based only gets dirty!
5. Have a plan for pumping (location, power source) if that is what you are currently doing.
6. Bring a baby bath or at least a small bucket to bath baby – He/She will get dirty
7. If you are feeding solid foods – just use jarred foods
8. Never leave baby alone to play – there are tons of objects on the ground that baby can choke on. Always be within arms reach.
9. Remember that baby can’t wear bug spray – avoid bug-infested trails and/or purchase a bug jacket
10. If you are using formula – make a large portion of your water beforehand OR use the cans. If you are using water at the site, make sure to boil it for at least 5 minutes.