Today I’m in the middle of a week long vacation but I wanted to post something and let you know I haven’t forgotten you! So today I’m going to wrap up our to Glacier National Park and Banff National Park in Alberta Canada. I’ve shared things we did in both parks and things worth checking out. The question we’ve most often got however was not about the parks or anything we saw. It was how did your baby do?
Baby W did great! And because we had such a great experience both camping and long-road tripping (2,500 miles) I wanted to share a few things that made it work for us. I’d be lying if I said taking your baby camping goes perfectly but it was definitely an adventure I’d do over again! Hopefully some of you new parents out there will find a few of these tips helpful and feel encouraged rather than discouraged at the prospect of taking your little one outdoors.
Baby W was just 8 months we we took him on our epic vacation. The week before we left he had started army crawling around the house making our not so mobile child suddenly mobile. We worried that he would be extra anxious in the car and back pack carrier, but he did great. What a little champ. He also was working his way into some pretty good nap routines and eating some solid foods. He would eat at predictable hours and sleep at predictable times.
I can’t say that 8 months is the perfect window for everyone or no one would ever go on vacation. I’m by no means endorcing behavior that would be harmful to your baby but I’ve found that babies are actually pretty hardy and are capable of more than we often believe. Like camping for example. Where baby W didn’t want to run around, didn’t need the every two hour care that smaller babies do, and is a genuinely pleasant baby we wanted to try it out. Plus he loves the outdoors. All of these things combined for what we felt was a perfect time to take him on long road trip camping vacation.
Below I’m sharing a few tips that we found worked for us. This list is definitely not all inclusive, and is probably as unique as each baby. Hopefully you can pull a few ideas from it and feel encouraged at taking your little one outdoors.
Tip #1: Plan Extra Time for Everything
Literally plan extra time for everything. It takes way longer to do things with a baby or a toddler than you could do just as a couple. This is probably something that you have already learned as a parent but it still holds true on vacation. Driving places is going to take longer than you plan, that’s ok, just be flexible and realize you are going to need to stop and feed / change / let this baby stretch every few hours.
We were able to go about 3 hours in the car before our little one needed out of his seat. But realistically by that time too I was ready to stretch my legs. By the end of the trip we had a system to make our stops short and then we were back on the road again.
Tip #2: You Will Be Living Out of Your Car
Tip number 2 is probably the one that I thought the least about before we headed out. I knew we’d be in the car to get there and back but I didn’t think about it much more than that. I can’t tell you the number of poopy diapers I tried to change on the seat, or the number of times I tried feeding him in a parking lot. Also there was barf on the back seat, barf on the front seat, and barf on me. Needless to say your car takes a bit of a beating. But that little one is so loveable and perfect that a Saturday afternoon cleaning up the car and we forgot about all of the bad. So a word to the wise, make extra wipes, clothes, and hand sanitizer easily accessible at all times.
Tip #3: Baby Sleeping Arraignments
My biggest worry before we headed out was how to keep Baby W warm. With temperatures dipping into the low 40’s I didn’t want him to freeze. I knew that I would have a sleeping bag but other than layering him up I couldn’t figure out how to keep him warm. Our neighbors thankfully saved the day. They had a down filled snow suit that they let us borrow as a sleeping bag. It was seriously the thing that saved the trip. I didn’t have to worry about him freezing or also being smothered by a sleeping bag. He could move around and we laughed every morning waking up to this blue little marshmallow. I’m going to go buy our own because this thing seriously saved our trip.
Along with the snow suit the other thing that made Baby W’s sleeping arrangement so great was having him sleep in a pack and play. He was able to wiggle around with out getting into every single thing. Of course his favorite part of the trip was something so simple as playing on the air mattress until he fell asleep.
Tip #4: Take a Bigger Tent Than You Actually Need
Now we all know that a two man tent actually means one man tent. So when it comes to camping with a baby or as a family take something bigger than you’ll need. It was so nice to have a family sized tent for just the 3 of us. We had our queen size air mattress, our equipment, Baby W’s pack and play, and a camp chair for easy feedings. We had so much room we could stand and move around rather than crawling all over each other for every little thing.
Tip #5: Do What Works For You
This seems so easy that it should be a no brainer but in reality it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. If your family doesn’t hike. Don’t feel like you need to pack your little baby up for a long hike. We like to hike but didn’t set out on any really long adventures, we did what works for us and works for Baby W. We borrowed this great hiking backpack from my sister-in-law and Baby W has loved ridding in it. We didn’t have any crazy hikes and that’s ok. Do what works for you and your family.
Taking your baby or toddler outdoors can seem overwhelming and daunting. But with a little planning and a lot of flexability it can be a great time. We loved taking Baby W camping and hiking with us and the simplicity he brought to our vacation. Rather than trying to squeeze every little thing in we were able to really enjoy a few really great things. I hope you feel a little more encouraged about taking your little one outdoors. And really just be flexible and go with the flow and you’ll be surprised at how much fun you really will have.
By the way some of the simplest things provide the greatest entertainment, like playing on the air mattress or chewing on an apple during long car rides.
Good luck on your adventure!