Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Roughin' it...the do's and don'ts of camping with baby

We just returned from our holiday weekend camping trip yesterday. We camped for 3 nights and 4 days out on the Oregon coast just south of Florence. We usually go to Carter Lake, but this year we needed more space with extended family coming and bringing their RV so we found some spots at Tahkenitch Landing and Campground.

This was obviously Malakai's 1st camping trip, so there was a lot of preparing to do. It was especially interesting as we had to prepare for no running water or electricity. Although, I'm used to not having electricity while camping {I mean, how is having outlets really camping?} but we usually have some sort of water source if even for just rinsing off.

I was surely not prepared for just how much we were going to have to bring with us until I started packing it all. It took me all day on Friday and we ended up leaving 2 hours later than originally planned. Partly because Ben didn't get off of work as early as we hoped, but mostly because of all the stuff required to take our baby along! Thankfully we were able to borrow my in-laws Tahoe. Ben made the point that there's no way we could have gone in just our little Neon.

Once we got on the road Malakai fell asleep, thank goodness! We were only driving about 90 minutes, but just 30 seconds of baby screaming in the back seat kills me. Once we arrived we were once gain taken by surprise at how tiny the sites were. The host told my parents that each site could hold 10 people, we were CRAMPED with just 6 of us on our lot. My aunt + uncle had the RV site next door which is where most of the tents got set up, except ours and the pop-up my parents stayed in.

So to summarize the rest of the trip, here's my do's + don't for camping with a baby {little disclaimer: I've obviously only done this once and my family, baby, as well as our conditions are all unique, I'm not claiming to be an expert in any way!}.

Do: over pack. I have always been an over-packer. I see this as a good thing. Even when I forget something, I usually have packed an alternate item that worked. For example: I purchased quick clean sanitizing wipes {made a special trip just to get them} for my breast pump, but left them behind. However, I did bring a bucket, 4 gallons of water, dish soap, and a camp stove. So I rinsed the parts out after each use {3 times a day} and washed them with heated water about halfway through the trip. It was more work, but doable.

Don't: forget about the power of lists. I had a checklist my mom printed out of common needs for camping and added my own items. This came in handy, but I got in too much of a hurry to get on the road that I didn't double check we had everything on the list. Like I said though, we made it work.

Do: bring sunscreen + bugspray and apply all day liberally. I brought some made with natural ingredients {which is a whole separate post coming soon!} that seemed to work well. I had planned on implementing my pediatrician's idea of "bug clothes". She said to have one set of clothes that you spray the regular bugspray {with deet} on and just put those on baby when the bugs start coming out. We were planning on doing this, but didn't bring the other bugspray, so we didn't need to. If you do this, I asked her about ingesting the bugspray {Malakai puts everything, including his clothes, in his mouth}which she said isn't a problem as it breaks down fine but that it's absorbed through the skin so you put it just on the designated "bug clothes". We hope to do this next time....if there is a next time! Either way, Malakai didn't have any burns or bites.

Don't: think that you have to wean or use formula while camping if you breastfeed. In fact, breastfeeding would have been easier than what I had to do. Since Malakai stopped breastfeeding 4 months ago, I've pumped. He has never had an ounce of formula. We used the cigarette lighter and transformer in the Tahoe to plug in my pump. It has the battery option, but it's never worked since I got it. So I just sat in the back where the windows are tinted and pumped underneath whatever bulky sweatshirt I was wearing. Like I said, our site was very small but the boys pretty much got the hint that when our car was idling to not bug me! A bit of extra work, but so worth it to me.

What really surprised me is how easily I was able to keep the milk cool. I had one smaller sized cooler that was only for his milk. It stayed in our tent next to his pack 'n play. I put two of the hard icepacks on the bottom, and a bag of ice chips sat next to the milk which was in a plastic container from the freezer {you know, the kind you keep the ice in} with a lid on top. I only opened the cooler when putting milk in or taking it out and from 4pm on Friday to 4pm on Monday it stayed cold. SO cold that some of the milk had slightly frozen.

Do: simplify. I make Malakai's baby food and freeze it. This wouldn't work too well with camping so we took Plum Organics pouches. I also brought his oatmeal, and he snacked on cheerios, cheese, and yogurt melts.

Don't: worry about dirt. This one is obviously different depending on the age of your baby. Either way though it's doubtful that your child is going to get sick from getting a little dirty. Malakai is in the cruising stage so we put some good tennis shoes on him {that he was already used to} and let him cruise around the picnic table or the outside of the pack n' play. I just made sure he didn't eat {much} dirt or fir needles.

Do: bring 2 pack n' plays if you're able. We happened to purchase a second one recently because it was such a great deal and we needed it for when I do daycare, etc. So we had the newer "nicer" one in the tent for bedtime and the other outside with his toys in it for when we needed to set him down or let him have independent play time. Even though he doesn't always go in easy, the scenery was different enough that he usually didn't mind it.

Currently they both smell like campfire and are sitting outside to air out. So far the Febreze is working nicely

Don't: worry. Just go with the flow and attempt to have fun even in the midst of less than pleasant situations...

Do: plan ahead. My mom told me that the beach access was a 2 mile walk through the woods and dunes. We googled a drive up access that was 4 miles down the highway. However, my aunt brought a backpack carrier and let us use it so we decided to try it out.

There were

The way there was 1/2 mile of wooded trails, 1/2 mile of steep sandy dunes, and another mile of semi-wooded sandy area to the beach. The carrier was a bit crooked {an older one- I don't remember the brand} and we had to switch often as our backs were aching. Thankfully Malakai was in great spirits and enjoyed the ride.

Unfortunately the end of the trail looked like this:

It just ended at a sandy cliff. It would have been daring to climb down on our own and neither one of us was willing to attempt it with the baby. After getting down the cliff there was also a giant creek to wade through. We waited while my mom + sister went ahead through some brush to see if there was any other way to get down to the beach.

Eventually, another 1/4 mile or so through some brush there was another trail that led to a less steep outlet to the beach. I grabbed Malakai and slid down, sacrificing the back of my legs to the roots all the way down.

Don't: be afraid to say no or "enough is enough". We stayed at the beach for about 15 minutes before we decided that wind was too much for Malakai and we weren't having any fun, so we went back.

Do: bring earplugs for your fellow campers and even the neighbors. Malakai is a fairly good sleeper, he usually needs soothing back to sleep once or twice a night but it's a pretty easy process. With camping, he became inconsolable at night. We though it was just a fluke the first night and I'm certain he's also teething, but the second night was a repeat. Our neighbors weren't too happy with us. By the 3rd night he either got used to his surroundings or we finally found the perfect remedy. He woke once and went down easy. We almost went home early after the 1st two nights, but that would have meant driving home late after the fireworks display on the 4th of July and we figured we could make it work. We're all glad we stayed.

Don't: be afraid to try new things. This pretty much goes without saying if you're taking your little one camping for the first time.

Do: soak up the moments. It was so much fun to watch Malakai experience new things. He especially enjoyed his first fireworks show.

How was your long weekend?


  1. Great pics! That "bug shirt" is a great idea!

  2. Great advice and awesome pictures (as always)! I'm not usually much for roughin' it, but you made it look and sound fun - even with a baby in tow! Glad you had a good time!


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