Saturday, August 27, 2011


I just read a blog post on camping with toddlers that I enjoyed, especially her description of chasing her toddler down the road repeatedly~ah yes, fond memories.  Lots of work, lots of fun.  Especially this time when I went camping alone with two toddlers!  But I had to laugh when at the end of her post she recommends not going camping until your kids are two years old.  HA!  The first time Ayden went camping with us he was 3 months old.  The first time Matthew went camping with us he was 21 months old.  The first time Riley went camping with us he was 10 months old (being born in August ensured he didn't camp the first summer he was alive).  And the first time Amarys went camping she was 4 months old.  I love camping with babies!  The fresh air wears them out so the sleep well, the entertainment is free, and the housework is all sitting at home out of my reach.

 I think, though, it's all in how you approach camping with babies.  Someone recently was asking us whether we bring our playpen when we go camping, and she was so confused as to how exactly we sleep in a tent without a playpen.  Like, sleeping separately is so fundamentally important as to cause you major inconvenience and stress (and perhaps not going camping at all) trying to figure out how to make it possible in a tent in the woods?  The solution is cosleeping.  I will readily admit that tent cosleeping makes me nervous, because there are siblings and blankets and sleeping bags with strings in them everywhere, but there are ways to make it safe and comfortable for everyone, and then if they wake up in the night it is easy for them to feel that you are right there.  I don't recommend sleeping separately from your kids when camping at all, because any night wakings inevitably involve fear and screaming, several zippers and some stumbling around in the dark to settle them.
I mean, when they're teenagers you can get them their own tent.  But small kids, not so much.
Infants are prone to losing body heat quickly, so sleeping under the crook of your arm is the perfect spot for them to stay warm and be subconsciously monitored through the night.  And if they wake up?  Whip out a breast.  Perhaps this is the key to successful camping with babies under the age of two; if you have to get up at night and warm up a bottle it would be pretty frickin not worth the work.  [The woman who posted don't camp til your kids are two bottle fed because she adopted so you can see how it would make things seem impossibly hard].  Seriously, camping with my babies is easier than camping with my three year old because the baby needs revolve around close contact with my body.

Glow sticks help, too, illuminating the tent just enough to stave off midnight freakouts but not enough to keep anyone awake.  And definitely not dangerous or expensive.

If we can camp in one tent with six people ages 35, 33, 8, 6, 3, and 5 months, you can camp, too.  And even have fun.

Last week we went camping with our young families group at church.  It was supposed to be two nights, and Sunday was gorgeous and HOT, and we had a good time cooking hot dogs and marshmallows, and talking around the campfire late at night.  But at about 3 o'clock in the morning it started to rain, and it rained and it rained and it rained....forget babies being inconvenient, frickin RAIN is inconvenient!!  We managed to fit in an hour and a half hike with garbage bag rain jackets and a group of about 15 people (troupers!) before we tossed in the towel and packed our wet gear in the van and went home.  Of course the next day dawned clear and hot again.  Eyeroll.  Humid as a humidifier though.  Yikes!

Amarys just scared herself with her own fart.  Life is hilarious.


Louise Chapman said...

I would have to say that camping with kids over two years of age is way easier! We had the best and easiest time ever this year. When Kai was 8 months old, we tried the whole co-sleeping thing while camping and I ended up having to breastfeed him for 3 hours straight to keep him warm and happy (it was freezing) and basically didn't sleep at all. Maybe if you are a co-sleeper already, it's easier? Also, I was so scared he was going to die of hypothermia (I am a bit crazy that way but I do worry about the little ones being too cold).

Also, with ages 2.5 and up, you barely have to watch them because they know to stay in the campsite! It was lovely and relaxing.

Maybe if you have a super sleeper it's easier too? My kids were not good night sleepers until at least 1 so I feared waking up the whole campground with screaming:)

Regardless, glad that it went well for you all!!

melissa said...

YES! I didn't make it clear that I agree its way easier to camp with older children! She had that right. But I didn't agree that it was difficult enough to stay away from camping altogether!! If we did that we'd never camp because we always have a baby around.

Also, maybe when Kai was 8 months it would have been much harder to try that trip without co sleeping him because it was so cold. So perhaps the cold was to blame and not the cosleeping! But yes of course we are accustomed to having babies in our bed so it makes cosleeping while camping easier. I am also a bit freaky about the babies and the cold: I had Amarys dressed in an undershirt, jammies with feet, fleece jacket with hood, sleep sack, and toque, then inside her own sleeping bag and then a blanket over that. At Golden Ears I couldn't figure out why it was taking me almost an hour to put her to sleep, and I thought the toque might be scratchy so I took it off and she was DRENCHED in sweat. =) Oops! She fell asleep instantly after I took off several layers!

Yes, Amarys is a super sleeper but Ayden and Riley were NOT. The thing is when I cosleep they are right next to my breast so they literally don't scream because their movements and grunts wake me up so they don't get to the screaming stage; they grunt and squirm, and I lift my shirt, and then they go back to sleep. So I'm not that worried about waking the campground because settling them is so easy. My sleep suffers, however. And Amarys doesn't sleep through the night in strange beds so she woke up about three times per night while camping. Not so great, but again, not enough to keep me away from the campsite with a baby. =)

But you're def. right: its easier the older they get!!

Louise Chapman said...

Got it:) Thanks for the clarification! I agree that it's still worth it to go with little ones!

Tonya said...

Our first camping trip with Abigail was when she was 4 months old. We had to buy a bigger tent to fit the pack n play in. EYE ROLL. Gag me. What was I thinking? I think I've gotten to old to want to tent camp anymore - can't sleep and sleep is one of the most important things in my life these days. We purchased a camper this summer. Love it!