OK, imagine a weekend camping in a forest, with no electricity, wifi or phone signal. Sound like heaven or hell to you?
The idea of spending my summer holidays in a tent used to strike fear into my heart, until I met my husband. He's a proper hunter-gatherer, happiest as far from civilisation as possible, travelling as light as possible. I mean, his birthday present last year was an axe. (I know what you're thinking...you guys live in Hackney, don't you? Hardly the final frontier. You're right...he also quite likes nightclubs and bikes with no gears). .
I'm all for a lungful of fresh air but I'm also partial to a hot bath with a glass of wine and a book. So how come I find myself so often in tents and campervans, drinking tea in forests, making breakfast on island beaches and reading bedtime stories up Cornish cliffs? It's all about The Compromise: he picks where we go, and I pick what we take. Feather duvet, check. Mini milk frother, check. my nice cooking pans. CHECK.
The jury's out on whether Baby B has inherited his love of the great outdoors or mine of the great indoors, but she had a flipping great time camping. She slept like a trooper, learned how to walk in wellies (two sizes too big, sorry babe), to do the washing up (ish) and we came home with new words: babeesh (blackberries that she picked from the bushes), seep (zip), and beesh (beach).
We pitched up at EcoCamp Beech Estate in East Sussex, two hours' drive from home (nap-time!). It's wild...but totally set up for families. There's even a forest school with mud kitchens and den-making. We visited nearby historic Battle village, pretty Rye, and the beaches at Bexhill-on-Sea and Cooden. Then we swung by Brighton on the way home (where the streets were still glittering after some mega sparkly Pride celebrations).
Here are my tips on what to take, where to go, and what to eat when camping with a baby or young family this summer hols....
Five top tips for camping with a baby/little kids:
- Take a fold-away travel cot and your baby's usual bedding and PJs, to make for comfy sleeping in familiar-ish surroundings. We have the brilliant Phil & Ted's Traveller cot which is reckoned to be just about the lightest travel cot there is, and super quick to assemble. It has a mini self-inflating air mattress and is small enough to stash pretty well under our Bugaboo Bee, or hang from the pram's handle. You can zip one whole side down if you're co-sleeping/night-time breastfeeding.
- Make your own bed equally comfortable so camping feels dreamy, not dreary. Memory foam pillows, decent air beds and your squishiest duvet with proper bedlinen are a necessary, not a luxury. waking up with a stiff neck/dodgy hip is not cool when you have a baby to run about after all day.
- If you're going to be away from wifi, download some good movies/a box set to watch offline. Netflix has a whole section of its catalogue that you can download and watch anywhere. We took a bunch of Fargos. Invest a couple of quid in a jack splitter so you can both plug in your headphones and watch together.
- You won't need as many toys/action figures/jigsaws/dolls as you think. We took too many. B was too interested in leaves/the jar of cinnamon to ask for her usual faves.
- Living in the woods/a field doesn't mean you have to feel restricted to boring/unhealthy meals. You can make all sorts of interesting things on the campfire/camp stove that are great to share with your baby. Wrap potatoes/sweet potatoes in three layers of foil and bury in the embers of for a couple of hours for jacket potatoes. Take corn kernels and pop up a pan of popcorn. Make a big pan of Mexican Eggs and dig in together with some smashed up avocado and a bit of plain yoghurt.
Top places to go camping with a baby/little kids...
Check out these sites for major inspo, and instant bookings:
Cool Camping - the original and best campsite-finder. Bookmark it!
Canopy and Stars - campsites, treehouses, yurts, tipis, geodesic domes...you name it.
Featherdown Farms - ultimate family glamping, locations across U.K.
What to eat when camping with a baby...
Here are two of my favourite campsite classics - super nutritious and super easy and uncomplicated. Basic ingredients that taste anything but basic.
Have you taken your baby/little people camping? If so where did you go and do you have any advice? If not...have a swayed your opinion even a tiny weeny bit? HA! Let me know in the comments babes!
Thank you for reading!