You heard that right, camping with a newborn is possible, and we won’t call your crazy. Of course, there are more things that you need to consider such as clean water, baby cot, and a whole lot of other things. But then it’s possible.
Why you should even entertain the idea
When you think about it, newborns are quite portable. They don’t really understand much and they can’t exactly move anywhere (I’m talking about a small baby who cannot exactly move around or even roll over). So yes, even though your friends and relatives think you’re crazy, tell them that it’s not really all that bad.
1. Babies only do four things and they don’t know the difference
All babies do four things: sleep, eat, play, poop. They’re so predictable. Actually, there are a whole lot of books in the market telling you how you should put a ‘routine’ of Eat, Play, Sleep. (The poop just happens, you can’t time that one).
If you’re breastfeeding, this gets even easier. Take one of those ‘cape’ or sling that can cover you up, or just choose a quiet place somewhere and feed her. You don’t need to worry about sterile water or formula etc when breastfeeding. So it’s quite ideal for breastfeeding mothers to go camping with a newborn. If the baby is on formula though, just take into consideration water, formula and some microwavable bottle sterilizer (Actually, you can just boil the bottle and that will be sterile enough).
Note: If your baby is on formula, make sure you bring a big thermos to put some hot water in it before you sleep for the night. This is to ensure when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night demanding a feed, you wouldn’t need to run around to the campsite kitchen to heat up some water and make formula etc. Also, keep a small battery lantern nearby.
Where should the baby sleep?
First of all, I know that there are articles out there who practically threatens: put your baby in a cot or else…
But in Asia particularly Japan, no body sleeps in a cot. All babies sleep with parents on a (very) firm mattress on the ground. So a very firm sleeping mat plus some small bassinet mattress would do. In saying that though, the fact that you’ll be sleeping very close to the ground means he’ll need extra layer of clothing. Also, make sure you put extra insulation underneath the mattress baby will be sleeping on. (Extra insulation can be those foam ABC play mat).
Or you know what, just get a portacot, like travel portacot or something like a small 'sleeper by your side' kind of thing. Also make sure you bring nice sleeping bag for them because it can get cold at night. Something like this sleeping bag is quite good, you can always swaddle their arms too.
2. The outdoor calms your mind
I use to live in a small unit when I had my first newborn. My next-door neighbour had this habit of cooking up a storm (and I don’t know what they were cooking because it certainly was an ACQUIRED smell), they then opened their door making sure they ‘air out’ their cooking smell to the corridor.
The smell got into my unit and it certainly stressed me out.
On the other side of the building facing my bedroom (where I put the little newborn to sleep), there was a family of .. ten?! Basically, there were two or three kids (at all times) running around their open balcony, one of them had a loudspeaker and yes, it wasn’t a toy. Again… it stressed me out.
When I eventually got my newborn to sleep, I looked around the house and realised that the laundry wasn’t done… the dishes were piling up… the toys had piled up like crazy in the living room (these were hand-me down toys my newborn obviously couldn’t use yet)…I should’ve put it away after the baby shower.
Then came the dilemma. Should I clean up and lose precious sleep time? or should I ‘let it go’ like Elsa?
I thought about it again and again…and it stressed me out.
Compare that to the outdoor. You wake up in the morning after a night of non-sleep (but this doesn’t exactly change no matter where you are when you have a newborn), but you see a beautiful view. Could it be the beach? could it be the nice green grass? or a waterfall maybe? Certainly better than the pile of dishes.
You then smell the fresh air. If you smell poop, just clean up your baby’s diaper, and try again. You then feed your baby in the privacy of your tent, and around one and half hour later, she’s back asleep. You can then relax a little bit on your camping chair, sipping coffee.
You see where I’m going with this?
3. Waking up at night is not too hard – it’s not exactly harder than being at home
Now on the subject of waking up at night, so what? It doesn’t matter where you are, a newborn wakes up predictably every hour or two. Generally though, if you’re ok to ‘rock’ them, or feed them ‘on demand’ (which is every twenty minutes sometimes because you really don’t know if they’re hungry or what), the cry doesn’t last long.
Plus, she’ll be next to you. When I had my newborn sleeping next to me in her sleeper, I woke up when she started stirring, there were many times I could just feed her and got her back to sleep before she even managed to cry.
Note: if you DO have a super colic baby that cries for hours on end no matter what, you might reconsider and wait until the colic passes (generally around three months is when the baby becomes a little bit more civilised)
I know I promise not to call you crazy, but you really are – so have a back up plan.
Ok, we’ve come this far. I know you’re excited. But have a back up plan.
In case something goes wrong like the weather is SUPER terrible such as thunderstorm comes around, or if the baby catches fever, or just decides she wants to be a pain in the a** the very day you’re camping, then have that back up plan.
First of all, try to find a campsite that is not too far from where you actually live. In case of SUPER emergency, you can always pack up and go home even though it’s not advisable for your sake. Make sure you get a tent that you know how to set up/take down quickly, make sure your campsite has a good kitchen with microwave, clean toilet and clean water facilities available. I would also highly recommend staying in a powered site rather than the off-grid. The less things you have to bring such as a giant ‘portable’ solar panel and a generator, the more baby friendly things you can fit in your car boot such as a travel cot and a whole box of diaper.
Extra tip: make sure you also bring shelter for day outs in the sun. Babies’ skin is very delicate, and they have to be protected from the sun. I highly recommend having a good beach tent so you can have some portable shade anywhere you go.
Have a safe trip,