Guest Blog: Babe in the Woods...and Loving it!

Yes, you can camp with an infant & it is fun for the whole family

By Jen Williams, @jen_butson

For many new parents, the idea of going into the woods and away from the comforts of home is riddled with a lot of “what if” scenarios. I know, I’ve been there, and unfortunately, a lot of parents think that putting off camping until their baby is older is the only option. Sure, ordinary tasks like diaper changing, providing sun protection and feeding seem more complicated. Then there’s water supply, bug protection and making sure you’ve got plenty of phone battery for picture snapping all those first moments. But, truth be told…it’s really not that complicated.

And so… with our 12 week old and a trip to Vermont on the horizon, I broached the idea of going camping with my husband. In our pre-baby lives, camping was a normal, easy and beloved activity. His concerns read like a well-intended Mom blog, with packing woes, diaper disposal, and sleep arrangements on the top of the list.

It was not hard to find a perfect compromise between my husband’s valid new-parent concerns and our former rugged-outdoorsy selves while providing a positive experience for the little guy in whom we hope to instill a love of the outdoors. At Vermont State Parks, we found the right blend of creature comforts and nature escapes to feel away from the bustle of our day to day lives, while also being close enough to drive to stellar Vermont restaurants purely for pleasure, or as a great Plan B if the occasional downpour dampens barbecue plans.
 
We stayed at a cabin at Little River State Park in Waterbury. For a few reasons, the cabin was superior to the lean-to or tent sites that we will likely feel more comfortable with again, when our baby is a few months older. The advantages include: 1: space for the pack n’ play/bassinet for sleeping 2: screens to avoid any bug concerns at dawn/dusk 3: electricity for pumping and charging phones, and 4: a fresh water spigot right outside. With these resources, we could easily have camped comfortably for a week or two! Another couple bonuses that were key to successful infant camping: the park has ample forest, which is helpful for shade since sunscreen is not recommended for babies under six months of age. Plus, the immaculate and seemingly newly constructed bathrooms had one of the nicest stainless steel baby changing stations I’ve seen.
 
There were, of course, a couple items we needed to adjust from home-life:
- We used disposable diapers instead of cloth
- We brought several extra bottles, baby clothes, linens
- We paid attention to the ranger’s station and where our cell phone service dropped, in case of emergencies.
- We paid extra attention to the temperature: Vermont’s weather can change quickly and range quite a bit. Staying in an unheated and un air-conditioned cabin was easy, given that we traveled in June. April or even September could be a different scenario.

- We made sure we had read up on the Park’s suggested Family Checklist before we left home.

At Little River, we were able to take our 12 week old on his first dip in the reservoir and go for a hike in the woods. When he gets older, we will head back to Vermont State Parks so we can partake in the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge 
and meet the rangers for guided walks and educational programs will be additional daily excursions! We will also love getting out for a paddle in the conveniently docked canoes once our little sailor can sit upright and fit into a PFD. Moreover, though Little River fit best into our own schedule, we could have duplicated the experience at many of the other nature escapes Vermont State Parks offers, especially those with cabins.

Ultimately, we thought we were bringing our baby into nature to teach him to enjoy it...and it turned out that he taught us a lesson or two too; crickets and peepers make for the best lullaby: He slept through the night for his second time ever. And, we actually had “date time” to enjoy a campfire, Vermont beer and catch up with each other while baby snoozed, tired from taking in his first glimpse of the gorgeous Green Mountain State. 


Jen is one of our 2016 interns. View more of Jen's work at https://thechroniclesofconifer.com/

If you're interested in being a photograpjty or blogger intern, please contact Lucy Dartt at lucy.dartt@vermont.gov

Comments

  1. All I can say is, we camped with twin infants, in a tent with two pack and plays and queen size air mattress in a tent that sleeps 4-6. We had twice the bottles, twice the diapers and twice everything.... And, we could not have had more fun and enjoyed our camping more!! It does not take a cabin to make things easier or a bunch of stuff, just being prepared and packing as little as possible-- you don't need much to have fun. :)

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