Hi my dear readers, I’m so proud to say that we went camping at a music festival with Charles who was only nine months old. I did wonder if we were doing the right thing and it wasn’t without any worry when we decided to go. We have always wanted to go to Fuji Rock but never got round to it (like climbing Mount Fuji) and before we knew it, we got pregnant and had a baby.
But you know, don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do. I get it — life with baby in tow is already hard with all the creature comforts of home but I think what I learned from this experience is to just be overprepared for any scenario so you can relax and have fun. Plus expect loads of things to go wrong so take with you a good dose of humour.
I searched high and low on the Internet for tips on how to enjoy a music festival with a baby and couldn’t really find a straight-up how-to article. However, I did find mummy forums with related discussion threads — which by the way are quite funny with folks taking very extreme stances on taking a baby to such an event. Some felt it was downright irresponsible to let a baby be in such an unsavoury environment but some thought it was totally cool and fun.
Clearly, I’m of the side that thinks it’s fine because I’ve been to music festivals before and had seen lots of young families with babies so what I really wanted to find out was how they did it. Babycentre has a great little post on this but here is my version cobbled together from my experience at Fuji Rock.
♥ Go the glamping option. Get all the mod-cons and a large tent so that you would feel comfortable and also cut down on time to set things up. E.g. we got air mattresses with a battery-operated pump so we could easily blow them up and the bub could play on it while we were busy doing other things, portable chairs for resting our feet, a large tarpe to take with us around the festival, lamps to light up the tent at night, mosquito coils, and a large eski.
Also, we were a bit late in arriving but that turned out to be sort of a blessing in disguise as it was less noisy for the bub. We camped on flat ground quite high up and far from the main area which was near to facilities like the toilets and food. There were lots of folks who would wander around at night or sit outside their tents chatting and drinking.
♥ Use diaposables. I brought disposable bowls and spoons for feeding Charles so I won’t have to bother washing anything. I did consider getting disposable bibs but I decided to bring a plastic bib that I could just wipe after each meal. I brought tons of small disposable plastic bags to wrap up used diapers as we had to carry them till we passed a proper garbage disposal area.
I also got sterilized disposable milk bottles but they didn’t work out with our picky little boy because he hated the teet for some reason. He whined and cried so we detoured from our drive to Niigata and bought two milk bottles with the same teet he is used to.
♥ Skip the sterilizing. I was uncertain about this but after going through it, I think it’s fine. Since we only had two milk bottles, we just washed them with mineral water after use and just before making his formula to clean it as best as we could. The little guy didn’t fall sick so there goes to show a little bacteria can’t hurt. I am fully aware that for babies under six months old, this may not work at all but then, I’m not if I would take such a young infant out camping if he was formula fed.
♥ Bring sterilized baby water. I used Wakado’s water for babies as I didn’t feel comfortable making his milk with regular tap water or unboiled mineral water. It’s one thing to clean his bottles with regular mineral water but to have him injest 180ml six to seven times a day is another story. We also gave him a bit more water than usual because it was seriously sweltering and hot and we didn’t want him to dehydrate.
♥ Pack lots of wet wipes for hands, face, and bum. I prefer to use separate wipes for his bum and hands/mouth because I find bum wipes could be a bit harsh for his face (in winter especially – it tends to make his mouth area dry and flaky). I took two of each type even though we were only camping for two days. Since I didn’t pack any burp cloths, I really went through a lot of wipes. And adults can use wet wipes too
♥ Forget bathing. There were hot showers available at Fuji Rock but the environment wasn’t conducive to bathing him as only one of us could take him as they were gendered toilets. And we felt either of us couldn’t handle him being slippery and in a wet, tiled open space which can be dangerous. So we just splashed some mineral water all over him and wiped his bum with wet tissues.
♥ Bring headphones. These Baby Banz noise-reduction headphones were great for when we were at super loud performances and when he needed to nap as we wandered around Fuji Rock.
♥ Try to keep to the same sleep routine. Although we didn’t give him a bath which is part of his bedtime routine, we brought along his sleeping bag so that he could feel some familiarity in a different environment. We fed and napped him according to his usual times so he didn’t feel too off-centre.
♥ Take along your baby’s favourite snacks and food pouches. This is kind of an obvious tip as it’s very hard to make your own baby food while camping. This was a big challenge for us because lil C is a very fussy eater and he doesn’t like the pre-packaged stuff. He did eat mostly the fruit ones but the meat and veggie ones he ignored. I gave him a couple of rice crackers to make up for the lack of eating proper meals which seemed to sit fine with him. I was worried he would wake up more frequently in the middle of night for milk but he didn’t.
♥ Choose the baby carrier over the stroller. For us this worked better because we have a very big stroller so navigating narrow trails and bumpy paths would not be super comfortable and easy. That meant we were more mobile as we had less to carry.
♥ Don’t forget other essentials like insect repellant, sunscreen, baby panadol, bandaids, thermometer and teething gel.
♥ Reapply high SPF sunscreen every two to three hours. All of us adults got sunburnt, except Charles as the sun was simply relentless and there was hardly any shade at Fuji Rock. And that’s because I reapplied his sunscreen that has SPF50 every so often. Sad to say I neglected to do the same for myself lol!
♥ Include rain gear. Although we didn’t experience much rain, I was grateful for rain boots to keep Charles warm on our first night as it rained while we set up the tent. I heard that there was torrential rain after we left so you definitely need to prepare a rain coat and wellies for baby just in case.
♥ Being extra sets of clothes. Charles got wet and dirty from being outdoors so I was glad to have extra clothes to change him into. It gets cool at night so he had warm pants and long sleeved onesies to sleep in under his sleeping bag and another proper camping sleeping bag that was lined with fleece. In the day time, we just put him shorts and singlets.
I think that’s all for what I did baby-wise for Fuji Rock — we packed two nappy bags so we could also tote along his essentials and ours. Charles loved being outdoors and seemed less cranky in the afternoons. He chased after ants, enjoyed the breeze, crawled around the grass and grooved to the music. He was so happy and in his element that we will definitely do this again.
You must also be wondering how we fared as parents at a music festival. We love music but are not hard core about it so we just stumbled upon any music that seemed interesting — and had shade! — so we put Charles’ needs above ours of course.
The husband went off to a night performance while I stayed with Charles in the tent while he was sleeping. I am not a big drinker or too fussed about partying so I was happy to sleep early and take care of our baby. One parent has to hold the fort while the other enjoys and I can imagine you could take turns if you stayed multiple days.
The point to going to Fuji Rock for us was to enjoy the atmosphere, the great outdoors and camping with him, so we totally had a blast.
Have you ever gone camping with a baby? If so, do share your tips!