Camping with a baby: No. Just No.

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See that photo of the Zion coffee cup? Minutes later, this same **hot** cup of coffee was spilled all over my lap by my 11 month old. See that photo of my family happily smiling for the camera? Seconds later my 11 month old was in full blown tantrum mode because he couldn’t put leaves in his mouth. You’d never know it from these lovely photos but this. trip. sucked.

Ok, so I’m being slightly dramatic, it wasn’t entirely bad. There were parts of our trip to Zion National Park that were absolutely wonderful. But camping with a baby is a whole lot tougher than it sounds. I thought I was prepared for ANYTHING. I spent days and days before this trip making anal lists and packing bags. I thought of every possible situation that could arise and made sure that I would have a solution for it.

First situation to arise: I forgot the baby formula. Realizing this 2 hours into the trip, we were able to pull over at a grocery store and buy him a new box of formula, but of course only AFTER I spent a good 30 minutes beating myself up about it. Since formula is something that we were using up until the last minute, I left it on the counter. Note to future daring camping parents: buy an extra pack of formula and pack it up with everything else.

Second situation: I didnt….bring…my baby’s…BAG. Yeah thats right. I brought my bag, my husbands bag, our food, our games, our everything on the planet… except for my baby’s duffel bag. Worst mom award, right over here. As if I wasn’t feeling terrible enough about not packing my baby’s formula. Luckily I had packed a separate bag of diapers, toys, wipes, bottles, and one spare outfit; however his pajamas.. clothes.. everything else he might need.. were all left behind.

Third situation: turns out that babies don’t like tents. I take that back.. babies LOVE tents. So much so, that they refuse to sleep in them. In my fantasy situation of how the weekend would go, we would spend a great day playing in the great outdoors with our son, put him to bed, and have a great evening to ourselves around the campfire. Oh boy was I wrong. My son is an excellent sleeper.. at home. He typically falls asleep within 5 minutes with minimal assistance. I headed into the tend to put him to bed in his pack n play, and the second he’d finished his bottle he popped up and began to pounce around the tent. 20 minutes later my husband came it to relieve me. 20 minutes after that I went back in to relieve him. 20 minutes after that, my friend went in to relieve me. 20 minutes after that my husband came in to relieve me. And the story continues until 2 hours later my husband and I resorted to taking him for a drive. Within 2 minutes he was passed out. Oh but the story is not over yet. Three thirty AM…. the boy wakes. He spent the next 2 hours pouncing around the tent before finally passing back out on our blow up mattress. Seven AM… the boy rises. He continues to pounce until he removes the lid from a water jug and dumps it all over the bottom of the tent. Rise and shine.

Fourth situation: in case you weren’t sure.. there are no clean floors while camping. It sounds so logical, but when there is nowhere to set your baby, you’re limited as to what you can do. Babies as young as mine do not yet understand that they cannot eat that rock or lick that bird poop encrusted table. While I knew this going into the trip, I thought between the group of us, we could pass him around and entertain him enough that it wouldn’t matter. The problem is, babies don’t want to be held in the great outdoors…they want to explore it. This was entirely my fault, not his, but regardless, it presented quite the problem.

All of that being said.. we cut the trip short and came home after the first night.

I’m not telling EVERYBODY not to take their children camping. I’m sure some families could make it work. But you have been warned.. it is harder than you think. My best advice is to wait until your kids are older or rent an RV.

We did have some great times. We went for a lovely hike along the Virgin river, played in the water, and ate at some great little spots in town. But let’s just say, our next family trip will definitely take place in a hotel.

Cheers,

T.W.C.

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