Monday, July 20, 2009

campground camping with baby

Just after the family reunion a few weeks ago, I wrote some stuff down about our first time campground camping with a baby have been wanting to get it blogged. It's rather informational and perhaps a little dry. I myself enjoy reading blogs that meld people's experiences with helpful chatter about what worked and didn't, so I suppose this is a bit of a payback to the blog universe.

Zoralee and I spent five days at the old rustic Bitterroot Lions Campground near Marion, Montana. We stayed in a tent for three nights and then were joined by Jason and stayed in our pickup camper the fourth night. Various family members were nearby in RVs and tents.

Z's first successful sneak out

Baby Paraphernalia: though I tried to be selective, I felt like we brought a LOT of stuff, which rather depressed me when I looked over the pile. It was only a few toys, as our regular life items are always more interesting to her. Flashlights, water bottles, drivers' licenses, and straps on bags kept her entertained, as well as the new surroundings and people. Her clothes all fit into a small bag since they're so tiny. We brought much more bedding than we would've for backpacking. Her cloth diapers did take up space, and then there were the other devices. A friend had just given us a stroller, and strolling turned out to be a nice way for other people to spend time with Zor, particularly when she was tired or needed some quiet space away from the crowd. The ergo-carrier sling was worth its weight in gold.
I debated and debated bringing the baby bathtub, because hello. Who wants to be seen bringing everything, including the kitchen sink pretty much. But it made a fine suitcase for the diapers and later a washing basin for them, and was perfect for Z's mid-camp bath. It was kind of like the ancient community Greek baths, where people walk by and stop for a chat. Only different.

Sleeping: Co-sleeping some at home was a huge plus in tenting it without being troubled by each others' presence. I laid down two Thermarest camping mats and covered them with blankets and open sleeping bags. The nights got cold, so we wore long sleeved stuff, socks, and hats. The day time was quite hot, so I had set up the tent under the shade of a big tree, and Z napped in only a diaper.

Diapers and EC: Okay, it may be nuts to stick with cloth diapering away from home, especially camping. Disposables certainly would've been more convenient and somewhat of a space saver. I am really not a martyr. But I've got our diapering system down and simply prefer it. EC really helps. As with all other outings, we did better with it than at home because I was better in tune with Zoralee's cues. I think we set a personal record; one day she had the same diaper on from 2:00 in the afternoon until 10:00 a.m. the next day, always dry. She did her business in sinks, toilets, and the woods. I had our baby bjorn potty chair for night times in the tent, which can be used for babies and adults alike. Sorry if that's too much info! Backpackers - and cabin dwellers :) - are familiar with the range of containers that can be used for night time peeing - Nalgene bottles, plastic nut jars from Costco with the extra wide mouths, etc. Anything to avoid leaving the tent and exposing them buns to the frigid night air.

I have enough diapers to last for three days when Zora is doing well with EC, so midway through the reunion I washed her diapers in the baby bathtub and hung them to dry in the sun. Worked pretty well, but the diapers were sure stiffer than when I dryer dry them.

* * *

Pickup Camper: While the camper has its obvious perks as far as amenities, sleeping in it is actually less enjoyable to me with a baby, and I think it's because of Z's stage of development. At the reunion, we kept her on the bed over the cab with us but I was nervous that she'd somehow get loose in the night and crawl to the edge. Two weekends ago, we took the camper to Glacier Park and made her a bed on the floor, but there's not much space, so she was constantly underfoot if we needed to be up and about. Plus, climbing down from the upper bed in the night to feed or comfort her on the floor was a real pain. I tweaked myself into some terribly awkward positions to lay beside her, and had to be extra stealthy in getting up once she'd fallen asleep again. In the tent, I could just let her play while I fiddled with bedding, clothes, whatever, and midnight wakings were a breeze.

Because Zoralee's just becoming mobile, having lots of people around was really helpful. When it was just the three of us, it would've been nice to have had a playpen or something to keep her confined. We were constantly evaluating if the rock she was playing with was small enough to be dangerous or if the plant life she was about to ingest was poisonous and forever moving her back onto her blanket or another safe place.

Bottom line: though camping with a baby takes much more preparation, and though for much of the time you're focused on her rather than, say, a nice book, you're still outside. Still soaking up the wind and sun and taking time to watch clouds shape themselves into dinosaurs and hoola-hoops. A very good change of pace and certainly worth it.

morning shadows from inside the tentevening shadows on the opposite wall


Christi said...

Perfect bottom our camping trip today that I have been putting off cause I didn't know how stressful it would be with a 5, 3, and 1 year old.

Rachel Clear said...

Your blog posts are getting so insanely out of control GOOD that I can hardly stand it. I feel like each one is a cliffhanger in a movie and I'm like, "Well, what happens NEXT?!?" even though I already know, on account of being there, or knowing you.

I love these. Keep them a'comin' ... mmmmkay?

Rena said...

This was great. Even though I was right there, I missed some of the experiences (like the community bath,) so I love to read about them and see the pictures.

lori lls said...

Sister - gee, thanks. Blushing.

Mom - yeah, I guess you weren't at the community bath. You must've been off practicing your sweeping and dustpan disinfecting skills for the end of the week.

Christi - I can only imagine the difference in energy levels between a camping trip with three boys vrs. one infant daughter. You are brave and will have good tales to tell, I'm certain.