Camping is a summer tradition for many Canadian families and one that you don’t necessarily want to stop just because you have added a baby or toddler to your life. Breastfeeding makes getting away into the outdoors much easier when you have little ones because you don’t have to bring any extra gear specifically for feeding a younger baby. For older babies and toddlers breastfeeding can help keep life “normal” in a situation that is very different from home.
Here are some tips from families who have camped with little folk.
- On your first camping trip with your baby choose a site that has more services, such as washrooms and running water, than the level at which you camped “pre-baby”. Once you have figured out a camping routine that works for your family you may be ready for more adventurous locations.
- Dress your baby in layers. If you are hiking you are going to get a lot warmer than a baby in a backpack style carrier on your back. If you have your baby in a cloth front or back carrier then your baby will be warm from your body heat and may need the extra layers added when you stop for a break and he isn’t snuggled right against you.
- Bring lots of diapers AND a way to pack them out with you. Dispose of diapers in animal proof garbage bins if you are in an area where animals may seek out human food waste.
- If you bed-share or co-sleep at home then the transition to a tent may be less challenging. It is important to check that whatever you are going to be sleeping on is firm and safe for bed-sharing with your baby. With your baby tucked in beside you there is less worry about her getting cold at night. Put yourself between a toddler and the door of your tent so that any plans for escaping will be noticed as your little one clambers over you.
- Make sure you have enough snacks and fluids for yourself. You may be more active at camp than you are at home. Your breastmilk will continue to nourish and quench the thirst of your baby regardless of your food and fluid intake but you will enjoy yourself more if you are fed and hydrated.
- Sunscreen and bug spray should not be used on babies under the age of six months. Instead plan on spending time in shadier locations and perhaps using mosquito netting over a baby’s play tent or using mosquito netting clothing for your baby. For yourself, bug spray and sunscreen are important when you are out camping but keep them away from your breasts as they aren’t meant to end up inside baby!
Wherever you are this summer you can always contact a La Leche League Canada Leader if you have any questions or concerns while at home or away.