Why you should take your baby to a festival – and what you’ll need to do it
We went to our first family festival when our youngest daughter, Martha, was nine months old. A lot of friends thought we were crazy taking a babies to festivals but we all loved it. The next year we did two, the year after that it was five so I guess you could say we caught the bug.
Also, it isn’t such a crazy thing to do. In that new baby haze where it feels like your own life has vanished and you exist only to serve the needs of your gorgeous little despot, festivals are a chance to grab a few precious days enjoying some fun grown up things. With your baby along for the ride. Once you’ve done your first family festival, the next year isn’t nearly as daunting so why wait until they are older? Having now done festivals with kids ranging from nine months to six years I reckon babies are the easiest.
If you’re ready to give it a go here are the Festival Kidz Top tips for festivals with a baby.
Picking a Festival
You can go to any festival you like! This is the great thing about taking a young baby to a festival.
With older children their entertainment often comes first. You’ll spend a lot of time in the kid’s field or watching Cbeebies stars doing the lunchtime slot on the main stage. With a baby you don’t need specialist activities, all the things you want to do also offer a world of multi sensory stimulation for the smallest festival goers.
From the Music to the lights, costumes and smells – I’m thinking of the wide variety of food here rather than the loos! Everything will be new and fascinating to a baby, not least all the new faces to smile at.
If you’re anxious about the whole festival/baby combo go to a festival close to home or even better close to a willing grandparent. Knowing you have an easy escape plan might be reassuring and you could even leave the baby with Granny while you set up camp.
Take a look at the Festival Kidz map and calendar for festivals near you.
Check out the baby facilities
Many festivals now offer a wealth of facilities for babies ranging from a small tent to feed and change them in to luxury set ups with rocking chairs, microwaves, baths and baby massage sessions.
Getting Some Sleep
Isn’t this always the big issue with babies? But getting some sleep with a baby at a festival might not be as difficult as you’d imagine.
Keep it dark
Some tents have shaded sleeping compartments to stop the summer sun waking everyone up too early. We have a travel cot with a sunshade that covers the top and three sides.
Martha actually slept in later at that first festival than in her whole previous nine months.
Most of the cold comes from the ground under you rather than the air around you. Our travel cot sits on the floor so we pop a Therm-A-Rest type mat underneath to keep out the chill.
You really don’t want to be taking a sleeping baby in and out of their sleeping bag to adjust layers of clothing either so take a warm stretchy wool cardigan that can be slipped on and off over the top.
Get a camper van
If you just can’t face the idea of sleeping in a tent with a baby you could rent a camper van, it’s not cheap but will give you proper beds, lights and may be easier to keep cool and dark in the morning too.
Forget the routine
If you’re in a fixed routine you can probably let it slip for a couple of days without any major problems when you get home. We let our kids stay up as late as they can manage at festivals then they crash out in a sling or buggy and can be transferred to the tent when we’re done watching the bands.
Fresh air and excitement works wonders
Little brains need time to process all those fabulous new experiences, and if you’re lucky that means lots of sleep – I can’t make any promises I’m afraid, but it worked for us.
Slings are usually the best way to get around a festival with a baby, just add a backpack for snacks, nappies and a whole lot of wipes and you can (hopefully) dance the little one to sleep.
If you don’t want to just use a sling, a pushchair or wagon can be handy for carrying the baby and all the other clobber that comes with them.
At most festivals you’ll need something with big wheels to cope with mud, hills and uneven ground. They can also double as a handy trolley for carting camping kit to and from the car.
Take a string of battery powered fairy lights to wrap around the buggy at night so no one stumbles into it in the dark.
Keeping Everyone Fed
There are some great easy options around, from pre prepared weaning foods that don’t even need heating to ready mixed formula and disposable bottles. It’s not the most environmentally friendly thing in the world but for one weekend it might make life easier.
If you are spending a lot of time breast or bottle feeding a comfy chair is a must. My favourite is the Ergolife it rolls up small enough to go in your backpack or under a buggy but provides that much needed back support when you are sat on the ground.
Try new tastes
Festival food may not be the healthiest thing to give a newly weaned baby but it’s not just burgers and chips.
Lots of festivals offer a huge array of interesting international food as well as vegetarian and vegan options; so if you’re eating something interesting it’s a great opportunity to introduce tiny taste buds to new flavours.
Tents – That two man pop up isn’t going to cut it anymore. Luckily family camping fields usually have a bit more room than the general camping so you can get something with space for all the baby stuff.
Check out our guide to inflatable tents, they are really quick to set up. Great if you need to keep an eye on a small child at the same time.
Pop Up Beach shelters – Great for hiding from the rain or sun while you are out on the main site and provide somewhere to store buggies or anything else you don’t want in the main tent overnight.
Ear Defenders – These can be used even on quite young babies so they can sleep blissfully through the headline act without harming delicate hearing.
Clothes – take as many as you can possibly fit in the bag/car/tent!
Taking Babies to Festivals
That’s pretty much all there is to it, so pick your festival, get your kit and start dreaming about the summer when you’ll be dancing in the sunset with the new little love of your life.