Festival Dos and Don’ts for Families

Taking your baby or toddler camping can be fun as well as easy! Based on an interview we did for Made For Mums:

Taking a baby, toddler or your whole family to a festival?  Here’s your vital checklist of equipment to take and pitfalls to avoid from FestivalKidz founder Romany Greatrex

Taking your baby or toddler camping can be fun as well as easy!

FestivalKidz believe that having children shouldn’t put a stop to having fun at festivals and camping out with all the family – however young.

How young a baby can you take to a festival?

No age is too young – as long as you’re prepared. In fact, I’d say younger babies are even easier than toddlers, especially if you’re breastfeeding. It’s much easier at a festival than bottlefeeding. You can carry your baby in a sling to breastfeed and don’t have the worry of sterilising bottles.

If you do need to sterilise, what equipment should you take?

As there’s no electricity on tap and it’s not that practical to boil bottles over a pan on a fire, you can’t sterilise as you would at home. So cold sterilisation kits are great or ready-sterilised disposable bottles, ChilliPeeps, or bottles that hold disposable liner bags.  Ready mixed cartons are also easier than powder when camping.

How do you keep everything hygienic enough for a baby or toddler?

Wet wipes! Also, most festivals that welcome families do have facilities for showers and baby changing / feeding areas – Glastonbury, Camp Bestival, Deer Shed Festival, Larmer Tree Festival and Just So Festival for example. It’s all about checking which places are child friendly. However, if you are extremely paranoid about hygiene and germs, you may be best to have a proper think about whether a camping festival is best for you and your children.  It’s not that festivals are that unhygienic, but you do need to be a little more relaxed about these things when camping.

What buggy should you take for a festival?

You need a buggy that’s great on different terrains and one that can glide through mud easily!  Most 3-wheeler all-terrain buggies are pretty good.  I’d especially recommend the Urban Detour Vortex, which seems to do a good job because it has big but thin wire wheels.  However, I take my children around in a wagon – they love it as it draws attention and looks fun.

Often the easiest way to carry babies and toddlers around festivals is with a baby carrier, sling or hipseat (but the downside is that you don’t get the benefit of under-buggy storage).

Where do you sleep a baby or toddler at a festival?

That depends on what you prefer. Baby sleeping bags are what I’d recommend if you’re happy with your child sleeping in their own space, otherwise, family sleeping bags for older babies and toddlers are great as your child can sleep in beside you if you normally co-sleep – easier for you to keep a check on their temperature too.  You will need some sort of mattress for them to insulate them from the cold ground.  This can be a sheepskin, an airbed, a roll mat, a camp bed or a self-inflating mattress (thermarest style).  We use self-inflating mats as they are light yet provide good comfort and insulation.

Should young children wear ear defenders?

Definitely. My eldest is 8 and still wears them. She likes to, as it means the noise surrounding her isn’t too loud. Parents who have trouble getting older children to wear them should keep persisting and insisting because prolonged exposure to raised noise levels can permanently damage sensitive young eardrums. The more children wear them, the cooler they’ll appear to be too. Also seeing celebrity children wearing them in concerts are a great help – as again it makes it look cool.

What if you’re in the middle of potty training?

Washing facilities are scarce and trying to deal with a lot of wet pants, sleeping bags and trousers would be a nightmare scenario (or worse if were talking number twos!). So I’d recommend using nappies or pull up pants, especially at night – it’s only for a couple of days.  If you are fairly confident during the day just take a travel potty with you.

What about older children who don’t like using, let’s face it, smelly loos?

Porta-loos can be a nightmare with children, they smell bad, are cramped and are often pretty dirty.  Travel potties are great, especially for during the night.  The whole family could use a boginabag too – these are one of our best-sellers in the shop and I get very positive feedback from families who tell me they are worth every penny!!

If the festival you are visiting offers Compost Loos then do give them a go – they are far more pleasant than chemical toilets and better for the environment too.

Should you take cooking equipment?

You’ll need to check out whether you can cook at your tent, some festivals allow this but others have designated areas to cook in. There are stalls that you can purchase meals from, but this can end up expensive, even if you ask for smaller child portions.  I tend to take dinners already prepared, which have been frozen. They also keep the cool-box cold.  I also take fresh pasta (it cooks in 2 minutes) with a jar or sauce or pesto and some ready grated cheese.

What are your top 5 items to pack for babies/toddlers at a festival?

  • Waterproofs and wellies
  • Ear defenders
  • Sunhats and sun-safe products
  • Warm sleeping bags and extra snug clothes (once the sun goes down, evenings can quickly become surprisingly cold and damp)
  • Healthy snacks – such as avocados, bananas, cereal bars, etc – as festival catering can be a little less healthy and the constant demands for ice-cream can put a bit of a strain on your wallet too

What’s your favourite festival?

We love to go to lots of different festivals but we do love The Larmer Tree festival. It’s small, only about 5000 people. There are beautiful gardens, great music, site art, fantastic street theatre and hundreds of workshops. Everything is in close proximity too. It’s also great for a real family trip – as there are people of all generations.  It was actually my mum who first introduced me to Larmer Tree!

So why set up your website, FestivalKidz?

I was talking to a friend about how we loved taking our children to festivals and found that many parents hadn’t considered it for various reasons. We thought it’d be great for other parents to find out which festivals were childfriendly and also to prove that not all festivals were crazy and full of loud, drunk people. Festivals can be a great way to spend very special family time together!

3 thoughts on “Festival Dos and Don’ts for Families

  1. Hi Jess, being as your daughter is already 2 I wouldn’t bother with a baby sleeping bag as she will grow out of it so fast. My most successful junior sleeping bag has been the Gelert Sleeping Pod Jnr, but I would recommend going for the Muscovy 3-season version as it is much warmer. http://astore.amazon.co.uk/festkidz-21/detail/B0032XXOEQ – last time I looked you could get it for £23.99 with free delivery.
    Hope this helps? x

  2. This is a great article I can’t beleive I haven’t read it sooner! I really need a sleeping bag for my 2 year old. She has a readybed which we are going to take but needs something to keep her all snug any recs?

  3. Good article with some sensible advice.
    We took our daughter to the Big Chill when she was 8 days old. We had no probems at all, most of the time she was happy to chill out in a sling and just doze.. Would have been much more of a challenge if she wasn’t breast fed though.

    A year later, we went to 3 festivals with her, pushing her around in a modified bicycle trailer, which she was happy to sleep in while we were out and about. In the evenings me and my partner took it in turns to spend the night at the tent.

    Seriously, don’t let having a baby put you off festivals. 🙂

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