Picture the scene: Rolling Cotswolds hills, the dulcet tones of Laura Mvula belting out Nina Simone classics while you sip a cold Sipsmith gin and tonic and decide when you should top up your glitter quota.
Then picture me, a new and quite tired mama, unwashed, holding a gourmet masala chai in one hand and newborn baby in the other. A newborn baby you say? What were you thinking?
Last week I took my (almost) four month old baby Anaïs to Wilderness Festival for three nights of camping and merriment. How did I cope? As it goes, our little bean is a natural born camper who took the change of pace in her stride. And so did we. How did we do it? Here are my top tips for taking your baby to a festival:
1. Supersize your tent
BB (before baby!) we were more than happy to slum it in a standard tent bringing minimal ‘stuff’ and focusing our efforts on the amount of food and alcohol we could bring into the festival.
But if there’s one thing camping with a newborn has taught us is that space is your new best friend. We took a six-man tent with two sleeping compartments, ‘living’ area and a porch. Although I saw plenty of yurts and bell tents in the family camping, I liked the fact we could zip away our mess during the day and sleep in relative comfort at night.
Our camping neighbours, Annabel and Johnny Bowling, went about ten steps further in the comfort stakes with their plush tent. Although we'd upgraded our tent for the occasion, we were still the Primark to their JoJo Maman Bebe. Bunting adorned, with a civilised table and chairs outside, they offered us a Dorito as we admired their impressive setup.
2. Ditch the buggy
If you’re going to a festival in the UK you need to plan for inclement weather. It might well be sunny the whole time, but if it isn’t you could end up stuck in the mud. So we left our buggy at home and chose the babywearing option instead.
This was such a good idea, as Anaïs loved being snuggled close to us the whole day and our hands were free for eating, drinking and dancing.
3. Staying safe in the sun
British summertime might mean rain but it also (hopefully) means sunny spells too. We both got a nice tan sitting out during the day and it’s easy to forget just how strong the sun can be.
Because Anaïs is under six months old we kept her out of the sun entirely following advice from our GP. But if your baby is older than six months, La Roche Posay do a brilliant baby SPF.
Our Ergobaby carrier has a privacy hood you can use for breastfeeding, but which I used to shade Anaïs face. We also used a giant muslin as shade, and you could also bring a brolly to double up as a parasol.
4. Get a good nights sleep
As pretty seasoned festival goers (I went to Bestival while pregnant!) we take comfort seriously. But we went a step further this time and brought along our Sleepyhead Deluxe sleeping pod so Anaïs had something cosy to sleep in.
We transported it in a Sleepyhead travel bag, which is big enough to fit all her other bits and bobs too (she had more outfit options than I did!)
Lastly, as it can get incredibly cold come nightfall, take more than you think you’ll need — I’m talking extra layers for everyone, as well as warm blankets and pillows too.
5. Embrace those early mornings
If you stay in family camping, you won’t be the first ones up and there’ll likely be a place to get an early coffee and bacon buttie. But we chose to wait until 9am and head straight into the main festival ground when it opened, often being the first ones in.
There’s something really lovely about wandering round a festival before it’s awake. There’ll be plenty of breakfast options, but with far shorter queues and you’ll be able to lounge on a hay bale with nobody fighting for your space.
This was a real highlight as the three of us got to explore in peace and quiet and just enjoy each other’s company. That’s something we rarely get to do back in London and felt like a real treat. It was also quite fun to feel fresh as a daisy as those with roaring hangovers rolled into the grounds at noon. Smug? Moi? Yes, very ;)