My husband just cannot get excited about sleeping outside and so instead of camping, our yearly summer tradition is “cottaging.” The cottage itself is never anything fancy. It just needs to have beds indoors, a working shower/washroom, a barbeque, nearby water. Most importantly it is also accompanied by friends and family. We spend oodles of time outside swimming, playing sports, sitting around a campfire, and playing lots of cards.
Last year was our first time cottaging with a baby and we survived! To be honest it wasn’t the usual relaxing week but it was still worth it.
- Do a scan of the cottage and property to figure out your baby proofing strategy. For example: Are there lots of stairs? Is the water easily accessed by a crawler? We were able to properly baby proof one room indoors where my daughter could play and explore without me constantly needing to hover and say “No!” every couple of minutes.
- Figure out where the nearest walk-in clinic and hospital are located. Preferably before you need to access them.
- Pack a fan (a portable one that you can put in front of a window). You will thank me.
- Bring versatile toys – like stacking cups that can also be water and sand toys.
- Make fun mocktails!
- Create shade to protect your little one from the sun – pack a beach umbrella or pop-up tent (remember babies under 12 months need to stay out of direct sunlight)
- When outside, dress baby in light-coloured, long sleeved shirt, pants and socks to help protect from reflected light and from unwanted “visitors” – the dreaded mosquitos! If it’s hot inside, diaper alone or tank tops are likely enough. (Info on insect repellents and babies)
- Breastfeed often – your baby is hot too and needs lots of fluids. Babies older than 6 months can also be offered sips of water from a cup.
- Determine who is watching the baby and take turns – just the presence of other adults tends to make us feel like everyone’s got their eye on the baby and maybe we can relax a smidgen, but the scariest thing is when you look at your partner and say “where’s the baby?” and they say back “I thought you were watching her!”
- Try to maintain some semblance of your baby’s routine – routines help babies and toddlers feel safe and will help with their eating and sleeping habits.
Speaking of sleep… let’s just say travelling with a baby anywhere means everybody gets less sleep. But it’s still totally worth it. We brought a white noise machine and turned it on near my daughter while she slept to help drown out voices and other sounds.
We are heading off to a cottage next week, this time with a toddler in tow! Wish me luck!
How did your time at the cottage with baby go? We love to hear from you:
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.