Attending Music Festivals with a Baby? We Did and So Can You! Here’s How
My love story with San started in a music festival. Since then, we have attended many festivals together. There was even a year when we did 9 music festivals – all in different countries. We did Boom festival in Portugal, SUN Festival in Hungary, Modem festival in Croatia, Lost Theory in Spain, Hilltop in Goa, Dance of Shiva in Manali – just to name a few. (Here’s what happened when we did back to back music festivals)
Fast forward a few years, we’re new parents! During my pregnancy, we decided not to stop what we loved doing together. It includes attending music festivals. Of course, it would only work when we take our little one to music festivals with us. It was going to happen sooner or later, so we decided to start early. Well, why not?
Our little girl is just 9 months old and she has already visited two music festivals with us. Her first festival was Modem festival in Croatia and the second one was Wonderland Festival in Germany. Our festival experience has now completely changed, but not for worse. It is definitely a lot of fun to attend a festival with a baby.
By the way, if you’re a new parent, then be sure to read our 35+ tips for traveling with a baby. It is a detailed post where I mention tips for flying with your baby, camping, managing food and sleep and so much more.
So you want to take your baby to a music festival too? Here are some of our top tips which will help you:
Pick the RIGHT Music Festival
Don’t just go to any music festival with your baby, especially if it is the first time. Make an effort to pick the RIGHT one. Every music festival attracts a different kind of crowd, which depends a lot on the genre and location. Read this post to know what kind of music festivals we like.
A good music festival experience for you and your baby will be picking a festival that has much more than just the dancefloor. Many festivals feature a special area for children, a Yoga zone and an art corner.
Pick a genre that you enjoy and one that attracts people that are a little more relaxed. A heavy metal festival would be a bad idea but an indie rock festival would make a lot of sense with a baby. Similarly, jazz or reggae festivals will also work well if you’re taking your baby.
We always pick psychedelic music festivals which normally have a chill stage with soft music and another stage with dark PsyTrance. We’d never pick a festival like Tomorrowland, or Coachella – that’s not at all our scene.
Pick a festival that you have already been to and you’re confident about managing your baby at that particular location. In case you haven’t been there personally, try to find others who have taken their baby to that particular festival. Ask them for their location-specific tips.
Going with a Partner is Easier than Going Alone
I’m sorry to mention this to the single parents who are planning on going to the music festival without the baby’s other parent – it isn’t going to be so easy.
Get a friend (or your girl gang) to accompany you if you’re single. It takes a village to raise a baby, and you will surely need help when you take your baby to a music festival.
Baby Sleeping Arrangements in the Festival
The best part about music festivals is camping there for a few nights – which can also be the worst part for your baby if you don’t do it right. Sleeping (along with feeding) is something that you need to mindfully take care of so that your baby remains in a good mood and doesn’t make your life hell.
Based on the location and the weather forecast, think and plan your sleeping arrangements from before. Here are a few options:
Consider Renting a Van
San and I have our own camper van. We have traveled a lot on our van with our little one and she’s now comfortable sleeping in it.
I highly recommend you rent a van to make the festival experience more comfortable for yourself and your little one. (you can rent one for cheap). I saw a lot of people with rented vans at the music festivals that we went to. It is not expensive to rent vans and will be cheaper than buying all the extra camping gear for your baby.
Consider Getting a Camping Bed
Did you know you can get a Foldable camping bed for your baby? It folds up pretty small but opens up to a big and comfortable crib. It makes an amazing bed for your little one on the go! This bed is an excellent option for those who are thinking of sleeping in a tent with their baby. Just make sure your tent is large and high enough for this.
Karma also has a bed like this in her grandparents’ house in Frankfurt and she is very comfortable sleeping on it when we’re there. A few months back, we thought of borrowing it for the festival but did not end up because Karma is now very comfortable on the van.
Along with the camping bed, you will also need to get a mattress for it. If the festival location is cold, then you will surely need a thick and effective sleeping bag. No, blankets don’t work so well because babies kick them off.
Consider Getting A Room
“No way, I’m not renting a room in a festival and missing out on all the fun,” says my husband.
Do you think like that too? You have no choice but to change your mind if the weather isn’t suitable for camping with a small baby and you’re going there without a van. Get a room that’s very close to the festival location.
Of course, this is only recommended if it makes sense to rent a room considering the ease of getting to the festival from your room. If it involves too many changes – like walking, then a bus and then a shuttle – then it isn’t worth the hassle.
While writing this article, I asked my husband for his #1 tip for attending a music festival with a baby and he said to arrive early. Why? Well, it is a good idea to get your baby comfortable and used to the new festival environment before things start going crazy.
Moreover, arriving early will help you find a good camping spot that’s close to everything but far away from music. It will also help you figure your way around before the area gets crowded with many people.
Make Sure You Carry Headphones
Babies have sensitive ears and they should wear noise-canceling headphones in the music festival, especially if they’re close to the dancefloor.
It isn’t easy making your baby wear headphones if they have decided to hate them. It happened with Karma and she wore the headphones only in two instances after a lot of drama. Every baby is different, so don’t give up. Let your child play with the headphones before you put them on.
Prepare to Take Turns to Hit the Dance Floor
Yes, I get it – it is more fun to hit the dancefloor with your partner or better half. However, things change a little bit when there’s a baby in the picture. Someone has to be around the baby, even when he or she is sleeping. In this case, your choice would be to not go to the dancefloor after the baby sleeps, or take turns and enjoy the party. We did the latter.
We did take Karma to the dancefloor but only for a short time. For serious partying, San and I took turns to hit the dancefloor one by one. What worked really well with us was an arrangement where one night he would stay at the camping area with the baby and I’d go out to party, but on the next night, it was his turn. Even though Karma slept by 7 – 8 pm every night, at least one parent was always next to her inside or outside the van.
Sleep Schedule – to Follow or Not?
Most babies have a fixed sleep schedule. Should you follow that schedule when you head for a music festival? I will share my experience and will let you decide.
Karma has a fixed sleep schedule and she usually sticks to it even when we travel. It is just the first day of travel that gets messed up, but on the second day, she returns to her normal schedule on her own.
Before her first festival, I asked a few parents and one said I should just forget the schedule when I’m at a music festival with her and go with the flow. Yes, I did try that but it did not work for us.
Karma always takes two naps a day but she did not on the first day of the festival, which caused her to be irritable. On the second day, I made sure she was comfortable (in her pram or on the mat) and in a silent spot during her nap time. I rocked her a little and she slept very easily. Because of this, my next few days were super easy.
So yes, we did follow her sleep schedule at the festival. We did not follow it minute to minute but loosely. In all honesty, it was HER who followed her sleep schedule, not us.
Get Ready to Wake Up Early
Never have I ever woken up religiously at 7 am in any music festival as I did with I went with my baby. Our little one woke us up in both in Modem Festival and Wonderland Festival.
Babies normally wake up early, especially if they are in new surroundings with different morning sounds. Accept it with a smile and prepare yourself mentally to begin early.
Sleep Early or Don’t Get to Sleep at all
This is more like an extension of the previous point. Well, as I mentioned before – your baby will most likely wake you up early every morning. If you’re like me and you love to sleep, then you will have to sacrifice the party night on some nights and sleep early so that you don’t hate your life when you’re woken up at 7 am.
Pick your party night and sleep early on other nights. You need to rest too! After all, it is a vacation for you too.
Managing Food and Breastfeeding in a music festival
If your baby is younger than 6 months, hasn’t started solids and is only on breastmilk, then managing food is going to be super easy. This is one of the cases where taking a 3-month-old baby to music festival may end up being easier than taking a 7-month-old. Direct breastfeeding is the easiest form of feeding to manage when traveling. You don’t need to carry a bottle or worry about cleaning it!
Managing food when your baby is on formula, drinking milk from bottle or solids is a little more work. You will need to carry the food, bowls, spoons, bottles, sippies and what not. You will also have to ensure everything is always clean and sterilized.
Most of the festivals have a place where you can buy fresh fruit, bread, milk, and cheese. Usually, 6+-month-old babies love bananas and 7+ months onward they love bread too. Even if your baby has just 1 or 2 teeth, they can eat and enjoy soft bread. Carry ready to eat or easy to make cereals that are specifically for babies. Buy the ones that you can just mix with hot water. TIP: Carry something that you know your baby loves to eat.
In our case, Karma was 8 months old and we carried her favorite ready-to-eat porridge for dinner from Germany, which we kept in the refrigerator in our van. The brand is Hipp, which is easily available in most European supermarkets and DM.
She drinks breast milk so I did not have to worry about the formula. Also, I bought bananas, fresh bread, and cheese for her almost every day at the festival.
Sling / Carrier / Pram
Should you carry a sling or a carrier or a pram? Many people swear by slings but a pram works wonders for us. It all depends on what your baby is most comfortable in, and is used to.
I have met many parents who love carrying their babies in slings or backpacks or carriers because it keeps them close to the chest but my little one doesn’t like them. She doesn’t like staying in a carrier or sling for more than 30 minutes on a good day. On the other hand, she loves her pram and can also sleep in it.
Personally, I prefer the pram because it is so much easier to manage than a sling. Pushing is definitely easier than carrying. I can take my little one around in her pram as well as carry her stuff under the it so I have my hands free. The one I have has enough space for her stuff as well as MY stuff. Moreover, it also acts as a high chair for eating and a makeshift bed on the go.
I have a compact folding one from Cybex, that I can open with just one foot while holding my little one in my arms. Pretty cool, huh?
Not just in festivals but I have taken this partuclar ones on many flights. Because of its small size, I never have to check it in along with my luggage but literally take it to the flight entry door.
Baby Festival Essentials
In my post about tips for traveling with a baby, I mention you should travel light and not carry too many diapers. After all, you get them in every supermarket. But things are very different when you’re at a music festival with your baby.
Carry more than enough diapers because that’s something you will not get in a music festival (unless there’s a supermarket nearby). Not just diapers but bring enough diaper gear – like wipes, disposable changing mats, dry tissues, and diaper cream.
Don’t forget weather protection such as sun cream that’s specifically for babies, sun hat, waterproof gear, thick jacket, gloves, socks, etc.
We have a lot of other festival gear for our baby too – like an Inflatable Bathtub, travel potty, bath thermometer and cute costumes. You probably don’t need most of these things. Neither do we, but it was fun to buy them and waste money. Yep, that’s what we do with our firstborns, don’t we?
Festival Bag Checklist – Keep a Day Bag Ready with ALL THIS
My best tip for enjoying a festival with your baby is always being ready to be on the move. Set up your handbag before the festival and just refill the basics every day and you’re ready to move without a delay. In our case, it was a small rucksack.
Pack all this in your day bag – at least 5 Diapers, 1 disposable changing mat, 1 pack of wet baby wipes, soft burping towels, solid ear protecting headphones, a change of clothing for your baby in case of mess-ups, a picnic mat, 1-2 toys, a small blanket, 1-2 snacks, baby food, spoon, water sippy, sun hat and sunglasses. Karma did not ever wear her hat or sunglasses, so I also carried a little umbrella for her.
My bag also included my basics like a swimsuit, sarong, jacket for me and my essentials. I always carry my camera too because I wanted to capture special moments of my baby’s first music festival. I did not end up using my camera on most days but it was good to use it twice.
In short, you should have enough to change the diaper at any point, to make your baby get comfortable to sleep whenever he or she wants and to feed the baby anywhere. Also, the idea is to carry just ONE bag that includes yours and your baby’s stuff.
Sounds like a lot of stuff? Well, don’t forget you have a pram. Put all this in the lower part of your pram and keep your hands free. Be creative and hang a few things on the pram, like the toys and umbrella.
Make Your Baby Meet Other Babies
Festival babies should meet each other and be friends, no? Well, when you see another tiny human with parents, go ahead and say hello.
Make your baby meet as many babies as possible and watch the fun. It is adorable to see how babies react to each other and are so curious. You never know, some of your baby’s lifelong friendships may begin here.
Moreover, you will also make new friends with similar parents who enjoy the same kind of things as you do – like music festivals. Do you know how difficult it is to find like-minded people and make friends with them when you’re older?
Spend Time in the Children’s Area
Most of the music festivals have a children’s area. Find one and try to spend time there. The Children’s Area in a festival is an amazing space for your baby to play, meet other babies and to get creative.
Back in 2016, I fell in love with the Children’s Area at Boom Festival (in Portugal). It is called Young Dragons and I saw children playing with bubbles, colors, and blocks. They all had their own workshops and cinema there!
I remember thinking at that point that I will surely bring my child to music festivals with me. Little did I know that I’d be taking my own baby to music festivals with me.
My little Karma had a lot of fun in Modem festival’s Children’s Area. She met many other babies and got noisy with them. She also had her first little fight with another baby (aww). Sadly Wonderland Festival in Germany did not have a Children’s Area but we spent most of our time in the Chai Shop which was next to the Chill Out Floor.
ALWAYS Keep an Eye
This point is very obvious but I do feel it is my duty to mention it to all my blog readers. Being a parent, you must be habitual of keeping an eye on your baby by now. Festivals are no different.
One parent or a close friend that you can trust should be with the baby at all times. Keep an eye and make sure your baby is well-fed, hydrated, is wearing sun protection if needed and is not cold or not hot.
If you’re sitting on the grass, be mindful of where the baby is crawling and what he or she is putting in the mouth. People consume all sorts of drugs at festivals and you don’t want your baby to find a baggy with intoxicants and start eating it.
Stay Sober [at least one of you]
A music festival is a place where some people may want to get intoxicated, but YOU will have to do things differently. I personally attended many music festivals in my life and I was usually sober.
By now you must have mentally accepted the fact that your life is fucked and you can no longer do what you want. Haha, kidding. I mean, you now have the responsibly of your child’s safety, so come to terms with the fact that your music festival experience will be a little less drunk as compared to the others.
I suggest at least one parent or friend stays sober – whoever is watching the baby. Of course, a beer or two should be all right. As long as you’re in your senses and are confident of being able to watch your baby.
Take it Easy and Enjoy. It is EASIER Than You Think
Yes, you’re at a music festival with your baby but you need to relax and have fun too. Taking care of your baby at a festival is easier than you think. There are plenty of distractions like interesting decoration, hula hoopers, jugglers and most commonly people dressed in interesting costumes that will keep your baby busy.
Get a picnic mat, lie down and let your baby crawl around. Keep an eye on your baby from distance and smile. Be happy, because you’re one of the very few parents who are showing the awesomeness of a music festival to their baby. Make the most of it.
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