When Backpacking with a Newborn Goes Wrong

There is nothing more relaxing than being out in the wilderness, hiking through beautiful terrain, and  having a welcome change of scenery from our daily grind… unless you’re hiking with a newborn.

When my husband and I first found out we were expecting our little one, joy overwhelmed us knowing we were going to be able to raise him with the same outdoor values as us. We started planning our trips and buying adorable little baby sleeping bags to prepare for the arrival of our little blessing. Fast forward to the arrival of our blessing, then not being able to make it into the wilderness for five months due to his sleep schedule.

The first time Patrick slept through the night in his own crib, we woke up the next day saying “this is it.” We packed up our bags and got together our Newborn Checklist for setting off  with Patrick, and started our three-hour drive to the AT.

The Drive

Hour One…

Sleeping little angel in the back seat, dogs behaving and mommy and daddy enjoying the ABC game on the highway. “This was such a good idea,” we say while enjoying the silence.

Hour Two…

Hit rush-hour traffic, Patrick wakes up and screaming starts. Mommy having to pump in the front seat to be able to keep him in carseat and to keep him quiet.

Hour Three…

Still screaming, lost on the Blue Ridge Parkway, realized I forgot a jacket (it’s 50 degrees out and raining), and have to spend $100 on a jacket at a ski shop in the middle of nowhere.

Hour Four…

Bleeding ears and thinking about driving off a cliff (I’m kidding). Lost GPS signal and have to stop and get a map to find location for AT. We finally arrive about 4.5 hours into our trek, and screaming stops once we get him out of car seat.

The Hike

This was for sure the best part of our trip! Patrick was strapped onto my Ergo Baby on my front and my Bergan’s of Norway pack fit comfortably over the baby carrier straps.

Patrick sat back and watched the passing trees, enjoying the fresh air after a dreadful drive to the trail. He took a little nap while it sprinkled onto his cheeks, making him doze off even more. We hike about four miles before giving ourselves plenty of time to set up camp and feed the little fella.

The Camp

This is where the real fun began. After eating dinner around 7 pm, and Patrick dozing off for what we thought was a full night sleep, mommy and daddy crack open the Jameson and have a couple cocktails. This was the first time we had been out in five months, and could not have been happier.

About a hour after he fell asleep, Patrick wakes up and realizes he can see mommy and daddy, and this is where our trip from hell turned even worse. Patrick screamed, and not a little whimper. I mean FULL BLOWN MELTDOWN for two hours straight.

Hikers crossing our path asked if we were okay or needed any help (thank god for the amazing hiker community), and dogs started barking at the sound of his cries. Taking turns bouncing him and walking him outside the tent for fresh air, Patrick refused to go back to sleep.

Ultimately, we decide it’s time to pack up and head home for another four hour drive. We couldn’t stand it any longer.

The Drive Home

The little turd fell asleep, right away… not a peep for four hours. As Casey and Patrick snored peacefully, momma finally got her quiet time.

The Lesson Learned

Practice, practice, and more practice. Patrick was not used to the tent, and bringing him to a new environment with a brand new sleep pattern was not smart on our end. Since that trip, we had set up the tent at our own house to get him adjusted to being outdoors.

It’s always a learning experience going out into the wilderness, whether with little ones or not. Sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn exactly what not to do for the next time around. Patrick is now a seasoned camping pro, but all good things take time!

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Comments 2

  • Martyn : Aug 19th

    It is too bad that your first experience turned out this way. Just wondering why you waited so long to go camping with your son? I am pretty sure my so was hardly two months old when he went on his first camping trip and then barely two years old when we went on his first backpacking trip. Why did you think he needed to sleep through the night in order to camp?

    • Danielle : Aug 19th

      I’m so happy for y’all being able to get out so early! I got an infection from my csection and unfortunetly was out of commission for 3 months after. Then I had to go back to my full time job. Luckily, he’s always been outdoors at home! To each their own 🙂 Good for ALL mommies and daddies even getting the chance to get out, whenever able to. Luckily the outdoors is there 24/7 for everyone to enjoy at any time. Namaste ??


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