A bright blue sky, some dappled shade and a yummy feast to enjoy in the open air. Picnics are a great way to get out and about with your little one and make the most of the summer. Like most things when it comes to babies, a little bit of planning goes a long way with a picnic. So, grab your blanket, load up the cooler and head out for a bit of al fresco fun with your baby.
Pick a good spot
Nobody wants to be carting all the picnic stuff plus a wriggly baby for miles through the countryside before you get to sit down. And that romantic cliff top location should probably wait for a baby-free day. Find somewhere within easy reach of transport or with a handy car park. If you’ve been there before, all the better so you’ll know what to expect.
When it comes to setting up your picnic, choose a shady spot where you won’t need to keep moving to stay out of the sun. The advice for babies up to six months old is to keep them out of direct sun completely. It’s also good if there’s a safe bit of grassy space around your blanket. That way, if you’ve got a crawler, they can explore a little while you watch without you having to worry they’ll take a nosedive into a pond or stray too close to a cycle path.
Invite some lunch buddies
Grandparents, neighbors, friends with babies – bringing a gang of other folks along on your picnic is a great shout. You get help with looking after bubs and if there’re enough kids they may even amuse each other for a while, leaving you free to gorge yourself on cream cakes and prosecco in peace! Share out the to-do and to-bring lists with all the grown-ups. When everyone brings a dish it’s amazing what a fabulous array of food you can assemble.
Is there anyone you’d be better off not inviting? And no, we’re not talking about the kid from down the road who always seems to have a snotty nose. If anyone wants to bring their dog along, check if they’ll be ok around a load of screaming kids before agreeing. Even well-behaved dogs can go a bit crazy around all that food, so don’t be afraid to make your picnic a dog-free zone if you’d prefer.
Choose quick and simple food
You don’t have to serve fancy food to make a picnic fun. Sometimes a bit of bread and cheese, some strawberries and cookies can feel like the perfect feast. So, don’t feel the pressure to do a picnic any other way than you want to. If your baby’s weaning and into trying lots of new foods, you might want to only take along foods you’d be happy for them to try because you know they’ll be making a grab for anything and everything edible.
Food that you’d normally keep in the fridge shouldn’t be out in a warm environment for more than two hours, so consider taking a cooler or insulated bag if you’re not planning on tucking into your picnic straight away. Don’t forget to take plenty of water so everyone can keep cool and, if you’re bottle feeding, enough bottles to see you through if you end up staying out for longer than you expected.
We know sometimes going out and about with a baby can feel like preparing for an expedition to the South Pole. By the time you make it out the door, you’re so laden down with equipment for every eventuality that it’s difficult to make it to the end of the road, let alone to the park for a picnic. Here’s how you can pack light for your picnic adventure with baby:
- Get a lightweight, foldable picnic blanket with a carry handle. If you need to, you can tie it onto another bag or hook it over the handle of your buggy.
- If you think baby might need some entertaining while you’re out, choose a small toy, ball or a mini book instead of packing full-sized toys.
- Only take a few diapers and use a travel-size pack of wipes or just take some out of a big pack and put in a small zip-lock bag. If you’re picnicking with other parents, chances are you’ll be able to borrow from someone else if you run out of essentials.
- If you’ll only be out for a while you can do sunscreen and bug spray, if you need it, before you leave. That way you won’t have to wrestle with your squirmy baby in front of a crowd and you can wash your hands properly after.
- Don’t forget to take a bag for all your trash, so you can collect up all your mess and leave no trace after you’ve enjoyed your picnic.
We’ve all been on “picnics” where we’ve ended up eating our carefully prepared feast in the car. When you’re planning outdoor activities with your baby, the weather is always the wild card. So, if the clouds gather and you have to change your plans, that’s ok. If all else fails and you end up having to head home, you can always set up your picnic on your living room floor. As long as you’re there and up for having fun, baby will be just as happy. Sometimes the most memorable moments with your baby spring from unexpected adventures.