Just 5 weeks into our new sleep deprived life with baby, we've found a few things we couldn't be without for getting out and about on a mini-adventure with baby
An adventure where a pram can go isn't worth having - to get onto the beach, out into the forest you really need a sling of some sort.
The soft variety is really nice and cosy - she is super comfy, and tucked up nicely out of the wind. It's nice for heading out for a bit of lunch, as it's really comfy to sit in. The downside is it's a bit tricky and time consuming to put on and off. Putting it on while in the car is difficult, and if you get out to do it, it's dragging in the dirt, and you are freezing! You then have to get the baby out into the cold to put her in.
After a few weeks of this, we also bought a Tula harness style sling. It's handier for popping on and off, and so it's much better for heading out in the car to the beach. You have to set the baby down on her back for a much shorter amount of time while you get the sling on - good for babies with reflux! Once she's a bit bigger we won't need the new born insert (pictured below) and it will be even easier to get her in and out, and it will be less bulky when packed away.
If you're going out and about in winter with the baby in the sling, you'll need a good coat that goes around the both of you - it means you can keep her cosy and out of the wind. It's also much easier to regulate her temperature - if you're too hot or too cold, she will be too. I tried on a bunch of men's XXL jackets, but they weren't big enough, so my sling coats were a great find - we are both pretty cozy in my goose down coat (from Mamaway (currently reduced to clear!)), while the hoody, and the waterproof jackets are handy for when it's not so cold. The coat would have been better if, like the hoody and jacket, there had been a separate head hole and hood for baby - as it is, I can't zip it fully up with her in the sling, which makes it a bit drafty in really bad weather which is a shame, especially as we're off to Iceland! I got the hoody and jacket, and a bunch of breastfeeding tops from VivaLaMamaBerlin.
Getting out and about is much easier when you're breast feeding as you don't have to worry about sterilising bottles, keeping the milk cold, getting the bottles heated up when they are ready to eat. But you'll to make sure you can get easy access without the both of you getting too cold. A combination of the slings, and tops designed with breastfeeding in mind are ideal for this. I've been able to feed at the beach on a windy day, in a forest on a cold evening, and at the bus stop in town waiting on a bus using a combo of these, with the added bonus of complete discretion!
I'm used to being pretty organised when it comes to camping - everything in it's place and a place for everything - it keeps my sanity when you are trying to live out of a ruck sack. I found nappy bags to be more hassle than they are worth - everything all over the place, and an irritating, over the shoulder design. Then I found Pakapod's rucksack - a camping mother's dream! There's a separate pods for nappies, and feeding (if you're using bottles), it comes with a travel changing mat, and so many pockets to keep a neat freak like me happy. It's pretty big, so I can fit a picnic lunch, extra layers and a camera in there. I can also walk for miles without really noticing it on my back - much better than a shoulder bag!
Pop up travel bassinet
So far, we've had Esme up at our caravan (getting it packed up for sale so we could buy our Bongo camper), in Donegal at a wedding, and spent four nights in our new camper.. We're going to London tomorrow for one night, and we're just about to head off to Iceland for a few weeks, and we've been able to do all of this without too much hassle or bulky luggage because we bought this really handy pop up bassinet. It weighs practically nothing, and folds away pretty tiny. And means we can go all over without worrying about what facilities there will be for her, or how she will get through the night without her familiar bedding.
This one hasn't helped us to get on adventures, and has probably made things a little bit trickier, as they are bulkier than disposables, and we can only be a few days away from laundry facilities. However, I think it would be remiss of me to wax lyrical about how important it is for me to introduce my baby to this beautiful wild world, while allowing her to fill skips worth of nappies to land fill before she is even able to walk! We had worried a bit about the extra hassle of the re-usable nappies before trying them out when she was about 10 days old, but they've been fine. We have a plug-in drying rack which is pretty cheap to run, and has them dry in about 2 hours. We bought 23 Bum Genius nappies, which come apart for easy washing and drying, but which fit back together to form a one-piece nappy. They are size adjustable so should be good from birth to potty trained. They cost around £22 each, so we reckon we'll start to save money in about 6 months. We could have bought less and saved money earlier, but we didn't want to do laundry too often (at the minute we do a wash about every 3 days). They come in some funky colours too!