Tips for helping your family rock at music festivals

January 25 | Guest post by Candice Littlepage
Photo by JASON ANFINSEN, used under Creative Commons license.

A common passion that my husband, Eric, and I have is seeing live music. We enjoy festivals in particular because we can see a bunch of bands during the weekend and possibly become a new fan. We decided that just because we have a baby didn't mean our love for live music had to change — so we just started taking her with us!

First, since we're talking music festivals here, I want to go ahead and put it out there: Eric and I were both completely stone cold sober during our time at these festivals and we still had an amazing time. It's completely possible!

If you're thinking of taking your babies or little kids to a festival, here are must-haves:

  • Ear plugs or headphones for babies/toddlers
  • Lots of water to keep hydrated — for everyone
  • Baby carrier of some sort — I loved our Ergo while we were at Bonnaroo, and wore our youngest in it for hours
  • Clothes for all weather: rain, cold, hot, mild, etc.
  • An open mind and flexibility: you may have a schedule or know there are bands you HAVE to see, but baby will change those plans in an instant
Our youngest and her ear plugs.

The first time we took her to a festival was when she was 13 months old and we went to SummerCamp. What a trip that was! We brought anything and everything we could pack in the car to keep her happy — both at the festival and for the four-and-a-half hour drive. She was still nursing, so I sat in the back with her to make mealtimes a little easier.

When we arrived we learned we couldn't park next to our campsite (it was our first time at this festival) — which also meant we wouldn't be able to access the stuff we brought with us. As it turned out, she loved the music as much as we did and we didn't even need everything we had brought! She had the time of her life and so did we. The downside was that she didn't want to sleep, so we found a secluded place in the woods to avoid bothering our neighbors. We were told there was a "Family Camping" area, but no one seemed to know where it was. The lowest point was when she screamed all night — we almost called it quits.

When we had our second baby I initially said no when festival season rolled around — she was only going to be six moths old during! Well, Phish chose that year to get back together and decided to play two nights at Bonnaroo, so we changed our minds and went. This time we only packed necessities for the ten-hour drive. Luckily, our youngest didn't mind and our oldest was forward-facing and no longer screamed while riding. Bonnaroo was amazing — the "family camping" section is the best. When we were waiting in Centeroo for the shows to start it was like our two-year-old was home: she was so comfortable and danced like no one was watching. There were also a lot of people coming up and playing with her, and she loved it.

Our family at Bonnaroo!

Nighttime at Bonnaroo was so easy — both kids slept better in the tent then they did at home. My husband was able to go watch a few nighttime sets (he said I should go first, but I was worried our youngest would wake up and want to nurse). We made a ton of friends there, and now we usually end up at the same shows and our kids play together.

Two months after Bonnaroo Jane's Addiction got back together with the original lineup. My husband thought it wouldn't last very long, so we went off to Chicago and Grant Park. This time we got a hotel room before heading to the festival, and after watching Neko Case a girl handed me a note that said "Beautiful family! Thanks for being inspiring XOXOXO" — I almost cried. We were just doing what we love, seeing live music, and bringing our kids along. It was nice to realize that just because we had kids we didn't have to stop. There are even perks to bringing your kids along: when most people see babies, they make room for you!