A mum has shared her top tips for taking a baby to festivals - after rocking out at Download with her nine-month-old.
Anne Shirley, 36, and partner Andrew Harris, 37, began planning to take little Ziggy to a festival during pregnancy. The couple from Birmingham then organised tickets for Download when their youngster was just six months old - and set about preparing for their trip.
And, after having a "blast" at the British rock event last weekend, maths teacher Anne now wants to speak about taking babies to festivals.
What has Anne said about her experience as a mum at festivals in her own words?
The mum, from Bearwood, said: "It was something we always talked about doing while I was pregnant - we couldn’t wait to take him to a festival with us. We’re both super passionate about music so wanted to get him started young, plus tickets are even free for children under four years old.
"We had a big chat about whether or not it was realistically a possibility to take him and would he actually get any enjoyment out of it, but it turned out that he loved it! I think it’s fair to say Ziggy had a blast. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone thinking about taking their baby to a festival!"
What happened in the lead up to the family trip to Download Festival?
Anne and Andrew had initially planned on going to Download Festival in the day and returning home to sleep, but brought a tent in case Ziggy needed any downtime during the day.
Amazingly, Ziggy even managed to nap in the arena and had no issues falling asleep at his normal bedtime so the family ended up camping the whole weekend amongst other festival-goers.
Many festivals, including Download and Glastonbury, have quiet camping areas which Anne advises camping in if taking a baby or young child to the festival for peaceful sleep.
Anne said: "Before the festival, we played him some of the bands that were on so he might recognise some of the music - we even found lullaby renditions of Kiss for him to fall asleep to!"
"We set up camp at the back of the main stage and second stage where there was space for a picnic blanket and for him to crawl, bounce and dance and we brought a tiny baby pop up tent for shade and shelter.
"We decided we’d set up the tent [there] so we’d have somewhere quiet to bring him if we felt he needed some quiet time or if the weather was horrific, we’d have somewhere clean and dry to change him and throw in some camping stuff on the off-chance.
"He slept way better in a tent than he does at home!
"You can get a quiet camping pass and it doesn’t cost any extra.
"We tried to keep his routine as normal as possible, popping him in his pushchair for nap time.
"At bedtime, we put him in his sleepsuit and sleeping bag, gave him a cuddle and a bottle as usual then put him to bed in his pushchair with the hood down and he managed to sleep through all the headline acts!
"We just wheeled him into the tent when we were ready to head back and he slept right through!"
How did Anne keep an eye on Ziggy through the night at Download Festival?
Anne covered Ziggy’s pram in fairy lights so that people would be able to see him and not trip over or fall onto the pram and advises other parents to do the same.
She said: "We took his pushchair as the forecast was dry but made sure we had a backpack baby carrier too just in case it still became muddy, although he much preferred sitting on shoulders.
"I’d also advise always asking the security staff if there’s an easier route - pretty much every one of them was happy to open gates or direct us through easier access routes that weren’t open to the public."
Was she worried that the music might be too loud for Ziggy?
She also bought baby ear defenders for Ziggy which he kept on most of the time and meant he could still enjoy the music without it all being too loud for him.
Anne added: "He seemed pretty comfortable in the ear defenders too - it’s normally a real battle to keep anything on his head, hence no sun hat!
"They were really good and he even managed to leave them on most of the time!
"I’d [also] advise bringing plenty of snacks and pre-made bottles of formula as it’s much less of a faff than making up bottles.
"Bring suncream if you’re lucky, rain suit if you’re not. We took him plenty of musical instruments - tambourine, maracas, drum, bells - so we could encourage him to play along. "
Dressed in a denim jacket covered in rock band patches just like his dad, Ziggy looked the part as a festival-goer and could be seen happily dancing to the music throughout the weekend.
And to sum up…
Anne said: "We had a brilliant time - very different from the usual festival experience of running from stage to stage with a beer in hand, altogether more laid back and it was awesome to see Ziggy having so much fun.
"The staff and the crowd were so friendly and helpful and showered him with fuss and attention, which he loved!
"We would 100% recommend it to anyone thinking about taking their child to a festival. We will definitely be taking him next year and are currently looking at taking him to Bloodstock if we can get tickets!"
Anne’s top tips on bringing babies to music festivals:
- Bring suncream if you’re lucky, rain suit if you’re not.
- Bring plenty of snacks and pre-made bottles of formula.
- Take your own toy musical instruments so your baby can play along with the bands.
- Put up a tent in the ‘quiet camping’ area, even if not camping, for somewhere for downtime if the music gets too loud for your baby or to change wet clothes.
- Ask security for easier access routes.
- Buy baby ear defenders.
- Cover your pram in fairy lights so people don’t trip over it.
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