Music festivals: should you take your baby?

A wild weekend of music, late nights and debauchery… Should you take your baby to music festivals? Cordelia Fellowes shares her experience of braving seven festivals with a ten-month-old baby and offers some practical tips…

Mother-of-one Cordelia Fellowes is a musician living in Somerset. She spent 12 years doing the UK festival circuit – working behind the bar – but last year took her baby and joined the revellers. Here’s what she learned about doing music festivals with a baby…

Together, Elody and I braved Glastonbury, Larmer Tree, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown, Green Man, Purbeck and Bestival. It was a massive, muddy, chaotic learning experience and I picked up a few helpful tips along the way.

Get an off-road/all terrain buggy
I’m lucky enough to own two prams, one of which is an off-roader. It’s chunkier and heavier than a ‘town buggy’ and therefore able to go on long grass and rocky terrain without getting damaged.

If you only own one and it’s not suitable – and you’re unable to borrow another from anyone – you can rent them here or here for upwards of £35 per week, with a deposit of £150-200.

Most festivals will require you to walk off a solid track at some point and many (such as Glastonbury and Boomtown) are almost entirely made up of grassy or rocky paths. When it gets muddy, you’ll be thankful you came prepared.

Bring your own baby food
Food stalls at festivals are rarely cheap and with babies, at least half of any presented food gets smashed up or dropped on the floor. Therefore, if you’re reluctant to spend five quid on a baked potato only to have it ground in to your jumper, I suggest taking some ready-made meals from home, or Ella’s pouches.

Being at a festival is seriously stimulating (tiring) for little brains, so you’ll probably find that your little one works up quite an appetite. Also, make sure you’ve got plenty of mineral water as some festivals charge a lot for bottled water and taps can be scarce – so often have huge queues.

Take your own shade
Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown – and many other festivals – have almost no natural shade and so walking from area to area can be hot and dusty work.

I took a parasol with me this summer, which saved me lathering suncream on my baby constantly and gave me a throw back Victorian vibe, which I enjoyed rocking. Equally, a netted cover for the buggy can be handy, especially when the baby’s sleeping.

Go with a group of parents
Going with a group of parents will give you the chance to go off exploring without the baby, as you can take it in turns to keep watch (though this is tricker if you’re breastfeeding).

Friends – parent or not – will happily hold your baby while you go to the loo/tie your shoelaces/apply glitter, but if you’re looking for someone to take your child for several hours while you go and throw shapes on the dance floor – it’s more likely that a fellow parent will do that.

But you might make parent friends on arrival too. The Green Man has a fantastic area called The Settlement, which opens on the Monday before the main festival and is just for families. I went alone with my daughter but soon had a huge gang of parents and kids to enjoy the week with.

Take ear defenders for your child
The noise levels at some of the main music events (or in the case of Glastonbury and Boomtown, in entire areas) were just way too loud for my daughter and so I found ear defenders helped a lot.

Often she wouldn’t keep them on and we’d just have to go (be prepared to leave your favourite band’s set early – it won’t be as enjoyable with a crying child in your arms) or I’d wait for her to fall asleep and then put them on. You can buy them online from £7.99.

(This article was originally published in September 2015)

Photo credit: Ciara Deasy