The official start of summer is just around the corner and that means time for playgrounds, parks, and that very first picnic, one of our very favorite rites of passage for new babies. (We’ve been through quite a few of those, so we know.)
But before you pack up your entire kitchen in the trunk of the car and cram your basket full of goodies you might not need–or eat– here are our tips for having a successful picnic with your little one. And of course, some cute looks for those picnic-perfect pics.
1. A picnic blanket doesn’t have to be a blanket: As much as we love the idea of an old-fashioned picnic blanket, lugging around a heavy quilt with everything else that goes with your baby isn’t so practical. Instead, we suggest a lightweight coated cotton blanket, or something like this water-resistant playmat which converts into an easy-to-carry shoulder bag or backpack.
2. Don’t forget the sun protection: If your little one is under six months old, the safest protection is to keep them covered up. Try a UPF blanket to help shield the suns rays without chemicals, soft, breatheable cotton clothes, and of course, don’t forget a sunhat, ideally one with a decent brim. Save the beanies for cloudy, cool days.
If you have a toddler or older child, be sure to apply sunscreen up to 30 minutes before heading out. We’re always a fan of the ones with fewer chemicals and icky stuff. A great resource: the annual Environmental Working Group sunscreen guide which ranks the safest sunscreens for kids based on their ingredients.
3. Keep the food and drinks simple: Since you’ll be juggling more gear than you’re probably used to when you head out–babies do seem to accumulate the stuff, huh?–skip the fancy three-course meals. Instead, pack easy finger foods, prepared foods in containers, and don’t forget the utensils. It makes the prep and clean-up a snap so you can enjoy more of the actual picnic. Also pack drinks in non-spill cups. One more favorite tip: water doesn’t leave stains. You’ll thank us for that after the first grape juice mishap.
4. Wipes wipes wipes: They’re not just for diaper changes! Be sure to pack extra diaper wipes and a baby-safe hand sanitizer to make sure hands are clean before you eat without a sink around. Wipes also work for cleaning up stains on clothes and cleaning off dishware or containers before you put it back in your bag.
5. Wet bags are your friend: Messes are inevitable with kids, as are all sorts of accidents and spills, so consider bringing along a wet bag that zips or Velcros shut. This way, anything that ends up wet or dirty won’t get everything else wet or dirty; plus it can be tossed right in the laundry as soon as you walk back in the door.
6. Dress the kids cutely, but comfortably: Since the great outdoors makes for some of the best photo opportunities (trust us, these are the ones that end up framed), choose clothes that are cute, but still appropriate for active play. Leave the white dupioni silk dress at home, in other words. Also think about soft, breatheable cottons which keep kids cool and wash easily.
We’re loving the new Lawn Party collection from babyGap. Here are just a few of our faves. Oh the cuteness! (Clockwise: 1. polkadot bow body double 2. open knit cardigan 3. lace trim leggings 4. polkadot one piece 5. floral tank dress)
7. Don’t forget the camera: Whether you’re a SLR pro or just love using your smartphone (try this photo app which we’re having a ton of fun with lately), come full charged. You might also consider bringing along a portable battery pack or even a solar charger. Photos can drain your battery fast, and you don’t want to be stuck with 4% power when magic hour hits.
Plus, don’t wait for the perfect moment. They’re all pretty perfect; grass-stained knees, lopsided sunhats, unwelcome ants and all. Plus, hey it’s not a real picnic until someone eats a little dirt, right?
Visit the brand new Hamptons Garden collection and Lawn Party collection of baby essentials on the babyGap website, and see more of favorite cute babyGap picks, plus 150 other baby gift ideas at the Cool Mom Picks Ultimate Baby Shower Gift Guide.