Festival season is upon us, and we think parenting and enjoying your favourite bands playing in a field can be mutually inclusive.
While several festivals accommodate mini music lovers and their parents with their own kid's stages (Field Trip) and designated nursing areas (Coachella), we're speaking from experience when we say the key to a successful festival experience with your little ones is all in what you pack.
We've rounded up our summer festival essentials to keep your tiny dancers grooving all day, in the hopes that you get to kick back and enjoy some beats yourself.
This queen-sized Turkish towel-like blanket is big enough to accommodate a sprawling family, yet light enough to be carried by one of your smaller members (hey, let them earn that wristband!). Multi-functional as a picnic blanket or a cozy layer for evening sets, these soft organic cotton blankets are famously quick to dry, and in a pinch can be used to towel off after misting stations or unexpected rain showers.
Stick a super stylin' Herschel backpack on your pre-schooler and share some of the festival load; super comfy shoulder straps and front zippered pockets make these lil packs the perfect carry-alls for essentials like snacks, sunscreen, and a change of clothes.
Unco-operative weather and damp fields can provide an iconic photo-op if you're Kate Moss, but if you're toting a toddler or two things have a tendency to get massively messy. Enter the Indigo Picnic Blanket: soft and patterned on one side and waterproof on the other, providing a dry place to sit. This festival must-have folds up neatly to expose a handle for easy carrying.
We love music festivals almost as much as we love protecting the environment, so we're certainly supporters of showing up festival-ready with our reusable water bottles. Responsible festival organizers will provide complimentary water stations, so top up your S'Well and get sipping; not only do they make smaller sizes for keeping your kids hydrated, but rumour has it that their larger sizes fit a full bottle of wine (you're welcome!).
Your kids are finally out of diapers but you've still got to stash the supplies. The diaper bag is out of the question, so where to put all the stuff? This made-in-Toronto convertible bag is our top pick for a chic weekday tote that doubles as a festival backpack with a tidy slip of the straps. As an added bonus, we tested out this multi-purpose pack with the Reve blanket, and the fit was perfection; lightweight with plenty of room for additional goodies.
So, you hauled all the gear, showed up at the venue and your kids just aren't loving Broken Social Scene as much as you'd hoped? Don't pack it in just yet. Instead, pull out the Melissa + Doug On The Go colouring book; suitable for ages three and up, the water-filled pen and reusable boards make for a no-mess colouring experience that mesmerizes little ones so you don't have to call it a day.
Minimalist toys that engage otherwise distracted concertgoers include this fave of ours from Kid-O. Enjoy this magnetized drawing board with your kiddies in between sets, and when the sun goes down watch it glow in the dark!
We like to think of World's Hair + Skin Balm as our on-the-go first-aid salve for minor skin irritations — a fragrant combination of mildly antiseptic essential oils makes it an ideal afterbite antidote and a skin soother after a little too much time in the sun. Not to mention it's designed to add shine and smooth hair, so you may just nail that perfect stage-front selfie after all.
Simple sticks of mess-free sunscreen from Jessica Alba's The Honest Co. are the perfect toss-and-go. Easy to apply (even little fingers can handle it) and re-apply as needed, they're teeny enough to tuck into everyone's bag so no one in the family goes home with a sunburn (we're looking at you, Dad!).
Festivals usually mean hours spent in the hot summer sun, so we love these durable truckers from Neighburr to keep our lil guys and gals safely protected. Designed with Velcro adjustment and side mesh paneling, these truckers are suitable for ages five to 10, and are sure to keep your little ones feeling as cool as they look.
Probably the most important item on our list, and perhaps first popularized by celebrity babies attending their parents' gigs (think Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's kids watching Coldplay), noise cancelling or isolation headphones like these ones from Vic Firth protect precious ears from all that bass (reducing overall noise levels by 22 decibels) while letting them enjoy the energy of the concert you're experiencing together.
Things get sticky when there's hot sun involved, and music festivals are no exception; think artisanal ice cream, gourmet burgers, portable toilets out of TP, and so many more minor crises that can be resolved with wipes. We love these fragrance-free ones from Bamboo Baby, suitable for our littlest ones and grubby grownups too.
Most festivals are chill about you bringing a couple of prepackaged snacks for your little ones, and while the artisanal offerings are a-plenty, be prepared for lineups that can test the patience of hungry tummies. We suggest stashing a couple of melt-resistant snacks like Blue Monkey Coconut Chips to ward off the hangries and keep everyone happy instead.
If you're festivalling into the later hours you're going to want to protect your kiddos from pesky insect bites. Longs sleeves and long pants are a great idea for evening attire, as well as an all-natural bug repellent like this lemongrass, citronella and cedar blend from California Baby.