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Gear Guy

Is it dangerous to cp with a baby?

My wife and I love to backpack in the summer and would like to continue doing so with our new baby boy. Everybody we say this to either laughs or looks at us with horror. The carrying part doesn't scare me, but sleeping in a tent with a six- to nine-month-old does. Any suggestions? (My recurring nightmare is that one of us could roll over and smother him.) Craig Portland, Oregon

A: Well, I'm not going to laugh or look at you with horror. But I admit, I'm skeptical. That's a very delicate being you'll be packing around. Plus you'll have to manage all the accoutrements—diapers, bedding, bottles, and all sorts of other baby paraphernalia I can't even think of. And while I'm not going to say a few mosquito bites are going to do any harm, keep in mind someone will have to carry the little tyke on his or her back, and a trip and a fall is never out of the question. (As a side note, I truly dislike seeing people carrying infants in a backpack while downhill skiing. Sure, maybe the parent won't fall, but what if someone whacks into them?)

As for inside the tent, well, that's a good point. I'm not clear about any particular solution here, although part of me says you will NEVER be so sound asleep as to roll over on that little child. I don't think any kind of folding crib is the solution, either; it wouldn't be practical to carry, plus might be cold standing upright in a chilly tent. Could the baby sleep in the child carrier? Maybe you could try that some night at home, before the trip, though don't quote me on this as I'm hardly convinced it'd be the most comfortable way for your baby to spend a night.

That said, my advice is: Take a summer off. You'll be plenty busy raising a baby without adding the complication of a backpacking trip. Settle for some day trips; summer of 2005 is soon enough to be doing overnighters again.

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