Jazz Fest With Babies

Taking Fergus and Sweet William to Jazz Fest was a lot of fun.  Carefully preparing for the heat, noise, and sun made a big difference.  Here’s what I took along for the babies:

• Stroller (I’m crazy about the huge sun canopy of our new City Mini GT Double)
• 2 lightweight swaddle blankets to drape over the stroller for additional shade
• picnic blanket
• camp chair with sun canopy
• refillable glass water bottle
• organic peanut butter sandwich, fruit, and granola
• sun hats
• Badger 30+ sunblock
• hearing protector earmuffs
• 2 extra lightweight, light colored, cotton outfits
• toys

Jazz Fest is in many ways family-friendly. Volunteers at the entrance gate hand out wrist bands with space for you to write your contact information and your child’s name. The grounds are navigable with a stroller. Cooling tents with fans and misters are effective and entertaining and I’m sure I’ll be grateful for the childrens’ activity stations when the boys are a little older. If anyone needs a break, the Grandstand is a quiet, air conditioned spot to relax and watch the crowds below.

Another great thing about Jazz Fest is the crowd. The attendees are mostly friendly and helpful — and not especially drunk!  If only fewer of them smoked.  The tents are non-smoking, but we sometimes had to relocate to avoid smoke at the open stages.

Unfortunately, the music in the Kids’ Tent was painfully loud.  We skipped it and spread out our blanket in the shade of the Economy Hall tent, instead. Maybe Fergus and William will grow up to like the traditional New Orleans Jazz that they heard there.

I felt completely comfortable nursing Fergus as we sat listening to the music, but trying to pump on the days when we went without the boys was tough. I had heard that nursing moms could use the medical tents, but they turned out to be exposed stations where EMTs waited around. I ended up dragging a chair into the women’s restroom on the third floor of the Grandstand. It wasn’t pleasant (I thought I would asphyxiate on air fresheners and cleaning products), but it worked.

UPDATE: I finally found the medical tent located next to the Gentilly Stage. It has a semi-private cooling tent with fans and misters, which is a great (if wet) place to breastfeed or pump. There’s running water and a supply of clean ice for your cooler. (5/7/12)

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2 Responses to Jazz Fest With Babies

  1. Michael Fanelli February 15, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    Great post! We are thinking of heading down with our 7 mos old (who will be 10 mos at the time). Did yours both make it the entire day? We were thinking we may need to bring them home early. We are also looking into the Big Chief experience package on the theory that we could use the lounge area for nap with the baby. Any other good advice? How did you get fack and forth to the Fest?


    • elizabethmonaghan February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      Dear Michael,

      Thanks for your message! Our kids started to run down by about 5:30, but if your baby naps well in the stroller, you might make it through the day. I think it also depends on the temperature — the heat was a bit of a challenge for Fergus and William.

      We considered the Big Chief package, but opted for the WWOZ Brass Pass. It allows access to a central tent with clean tables, chairs, misting fans, and all the iced coffee and fresh fruit you can eat. It’s a restful and cool spot to relax or eat a meal (you can bring in the amazing food you bought from the stands).

      We’re big fans of the Economy Hall tent, which features traditional New Orleans Jazz. The volume seems safer for little ears and there’s often a spot to spread out your picnic blanket under the shade of the tent. We wheel in the stroller and let the boys rest.

      We’ve always driven to the grounds and roamed the neighborhood to find parking. There are a number of churches, schools, and businesses along Esplanade Avenue that offer pay-to-park. Go early to park closer to the entrance.

      I hope this helps. I’ll be posting more tips soon!


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