There is nothing quite like the experience of family camping. There are so many benefits to be had for each and every family member plus amazing memories to create, stories that will be shared around the family dinner table over and over again in the years to come. However, for many parents, camping with a toddler feels like a hard task and so camping is added to the list of things we’ll try later, when the kids are older. While there is no doubt camping with your toddler can be hectic and even exhausting, starting your family’s camping adventure doesn’t need to wait. It can be a fun experience that you will all love and remember forever, and once you’ve ventured off together once hopefully you’ll be inspired to continue your family camping adventures for many years to come!
So where to start? For families who have never tried camping before, our printable family camping checklist is a must. Add in our handy toddler camping suggestions below and with a little preparation and forethought you’ll be ready to pitch the tent and light the campfire in no time!
First Time Camping With a Toddler in Tow?
Don’t Forget these Essentials!
Choose a variety of lightweight layers for your toddler. But know that they will get grubby. They are likely to go through clothing pretty fast so it’s a good idea to pack a little more than you think you’ll need, if you have the space. Long sleeves and long pants or leggings help to protect your toddler from scratches and bites. Bring along warmer options for evenings – including a beanie and warm socks. Don’t forget to pack a hat to protect them from the sun. Because Mother Nature is often unpredictable, bring along some rain gear and rain boots as well (splashing in the mud puddles is all part of the camping fun!)
2. Food and snacks
Plan meals and snacks ahead of time, being sure to bring along plenty of their favourites – camping is not the time to introduce a heap of new or unusual foods.
Choose snacks that pack a lot of energy because your toddler will be constantly on the move. Some great, simple snack options for your toddler can include:
- fruit pouches
- trail mix
- fresh fruit
Don’t bring a ton of food that needs to be kept hot or cold as these can be difficult to store when camping.
3. First aid kit
A first aid kit is a necessity, not just for your toddler, but the whole family.
Include a range of band-aids in different sizes, antiseptic cream, painkillers (for children and adults), bandages, sunscreen, and baking soda to apply on stings. It’s also a good idea to pack a child-safe insect repellent.
Keep the kit in a safe place that is easy to get to quickly (and make certain to restock it after each and every camping trip!)
4. A good tent
Probably your most important camping purchase, be sure not to compromise when it comes to a good quality tent. Make sure that it is also sizeable enough to accommodate you and the toddler comfortably. Choose one that is waterproof and rainproof and make certain that your tent receives good ratings online.
A two room tent can be great for camping with children of any age because it gives them a small area to sit and play or read as well as a sleeping space.
Sleep is important for your toddler. And they’ll be especially tired during your camping adventure. Invest in good quality sleeping bags for the trip – being warm can make all the difference to your comfort level when sleeping in the bush.
An inflatable sleeping mat/mattress can also help your toddler get a good night’s rest.
Toddlers get bored easily and you’ll want to keep them entertained. Bring along a few of their favourite toys to give to them when the excitement of the being at the campsite dwindles. Choose toys that just need a rinse off to clean and that are big enough to not worry about losing. Plastic shovels and buckets are really great toys to take along for your toddler when camping.
7. Stash containers
Where will you place all those toys and other simple stuff you need to carry along for the comfort of the toddler? Stash containers work great here.
Want a simple solution for storing all of the toys and supplies your family will need when camping? Clear bins or tubs make great stash containers. Sort your supplies into sets of like items, place one group into each tub and and label them – cooking, dishes and utensils, medical and cleaning supplies, toys, etc. This will save you so much time and frustration when you are looking for a specific item.
8. Baby wipes
Baby wipes aren’t just for baby bottoms! They are the solution to so many messy problems when camping, especially if water is in short supply where you are staying. They work great for dirty hands and faces, and are super handy for bathroom use when camping with kids. Or use them to stay fresh and clean, to wipe up spills, clean off toys or shoes before getting back into the car…the list of possibilities is endless. Of course, like all trash, be sure to dispose of the used wipes thoughtfully when camping.
Camping with a toddler can seriously be a whole lot of fun! You’ll love seeing the excitement and adventure of camping through their eyes. It might just take you back to your own childhood, enjoying the very same things!
For more family camping tips, be sure to check out our collection of family camping games and this list of suggestions for things to do when camping with kids.