Camping with a toddler seems like a scary idea, right? With their curiosity, excess energy, tantrums, and tendency to wander off, your tiny tots can be quite a handful. However, taking toddlers on a camping trip has several benefits. It allows your munchkins to explore the outdoors and appreciate nature’s beauty. Camping also teaches them important life lessons, such as responsibility, safety, environmental conservation, and patience.
Going for a camping trip with your little one can be a breeze if you know the right way to go about it. Read this post for some easy tips on camping with a toddler.
Tips For Camping With Toddlers
A few simple tips can make camping with toddlers a stress-free and enjoyable experience.
- Research the campground carefully
Research the campground well before you finalize it. Check the amenities, cleanliness, connectivity to the main roads, and hospitals. Several camping grounds offer facilities such as a pool, family activities, showers, onsite games, family discounts, and restaurants. Add in the filters as per your requirements while researching online. It is ideal if you choose a campground closer to your home to avoid the hassle of traveling long hours with a toddler.
- Check the weather
Along with thoroughly researching the facilities and arrangements at the campground, it is vital to keep a check on the weather. If it is rainy, windy, or too cold, you will be confined indoors, unable to have any fun. Toddlers are sensitive to weather changes and may fall sick. Researching the weather would help you keep your little one protected.
- Try out the camping gear
It is best to try out all the equipment you are taking well in advance to see if everything is in order. If you are planning to pitch a tent at the campsite, test it in your backyard. Try sleeping inside it to ensure everyone fits inside well. You can spend the night in it, to check if your toddler is comfortable too.
- Take safety measures
Watch your toddler to ensure their safety. If you plan to pitch your own tent, inspect the campsite thoroughly for dangerous items such as sharp stones, knives, broken glass pieces, any other pointy objects, or choking hazards. Make sure there are no poisonous plants or allergens around that may harm your little ones. Educate your tots about fire safety. The campsite shouldn’t be at a location that is too cold or too high (above 2,500 feet) as it may cause nausea and breathing problems.
- Involve toddlers in activities
An idle toddler can get mischievous. They may wander off or get into danger. The trick to keep the toddlers happy is to involve them in activities. Take them hiking or explore the surroundings. Give them simple tasks such as collecting rocks or sticks. You can bring some of their loved toys and play with them. A bucket and shovel, tricycles, ball, bug net, etc., are great for having fun outdoors. Such activities will engage them and tire them out, ensuring long naps.
- Try to maintain the routine
Toddlers are used to a proper schedule. Their mealtimes, snack times, nap times are fixed. While following the same routine on a camping trip might not be easy, try to stick to it as much as possible. This is especially important in terms of their nap and bedtime schedules. Skipping on sleep might make your little one irritable. Proper sleep is conducive to them being happy and playful.
- Unpack on time
If you plan to set up a tent, unpack before it gets dark. It will be difficult to work in the dark and things might get misplaced. Setting up a fire early on is important if you want to cook your own food.
Don’ts Of Camping With A Toddler
Avoiding certain things can improve your camping experience. Here are a few “don’ts” for a camping trip with a toddler.
- Expect too much
When you are taking a toddler with you on a camping trip, don’t expect every single thing to go as planned. You might have planned something, but it may not materialize due to unavoidable circumstances. A fussy toddler can turn your most awaited hike into a disaster. Be flexible and take it in your stride.
- Expect cleanliness
On a camping trip with toddlers, things may get messy. With their boundless desire to explore, toddlers often get dirt on their clothes and body. They spill food, topple liquids, and might get mud prints on the bed. Don’t be a stickler for cleanliness. Let your tiny tots explore and get their hands dirty as you can clean them up later
- Bring excessive toys
While bringing a few toys is great to keep your kids entertained, bringing too many will eat up a lot of precious space. Most importantly, a camping trip is meant to let your toddlers experience the wilderness and learn new things. So, instead of spending time playing with toys, your toddler needs to enjoy the camping trip to the fullest without any distractions. Hence, limit the number of toys you bring to the trip.
- Eating complicated dishes
Elaborate cooking is not ideal for camping. Choose to eat simple food while you are there. Items such as sandwiches, hot dogs, mac and cheese, or hummus are great options. You can have trail mixes for snacks.
- Bring too many electronic devices
Camping is a time for relaxation and exploration. Electronic devices such as tabs and phones can distract you and hinder you from enjoying your trip. Leave all the devices at home and use mobile phones only in case of emergencies.
- Pack too much
While packing a couple of extra pairs of clothes for your little ones is a good idea, don’t pack too much. You can repeat the clothes if required.
Camping Checklist For Camping With Toddlers
There are some essential items that you need to carry to make camping with toddlers a comfortable and fun experience.
- A safe place to sleep: Carry a portable crib to ensure that your toddler sleeps comfortably and securely at night. A pack-n-play can also provide a dedicated space for them to play.
- Clothes and layers: Even if it is warm during the day, the night temperatures can get quite chilly. Carry warm clothes, such as sweaters, and wearable blankets. Don’t forget to pack some long-sleeved t-shirts and long pants.
- Coolers: It is critical to maintain food integrity since your toddler relies on dairy for sustenance which tends to go bad. Carrying a cooler can ensure food safety.
- Wet wipes: Wet wipes are a must-have item if you have a toddler who is in the process of getting potty trained. Since toddlers tend to make a mess while eating and playing around, the wipes come in handy. Carry multiple packs with you.
- Portable high chair: A portable high chair would make mealtimes more manageable. Your squirmy toddler would remain in place and the mess would be easier to clean.
- An outdoor rug or mat: Campsites may have debris, pebbles, or glass lying around. A crawling or newly walking toddler might hurt their soft skin on such sharp objects. They also tend to get their hands dirty with the soil or sand and stuff it in their mouths. An outdoor mat or rug can provide a safe play area.
- Bug repellent: Campsites may have dangerous insects such as mosquitos and ticks which spread diseases. Choose a repellent with not more than 30% DEET and apply it only on the toddler’s clothing and exposed skin (1). Apart from DEET, you can use products containing Picaridin (1). At night, you may cover your little one’s bed with a mosquito net for protection.
- Backpack carrier: Taking a backpack carrier would be a good idea if you wish to hike or walk a considerable distance during your camping trip. Your little one would fit comfortably in it, keeping your hands free.
- Hat and sunscreen: Carry a hat and sunscreen to protect your toddlers from the harsh rays of the sun. Put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or 30 on all exposed areas of the body 15-30 minutes before taking them out in the sun (2). The hat should have an all-around three-inch brim to ensure your toddler’s ears, face, and back of the neck are protected (2).
- Socks and shoes: Socks and shoes will protect your toddler’s feet from cold and any debris or grime lying around. Keep some extra pairs handy in case they get wet or dirty.
- First aid kit: Due to their curiosity and high energy, toddlers may get minor scrapes and bruises. Carry a first aid kit with items such as a band-aid, antiseptic, calamine lotion, and Neosporin.
- Portable potty chair: If your toddler is toilet trained, it is a good idea to carry a portable potty chair with you. Camp toilets may be far away from your tent and are generally not very hygienic. If carrying a portable potty chair seems too much of a hassle, carry disposable toilet seat covers to protect your child.
Camping can be a memorable trip for your toddler. While taking a toddler may seem like a big challenge, it is simpler than you think. By putting in some research and planning well in advance, you are sure to have lots of fun with your toddler.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What age can I take a toddler camping?
Although there is no set age limit for taking a child camping, some parents take babies as young as six months for camps along with them. However, it would be ideal to go on camps with children above two years as it might be a little easier to handle them. However, plan and carry all their essentials to enjoy a hassle-free camping experience.
2. Can a baby be near a campfire?
No, allowing a baby near a campfire is not advisable as it could put them at risk of fire hazards. Moreover, reports suggest that increased exposure to wood smoke pollution may increase the risk of respiratory ailments in children (3).
Use the tips and tricks given in this post to plan that perfect camping trip. While you may need to be quite cautious, you can still allow your little ones to have the time of their lives. Make sure you document the trip in a good camera so that you can reminisce all those beautiful memories.
- Before camping with a toddler, study the campground to know its amenities and cleanliness.
- Check the weather beforehand to keep your child protected.
- Carry wet wipes, portable high chairs, bug repellants, a first aid kit, and other essential items to make camping comfortable.
- Don’t carry too many toys, electronic devices, or clothes.
- Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child.
- Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen.
- Children and Wood Smoke Pollution.