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Camping with toddlers can pose many opportunities for headaches. From constantly making sure they are safe to ensuring they don’t wander out of your range of sight, traveling with a little one can cause a lot of worries. All that worry can be worth it though—these adventures can create a lifetime of memories shared with your child.
Camping with toddlers is a great way to get them away from everyday distractions like the television, iPads and video games. If you’ve been considering taking your family on camping trips but can’t fathom how to manage the wilderness with toddlers, look no further. We’ll break down key tips, fun activities and the essential equipment needed to make your trip a success and have your toddler begging for the next one.
How to Camp With a Toddler: 5 Tips
Camping with a toddler doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are five tips that will help combat the situations you may face while taking your toddler into the wilderness.
1. Prepare in Advance
Properly preparing for a camping trip with your toddler is the key to success. A well-planned camping trip should start with making a checklist for your toddler’s needs and crossing off items along the way as you complete them.
These items include:
- Checking the weather
- Packing multiples of essential items and supplies
- Bringing your toddler’s favorite pillow, blanket and items for sleep time
- Packing enough diapers and wet wipes
- Packing weather dependent clothing to make sure your toddler is comfortable while on your trip
- Bringing along easy to clean toys and items your toddler can’t live without
- Bringing an all-terrain stroller for longer hikes
This list could continue on, but the idea behind it is to pack items centered around those must-have belongings (the ones that can be the difference between a meltdown and a smooth vacation).
2. Create a Designated Play Area
Most toddlers like to roam, especially if they lose interest or don’t feel like they are in a contained space designated for them. A great option is to bring a separate smaller tent that is designated for travel toys and playtime.
There are some inventive tent options available for toddlers that can make their time in nature seem more festive and special. Some play tent options for toddlers include:
- Teepee Tent
- Princess Tower
- Princess Castle
- Castle Tent
3. Bring Their Favorite Items
Toddlers tend to have their favorites for every category. Favorite sippy cup, plate, fork, spoon, toy, stuffed animal—the list goes on. A great way to set your trip up for success is to make sure these items make it on your packing list and in your car
Venturing out of your toddler's normal routine may be a shock to their system during the first couple of camping trips. Bringing items that make them feel back at home and comfortable can keep your camping trip running smoothly.
4. Pack a Proper First Aid Kit
It’s no secret that toddlers are prone to bumps, scrapes, falls and bruises. Introducing them to a new world full of uneven ground, rocks, plants with thorns and more, will only increase the likelihood of accidents.
To prepare for these accidents, make sure to pack a proper first aid kit. Include items like:
- An assortment of different-sized bandaids. Bonus points for cartoon ones
- Antiseptic swabs and cream
- Gauze pads and tape
- Butterfly bandages (Steri-Strips) to close deeper cuts
- Tweezers for splinters
- Toddler dosed pain relievers and antihistamines
- Anti-itch lotions for bug bites and stings
5. Meal Prep Accordingly
Any parent with a toddler will understand the perils of dinner time. The pickiness of their palate will not alter on a camping trip. When planning out meals for your trip, it’s recommended to keep in mind the food, snacks and treats your toddler never fusses about.
Having their favorite snacks on hand throughout a long day of adventure will keep them energized and focused. It might require some research on your end on tips and tricks for preparing specific dishes at a campsite, but it will be worth it in order to keep your toddler happy. Properly pre-planned dishes for your toddler will allow you to skip having to cook over a fire and worry about any potential fire safety issues.
Fun Camping Ideas To Try this Year
Camping with your toddler presents a great opportunity to pass down traditions you enjoyed growing up. Here are a few opportunities to make sure your toddler has a memorable experience.
Smores, the age-old camping tradition. This is perhaps the best evening time activity for toddlers on a camping trip. It is fun for them to watch the marshmallows catch a small flame and the taste combination of the sugary marshmallow, the warmth of the melted chocolate and the crunch of the graham crackers is one that will make them want to come back year after year.
Not only do smores offer a great treat at the end of a long day, but it’s a great opportunity to teach your toddler at a young age the importance of proper fire safety.
There probably aren’t many other instances in your toddler's life that they will have the ability to use a hammock. Hammocks are a unique way to bring extra seating to your campsite and are a fun choice for toddlers because they can double as a swing when they aren’t using them to relax.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
No, you don’t have to go out ahead of your toddler to hide items for them to find. You can simply make a list of items commonly found in nature. Give your toddler the list you create and put them in charge of their own adventure.
Some ideas of what to include on their scavenger hunt checklist are:
- A cool looking rock
- A big stick
- A unique looking tree
- A funny-looking bug
- A fish (if a creek or river is nearby)
These are just a few, but the options are endless and can keep your toddler occupied for hours. This is also a great way to teach them about some of the unique things in nature they find.
What to Pack: 8 Camping Essentials for Toddlers
The easiest way to make sure your camping trip with your toddler is a success is to make sure they are happy and comfortable. The best way to do that would be to pack some of the items below.
- Comfortable sleeping bags for your little ones
- Fun and festive play tent
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Toddler tailored first aid kit
- Outdoor toys that are easy to clean
- Toddler designed travel gear to keep your them comfortable
- A comfortable car seat for the trip to the campsite
- An all-terrain stroller for long family hikes
- A travel Pack’n Play with shade to cover for rest and play
- Games for downtime at the campsite
- Meal prep kit for packing your toddler's favorite foods
Camping, even without a toddler, can seem like a daunting task at first, but proper planning and preparation can turn your trip into a fun and memorable experience for everyone. The only thing that really changes when camping with a toddler are a few extra supplies, some additional gear and a little extra responsibility in the oversight of their every movement.
Follow some, or all, of the tips mentioned above, and make sure to bring along your essential baby and kid gear for a stress-free trip this year.