Camping with toddlers is a total blast! My husband and I love to camp, and to be honest, it never crossed our minds to stop camping once our son was born. If memory serves, our little boy went camping for the first time when he was five months old.
Fostering family togetherness is a passion of ours. We try very hard to guard our family time; thus seeking to create memories as a family as often as we can.
One of the things we hope to instill in our children is a love for the outdoors and all the Lord has created! Camping is a great opportunity to get out in nature and get away form technology and really connect as a family!
It is our hope that by exposing our little boy early to activities like camping, hiking, fishing, and biking that he will come to enjoy and love them as much as we do. So far I’m hopeful that this will be a fun lifelong journey with him! As he gets older, it has been so fun to watch his little love for the outdoors grow.
Now that the snow has melted (finally) here in Colorado, we’re gearing up for our first family camping trip of the season. We are so excited and our two year old is amazed that he’s going to get to sleep in a tent!
Since I’m in planning mode, I thought it would be fun to share tips for camping with toddlers with you.
11 Tips for Camping with Toddlers
1. Put on the right attitude. This is clutch for enjoying your time in the great outdoors. It’s going to be tiring, exhilarating, and mostly dirty. But the right attitude will go a long, long way! Be prepared to lower a few standards (like eating dirt) and do the best you can to just relax and go with the flow.
2. Keep a steady routine. We try to keep with the routine of home, especially around bedtime. This is not the same as a schedule. But preparing your child for sleep much like you would at home can make the transition into bedtime a little easier. But then again, we let our toddler bounce around the tent until he falls asleep, so this tip may not even work. But a lot of people recommend it! So I’d say give it a try. 🙂
3. Bring a backpack for the toddler to collect treasures. We like to go on hikes and nature scavenger hunts while camping. Bring along a way for your child to collect the endless treasures he finds on the trail and around your campsite. If you want to pack some contact paper and cardboard, then it could be a fun toddler nature study turned keepsake!
4. Allow your toddler to help. This is not a time to do everything yourself. Include your toddler in what you’re doing. When unloading the truck, give your child something to carry. When making dinner, give your child an extra pan and spoon, or let them put the cheese on the burgers. Find a way to include them to not only keep them safe and occupied while you work, but to teach them the art of serving together.
5. Provide outdoor toys. You’re not going to have planned activities each and every second you’re out in the wilderness. Be sure to bring along a few outdoor toys like buckets, shovels, balls, and/or dump trucks so your child has something to do in the down times. My friend Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents recommends lots of bubbles! But it’s okay to not bring anything at all (we’ve taken this route on purpose and on accident…we survived). You know your child. However, we’ve found a few toys really helps our little guy stay out of mischief when Mommy and Daddy just want to sit down for a little bit.
6. Pack a first aid kit. This is just good to do period. Be sure to include sunscreen and bug repellant. If you’re looking for some ideas for a natural first aid check out A Natural First Aid Kit To Go and Natural First Aid Kit.
7. Make a list and check it ten times. Don’t think you will remember everything from memory. This is just a bad, bad idea. Be sure to check your campsite for what amenities will be available. Make your list and plan carefully so you don’t forget anything.
8. Start packing early. Don’t wait for the night before you leave to start gathering everything you will need. This is another bad, bad idea. Fellow procrastinators, make your list (#7) and start gathering your items into a central location to be organized for loading before the night before (or the morning of).
9. Don’t take anything you’d cry over if it got ruined. This includes clothes, toys, and equipment. This is not a good time to bring your favorite can opener that can get dropped in the dirt and forgotten.
10. Consider bringing a highchair. Some toddlers do best strapped down. If this is an issue for you, don’t be afraid to bring a little extra gear and tote the high chair or booster seat along with you. We’ve done it both ways and pre-two years old, we vote the highchair every time.
11. Remember your purpose for camping. Each family’s reasons for camping will be different. For us it’s about fostering a love for nature and creating lasting family memories. It’s also about getting away from the day-to-day grind, turning off the cell phone, shutting down the email, and purposefully seeking to enjoy time together as a family!
When you’re tired and dirty, it’s so easy to get frustrated and snipey with one another. But remembering your purpose, you can close your trap and just smile at the kid rolling around in the mud or tromping through the mud puddles. You can smile when your kid wants to “help” again and know that you’re out here for this purpose and this purpose only – to love on one another as much as you can!
Are you still overwhelmed by the idea of camping with toddlers?
You should check out the Family Camping Handbook by Katie from Kitchen Stewardship. This is hands down the very best resource I have found on camping with toddlers and infants (and as a family in general).
- Three-column chart of conventional camping food, compromise upgrades, and real food options
- FIVE printable packing and to do lists, plus a sample weekend menu plan
- Over 35 recipes and techniques for campfire cooking
- Plus a Paleo/Primal/Grain-free adaptation, 2 Gluten-free camping menu plans and 10 printable recipe cards
My husband and I actually read this book together this week and are using it to prepare for our weekend ahead. It has been SUCH a lifesaver for my tired pregnant brain.
Personally, I love having my menu planned and shopping list made for me, as well as my overall packing list. I just have to adapt it to my family needs, but the BULK of the work is done for me. Katie does a great job of giving lots of tips for making camping a fun experience for everyone involved!
So tell me! Do you go camping with your children? What tips would you add to the list?
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