I’ve always loved camping, but once we began having kids, I was afraid that we might have to stop. I mean, really, how are you supposed to take toddlers camping? Wouldn’t it make the whole process much harder?
No, it doesn’t have to be much harder to camp with toddlers. I really enjoy it and love seeing our little kids learn to enjoy the great outdoors at a young age. There are aspects that change, but by making a few small changes and planning ahead, you can still have a great camping trip with toddlers.
These 5 hacks will help you plan for your camping trip with a toddler and make the process a lot easier.
#1 Bring Proper Clothing
Having the right clothing for toddlers while camping will be very important. If they are cold while camping, they are not going to be happy, and neither are you. Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like and plan accordingly.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to bring extra clothes. We could have used some extra underwear on one of our camping trips years ago. Our son was already potty trained, but he must have eaten something bad the day before because as soon as we got to our campsite, his stomach began to not feel well.
Long story short, he ended up going through his whole week’s worth of underwear in a single day. Luckily, our friends with whom we were camping brought a laundry wash basin, and we were able to clean his underwear. (As a quick side note, we bought a laundry wash basin, and it has come in handy more than once. I would definitely recommend bringing on longer camping trips.)
Whatever the situation ends up being, it’s a good idea to bring some extra clothes just in case.
#2 Bring extra snacks
If your kids are like mine as toddlers, they are snack-eating machines. The first time we went camping with a toddler, we brought snacks but brought a normal amount. It wasn’t enough.
I don’t know what it is exactly, maybe because they are more active, but our kids end up eating more snacks than normal and then still eating a normal meal. We definitely recommend bringing extra snacks. The last thing you want to deal with is a toddler who is upset all day because you’ve run out of snacks.
My wife likes to prepare individual bags for each day. The bags contain various snacks that should last the entire day. She is then able to pull out a new bag each day and let our kids each the snacks they want throughout the day. It’s nice because then they don’t have to keep asking us for snacks. They can simply grab their bag and pick out a snack they want.
#3 Use a bunting for cold weather
When we first started camping with our kids, we weren’t sure how to keep them warm at night. Based on their inability to stay under a blanket at night in their bed (are anyone else’s kids like that as well?), we know a normal sleeping bag wouldn’t work for them. Additionally, kids sleeping bags are not normally rated for very cold weather.
I started looking into options, and I found toddler buntings. They are basically snowsuits for kids or wearable sleeping bags. We end up dressing our kids in warm pajamas, socks, and gloves and then putting them in a bunting. They have worked great for us and kept our kids nice and warm. We have still put a blanket or two on the kids, but I believe the bunting is what really keeps them warm.
There are a lot of different brands, sizes, and types, but the one we decided on was the Columbia Baby Snuggly Bunny Bunting. We’ve been very happy with ours and actually have two different sizes. A smaller one and a larger one.
#4 Bring gear just for them
Bringing the right gear is important, but we have found that it also helps to bring gear specifically for toddlers. They often want to have their own gear to make them feel like they are “big kids”.
One piece of gear we have found very important is a chair just for them. Kids like to feel like they have a seat specifically for them. Especially if you have more than one child, making sure the toddler has their own seat will help a lot. For some reason, chairs were a source of contention with our kids until we got everyone their own. Once everyone had their own chair, including the toddlers, the fight stopped. We have used these toddler camping chairs. We have a couple of them. They are pretty affordable and are really durable.
Another piece of gear we bring specifically for toddlers is a flashlight. Kids love to play with flashlights at night, and if your toddler does not have their own light, it’s going to cause problems. One recommendation for their flashlight is to get one that is not too bright. It needs to be bright enough for them to use at night but don’t get one too bright.
I can promise you that they will shine it in your eyes. No matter how many times you tell them not to, they are still going to do it. Do yourself a favor and get a flashlight that won’t blind you when they do shine it in your eyes. The flashlight we have gotten for our toddlers is this one, but you can find a list of the best camping flashlights here.
#5 Bring toys and activities for them
Bringing toys and planning some activities will be important to help keep your toddler entertained and happy. They will keep themselves entertained around the campground, but it is still wise to bring toys and plan activities. We find it good to bring a couple of familiar toys for them to play with as well as a couple of new toys to play with.
If your child is really young, it might be a good idea to bring a pack-n-play to use as a play area. You can put some of their favorite toys in there and let them play for a while. Toddlers also really enjoy exploring. Plan a few short walks or hikes during the day to let them explore nature.
You can’t really go too wrong planning activities just find a few things for your toddler to do. This will help them stay happy and allow you to have a more enjoyable camping trip with your toddler.
Take your toddler camping
People are often worried about taking their toddlers camping, but you don’t have to be. It’s really not as hard as you are thinking it might be. With a little planning and using these 5 hacks for camping with toddlers, your camping trips can be lots of fun and a great success.
Now start planning that next camping trip, get out there, and grow closer as a family. You won’t regret it, I promise.