How to Camp with Babies & Toddlers - A Survival Guide

How to Camp with Babies & Toddlers - A Survival Guide

September 10, 2020

Can you go camping with a 2 year old? Can you go camping with a baby?! When it comes to taking your toddler or infant camping - there are usually two schools of thought.

The first utter dread and disbelief. People will question why you have so little disregard for sanity. However, other folks take a less extreme view. Many believe that it’s not only possible, it can be an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience for parents who want to share their passion for camping and love of the outdoors with their children. 

However, if you subscribe to the latter, you need to be prepared. Therefore, we’ve put together this survival guide for camping with babies and toddlers. Let’s get into it.


Choose the Right Campground

The success of your trip will largely depend on where you chose to go. If you’re going camping with a toddler or a baby, you want to keep it relatively local.

It’s not a good idea to take your baby or toddler on a long road trip. Not only will you be unable to easily head home in the event of an emergency, you’re also significantly increasing the likelihood of crankiness. In addition to locality, you also want to factor in if there’s an urgent care center or hospital nearby. Although it’s unlikely anything will go wrong, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

If you do want to go more rural and rustic, prepare for the unexpected. Camping is going to become more and more popular in 2020 and some sites do not offer advanced reservations. This is when having a baby comes in handy. Take advantage of their early wake up call to get first pick of where to set up your tent. 


Pack the right gear for your baby or toddler

The next thing to ask yourself is what to take camping with kids.

There are many camping essentials with toddlers or babies that you would not even consider usually. Just to make sure you don’t miss any, these are the following must have items:

  • Wet wipes - This seems obvious, but you really can never have too many wet wipes. Camping is messy. Camping with a 1 year old is very messy. It’s also a good idea to bring trash bags to dispose of used diapers or wet wipes. 
  • A hiking carrier - If you do plan on hiking or walking a fair bit, you should consider a hiking carrier. You want one that’s sturdy and the right size for your child. These can be expensive, so browse swap shops or sales if you’re on a budget.
  • A good quality backpack - While on the road, you need a backpack that allows easy access to all the essentials you need on your camping trip. A 55L Backpack is a great size for the way there and while you’re out and about. 
  • A foldable highchair or pod - You’re not going to be able to stuff your normal highchair in the trunk of your chair. Therefore, it’s worth getting a portable and foldable highchair or pod. It can also be used after your trip. Why not stash it at the grandparents’ house in preparation for your next family visit?
  • A playpen - You need a portable crib that not only gives your baby a place to sleep, but can also keep them entertained and relaxed.
  • A noise machine - While this may be a little irritating to nearby campers, it sure beats a crying baby! A battery-powered noise machine can be a safety net for soothing your child to sleep. 
  • Lots and lots of layers - This would be essential for any packing trip, but especially if you’ve got little ones in tow. Temperatures can drop drastically at night to have extra layers for your toddler or baby throughout the night. 

 For a more generic packing list, check out our first time camping survival guide. 


Other things to consider for your trip

Finding the perfect campsite and sticking to the camping with toddlers checklist are the most important considerations.

However, there are a few more things we recommend if you and your children’s first camping trip together is going to be a success:

  • Choose the right bug protection - To ensure your kids don’t start bugging out, you need to protect them against bug bites. Be on guard and keep a watchful eye for allergic reactions to bites. Moreover, make sure you use a repellent with a low DEET percentage (no more than 30%)
  • Pack a mixture of old and new toys - There’s no rhyme or reason to deciding what the best camping toys for toddlers are. However, a mixture is good. Old toys can bring them comfort while in a new place and new toys will get them even more excited for the trip.
  • Do whatever you can to help your child sleep - This is important for your children, you, and your neighbors. You don’t want to be the parent of the baby keeping the whole campsite up at 2am. It’s impossible to be able to stick rigidly to a sleeping schedule or try a new form of sleep training on the road. Whether you need to push bedtime back or nurse your baby to sleep, It’s recommended you use whatever method works fastest.

Just have fun!

The added level of preparation, items to pack, and general ‘things that can go wrong’, make a lot of parents wary about taking their toddler or baby camping. However, it’ll all be worth it when you see their smiling faces and recall the memories you have from your trip.

Camping with a 2 year old, 1 year old or a baby is messy and sometimes not smooth sailing. But, try not to sweat the small stuff. Afterwards, you’re guaranteed to be in that second school of thought. What are you waiting for? Pack your backpack and hit the road.

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