What’s Inside?? Tips on camping with toddlers. I want to share with you a few of the things that I have learned and what really helped our family out!
My husband and I love to camp. We bought a camper a couple years ago while I was pregnant with my daughter. Best large purchase we have ever made. Our family loves to hike, canoe, kayak, eat marshmallows, and basically endure all of the outside activities. Mostly though, we love the family time. Life gets so busy. When we are home, we get caught up on the To Do list, work, and obligations in general. Being in the woods is a way to “force” us to sit down, relax and be a family. So here are a few ways to enjoy camping with a toddler.
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Plan your 90% of your trip
First things first. While planning a camping trip, you need to know what the weather will be doing. Is it going to be hot or cold, dry or tons of rain. The weather will effect what kind of clothes you’ll bring, what kind of entertainment you need to bring, and what you plan to do while out there. My suggestion for anyone is to make a packing list, and not pack as you go. You will be stuck in the woods with nothing around you but what you bring to keep busy. So, for any new camper, or any camper really, research on what good stuff there is to bring when you pack.
Research your campground.
Remember as a kid when you would go somewhere with friends, realize there is a beach or water and you deeply wish you had a swimsuit and towel? Don’t let that happen while you’re camping. Some campgrounds have things you may not even realize are options like horseback riding. If all you brought was flip flops and short shorts, you may miss out. So really look into where you’re going. Also look at the area around the campground. Tenting campers may get caught in a rainstorm and get sick of the tent. When you are aware of the surrounding area, you may want to get out and explore past the campground and find some cute places to visit! Just plan, plan it all.
You don’t need an organized detail of what you will do that weekend, but it’s nice to have an idea so you don’t miss out. And for any new campers out there, keep researching. Talk to other campers, read blogs or websites. Just inform yourself about great camping ideas to make it easier with kids!
Lots of it. Your kids need something to do. Most new campers think that they don’t need to bring entertainment because the woods are the entertainment. Sure you can go for walks, swim if there’s water, look at the cool things in nature, have a bonfire, and make s’more’s. While all of this is true, campers need to remember the down time that you are going to have. The down time for our daughter includes waiting for us to make 3 meals a day, clean up the dishes and tables after each meal.
We bring our two labs as well, so we need to sweep multiple times a day to keep the hair under control. Keep in mind, especially if you have little ones, that once its dark you’re pretty much stuck at your campsite. Bugs get bad, really bad when you’re in the woods, and hiking in the dark plus the bugs is not something that sounds too fun. At least not for me. Don’t forget about rain days too! So make sure you have entertainment.
Last year our daughter ranged from 7-9 months while camping. We brought books to read, small toys to keep her busy, and my favorite thing we brought was our bouncer. This was a life saver. Grace was struggling to sit up by herself, and was not crawling in the beginning. Towards the end she was crawling, but ate everything she could get her hands on, including rocks. The bouncer made it easier to do the every day tasks that we needed to get done, but also kept her happy, interested, and safe. We also had a portable high chair that made meals soooo much easier. She was way too little to sit at the table. We will still use it this year as well to keep her in one place for meal times.
Plan for sleeping.
I think this is something that is overlooked and not given enough credit while planning for a camping trip. If you have older children, this will be much easier, but if you are bringing a toddler or a baby, you need to put thought into where your little one is going to be sleeping. Is your child a good sleeper? Does your child need noise or a special blanket? Are they at risk for rolling over onto our blankets if we co-sleep in a tent? These are things campers really need to think about.
Again, our family is in a camper, so we had room for a pack and play. We used a curtain to block out light so my husband and I weren’t subjected to a 7:00 bed time as well. A noise maker was a AMAZING to block out other noises, including our two large dogs that are like a heard of elephants walking around in there. We also use a noisemaker at home, so we were able to keep a little routine in our camper.
Whatever you decide for sleeping arrangements, make sure that your carrying some home bedtime routines with you. Sleep for a toddler or baby is hard enough, and completely changing a routine is going to be hard on them, and you. Also make sure that you don’t forget to bring safety regulations with you as well. As a parent of toddlers and babies, our first priority needs to be safety during bedtime. It may make it harder, or cramp our adult time, but we need to make sure our babies are safe while out camping. We can’t bring a crib with us of course, so the DIY beds we use need to be safe.
A way to wonder the campground.
If you don’t plan on hiking a stroller may be perfect for you. Or if you have older children, they can walk along side you. Bikes are another great option if you have older children. For the younger kiddos a bike trailer is a really good option. Some of these bike trailers are great and double as a stroller. It saves space to not bring both.
If you are a family that hikes, a stroller may not work for you depending on the hiking you are doing. Sometimes the trails have stairs, or are not really trails at all. A stroller is bulky and hard to push around. Think baby carrier. We got ours from target and loved it. I used it all the time. Otherwise getting a backpack to carry your toddler is a great idea too. Just make sure that you are letting them spread there legs as well, and really research which one you buy. (I just bought my first one so I won’t know much until may ish of this year).
Bring a smile.
The biggest part of camping is to have fun right? That’s why you’re going. For the family time, the quiet time, the memories. All of it. All any camper wants is to enjoy nature, unplug a little bit, and have a good time. Things go wrong. It happens. You forget to bring something, the rain pours all weekend, and your kid eats dirt. It is okay. Go with the flow, have fun, get dirty, and don’t take yourself too seriously. The wild animals don’t care what you look like.
What is your favorite tip for camping? Do you have something that you can’t live without? Tell me your thoughts!