camping with toddlers

We just returned from our first family camping trip with our one-year-old. Camping with a toddler can be a little tricky — but if you’re prepared, it’s a blast. We had an awesome time!

Here are my tips and must-haves for camping with a toddler.

1. Sleep — As all toddler mamas know, sleep comes first on the list. Without it, everything else falls apart. Since Roman is a light-sleeper and also a very particular sleeper, this was the thing that I was most nervous about. Gratefully (and because I was super-prepared) sleeping was a breeze!

My biggest piece of advice about sleep is to stick to your routine. It may be tempting to skip naps or let your toddler stay up past bedtime, but it’s not worth it! We created a special “camping” sleep routine that was very similar to our usual at-home sleep routine.

Roman always sleeps with white noise, so I downloaded a free white noise app on my iPhone and put it on every time he was about to go down.

We brought along his pack ‘n play which served as his designated sleeping spot. *Note: If you’re using the pack n’ play for a sleep spot, do not use it for playtime while away from home — this will confuse your toddler! The sleep spot should be for sleeping only. I filled the pack n’ play with unwashed blankets from his crib so that he would recognize the scent.

Finally, we stuck to our usual routine every time — white noise, sit in mama’s lap, nurse, lay down, pacifier, sleep.

2. Eating — Lucky for us, Roman has always been a good eater. I wasn’t too worried about this but I did do a few things to prepare for mealtimes. I prepared foods that could easily be cut up into bite-sized baby pieces, like roasted peppers, grilled chicken, and corn that could be sliced off the cob.

Most importantly, we brought along our portable highchair. I love that thing. It attaches to nearly any stable surface and makes mealtime a breeze no matter where you are. It’s also super-easy to keep clean. I never travel without it. Roman eats whatever we eat, but I also made sure to bring along a few of Roman’s favorite snacks and baby foods, just in case he didn’t like what we were eating.


^^^ Roman’s cousin, Aden, had a turn in the seat — it’s too good not to share! ^^^

I also brought an extra sippy cup, just in case, and made sure that he stayed hydrated throughout the days & nights. With all of the extra play & sunshine that happens during camping, it’s so important to keep toddlers well-hydrated.

3. Play — At our campsite we let Roman roam around and play in the dirt with his sand toys. However, we did setup his playard one time so that he could play with his cousin. I was unsure about whether or not to bring it, and ultimately, we didn’t use it much because we were only there for three days. However, it would’ve been great to have on a longer trip.

4. Insects — I brought a couple different types of insect repellant along. On our skin, we used Burt’s Bees herbal insect repellant (which worked really well!) and when we went hiking in the woods I sprayed a bit of Off! repellant on our clothes-only.

5. Walking & Hiking — Just before our trip, my mother-in-law dropped off a used Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller. (She works at a thrift store.) So this trip was my first experience with using this stroller, or any jogging stroller for that matter. All I can say is, it is amazing! Compared to my old stroller, the City Mini is a dream. It’s light and it’s so agile. It handled the rough terrain on our nature walks with ease.

We also brought along our old Kelty Kids Base Camp Carrier for hiking. That was also a hand-me-down. It’s not very comfortable. I’ve been lusting after this one for awhile. Hopefully we can afford to upgrade soon, though it’s not at the top of our priority list at the moment.

6. Sunshine – For our afternoon on the beach, I used this Aveeno Baby Natural Sunblock Stick on Roman and I loved it. I don’t think that I’ll ever use anything else on him again. It’s a million times easier and neater than any lotion and it worked incredibly well. It was Roman’s first time ever in direct sunlight and it completely protected him.

Aside from the sunblock, I had a floppy hat and a rash guard on him, too. You can never be too careful. Don’t forget sand toys & water-proof diapers if you’re planning to swim.

7. Clothes for Any Kind of Weather — When you’re contending with the outdoors, you never know what Mother Nature has in store. Just because you’re camping in spring doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a few cold-weather outfits, too. We brought along Roman’s winter coat and I’m glad that we had it. On our first morning at camp, the air was chilly and wet from the previous night’s rain. I’m all about simplicity in packing, but when it comes to clothing & camping with toddlers, you can never be too prepared!

So, there you have it! My top tips and must-haves for camping with a toddler. If I’ve left anything off the list — or if you have any other questions for me — please let me know in the comments! xo

10 thoughts on “Camping with Toddlers”

  1. Wonderful tips! We are considering braving a camping trip soon, but I won’t lie, I”m pretty nervous about the whole thing. Mostly due to the fact that there will be no sleeping (every trip we take involves our little one partying all night, so I imagine this will only be worse!).

    1. Awww, I hope that you can make it happen. 🙂 I was so pleasantly surprised by Roman’s sleeping habits while we were away. I hope that it always go so well.

    1. I forgot to add that here — great point! I did, in fact, bring along some first-aid necessities like baby Tylenol, tweezers, and band-aids. Gratefully we didn’t need them! But better to be prepared for sure. 🙂

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