Going on a camping trip with your toddler can be a really fun adventure for the whole family. You might want to go to a new place that you can explore together or make some fun memories for your toddler, such as toasting marshmallows over a fire or experiencing the novelty of sleeping in a tent. However, a lot of preparation needs to go into planning a camping trip, particularly if you have a toddler in tow. Below, we’ve identified everything you need to pack when you’re going camping with a toddler, as well as tips to keep them toasty at night.
What do I need for camping with a toddler?
Can you remember the last time your toddler ate a meal without getting half of it down themselves, or put on clean clothes that actually stayed clean all day? Toddlers are notoriously messy. Combine this with the mud and water that you’ll likely experience on your camping trip and the chances are your toddler will become filthy quite quickly. It’s so important to pack a variety of clothes for every eventuality, particularly as there may not be any clothes washing facilities at the campsite. You should pack trousers, tops, jumpers, warm fleeces, hats, gloves and as many pairs of underwear and socks as you can fit in. Take plenty of layers, as it could get chilly in the evening.
When it comes to footwear, you should take a variety of options. A pair of wellies could come in handy if it’s raining or there’s a stream nearby to play in, but a decent pair of trainers would be better if you plan on hiking anywhere or taking the children to a nearby playground.
To top it all off, you should bring along your child's waterproof jacket just in case of any unpredictable weather!
If there’s one thing that makes a toddler unhappy, it’s being hungry. It’s a good idea to pack their favourite snacks to avoid that ‘hangry’ tantrum. Items that are easy to eat will be best, such as carrot sticks, bananas, biscuits, cereal bars, crisps, etc. These items can be eaten in the tent or on the go.
Things to do
While you might find it fun to sit around a campfire and have a natter, a toddler definitely won’t. You’ll need to provide them with some fun activities. Take a few of their favourite toys from home that are suitable for use outside, such as footballs, toy cars and trucks and dolls. These are all things that can be carried around easily, aren’t too bulky and can be cleaned if they get muddy. Don’t forget to pack your toddler’s favourite cuddly toy or blanket for the evening, as sleeping in a tent might be an impossibility without it.
A first aid kit is essential when you go camping with toddlers. They might still be a bit unsteady on their feet and falling is a possibility. Equally, the ground at the campsite may be uneven and it’s likely that they’ll run around a lot. Accidents happen, so be prepared with a basic first aid kit. This could include plasters, bandages and an instant ice pack. It could also contain paracetamol and ibuprofen in case of a headache, and antihistamines in case of an allergic reaction to any insect bites. Sun cream and bug spray are a must in summer.
Even if bed wetting rarely occurs at home, a change in environment can trigger this. When you arrive at the campsite, it’s a good idea to scope out where the nearest bathroom is and the facilities that it has. You may also want to pack some pull-up pants for them to wear at night should they have an accident. Trying to clean up in the middle of the night when it’s dark and the bathroom is a walk away will be difficult, so be prepared.
How to keep a toddler warm at night while camping
If you’re worried that a sleeping bag and a pair of pyjamas isn’t enough to keep your toddler warm through the night, there are some additional items that you could buy for your trip.
Add a sleeping bag liner
Not many people use sleeping bag liners, but they could be the difference between having a comfortable eight hours sleep and waking up every few hours with blocks of ice for feet. They’re lightweight and tuck inside your sleeping bag to keep you extra warm. Liners that are made of fleece should do a good job of keeping your child cosy.
Put down a sleeping pad
Laying a sleeping bag directly on the floor of the tent is a rookie error. The ground temperature is usually very cold, so you won’t get warm if there’s only a thin layer between you and the ground. You could purchase a sleeping mat or foam pad that’s at least a couple of centimetres thick to raise you off the ground slightly.
Pyjamas usually won’t be enough to keep youngsters warm at night. You should dress your toddler in pyjamas, with a thick jumper or fleece over the top. If your child is happy to wear socks while they sleep, you should encourage them to do so. To prevent them from coming off in the night, use long socks that come up past their ankles.
Change them at the right time
Trying to change your toddler when it’s cold into cold clothes that have just come out of a bag means they won’t get warm before bed. You should change them in plenty of time so that the clothes have a chance to warm up before they go to sleep.
We hope that, with the help of this post, you’ll be fully prepared for your camping trip and will have a wonderful time as a family. Just don’t forget to pack the tent!