Ready to show your little one the beauty of the wilderness?
Camping with toddlers is an unforgettable experience – but it’s up to you to make it a fun one.
As a parent, there are tons of things you need to plan beforehand to make your camping trip successful.
But I know what you need. So in this article, you can find the ultimate camping with toddlers checklist with all the essentials you need to pack.
What’s more, I’ll share with you some tips and tricks that should make planning a piece of cake.
Let’s dive right in!
Camping With Toddlers Checklist
Grab your pen and notebook, let’s make a list of things you absolutely need on this trip:
Specific Items for Toddlers
- Toddler sleeping bag
- Portable crib
- Play tent (or screen house)
- Portable Potty
- 3-5 Favorite toys per child
- Age appropriate games
- Spill-proof water bottle
- Diaper change kit
- Baby wipes
- Outdoor rug
- Portable high chair
- Baby carrier
- Bedtime books
- Coloring books and crayons
- Kids’ bandaids
- Kid-safe sunscreen and bug repellent
- A 6 person Tent or bigger (we recommend doubling the size of your family to get the best tent size)
- Tent stakes
- A double sleeping bag
- Large air mattress
- First aid kit
- Tent repair kit
- Air pump
- Axe or hatchet
- Emergency blanket
- Camping shovel
- Mallet or hammer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Battery-powered tea lights
- Glow sticks
- Spare batteries
- Battery charger
- Camping table
- Camping chairs
- Gas stove
- Cooking kit
- Can opener
- Cutting board
- Dish detergent and sponge
- Aluminum foil
- Paper towel
- Cooking oil
- Roasting sticks
Food & Beverages
- Bags of ice
- Water filter or purifier
- Water containers
- Food containers
- Plates and bowls
- Bottle opener
- Trash bags
- Collapsible Trash Can
- Seasoning (salt, pepper and sugar)
Clothing & Footwear
- Inner layer
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Waterproof jacket
- Insulated shell
- Sandals or flip flops
- Swimwear (during warmer months)
- Cold weather protection (during colder months)
- Bags for dirty and clean clothes
- Biodegradable soap
- Biodegradable toothpaste
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes
- Feminine products
- Portable shower
- Insect repellent
- Microfiber towel
- Maps and guides
- Portable speaker
- Camera or polaroid
- Action camera
- Outdoor games like badminton or volleyball
- Bubble machine
- Surfing gear (if near the beach)
- Fishing (if near water)
- Solar power bank
- Bear spray
- Duct tape
- Working gloves
Planning Tips & Ideas for Camping with Toddlers
Proper planning is the trick behind every successful camping trip. Here are the things you need to consider when making plans for your outdoor fun time with the little one.
Practice at Home (Play Camping)
Before you head out into the wilderness, you want to be sure you’re ready to camp with a toddler.
And to do that, it’s best to do a test run at the comfort of your house. It can’t hurt, but it can definitely help you prepare for the real thing.
If you have a suitable backyard to pitch a tent, then that’s the closest possible you can get to camping outdoors with your little one.
That way, you can get a “sneak peak” of how your toddler will react to sleeping inside a tent.
If you’re RV camping, then you can basically do a trial run while not leaving your driveway.
By practicing at home, you can test out if you’re missing any important pieces of equipment for undertaking a camping trip with your toddler. At the same time, your kid can get a sense of what it’s like to sleep outdoors.
Ensure Your Toddler Can Sleep in a Sleeping Bag (if it’s Cold)
Sometimes, nights can get really cold – even if daily temperatures are spiking high. And without a heater to turn on, you need to make sure your toddler is staying warm and dry throughout the night.
Rather than using an adult sleeping bag for your little one, it’s best to buy a sleeping bag specially designed for kids that age.
That’s because proper fit assures optimal warmth. Bodies emit heat, and the less room there is to fill inside a sleeping bag, the warmer it is.
Bring an Additional Screen Tent or Pop-up Tent
Let’s not forget that this camping trip is supposed to let you rest and unwind, above all. So even though parenting is a full-time job, you deserve to take a break from chasing after your little adventurer.
Pack an additional screen room or a tent where your youngling can crawl around and play toys with.
This way, the kids are contained in one spot where they’re safe from getting dirty, destroying or losing something and most importantly, wandering away.
Let Your Toddler Pick out 3-5 Toys for The Trip
Don’t bring the whole toy box on your camping trip.
You’re outdoors, where there are plenty of options for a toddler to find something to do. Plus, most toys aren’t exactly suitable for playing in the dirt.
Instead of bringing everything, let your toddler pick a few of their toys for this trip. Now I know, the decision can be quite hard, especially if every toy is their favorite.
Some of the best toy options for camping are trucks, buckets, shovels and similar, as they allow the toddler to play with the soil, twigs, leaves and stones.
Who said building a castle is only applicable to sand? Don’t be afraid of your kid getting dirty!
Alternatively, balls are a great option for keeping your toddler active and running around.
Bring Their Favorite Books
Days are longer when you’re camping – plus, everyone wants to make the most of their trips and spend them outside the tent as much as possible.
But even with that in mind, don’t forget about naps throughout the day.
Books are arguably the best way to keep your young ones in one spot and possibly get them to have that much needed midday rest. Of course, the same is applicable to getting them to finally sleep at night.
Plan Scavenger Hunt and Other Toddler-Friendly Camping Activities
Planning outdoor fun time with toddlers can be quite a task.
With such a short attention span, keeping them occupied seems beyond the bounds of your possibility. So get creative and plan a scavenger hunt suitable for a kid that age.
You should plan this activity while you’re still at home preparing for your camping trip. Print out a list of items you want your toddler to find around the camp spot.
To make things even easier and more fun, you can use pictures instead of words.
With a bit of your help, finding these things shouldn’t be too hard of a task for your little adventurer.
Make the game even more enjoyable by turning everything into an exploring mission.
Pack your jars, buckets and nets, and challenge your toddler to collect samples of all the amazing findings, including odd-shaped leaves, colorful flowers and beautiful rocks.
Make Sure to Pack Food your Toddler Will Eat
With so many interesting things around them, food is often last on the toddlers’ minds. And we all know how hard can it be to get distracted kids to focus on eating their meals.
That’s why you need to be extra creative when planning food for your little one. This basically means turning every meal into a snack that can be eaten on the go.
Sandwiches, muffins, veggies, fruits and crackers are some of the best options for food that your toddler can nibble on while being occupied by other things.
Just remember to make your job easier as well. Why sit by the camp stove for hours when you can spend more quality time doing activities with your family?
Plan some meals that can be cooked at home and packed frozen. Not only will frozen food keep your cooler chilled for longer, but you just need to defrost it and it’s ready to eat.
Find a Kid-Friendly Campground
While the majority of campgrounds around the country are open for campers of all ages, many of them aren’t exactly kid-friendly.
When choosing the destination for the camping trip with your toddler, think about safety.
- Is the campground situated next to the road?
- Is it fenced?
- Is there a forest or water source nearby?
- Are you close to wildlife habitats?
These are all the questions to keep in mind when looking for the perfect campground for your family.
Using the Potty When Camping
Depending on the size of the campground, toilets can be pretty far away. But that’s where a potty comes in extremely handy.
You can place it wherever you want at the campsite, to make it easier for your toddler to use it whenever the urge appears.
Then, once your kid does the “business,” you can take dispose of it in the actual toilet and give the potty a proper rinse.
If your toddler isn’t potty trained yet, then make sure to stock up on diapers. You don’t want to run out of them while at the camping site, as the next store might not be in close proximity.
In fact, you should have extra diapers even if your kid is already potty trained. It’s better to be over than under-equipped.
Involve your Toddler
Camping is not just a way to destress and disconnect, but also to bond with your family and enjoy quality time together.
Use the opportunity to engage your toddler in different camping activities, such as collecting tinder and kindling.
You can also get them involved in the food making process. While they can’t cook, kids can be in charge of mixing or passing down ingredients.
Let them feel like a part of the team, even if the only thing they’re doing is spreading peanut butter on bread.
And don’t worry about the mess. After all, you’re out in nature. Let them fully embrace the outdoors by getting dirty.
Toddler Camping FAQ
How do I keep my toddler warm at night?
Nights can get rather cold when you’re out in the wild. To assure the kids are warm, dress them in layers of breathable clothing, socks and a hat.
As far as the sleeping bag goes, make sure it has an appropriate temperature rating.
If possible, always use a toddler-sized sleeping bag. With less room inside to fill, a sleeping bag is much easier to keep warm.
What if my toddler won’t sleep in a sleeping bag?
Don’t zip up the sleeping bag right away. Instead, you can use blankets to keep your kid warm until they fall asleep.
The night should still be young by the time you put your toddler to bed, so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Later, you can zip up the sleeping bag once they’re sound asleep.
How to know if you’re ready to go camping with a toddler?
A simple way to figure out if you’re ready to camp with your little one is to ask yourself these questions:
- How well does your toddler respond to directions?
- Will they oppose wearing sunscreen, hats, glasses or gloves?
- Are they peaceful sleepers?
- Are they potty trained?
Now I’m not actually saying all of your answers need to be positive to be ready to camp with a toddler. But if you want your trip to go smoothly, these are some things that would make everything much easier.
What do toddlers sleep in when camping?
You should make your toddler’s sleeping set up as close as you can to the one at home. If possible, a portable crib would be ideal. Of course, a sleeping bag is must unless night temperatures are very high.
Your toddler should wear pajamas at night, with gloves and hats if the nights get too cold. Dress your kid in layers, so that you can easily adjust to the change in temperature.
What other toddler camping gear will I need?
A portable toddler chair is really handy, as you can keep the toddler focused on eating instead of everything in the surroundings.
A play ring is also helpful, as it allows you to keep your little explorer in one spot when you’re cooking, for instance.
Is it safe to camp with a toddler?
Camping with a toddler is perfectly safe, as long as you do proper preparation beforehand.
This means bringing toddler-specific items, such as a potty, portable crib and feeding chair.
At the same time, you should also plan different safe-for-toddler activities that will keep the little one entertained.
To Sum Things Up
Camping with your toddler will be an experience to remember.
But to make it most pleasurable, you need to do some planning beforehand. Safety and comfort should come first.
As far as other things go, don’t sweat it too much. Your toddler surely won’t remember the little problems along the way, such as a burned meal, but they surely won’t forget a fun outdoor trip with parents.