Packing for Camping with Toddlers and Babies
Outdoor camping trips with toddlers and babies require a lot more thought than “normal” camping trips. Adults and older kids can “make-do” when something is left behind, or things don’t go according to plan – but toddlers and babies? That’s a different story.
Just imagine if their favorite “binky” (pacifier), or doll or toy got left behind. Or the diaper bag was left on the roof of the car when you left. Or you thought someone else packed the potty. And there are dozens of other “Oh-No’s” that could pop up and put a real crimp on your camping trip.
Besides the usual camping gear you pack for your trips, here are some tips on things to make sure you have, and things you should have extra of.
The Camping with Toddlers and Babies Golden Rule:
Always take more than you think you will need. If you don’t need it you can always bring it home, but if you run out it could be a disaster.
Start and finish with lists:
Even if you had a photographic memory – it doesn’t mean you will remember to remember everything, so use lists, and then check off the items when you pack them – not before!
Start with their favorites, things they are used to having or using. Like their favorite toy, or plate, or sippy cup. Then consider their favorite activities, like; drawing or coloring, or looking at picture books.
“Comfort” items for the kids:
- Pacifiers, (Binkies) – always have at least one extra, two would be better
- Security blanket – it may not always be a “blankie,” it might be a doll or toy. But whatever it is – you don’t want to leave home without it
- Familiar sleeping item, ie. blanket, pillow, or pajamas
- Hat(s) – make sure you have at least two hats or bonnets
- Kid’s Sunglasses
- Favorite toy
- *If still potty training – don’t forget to bring the potty
Clothes for camping:
- Always bring extra clothes – if you think you will need two sets per day, bring at least three, and four would be safer
- Long sleeves and pants legs – even in warm or hot weather, make sure you include at least one set of clothes with long sleeves and pants legs. Whether it is the sun, or biting insects – there probably will be times when you need to cover their skin
- Light jacket and/or raincoat.
- Extra shoes or sneakers. Kids can find water to get wet in – in the Sahara, not to mention the possibility of an “accident” that goes down the leg into the shoes
- Diapers – always bring at least twice what you think you will need. Do not just grab a full pack and guess that that will be enough. Consider how many days you will be camping, how many diapers you usually go through in a day – and DOUBLE IT! Don’t scrimp here – if it turns out you guessed wrong – things could get really messy.
- Baby Wipes – same as the diapers. Always bring at least one extra full pack/box. You will be using them three or four times as much as you do at home.
- Toilet paper – always have a full roll of toilet paper in your camp gear. You may not intend to use it, or need it. But it has some versatile uses, and if you do need it – you really need it.
- Lotions, oils, powders, and creams – extra, extra, extra. Camping in the woods is no place to run out of diaper rash cream or powder for chafes.
- Suntan lotions and Bug repellants – make sure the suntan lotion is kid-recommended with a high SPF number, and that the bug repellant is specifically labeled “safe for children” – high DEET content repellants are not kid-recommended
Drinks and Snacks:
- Drink boxes/pouches are not the best choice. They may be quick and convenient for you, and easy for the kids to handle – but they are easy to spill, or get left sitting around – which makes them, (and their sugary contents), super bug magnets. Use leak-proof sippy cups when you go camping.
*You will only ignore this advice once, because after you see the hordes of ants and other bugs that swarm to the spot of spilled juice, (and not just on the ground – on clothes too!), or abandoned drink box – you will become a convert.
The best choice is to give the kids water to drink all day – then make their meal beverage a juice or sugar drink, this way you have control of the beverage and its disposal.
- Snacks – same cautions as with drinks. Snacks should be individual treats, either wrapped or in baggies – not just handfuls from bulk containers, or open bags of chips or crackers laying around. Have plenty of healthy snacks available, but avoid anything that will melt – like chocolate.
Cut-up fruits, like apple slices, carrots, or celery are great choices. Also marshmallows, granola bars, and fruit rolls. But not crumbly snacks like PopTarts that will drop ant-bait everywhere the kids walk. Just make sure dropped pieces are picked up and sealed in the trash.
Camping activities, games, and toys for kids, toddlers, and babies:
- Bring plenty of age-appropriate easy-to-clean toys that are suitable for outside play. Things like Tonka trucks, balls, and Frisbees
- Coloring books, drawing pads, and crayons
- Empty egg cartons and small containers, (not plastic bags), for them to put their “collections” in
- Bubbles – all kids like to blow and play with bubbles
- Do Not bring toys or games with small parts that will get lost around the campsite.
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Available as an all-in-one kit – Just click the image on the right to see a complete all-in-one Camping activities for Kids and camp games for kids Bad Weather Survival kit” – All you have to do is select the item quantities to match your number of kids!
Here are a few items and resources that may prove helpful:
*Note – all shopping links are my own Amazon affiliate links – which I only use to recommend good-quality camping gear – Gus
This could be the best piece of camping gear you ever packed! Sometimes you just need to keep the kids safely confined for a bit. Or they need a familiar, safe place for a rest or nap.
Toddler and Baby Backpack Carrier
This may seem like a “nice-to-have” extra, but when that toddler refuses to walk anymore, and you have to carry them in your arms – all the way back to camp, you will soon realize this is a “must-have” piece of camping gear.
For emergencies, and your peace of mind, – every kid in camp should have a camp whistle on a lanyard around their neck! It’s a handy way for them to summon help when they need it.
Camp Safety Whistles
Save your strength, – every kid needs their own camp flashlight, instead of arguing who gets yours or who has had it the longest and who’s turn it is now.
(ps. this is a great camp light for kids, but you can just pick some up at the Dollar store if you want)
Kid’s Camping Flashlights
Pie Irons for Campfire Cooking
If you go camping with kids, you should have at least one Pie Iron, (preferably one for each kid), in your camping cookware. They are versatile – you can make anything from grilled cheese sandwiches to instant fruit pies. And they are so safe and easy to use that you can let your young campers make their own fun camping recipes for kids.
Just pop in the ingredients, close, cook over the campfire, and out comes delicious sandwiches, or biscuit-dough fruit tarts, or dozens of other camp food choices.
Check out these great examples of camping gear items camp games for kids you can find on Amazon. Like the folding shovel and personal first aid kit, once you have these pieces of camp gear included in your list of camping equipment, you will wonder how you ever did without them. Especially when you see how inexpensive they are when you buy them online at Amazon
ps. You will be surprised how convenient and inexpensive portable camp toilets are. Here are some cheap portable camp toilets on Amazon. Check them out.