Camping can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and make some fun new memories with the family.
But camping with toddlers is a whole new ballgame. You’ll need a bit of extra preparation (and patience) when you hit the road with your youngest family member.
These tips for camping with toddlers will help your entire family have a fantastic adventure – and set up your children for a life of loving the great outdoors. Because you’re never too young to start discovering the joys of camping.
1. Bring Their Favourite Toys and Other Items
Heading into the unknown can be a frightening experience for young kids. The safe environment is replaced by rugged wilderness, and the four walls of home give way to open spaces and countless trees.
To help your toddler transition into this new area, bring some pieces of home with you. Your child’s favourite toys and other familiar items (such as their blankie) should help them feel comfortable and secure on the campsite.
Just make sure to give these items a thorough wash when you get home!
2. Choose Suitable Hikes and Activities
If you’re an intrepid hiker or extreme rapids rafter, you’ll need to tone down your activities when camping with toddlers. Their little legs just won’t keep up – and their safety needs to be your top priority throughout the trip. Consider smaller walks (including some carry time if necessary) and less-intense activities (like kayaking on a smooth stretch of river).
Determined to get in a tough 10km bushwalk? Coordinate with your partner or another adult camper to supervise your child while you’re off trekking.
3. Get the Right Camping Stuff for Kids
Totally roughing it might be OK for you, but young kids need a little more in the way of creature comforts. This might mean getting some new sleeping bags, squeezing a travel cot into the tent, or upgrading your entire tent. The best family tent is one that gives everyone enough room to sleep comfortably – so if your current setup doesn’t fit the bill, it’s time to trade it in.
You can view our wide range of family tents, kids’ camping bags, kids’ camping beds and much more here.
Other camping essentials with kids in mind include:
- Insect repellent
- Snacks (lots of them)
- Nappies or a travel toilet
- Sunscreen, hats and umbrellas
- Weatherproof clothing and shoes
- Entertainment devices (e.g. iPad) for older toddlers.
4. Practise at Home
Preparing camping sites for kids is one thing. But you also need to prepare your kids for the campsite.
Sleeping in a new place is already challenging enough for some toddlers. Add the excitement of camping and the unfamiliar bedding, and you’re just asking for an all-nighter.
To reduce the risk of this, practise sleeping in the tent with your toddler in your backyard (or even just inside) prior to your camping trip. This will help them get used to dozing off in this new setting.
5. Learn as You Go
Your first time camping with toddlers won’t be flawless. You’ll lose something, break something, get rained on, or have a rough night.
But that’s just parenting, right? You get through the challenges as a family, you learn what works and what doesn’t, and you do it all a bit better next time.
Starting with a short camping trip will help you gently expose your child to the outdoors. And as they get a little older (and you get more used to camping with toddlers), you’ll be able to take them on longer adventures.
Forgetting a crucial item is one way to spoil your toddler’s first camping trip. Use our camping essentials checklist to make sure this doesn’t happen.