If you have never camped with toddlers, listen up. Camping with toddlers is hit or miss. Sometimes you win the toddler camping lottery and other times you feel as though you clearly lost. There are ways to prepare yourself and your toddler for camping, here are those top tips! If you have older children too you may want to check out or tips, recipes and advice for Camping with Kids.
Tips on Camping with Toddlers
We have included some links to products that we used. If you buy through those links we may earn a small commission.
If you haven't read it check out our how to survive camping with kids - these are mostly aimed at older preschoolers and school kids. When you head off tent camping with a toddler there are some extra top tips that will make the trip a little bit easier. Check them out below.
Keep your schedule similar
Toddlers seem to do better when their schedule is kept similar. When you’re out camping with your toddler, try and keep to their normal schedule. Meals and nap times seem to be the most important part of schedules. There will be the temptation to let them stay up later, but in our experience, this just makes for overtired toddlers the next day as they still get up at the same time.
Let your toddler help you
Camping involves a lot of different chores. Instead of ignoring your toddler the whole time and hoping they keep themselves busy, let them help. Toddlers are capable of helping more than you ever thought possible. They can carry items, help put items away, and listen to basic directions. Letting your toddler help you could actually save some of your sanity. Some simple things that they can help with
- Sweeping the tent floor
- Washing up (provide them with some of the camp dishes and water and let them wash up alongside you)
- If you are allowed an open fire and it's safe for them to let them collect some small sticks to add to it
- When putting up the tent get them to sit on a corner to stop it flying away
- If you have a dog like we do - they are the perfect dog lead holder whilst the tent goes up
Have a plan for using the bathroom
If you aren’t in an RV and aren’t close enough to the bathroom, then have a plan for using the bathroom. Toddlers and using the bathroom can be spur of the moment. Rather bring a potty with you or pause potty training while you’re camping. You’ll want to have a plan!
Bring some outdoor toys
Let’s be honest, toddlers are busy bodies. When you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, you’ll want to have toys on hand. Outdoor toys like a small slide or a riding toy can help save your sanity! With everything else you are taking they really won't take up much more room and will mean that you can position your tent a little further away from the play area so that they can stick to their normal bedtimes.
A simple small slide like this one from Step 2 which folds down is ideal. It always amazed me how much time my toddlers would go and up and down the slide!
This little ride-on toy lets your toddler sit and ride on it as well as pushing it around perfect for them using around the tent.
If you include a ball set then the adults and older kids can join in as well. We had a soft set like the one shown and linked earlier.
Have a safe sleeping spot available
It can be hard to find a spot for the toddler to sleep, but with a little brainstorming, you’ll be okay. Toddler camping is the perfect excuse to bring their toddler mattress with you. It’s tiny, compact, and you can put it anywhere you need/want your toddler to sleep.
Bring toddler-friendly foods
When you go camping, there are lots of hamburgers and hotdogs involved, right? When you’re camping with a toddler, bring toddler-friendly foods. They don’t have to be amazing foods, but they should be something your toddler will like. Finger foods, a knife to cut up the hotdogs, and maybe some fruits and veggies. Keep it simple but bring some foods that the toddler will enjoy and that is familiar to them. Check out our tried and tested camping recipes for families as my toddlers enjoyed many of these when we camped with them
Camping with your toddler can be fun! Bring a few toys and some of their favourite foods to make the transition easier. Just remember that toddlers are creatures of habit, so have a little extra patience with your little one as you camp.
It's also good to have a contingency plan what to do if it rains. Check out these activities for Rainy Day Camping with Kids as many of them will work with toddlers too.