You can never be too prepared when taking a toddler camping, so it’s important to have a handy checklist for what you’ll need to take and what you’ll need to do before you go!
Quick camping with a toddler checklist
The most important things to remember when camping with a toddler are:
- Pack essentials including things to eat, wear, sleep in and wash with
- Plan some entertainment for the trip
Below, you can find out more about what essentials you’ll need to take with you.
1. What essentials do I need for camping with a toddler?
Whatever you end up packing for your camping trip, make sure you don’t forget these essentials!
Toddlers are like eating machines at the best of times but put them in the great outdoors with non-stop running around and they’re going to need regular meals and snacks.
Packing the following food will mean your toddlers’ tummies stay full:
- Granola bars
- Fruit and veg sticks
- Rice cakes
- Cheese sticks
- Ham cubes
We have a huge list of toddler-approved snacks on our blog post What Are The Best Camping Snacks For Toddlers?
You’ll need more clothes than you think you do, so unless you’re packing light, take lots, and lots, of clothes for your kids.
Children are dirt magnets so to keep your tent clean, change them into a clean set of clothes when they enter the tent. Having an indoor onesie is a great way to keep them clean and signal to them that outdoor playtime is over!
If you’re unsure of what the weather will be like, layer them up with vests, long sleeve tops, jumpers, and fleeces and add or take off layers depending on how warm or cool they are.
Don’t forget to bring a variety of shoes as well, including:
- Slip-on closed-toe sandals
- Supportive quick-drying shoes
- Shoes suitable for wearing in water.
You can find out more about the best shoes to take camping with toddlers here and if you plan to do laundry when you’re camping, we have some tips for washing and drying clothes when camping here.
Of course, most toddlers are quite happy to sit on the floor, but if you’re camping for a while, they’ll probably appreciate a camp chair. For younger children, you might want to pack a portable highchair to make mealtimes easier and to keep them in one place! Find out more about whether you need to take a highchair camping with you here.
2. How to entertain a toddler while camping?
We’ve found that toddlers generally entertain themselves when camping, especially if they have other kids to play with. But packing the following should guarantee your toddlers are occupied.
Entertainment for dry weather:
- Soccer ball or football
- Bat and ball or tennis racquets and balls
- A playpen or portable crib for younger toddlers
- A bug collection kit
- Swimming gear
- Hacky sacks
- A frisbee
- Scavenger hunt
- Crafting materials (check out our huge guide to campsite crafts for toddlers here)
Entertainment for wet weather:
If the dreaded rain comes, don’t get caught out, instead make sure you pack some fun, easy to transport camping activities for your toddlers to do.
- Sticker books – a favorite of our daughters is doll dressing sticker books
- Playing cards – snap, memory cards, or games like Spot It! are great for older toddlers
- Pencils or crayons and paper
- Building blocks
- Camping books
- Vehicle toys – you could even pack a car mat and use it to carpet your tent!
- Character toys – we usually pack a few dinosaurs, dolls, or other characters.
3. Keeping them clean, safe, and sleeping well?
Keeping the tent clean and getting a restful night’s sleep are top priorities for many parents!
Keeping your kids clean when camping
The key to a tidy tent is to be organized! We’ve written in detail about how to keep a tent tidy when camping, and how to keep kids clean, but for quick reference, here are the top tips below:
- Maximize storage by storing things you don’t need on a constant basis in the car or under your camp beds.
- Take boxes of all sizes, from large stackable bins for storing laundry, camping toys, or non-perishable items, to smaller Tupperware boxes for transporting and storing food and utensils.
- Don’t let children bring objects from nature into the tent, no matter how much they want to keep their pinecone collection!
- Bring a doormat and encourage children to take their shoes off after wiping them on the mat if they’re coming into the tent.
- For children’s hands, faces and feet, pack baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a bowl, soap, and washcloth.
- For a full-body wash, pack a baby bath, a large bin, or even an inflatable paddling pool and fill it with warm soapy water.
- If the campsite has washing facilities, you’ll only need to bring a washcloth for each toddler and some soap.
Keeping your kids safe when camping
You can have more peace of mind when camping by packing these handy items:
- Hand sanitizer and face masks
- A family first aid kit
- Anti-allergy medicine
- Bug repellent made for children
- Sun cream and a sun hat
- Any medication they take
Helping your kids sleep well when camping
Restful kids mean restful parents and a happy camper. These tips below will help ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep!
- A small white noise machine to block out unwanted background noises.
- Sleep aids which they usually use at home (a favorite soft toy or blanket).
- A portable crib is a great way to help younger toddlers feel secure and safe at night.
- An age-appropriate mat or bed to sleep on.
- An age- and size-appropriate sleeping bag.
- Nightlights and torches.
- Bring a baby carrier. Many times we’ve been about to give up hope of our youngest getting to sleep and then popped him in the carrier and within moments, he’s snoring away!
4. Things that will keep you from going crazy!
Now it’s your turn. Going camping with toddlers is a fun adventure, but it’s not always easy! Below are some items you can pack to make the trip more restful and enjoyable:
- Headphones or earbuds are great for listening to audiobooks or music without disturbing the rest of the tent.
- Pack a proper pillow for a better night’s sleep. I’ve tried camping pillows before, but nothing beats the comfort of a real pillow.
- Slip-on shoes for the restroom will make your life easier as you won’t need to put your lace-ups on every time you use the bathroom or take a shower. Using slip-on shoes is much more hygienic than going barefoot too.
- A comfortable camp chair is another comfort I won’t go without, especially after a day hiking and running around after toddlers!
- If you need a morning caffeine hit, then take your favorite coffee and a cafetière for a bit of morning luxury.
- A solar phone charger means you’ll never run out of power should you want to check your emails or make phone calls.
- A book or Kindle for when you get five minutes to yourself to relax.
So there you go, this checklist will ensure you pack all the essentials for your kids and a few luxury items for yourself too!