Camping with young ones might not be as relaxing as years before, but it can be fun! It may seem overwhelming at first, but if you plan ahead and follow some of the tips below, you are sure to have a good time making memories with your young ones!
CAMP SITE SETUP
Must Have Items
Duct Tape: Its uses are endless while camping from repairing a tent to sealing food packages to securing your tablecloth.
First-Aid Kit: The key is to keep your kit simple. I recommend bandages, alcohol wipes, pain/fever reducer, anti-itch cream, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Extra Baby Wipes and Anti-Bacterial Wipes: These wipes are practical for hand washing, face wiping, dish cleaning, and wiping down your tablecloth. The baby wipes are also a great toilet paper substitute when needed.
Electric Air Pump: You will need this (or something similar) to blow up the beds. Without it, you might end up sleeping directly on the ground! Don’t forget it at home.
Garbage bags: I am talking about the large, black, heavy duty ones. You’ll need them for your garbage, but they also work well to collect all your dirty clothes throughout the trip. When it comes time to tear down your campsite, throw all dirty bedding and tarps into garbage bags to keep your car clean.
Tablecloth: You will want a plastic tablecloth for your campsite picnic table. This decreases the chances of splinters, makes it easier to play games on, and is easier to wipe down for meals.
Plastic Storage Containers: Pack one container with all your family’s clothing items, then stack an empty tub underneath. The empty tub can be used to wash dishes or as a portable bathtub for your young ones.
Have one home for all the toys you bring. Having one spot to collect all toys, books, puzzles, and games will make play time and clean up go much smoother.
Bringing your child’s toy chest is not practical; however, a handful of small toys is a great idea. Some ideas include small figurines, card games, bubbles, sand toys, sidewalk chalk, coloring books, and crayons.
Hint: Stop by the dollar store or dollar section at Target and pick out a couple new toys. Give your young ones a new toy each day of the camping trip to keep their excitement and imagination up!
It is important to have a “bad weather” plan and be prepared for it. Hanging out in a tent during an afternoon storm can be fun for your family, or it could be a disaster. Determine ahead of time how your young ones will react to being stuck inside a tent. If you plan on riding out the storm, bring enough toys and books to keep them entertained. If not, have a local place in mind to drive to as an escape from the storm.
Safety: Pack a headlamp for your toddler. They will think having their own light is cool, and you will be able to track them easier. Glow stick necklaces are also a good idea to put on your child at nighttime.
Mason Jar: Don’t forget to bring a small jar to collect lightening bugs!
Stories: Read your nighttime books by using a flashlight. The young ones will think it is cool, yet you will be sticking with your nighttime routine.
Leave the Jars at Home: Pack only the food portions you need. For example, bring condiment packets rather than the entire bottles. Bring your seasonings in plastic baggies. If you are only using bread for one meal, only pack as many pieces as you will need rather than the entire loaf.
Seating: If your little one is an infant, pack a clamp on high chair for the picnic table. This will make meal time much easier!
Food Packets: Pre-package your food in aluminum foil. Simply place the food in foil, create a packet, and store in your cooler. When you are ready to eat, place the foil packets over the fire to cook. Some fun ideas include cheesy fries, pizza logs, monkey bread, and taco nachos. Stick with foods you know your kids like.
Easy Breakfast: Did you know a 16 oz. water bottle holds 8-9 large eggs? Pre-scramble your eggs at home and pour into water bottles for easy storage in your cooler. All you need to do is dump the eggs into a pan and scramble away!
Keep It Simple: Make your first meal an easy one since you’re likely to be tired from setting up camp. Think hot dogs and s’mores over the fire. Another good idea is to warm up a can of soup over the fire. Fast and easy is okay as well. Cold cereal or Pop-Tarts are completely acceptable for camping!
Pack ‘N Play
The Pack ‘N Play will serve as a bed for naps and sleeping for your infant or young toddler. This item is an essential for camping with very young ones. It is a safe place to contain them while you are setting up camp or preparing meals where they can play without you worrying about what bug/dirt they might grab and eat next.
An inflatable pool raft serves as a great mattress for young ones who are too big for the Pack ‘N Play without spending a lot on an air mattress. Don’t forget to bring a bed sheet to throw over it for comfort. This is also when your electric air pump will come in handy.
Foam Floor Tiles
If you plan on staying a few nights, putting down foam floor tiles will make your tent a “crawl-friendly” place for your young ones. The tiles will be well worth it during unplanned weather and will serve as a comfortable place to play. Make sure everyone takes their shoes off outside the tent to keep the tiles clean!
Putting a young one to sleep in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sounds will most likely be difficult. Bring familiar bedtime items from home to ease the process. Don’t bring it all, but having your child’s favorite lovey, stuffed animal, blanket, etc. will make them more comfortable. Try to keep these items in the tent, only for sleeping, so they don’t get tossed in the dirt.
Unfortunately, weather doesn’t always cooperate for campers. The temperatures might drop during the night making it a bit chilly for sleeping, or they might remain pretty warm. Make sure to bring both a light blanket/sheet for warm nights and a heavier one for when the temperatures drop. If it is going to be very warm, bring a battery-powered fan to ensure comfortable conditions for your young one.
Don’t forget to stay excited! Your young ones will feed off your energy, especially in such a new environment. Being upbeat and enthusiastic will help ease their uncertainty and allow them to be excited for all the new surroundings and adventures as well.
Share your tips for camping with young ones below!