Tips for Camping with a Toddler

tips for camping with a toddler

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Do you have a camping with a toddler experience to share?  Go ahead and comment your story.  Let me share some tips for camping with a toddler.





Camping with a toddler can be fun but also a little stressful.  Hopefully these tips will help make your first camping trip with your toddler less stressful and more fun.

Last year we took munchkin and ended up sleeping in a lodge because we were not ready for camping.  This year we decided to go for one night to see how she did and so we could see what we might need for next time.  Here are some things we learned during our camping trip this year.


Planning your Camping Trip

Especially if you are not a really experienced camper make sure you look for camping areas that are more toddler friendly.  Look for port-a-potties at the campsite, toddler friendly activities near by, things like that.  Depending on the age of your toddler and your experience camping start with just a single night or if you want to do multiple nights don’t be afraid to stop after one night if things are not working out too well.  The campsite that we chose has a great playground near by that includes a toddler play area … not that she stayed in that area since the bigger playground had the big slide.  We were able to wear her out a bit before trying to keep her safe around the fire.





If you are sleeping in a tent figure out if they will sleep with you or on their own in their own sleeping bag.  I really recommend a blow-up mattress, they are so much more comfy than the ground.  Think about activities, snacks, food, clothing and things like that.

Clothing for your Toddler

When you are planning on what kind of clothing to take you want to think layers.  We checked the weather before we left and it said cloudy our first day and partially sunny the second.  Well let me tell ya what … when we got down there it was sunny and hot.  Since we were only going to be down there for one night we had her wear jeans and a short sleeve top down there.  We brought along another short sleeve top and two long sleeve tops.  We also brought a pair of sandalish type shoes for running around the campsite and a pair of boots for playing and stuff in so she was less likely to get sand and dirt in the shoes.  Definitely bring extra socks because they tend to get wet and dirty faster when camping so you want a few pairs of those 🙂

Food for your Toddler

Make sure you take plenty of snacks.  They will run off a lot of energy while you are out there and may want/need more snacks than normal.  For dinner we decided to do hot dogs because they would be easy to cook over the fire and she could even help a little.  So we stuck them on the forks and let her help hold it over the fire until she got bored.  That lasted all of like 1-2 min before she wanted to go run around again.





Once cooked we just cut it up, gave her a fork and put some ketchup and mustard on her plate and let her go.  We stopped at a restaurant to grab ketchup and mustard packets for easy packing.  This was a fun easy dinner that she thought was great.  We also took a can of corn that we just stuck in the fire to cook and she ate a little of that also.





Now I admit we were wimps and decided to not do smores this trip.  If we were going to be there for lunch we would have done them at that time.  Since we were not going to be camping during lunch time and we did not want her to have that much sugar before bed we skipped them.  For breakfast we did oatmeal which worked out great.  Just add hot water and easy clean up.  She thought this was a great breakfast, especially since it was chilly in the morning.

Activities for your Toddler

So we were trying to find easy outside and tent activities that she would enjoy.  Obviously just letting them run around is great but sometimes we need them a little more stationary.  I had asked around for suggestions and some we used others we filed for next time.  On suggestion was washable paint to let them paint rocks and stuff while you are setting up camp.  You can get a large piece of cardboard to keep the painting kind of contained.  Another great idea which we took but ended up not doing was bubbles.  If your toddler is anything like mine then bubbles are a great way to keep them occupied for a period of time.  Our plan was to use them after dinner but she kept herself fully entertained so we just did not bring them out.

Wooden Magnetic Easel

Something that I found that was a great tent activity was a Wooden Magnetic Easel Educational Alphabet Numbers Jigsaw Puzzle Games Double-sided Drawing Board.  This is such a great item to have and many uses.  Once side is a magnetic white board and the other is a chalk board.  It comes with a lot of magnetic pieces to use for your alphabet or numbers.  Also to be able to create people.  This was enjoyed while we were winding down and getting ready for bed.

Books and wipe-clean cards

Board books and wipe-clean cards are a great option for camping.  The books hold up really well and especially if you already have a dry erase pen for the white board activity then you can easily do the cards.  If you don’t have a dry erase pen or don’t want to use one click here to see an easy tip.   Just stick the cards on a key ring or something to keep them together.  Ashlyn happily sat in her chair and looked at her book while we cleaned up from dinner.  It was a great way to keep her in one place for a bit.  Also look at my suggestions for books to take when traveling, many will work for camping as well.

On the Go Water Wow!

While looking for easy activities that I could use in the car or while camping but were easy to clean or would not make a mess I found Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow!  This is a great find and so easy to use and there is no clean up.





These are so great, and one of the best things is they are reusable.  You just need a little bit of water to go inside the paint brush, so no worrying about water getting all over.  You let them dry and they are ready to go again.

Water Wow! dries so your toddler can paint it again later.







We also had brought a small selection of loose toys to play with inside the tent if needed.  Next year our plan is to bring a couple of outdoor books.  This is to give us some activities to do outside to help let her see how much fun it can be.

Camping with a Toddler

Overall we all had a very fun trip.  Definitely glad that we just did one night so we could see how it went.  Did learn that munchkin moves more than we realized.   When I woke up in the morning she had her head in the sleeping bag next to my leg.

Did forget to check our air mattress for holes so when we woke up we were laying on the ground basically.  ?  We did remember to check our tent though.  Ashlyn did try to help us set up camp since she was so excited.





Basically it really does not matter how long you go camping for as long as you get out there.  Don’t wait till they are older, now is a perfect time to get them excited about camping.  The earlier they start the easier it will be as they get older.  I really am glad we went and am looking forward to doing two nights next year.  This was an interesting learning experience.


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