I was a Girl Scout growing up, and I feel fortunate to this day to have camped in a treehouse, cabin, tent, teepee — and a shower stall. It’s probably one of my earliest camping memories: At a Girl Scout campout, all of our gear was in the middle of our teepees, about to be unpacked, when a torrential downpour began. That’s the funny thing about teepees — there’s a hole in the top. So our first night at the campground was spent in a shower house playing Guesstures. We had our mess kits and our sleeping bag pads (which, in retrospect, were essentially yoga mats) to avoid sleeping directly on the ground.
With no cell phones, WiFi, or Alexa, camping seemed so basic. Not anymore!
As I am on the cusp of my mid-30s and have just unpacked from our second family camping trip of the year, I think about how today, my husband and I still find new things to buy every year for camping and how we have to take both our cars to the campground to fit our family and everything we need! In our defense, we are camping with a toddler. When our son was born, we knew we’d take him camping with us, and this year marked his third camping trip!
Having camped with an infant and (now) toddler, here are some ideas for what to bring when camping with your little one.
This is convenient for an infant who can eat sitting up. It’s compact, too, and doesn’t take up a lot of room in the car!
Yes, your child will outgrow this chair, but 100% it is worth having a chair for them to sit in that’s their own.
If you have a tent that is big enough to fit a pack ‘n’ play, then awesome. I actually saw a couple of them this year when we camped, but we did not use one the first two times we camped with Jackson. We had the controversial and recalled Rock ‘n’ Play but took the legs off so it was essentially a manger. It worked great for him. A travel bassinet would be even better!
We were lucky enough to borrow a nap mat from a family member who has a daycare, so this year our toddler slept in his own sleeping bag with a mat underneath. You can also use a yoga mat.
My goal when building my baby registry was to get a car seat that would convert as my baby grew and a stroller that would adapt so I wouldn’t have to get another one as he aged. Every year we’ve camped, Jackson has napped in the stroller. It’s also convenient for carrying gear!
Wipes, wipes, wipes
Extra wipes are great for more than diaper changes. S’more cleanup? Trip in the dirt? Sap? They’re good to have for adults and kids!
A decent cooler
We broke down and bought one of the “rugged” coolers that promises to hold ice for days. It kept milk and fruit fresh, but remember that no matter how long the cooler claims to keep ice frozen, when you open and close it, heat goes inside.
Basic skincare items
Don’t forget baby bug spray wipes (easier than spray), sunscreen, band-aids, and Neosporin just in case.
Cups with lids
These are so helpful to avoid bugs, campfire ash, etc. entering your kiddo’s cup.