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10 Essential Items to Pack When Camping with a Toddler

10 Essential Items to Pack When Camping with a Toddler

Camping with kids is one of the best memories you can make with them. Roughing it in the woods might not seem like your cup of tea, but you would not believe how enjoyable it can be to camp as a family. Even if you’re camping in the back yard or just doing an overnight trip in local woods, camping with children is magical. Of course, it can also be super stressful when little ones are involved. Lucky for you, I’ve got you covered with the most essential items to pack when camping with a toddler.

Father holding up his cute daughter on a camping trip

Safety items

Your safety and the safety of your family comes first. It starts with choosing a safe place to go camping. Then ensure that you have the following items in your bag and at easy reach.

  • Flashlight – I love a good LED flashlight that is small and powerful. It’s great to keep in your car for any road emergencies, as well!
  • Well stocked first aid kit (Should include, among other items, a gauze, disinfectant and the normal fever medicine you use for your kid). You can easily make your own kit, or you can buy one at many different price points. Just be sure it’s small enough to keep with you.

Weather appropriate gear

Dress your toddler comfortably and for the occasion.

Go for light layers that can be added or removed easily. In the summer, it can get very warm during the day and very cold at night. Carry at least one extra change of clothing in case they get wet or soiled.

And while it’s totally not necessary, there are some truly adorable kids camping shirts that can make them extra excitable for the trip!

Food, Snacks and Drinks

Bring along a good cooler full of ice to pack your favorite food, snacks and drinks. Hiking or playing in the woods can make you extra thirsty, and the summer sun can dehydrate kids faster than normal. Bring extra bottles of water along and consider a good water purifier just in case you need it.

We love to bring hot dogs with buns and condiments, bags of chips, marshmallows, trail mix and beef jerky. Ready-to-eat foods like Pop Tarts are great, and they will burn off the extra calories and sugar as they run and play.

Portrait of family of travelers sitting on rocky cliff


Just because you are sleeping in a tent does not mean you have to be uncomfortable. Invest in a good tent that is big enough for every member of your party, and make sure each person has their own sleeping bag. Even if your toddler ends up sleeping with you, the extra bag can be great for more padding below or extra heat above.

Have pajamas for the toddler, as well as warm t-shirts. Another tip here is to ensure that you do not disrupt their sleeping hours. Let them sleep at regular times and wake up at their regular time. This prevents them from getting cranky from the re-adjustment and generally prevents everyone from going crazy.

Toys and Books

Camping is a ton of fun on its own, but there will be many times when your toddler has had enough of the outdoors and just wants to curl up in your lap and read or sit in the shade and play with their favorite toy. Be sure to bring along a few of their favorite items for them. It will help avoid meltdowns which can otherwise ruin your trip. They’re also great for the car ride as you make your way to the camp site!

Diapers, Wipes and Camping Potty

If your child is still in diapers or pull-ups, be sure to bring them along. Make sure you have more than you think you’ll need, as you never know when they’ll need an extra change due to puddles, paddling in a stream or just getting muddy. Camping can be a messy business, so plan accordingly!

Similarly, wipes are an essential item, as they are great for wiping more than just baby butts! You can use them for mini sponge-baths for yourself and your kids!

If your child is already potty-trained or even in the process of being so, bring along a camping potty. You can even get a pop-up tent to give them (and yourself!) privacy while doing the deed.

Beautiful young family at summer music festival

Travel Bassinet or Pack-n-Play

If your toddler isn’t quite old enough to sleep in a sleeping bag, and you’d rather not have them in yours, bring along your favorite Pack-n-Play or travel bassinet. It will keep them safe while they sleep and give you peace of mind so they don’t wander off in the night.

Camera & Extra Battery

They might not remember the camping experience they had as toddlers when they grow up, and that is why it is essential to bring around a camera or a recording device to immortalize the experience. A phone could also work pretty well, but charging could be a problem if you’re using it a lot.

These days there are tons of options for cheap point-and-shoot cameras that will serve you well as you’re out in the great outdoors.

Skin care

Carry bug spray, sunscreen and skin care lotions. You never know what bug might come for a snack on your toddler’s skin. This is especially useful if you’re going to be somewhere without shower facilities. Use a good lotion after a quick wet wipe sponge bath, and they’ll be clean and comfortable throughout your camping adventure!

Swim Gear

Most camping trips eventually involve water. Whether you’re somewhere with a pool or you take a quick dip in the nearby stream or pond, having water-specific clothing and gear will make things so much easier. I suggest bringing bathing suits even if you don’t anticipate needing them, as you just never know!

Beautiful young family at summer music festival

Camping with toddlers and children can be amazing if you’ve prepared yourself properly. I highly suggest doing it as often as you can when they’re little. While it may be more stressful, the rewards are definitely worth it!

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