Today we’re going to talk about our experience camping with babies and toddlers. As you know already from our prior post, we went to a Pop-up camper right after our oldest was born, so our experiences are all from that standpoint. There will be more things to consider if you are going tent camping with kiddos, but much of the experience will be the same.
Now, going ANYWHERE with kids requires so much more equipment than you think. I mean, like, mountains and mountains of equipment. How can these tiny human beings require so much stuff? So, you’ll need a way to transport all this stuff. We had a minivan plus our pop-up (which had a small bit of storage space inside) and there was barely enough room for everything (plus our camping stuff, food, and our cooler).
Equipment needed (cram it in wherever it will fit!):
Stroller. (optional) This can be handy to have while camping! When going for walks around the campground, or doing sightseeing outside the campground you will want to have this!
Bikes and bike seat or trailer, plus helmets. (Also optional) We had a baby bike seat when the kiddos were really little and then a tow behind 2 seat trailer when they were older. Then when they were old enough for their own trikes we would drag those with us! And always HELMETS.
Hiking Gear. (optional) We love to hike, so we got a backpack baby carrier after J was born and John would cart J around on his back. The kiddo loved it! John not so much. Hikes are great with toddlers! Just keep in mind your hiking speed will be VERY SLOW. 🙂 We made sure to do pretty short hikes (1-2 miles) because anything much longer than that and the 2 year old would start begging to be carried the rest of the way!
Playpen. Use this as the bed inside the camper/tent. Can be a handy play space during the day outside as well! Many playpens come with shades for over the top to shield baby from the sun as well.
Toys, toys and more toys. OK, this is pretty much straightforward. Babies and toddlers like their toys. And we parents like toys that can keep them busy and out of our hair for at least a few minutes so we can wash the dishes. 😉 But really – when camping it’s the great outdoors that is the major ‘toy’ here. Our boys loved looking at birds and trees and leaves and bugs and pretty much everything. Just make sure they don’t put yucky stuff in their mouths. lol. We had several outdoor games that the toddlers could play at the camper, and bubbles were always a big hit as well.
Where do they sleep?
We put the playpen on top of the smaller bed end in the pop-up when W was a baby. (I’m sure that was not totally ‘approved’, but it never shifted and it worked for us.)
When he got older we bought a baby/toddler bed rail and rigged it to work at the side of the bed. It required some McGyvering to get it to be stable and function correctly but we made it work.
We had a baby tent as well that we used with J for a while as his ‘bed on top of the bed’.
When we had both a toddler and a baby that we were traveling with, we set up a divider curtain down the center the bed (we used the bed roof support bar as the curtain rod) so that it was harder for them to keep each other awake! 😀 We kept the bed rail up until they were both of an age that they didn’t need it anymore. We typically had to have one or the other of us grown ups monitoring the situation in the pop up at bedtime until they both fell asleep. Otherwise they would be up all night!
Feeding the hungry kiddos:
Food is pretty important! All the bottles and formula and stuff to clean the bottles has to be brought along with you. We had a bottle warmer that plugged in, but when we were dry camping (which we did quite often) we couldn’t use it. We got both boys used to drinking from chilled bottles pretty early on though, so we didn’t need it for long. We had a very good water filter that installed on the outside water hookup, so we would use the tap water most of the time – but we brought bottled water along with us to use as well just in case the tap water still tasted not great. Baby food jars are super easy to bring along, so that was no problem. We had a clamp style/ travel high chair that came in handy!
So, that’s pretty much it! Oh – I will say, be prepared to feel guilty about your crying babies in the middle of the night! We sure did. But now that we’re past that stage, whenever we hear crying babies at campgrounds at night we don’t lay there cussing out the parents – so maybe the other campers weren’t cussing us out like we thought they were. 🙂 It’s just a fact of life, and I’m sure the other campers understand!
Your main takeaway should be – you’ll be bringing lots of stuff with you! lol