Camping is a major factor in a happy life for many families, and having small children certainly doesn’t have to change that. While your habits may adjust, and what you consider a great site is definitely going to be different, with the addition of a few essential camping accessories you can still be happy campers. Here is our list of must haves for camping with young children:
Make the Shade
It doesn’t get much better than camping on a hot summer’s day… unless you have children too young to wear sunscreen. Luckily there are a few great shade tent options on the market. I like the kind that include a big floor tarp, so your baby can look at the trees or crawl around without being consumed by dirt. A shade like our Eurekea is available at tentcityoutfitters.com for $99.99.
Keeping Little Ones Warm
One of the most challenging aspects of camping with little ones is the temperature variation from day to night. Fleece sleep-sacs are perfect for these situations, but can be hard to find for the older/bigger kids. I recently picked a handmade one up from a local craft fair, but Etsy is a great place to source them as well. As another option, some savvy moms put their kids to sleep in snowsuits to keep them snug.
Is there a more perfect food container for camping than than pouches? Easy, no refrigeration required, chock full of fruit & veg, and if one gets dropped in the dirt, it’s likely still edible! Double whatever amount you are thinking of bringing, because kids get hungry in all that fresh air!
Speaking of pouches, don’t bother lugging the glass bottles along, simply pour your favourite wine into one of these portable and re-usable wine bags and you will have a fresh beverage for days. Lightweight, un-breakable, and just plain awesome, what is there to complain about when you have a bag of wine? Available at MEC.ca for $10.50.
Play Out Of the Dirt
A great playyard for outdoors is the Pop N Play by Summer Infant. Its shelf life is short, as it’s mostly for the crawling/first walking months, but if you feel like splurging it is worth every penny. It gives you a safe place to put that mover while you get your campsite sorted and the fire going. These are available at SnuggleBugz.ca for $119.99
All the power to the camping co-sleepers, but my son will not sleep unless he has his own space. Our portable crib has been indispensable for camping. Make sure your tent is big enough to fit it along with your own sleeping space before you pack up. Do a trial run at home in the pack-n-play and get the little ones used to it before you head into the wilderness.
Let There Be Light!
Not only is a headlamp super stylish for mom and dad, giving your toddler one is a great way to have them feel independent and secure in the dark. Opt for something with a red light as well as the usual LED so things aren’t too damaging for sensitive eyes.
A portable high chair is extremely handy, but you don’t need to get the specific camping kind. A regular portable booster seat is great for camping – just set it up at the picnic table or even on the ground! This is one of the best purchases I have ever made, in fact I don’t even own a ‘regular’ high chair!
Things can get rowdy out in the wilderness, and you don’t want to have to make a panicked trip to a drug store. Plan accordingly with a first aid kit that you have checked for expiry and stocked up with all the necessities.
Toys for the Elements
While camping most kids will play with, and probably try to eat, rocks, sticks and dirt. But it’s a good idea to also bring along some toys and games that aren’t damaged by a little grime and water. A good sized plastic tote to throw them all in at the end of the day is a great way to prevent an adult from stumbling over them in the dark, and also doubles as a baby bath!
Nap On the Go
A PeaPod is the most genius little portable nap tent. I have used it countless times at the beach for a sleep spot when there is just hot sand as far as the eye can see. It comes in various sizes, and folds up into a compact circle. These are available at Walmart.ca for $78.00.
You cannot have enough baby wipes camping. I don’t care if your campsite has the best facilities – kids are going to get dirty… Really dirty. Wipes also double as dish cleaners, Kleenex, and pretty much anything else you could imagine. Bring 4x the amount you think you will need.
Carrying the Load
Unless you want to stay in one spot the entire trip (and with your bag or wine, you may chose to…), you will need a good carrying device for your baby or toddler. Normal cloth carriers are good for staying close to home base, but if you are looking to get off the beaten path for a longer period of time, a hiking backpack gives much more support to your back, and has extra pockets and space to carry other hiking necessities.
Other Must Have Accessories for Camping with Children!
- Bring a box of large Ziploc bags. You will find uses for them that you would have never expected, and you will be very grateful you have them.
- A long piece of thin rope makes the perfect clothesline to dry wet bathing suits and towels… and anything else that happens to be wet.
- Glow sticks are super fun, and make the dark seem more friendly and exciting for kids and adults alike
- Foam tiles are fairly compact and a great way to make the floor of your tent softer for crawling knees.
- Download a white noise app for your phone. Place it in the tent when your little one is sleeping. It’s perfect for drowning out the strange sounds of the wilderness they might not be used to, especially while settling down.