Camping with Toddlers: 12 Must-Haves


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Crystal Paterson

This past weekend we went camping. Thursday-Sunday, just a quick trip. It was last minute, packing within a couple of hours, and off we went. Mal and I went with my family for the weekend as my husband had to work and isn’t the biggest fan of the outdoors. In the 2 hours notice, I got for packing made for an interesting beginning. Next time I need time and a list. Definitely a list. I came up with our Camping with Toddlers: 12 must-haves list. 

Mal had a blast. Once we got there, he got bubbles, campfires, smores, and late nights with Memere, Pepere, and his uncle. He and I shared a bottom bunk so mom got lots of snuggles and he slept really well except the first night. But the new place, strange surroundings, it made sense that he had a rough first night and I’m glad we were in the same room. So first tip, share a bed or a room. It’s scary for them in a new place. The second tip, keep nap times as much as possible because for sure they’ll want to stay up late for campfires and smores. Lastly, go with your family. The more the merrier and the more to help you chase the toddler around! They don’t stop. To help you relax too, go with more people. Plus that adds to the fun!

We went last year and hopefully, we have a few more trips this year. For me, the worst part is packing for camp so I also have a list. I did a Camping with Babies list last year. It helped a lot, so I did one this year too. To make your packing experience better, here is my Camping with Toddlers 12 Must-Haves.

Camping with Toddler: Our 12 Must Haves

  1. 2-3 outfits for each day. I know it’s a lot but especially in Alberta, the weather is unpredictable. We went for 3 days, I packed 3 t-shirts/short outfits, 3 long sleeve/sweats outfits and then 2 extra outfits and a pair of fleece jeans. I also packed a few hoodies, and 5 pajama sets for the 3 days and of course socks, lots of socks. Better over prepared than underprepared.
  2. Shoes. Runners, rain boots, sandals 
  3. Mitts, toque, and a hat. All our bases, no matter the weather are covered with those.
  4. Jackets. I packed a light rain one and a fleece insert one
  5. Favorite Items. Blankets, stuffies and other stuff that makes it feel like their beds so they are more comfortable
  6. Medical and essential supplies. For us, this means essential oils too. Tylenol, thermometer, bandaids, lotions, bum creams, diapers, wipes (I always pack extra.), bug spray, and bug bite/itch stick roller – ours are made with oils. 
  7. Toys and Activities. In case it rains and you’re stuck inside. This happened a lot for us. I even downloaded some Paw Patrol on our old phone from Netflix, so he’d have some downtime too. 
  8. Toys for outside. Bubbles, water guns, balls, and other outdoor activities. They are still toddlers after all.
  9. Easy go-to snacks. Cheese strings, yogurt drinks, crackers, and some cookies for treats!
  10. Cups and bottles. For their milk and water. It’s really easy for them to get dehydrated while running around outside all day.
  11. A camera! Mal had so much fun and I’m so glad I was able to catch it on camera.
  12. Don’t forget about you, mama. Remember to pack all these things for you too. I forgot my jacket and my pillow, but at least he had all his stuff! 

And have fun. Don’t let routines, or schedules get you stressed or worried. It’s the weekend. They will have so much fun they’ll tire themselves out. I stuck with a nap time routine mostly. A bottle, going down between 11-1, when he was ready. I didn’t fight. It’s supposed to be a relaxing time for both you and your kiddos!

My advice, when you’re camping, pick your battles. It’s no fun having to sit inside the camper or the tent with your screaming toddler. Take care of yourself there too. Take a book, ask if a family member can entertain them. I finished a book I’ve been trying to read for a year now! It was great. Lastly, have fun with them too. Run around, blow bubbles, get into a water gun fight! 18 summers are all you get, more if you’re lucky and they want to come home for visits in the summer. By the time you have toddlers, you have 15-16 summers left! Use them to their fullest! You won’t regret it, I promise.

Love, Crystal

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