10 Tips for camping with your toddler

Monday, January 30, 2017


I’ve always loved camping. Some of my favourite memories are being camped alongside remote rivers in Nepal, aside the beach at Noosa North Shore or pitching tents on my grandparents shack on the Murray River when I was only little.
Call me crazy. Call me Stupid. Or possibly call me adventurous. But as soon as Lottie was born I decided I’d like to provide her with a really outdoorsy lifestyle, and one which involved camping.  
It took over a year to make it happen but eventually the perfect opportunity presented itself, and I was mentally prepared for the challenge. My brother was heading off on a camping trip to Iluka and Kieron was in Singapore for work (he hates camping!), so Lottie and I decided to tag along.
Yes, camping isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do with your little one but it can be really rewarding and something you’ll look back on in years to come. Early morning breakfasts cooked alongside the river, waking to the sounds of numerous kookaburras, hiking along beach trails, surviving a heavy storm and exploring the surrounding area are just some of the highlights from our first camping trip.
I definitely didn’t get it all right on my first trip, but I’d like to share with you ten practical tips to make your first camping trip enjoyable:  

  1. Be prepared for dirt, and lots of it. Your little one will eat it, play in it, and if you experience rain like we did they’ll also look like they’ve bathed in it. Have a relaxed attitude about it, remember it’s good for their immune system and it easily washes off.  

  2. Pack appropriately. Visit a cheap clothing store or op-shop and purchase dark coloured clothing and throw-away shoes. I made the mistake of only packing Lottie’s brand new Clarks walkers. Being white, they were practically ruined by the end of the trip.

  3. Consider a campground. Perfect for your first camping trip with toddler in tow they offer amenities like showers and toilets, and often have incredible camp kitchens making your packing list much shorter.

  4. Pack an infant carrier. Not only is it great for hitting the trails, it also comes in really useful when cooking or visiting the amenities. I used my Osprey Poco Carrier which doubled as a highchair at meal times.

  5. Take a first aid kit. Include things for cuts, stings, temperatures etc – it’s better to have it and not need it, than the other way around.

  6. Don’t forget the port-a-cot. It can be used as a familiar environment for your toddler to sleep in and a play-pen whilst you’re setting up camp.

  7. Test your tent is waterproof. A huge storm rolled in on the second night we were camping, and luckily we stayed dry. You’d think the thunder and lightning would have woken Lottie but she slept through the entire storm.

  8. Stick to your usual routine. It’s best to try and stick to your usual sleep routine, but you might need to be creative with how you make that happen. It was far too hot for Lottie to sleep in the tent for day naps, so we’d go for long drives exploring the surrounding area or walk her to sleep and then chill beside the ocean under a tree. At night time she was put to bed at her usual time of 7pm but with the campground noise it took her longer than usual to drift to sleep.

  9. Don’t forget lighting. You’ll need a good lighting source for the evenings, and something portable to walk to the amenities with.

  10. Nature is your best playground. When my daughter is outside I notice she’s happier, more relaxed and more inquisitive. There are just so many benefits to outdoor play and I find it’s one of the best learning environments. Whilst camping we avoided conventional toys and played with sticks, the sand, the mud, we pointed out wildlife together, swam in the ocean and waled together in the world heritage listed littoral rainforest. 

Have you taken your baby or toddler camping? Would you like too? If you have other tips, please share them.

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