camping with babies and toddlers: top tips and equipment checklist

The addition of a little one doesn’t have to curtail your love of the great outdoors. From wild camping on the West Highland Way to pitching up besides beaches in France, camping holidays can be a great way to kick back and enjoy nature.

When you become a parent you’ll most likely want to pass on your love of the outdoors to your children. And what better way to do this than to bring them along on your camping trips!

camping with babies and toddlers

Camping with a baby or toddler in tow is a bit trickier than doing it as a couple. But it only takes a few small changes to make it work. Here's how to put together that first awe-inspiring family trip...

have a garden test run

Pack your gear as if you were heading to the wilderness, then set up camp in your back garden instead. Or, if you don't have a garden, lay it all out in the living room.

This will get your little one used to sleeping in a tent. It will also help you figure out what exactly you need to pack when camping with a baby. If you've forgotten an essential, it's only a few steps to the house (or nursery) to get it... which is much better than an hour's drive to the nearest shop.

upgrade your space and equipment

The old two man tent you took on all your previous adventures will be the first thing to go. If you're camping with babies and toddlers, you need much more room. As well as a safe and secure spot for feeding, you also need room for all their gear.

It's also wise to have space to run and play inside on rainy days. Think about sleeping arrangements, too. Will baby co-sleep, or is there space in your tent for a toddler camping bed? A large three room tent is much more comfortable for a family.

plan toddler camping activities

As a couple, you might have loved to read, hike and gaze quietly at the stars. Unfortunately, toddlers aren't really into these activities

Plan plenty of things to do with them (supervised scavenger hunts in the woods are always fun). Print off some cards with local birds, bugs and wildlife and see how many they can spot.

Lawn games and outdoor toys are fun too, but let's face it – most toddlers are just happy to kick a ball around. Also pack a toddler camping chair, as they'll feel special if they have their own little throne to relax in.

camping with babies and toddlers

create a 'camping with a baby checklist'

Forget bug spray and folding cutlery, this is the only camping equipment for babies that you'll need:

• plenty of nappies – nobody wants to drive down a mountain to the shops in the middle of the night
• lots of baby wipes – these double up as on-the-go showers too. Don't tell anyone
a baby sling – wearing your baby is easier than pushing them in a buggy on those mountain trails. Plus it makes you feel like a wholesome Earth mother
• food – pack a cooler with plenty of mashed or soft cooked fruit and vegetables for your weaning baby
• spare layers – it can get chilly at night, so a choice of layers and a cosy blanket will make sure your little one stays snug

And there you have it! All that's left to do is to head off into the great outdoors with your favourite people. Smores not essential, but highly recommended...


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