has anyone been tent camping with young kids? We have a 1 year old and a 3 year old. Any tips?
Yes, we do it all the time. They’re so tired from running around outside all day that they zonk out immediately. Our 5 year old sleeps in his own solo tent now!
We have!! Usually with teeny ones, we forego sleeping bags altogether and make a few layers of blankets on the bottom and one or two on the top, and basically make it like co-sleeping but in a tent. And EVERY one of our babies (3 now) has slept MUCH better in tents than in the house!!
We’ve been camping with the girls since the oldest was 6 months old. Our biggest life saver was getting a screen tent that they could play in and stay contained and cool so I could prep meals or so they could nap without being overheated if the sun was on the tent.
we started camping when my oldest was 5. We camped while i was pregnant and as each baby was born, we camped. I think the key was to not have too many expectations of what can be done in a day outdoors with an infant as well as having enough safe space for playtime and naps.
My first learned to crawl when camping. There was suddenly really interesting things to see and wiggling over the hard ground was uncomfortable so he crawled.
I have 4 kids–mostly grown. I personally probably wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of the camping experience with babies and/or toddlers, but I know many do. We didn’t take our kids camping until the youngest was around 5. Something to consider–nobody loves your kids like you do lol. Like if your kid is having a meltdown at 9 or 10 at night, the whole campground can hear it. Make no mistake… a toddler’s screams carry a long, long way. Our last camping trip there was a family with several really young children–preschool/toddlers. Wow. There was so much screaming. In a situation like that, I’d say camping doesn’t agree with them, and try again in a year or two. They just sounded miserable at times, and as a semi empty nester–I’ll admit it was a little annoying. I can’t help it. It’s like…been there done that and don’t want to go back. I’ve paid my dues. Another tent camping trip we took there was another large family, and one of the kids was sick with a terrible cough. That poor child coughed ALL NIGHT LONG–temps in the 50’s. I felt so bad for the child, but I also couldn’t sleep! I’m just surprised that the parents weren’t phased by either circumstance, but the other campers most definitely WERE. Happy playing child noises–even when they are loud–don’t bother me at all. But when you have a tantrum/screamer, think twice about camping. For your sake and your camper neighbors. Of course if you’re camping in the wilderness with no one around, none of this matters!
Our sons each started camping by 6 months. They loved it. We loved. They grew up camping. Camped with us till they were in college. Then they started camping with friends. Now they are camping with their wives. We’ll be camping with our oldest and his wife next month. Looking forward to camping with grandkids in the future.
Our son’s first camping trip was at seven months. He took his “buddy” with him, and that made it better as a whole for all of us. He LOVED camping with his buddy and crawling around in the tent. When my son had a child of his own, we took him camping, and he had “Smoky” (a black teddy bear) with him. The tradition continues.
Always camped with my babies. Pack n’ play and/or small inflatable pool very useful. Also, dispersed camping can be a bit rocky so don’t plan on a stroller. Instead, pack a laundry basket with blankets and attach a rope. If you have older kids around, they can pull the little ones around for fun or to put them to sleep.
When my kids were little we went camping often. Bringing a couple of bags of play sand and a Ziplock full of sandbox toys kept my kiddos happily occupied. Slashing open the new sand bags became our first arrival routine so we could pitch the tent and set up our camp. I also brought the smallest blow-up kiddie pool (like 24 in) not only to help them cool-off, but I took it into the shower with me for a baby bathtub.
I was at Cabelas the other day and discovered that someone makes a camping high chair now! It seems a lot more portable than the saucer seat we used in those days, haha.
Our babies are 23 & 25 yo respectively now but we took them camping before they could walk. We’d go on 20 mile hikes with their heads carefully supported in the papoose. They’d pack all their toys but spend the week playing with a stick. They still love camping/hiking so we must have done something right?
I feel the same way about the different kid noises. My sister took her 5 yo and 3 yo twins camping last summer for the first time, and they specifically went somewhere close to home. Everyone was miserable from the mid-summer heat, and at night the raccoons were loudly fighting each other and trying to break into a neighboring tent. They went home that night and came back the next day to enjoy their site until it was checkout time. Being close to home allowed them to demonstrate common courtesy that would have been difficult to accomplish if they were further than 30 minutes away from home.
Pre-Camping: Know Before You Go
It is imperative that you do your research before you go off on your camping adventure. It’s a recipe for disaster if you try to figure out where you’re going, what amenities are (or are not) available, and what activities you can do after you’ve already left home. Not only will your trip go smoothly if you nail all this down ahead of time and have a plan, but you’ll also avoid some hiccups that could ultimately ruin your trip.
One of the best ways to do your homework is to heavily research the area where you’ll be staying. It’s also wise to talk to friends who’ve already been there so they can give you the inside scoop. And if you don’t know anyone who’s been, look for forums where you can leave your questions, or there may just be a YouTube channel that gives you all the details you’ll need.
Beyond that, you want to start packing well in advance. If you’re leaving on Saturday morning and trying to hustle to get it all together on Friday night after work, it’s highly likely you’re going to forget something. And you’ll likely get a late start leaving town because you’ll inevitably be making a store run trying to fill in the gaps you’ve noticed in your packing list.
Ah yes the packing list. Print one (see ours below) or print several and then amend it for your and your family’s exact needs. For example, you won’t find “diapers” on a camping checklist, but if you’re bringing your baby along, obviously this is important to bring! We cannot recommend enough having a packing list that you can utilize while you’re gathering everything you need…at least a week in advance!
Once you’ve determined the type of camping you’ll be doing you’ll want to start gathering the basics you’ll need. Then be sure you’re thinking outside the box, as well, because there are a lot of little things every camper needs that they are likely to forget.
Camping Necessities: Beyond the Basics
- Satellite Phone – A satellite phone while camping is key for safety. Below we’ll go in-depth about why it’s so important that you never go on a camping trip without one.
- Batteries – So you have your flashlights and other electronics ready to roll right? Make sure you bring spare batteries for whatever it is you plan to bring. We also recommend looking into a portable charger that you can rely on when you need to charge up devices as well.
- First Aid Kit – Maybe this is a no-brainer, but I think for a lot of families, it’s not. Or at least, they consider it and then think “Nah, we won’t need that.” But getting scrapes, bruises and burns is really not that uncommon when you’re out in the wilderness – especially since you’ll likely be going for hikes and swims, as well. You DO NOT want to end up in a situation where you’re wishing you had a first aid kit, but don’t. There are lots of options perfect for all of your outdoor adventures.
- Portable Jump Starter – If you’re noticing an “emergency” pattern here, you’d be correct. So often people don’t account for situations like this when it really should be the forefront of their mind. A portable jump starter will ensure you don’t end up in the middle of anywhere with a car that won’t start. Can you imagine how much this happening could throw a wrench in your plans or become a dangerous situation? Take the jump starter so you’ll avoid a very sticky situation.
Yes, we have been tent camping with our young kids and here are some tips that have worked for us:
- Make sure to bring enough gear for comfort, such as a camping cot or air mattress, a sleeping bag or blanket, and extra pillows.
- Pack plenty of snacks and activities to keep the kids entertained.
- Make sure the campsite you choose is family-friendly and has amenities like a playground or swimming area.
- Bring along baby gear such as a portable high chair and pack 'n play for the younger one.
- Plan for quick and easy meals, such as hot dogs or sandwiches, to save time and energy.
- Consider a shorter camping trip to start with to see how your kids adjust before planning a longer trip.
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Good day! Very interesting. Thank you for the information.