What to Bring Camping with your Baby (without packing the whole house!)
So you want to go camping with your toddler and babies, but then you are hit with the realization that there’s a TON of stuff little kids use!
How in the world can you take all that stuff into your camper and till have room for anything else?
What a pain in the butt to have to uproot all your kids’ items for a weekend trip! What if you forget something and your toddler loses it because he doesn’t have that one stuffed animal (out of like 10) that he decided he absolutely must have in order to sleep?
Don’t fret! I had the same thoughts, especially once my twin girls were born and ended up coming home on supplemental oxygen. We had A LOT of equipment we needed just for their oxygen needs, not to mention all the normal baby stuff! I almost wanted to just wait until they got older, but my husband pushed through and we ended up going out anyways!
Now my girls are 10 months old and my son is 2 1/2 at the time of this writing, and I feel like I got it figured out! So I’m going to show you a snapshot of the typical things I pack for a weekend camp trip. I’m also going to give you some tips and tricks on how to streamline the process.
Don’t worry, your first time will likely be a learning experience! Just don’t let it get you down and prevent you from going again. Kids are surprisingly adaptable, as long as they have you to look up to and see patience and excitement!
If you are tent camping, The Pragmatic Parent has a great guide to tent camping tips for kids!
Here are some essentials I pack when going camping with the kids
This will obviously be different for everyone, or perhaps less if you are camping in a tent! We have a pull behind camper, but it is relatively small so the less stuff the better.
Don’t worry too much about clothes or toys! Just bring at least two of each kind of clothing so the one not being used can be hanging up to dry.
I’ll go over toy essentials a little later, but trust me – you don’t need much when there are things like sticks, rocks, and dirt everywhere to play in!
The clothes I bring for my toddler and two babies for a 3 day camp trip
I find it best to think of what I do throughout the day, then make sure I have the right outfit for each time. For example, we will need jackets and booties for the cool mornings, a sun hoodie for when it gets hot, a couple changes of pants, and their swaddles for naps.
I highly suggest buying a “camper only” set so that it is that much easier to pack! Even better, buy it used to save some money! Check out my list of 27 other camping must haves that are totally not worth buying new HERE!
Here’s our list of camping clothes needed for each kid
- sun hat and warm hat
- cool clothing
- onsies for layering
- multiple pants (you can always hang a wet pair to dry and reuse it later)
- shoes, socks if you use them
- swaddles (or any other night time clothing you use)
I love this detailed kid camping clothes list by a fellow outdoors mama HERE if you want even more ideas of what clothing you may need!
The most important thing here is probably some Benadryl; if you’re camping out of cell service, it’s really important to be aware of how much your child needs and how to use it.
When kids are young, allergies are still developing and some can be very severe! Bees, plants, a new food.. who knows. But you want to be prepared for anything; when we camp, we are often far out and have little to no cell service.
Another thing I like to bring, and you might too if this is part of your routine, are the vitamins and such your child is used to at home. We take Vit D, Fish Oil, and Magnesium Zinc every night before bed. Taking them while camping too makes the bedtime routine that much easier!
Here’s a list of all the kid medical and health items we bring for camping
- Nasal Bulb (We love Nose Frida!)
- Allergy Meds
- Bug Spray – If you want all the details on what kinds of bug spray are safe for the kids, check out this super detailed article here!
- Tylenol (don’t forget the syringe!)
- Sunscreen – Hint: With little kids, use minimal amounts of sunscreen! Check this article out on how to get the kids ready for fun in the sun!
- Bedtime Routine stuff (Again, for us that’s the vitamins our toddler takes and his toothbrush with toothpaste)
- Bottles and cleaning items for them – While it may seem intimidating to get a warm bottle and clean them well while camping, don’t stress! I have a few tricks for using baby bottles while camping here!
Toys to bring while camping with kids!
The idea of camping, for me at least, is to be in nature; play with the sticks, throw rocks, dig in the dirt!
With this in mind, when it comes to toys, we are pretty minimal.
For the babies, we bring some things to chew on that are easily washable. This means rubber/plastic toys, and no stuffed animals! They get dirty way too fast!
For our toddler, we bring beach toys. Even if we’re not at the beach, they often are everything you need for campsite fun! Our set includes a bucket, shovel, and strainer. We also bring some simple things like a ball and digger truck. Most of his time is spent playing with sticks, exploring, and throwing rocks!
These toys stay in the camper so that it’s easier to pack for next time!
Here’s my list of staple toys for kids while camping
- rubber/plastic toys for the babies that are easy to wash
- a couple of balls
- sand toys, such as buckets, a shovel, rake etc
- one or two “digger” truck toys
- Some simple craft stuff like paint or yarn
Extra items to make camping a little easier!
While I may love going outdoors and such, I feel like there’s a time and place for a little TV when they are young. If it’s raining outside, I don’t want our crawling babies getting soaked and cold. They also don’t have the attention span or maturity for a board game (which is what we’ll do instead of TV when they are older).
So yes, we do bring a couple things like a laptop and some movies for when it’s blazing hot outside or pouring!
We also bring some comforts of home when possible (AKA when we are camping in a spot that has power hookups) such as their white noise machine, bottle maker etc.
If you really want some good gear that will make life easier when you go camping with babies, you may also want to check out my Must Have Baby Camping Gear Guide! While it’s possible to survive without these things… who wants to just “survive” camping?
Here are some extra items that we bring camping
- Laptop + Power Cord (Yes, I mentioned the cord! I have forgotten this before! )
- Noise Machine
- Brezza Bottle Maker
- Baby monitor (for hanging out outside the camper after the kids have gone to sleep)
Camping food for kids
I plan on making a whole other article about this, but I will sum it up here!
Plenty of comfort food that isn’t sticky, doesn’t spoil easily, and is multi-use!
The last thing anyone wants is sticky fingers everywhere, especially those sticky fingers get coated in dirt and being eaten!
Fridge space, if you have one in the first place, is often limited so choose multi-purpose ingredients to bring for your kids meals!
Feeding babies and toddlers is way easier if you have a place to sit them, so you should check out this list of the highest rated baby camp chairs and toddler camp chairs!
Here’s an example of what food I bring camping for the kids
- Baby snacks (puffs, teething crackers) to keep them busy and happy while doing chores
- Fruits for “boring” parts of the day (I hate that midday lull where it’s too hot to do anything!)
- At least one “real” meal for my toddler and babies. For me, it’s eggs for the babies (which we also use for our breakfast and toddler’s pancakes) and sausages for my toddler.
- A “Snack Mix” my toddler can carry in a bag to keep him busy
- SMORES! No camping trip can really be a success without smores!
- Some other staple food that everyone enjoys that is non-perishable, such as noodles.
Here are some helpful tips to help prepare for your camping trip with the kids!
After doing this over and over, there are some things I’ve learned that really help streamline the process of getting ready. Here’s my best tips for you to have a (mostly) stress-free packing experience!
- Designate a tote for camping, and pack it with as much stuff as you can ahead of time
This may seem obvious, but it really helps to have everything you can already packed. This will likely include non-perishables as well as things the kids don’t actively use every day.
We have extra blankets, undies for my toddler, diapers and wipes for the babies, and some crackers and things for snacking in ours.
Having this tote packed will greatly reduce the anxiety of having to get everyone’ stuff together, especially if you’re a stay at home mama and want to be ready to go by the time your husband gets home.
Having a tote ready to go is even more helpful when you decide spur of the moment to go camping!
- Buy extras of whatever you can so that you can have a camping set that doesn’t leave the camper (or tent tote)
If you have the means, I highly recommend buying stuff that just stays in the camper. This will reduce the number of things you have to remember to bring!
This could be things like plates and silverware, play clothes for the kids, and the extra blankets.
I’d go so far as to recommend jackets, bedtime must-haves like a white noise machine, baby gates, and whatever other camping essentials for your kids to make it not as catastrophic if you forget something!
We’ve gotten a lot of our camping duplicates, over time, through thrift stores and Facebook marketplace for fairly cheap. So just keep an eye out for deals on items you could designate as part of your camping set!
- Lay everything out that you’re packing for your camp trip before actually putting it in the camper
I’m a big last minute packer, and I’m really trying to get better about that. My packing used to be throwing everything into grocery bags and then straight to the camper.
Lately, I’ve been putting everything on a table so that I can go over what I have, then putting into the bin it belongs to.
If I have eyes on everything, I can quickly double check that I packed something without having to tear everything out.
- Tape a note to your front door listing all the things you need to bring that can only be packed day of
For me, this includes our bottle maker, baby monitors, refrigerated food and such. I just add to the list throughout the week (although by now I pretty much got it down) and then tape it on the inside of my front door.
That way, every time I leave to put something in the camper, I will see what I need! I mark off each item that leaves the house so that I don’t forget what I already did!
Last but not least, make it special! Have “camping only” fun things to bring!
This is where traditions start!
We bring an ice cream making ball, special camping only books, and a special camping only craft kit! This gives them something to be excited about if camping itself isn’t enough!
Don’t forget to pin this for later!
And let me know any great ideas you have to help the packing process!
P.S. Here are some other camping articles you may enjoy
- Some craft ideas the toddlers and preschoolers will love to do while camping
- The 5 Educational Benefits of Crafting in Nature, + what’s in the “Camp Craft Bag” I bring with me
- Check out this list of awesome dandelion crafts – those “weeds” are everywhere and so fun!
- 27 Must Have Items to buy cheap (and where to find them) when furnishing your camper!