Camping for the first time with kids can be downright scary. How will you get them to sleep? Will sleeping in a tent be safe? What if they put a rock in their mouth? And oh, the dirt! How will you keep them clean? Even the most seasoned camper can be stricken with fear when faced with the challenge of camping with young children.
Camping with young kids can be so much fun. It just takes a few adjustments and a little patience. Here are a few things we have found to be very helpful.
1. Do Not Forget The Baby Wipes. And if you do, stop and pick some up on the way to the campground. These things are lifesavers. And the best thing – they get marshmallows off of sticky fingers and faces and clothes and chairs and….
2. Wash Them Down Every Night. We use a warm bucket of water, soap, and a washcloth for a quick wipe down. It works wonders. I have heard of others bringing washtubs. Whatever works for you! And when my parents are with us, we will use the shower in their camper. Bonus if you stay at a campground with showers. Just be sure to bring shower shoes and quarters. Many of the public showers are pay showers.
3. Don’t Overdress Your Baby At Night. You might worry they will be too cold and decide to dress them in two onesies, socks, footed pajamas, and a hat. Don’t laugh. We did it. All it results in is being woken up at 2 in the morning with an overly hot, grumpy baby. Our advice, stick with what you do at home for that particular season. If you find they need an extra layer, then you can add the onesie.
4. Pack More Clothes Than You Will Think You Need. Kids collect dirt and they blow through clothes. Especially if you are camping near water. Not to mention if you have a newly potty trained kiddo. They get so excited and are having so much fun that they forget to stop and go potty. We have found that the more clothes you can bring the better.
5. Bring A Portable High Chair. Or don’t and red neck it like us. We would use our stroller. Sometimes we would plan ahead and actually remember the high chair. They have ones that attach to the table or a chair. High chairs are so great because you can actually get your kid to settle down and eat. But the best part – they give you a chance to eat, too.
6. Bring Your Pack N’ Play. These things are life savers. We dragged our pack n’ play around for four years. It gives your kiddos a safe place to play (no rocks in the mouth to worry about) and they can fit in your tent for a safe place for your baby to sleep.
7. Invest In A Good Carrier. We love to hike and we found that a good backpack worked wonders for lengthening the distance we could hike. When our little ones wanted to walk they could and when we needed to pick up the pace, we had the backpack.
8. Let Them Explore. Don’t be afraid to let your little ones explore. You will be surprised how excited they get and what great opportunities their explorations provide for learning.
9. Embrace The Dirt (or sand). You’re camping. They are going to get dirty. As long as we go in with this mentality, we have found that we can get passed the dirty fingers and faces and enjoy our children in the great outdoors. Dirt and all.
8. Bring An Extra Tent. It provides a great place to play. It can also offer a place to get out of the sun or to just settle down for a nap.
9. Don’t Let Potty Training Detour You. We actually potty trained They Boy camping last fall (you can read about that here). We took the potty with us and went with it.
10. It’s Ok To Resort To Bribery. We carry Jelly Belly’s with us. When we have really whiny kiddos, we have been known to entice them with a few Jelly Belly’s. Happy kiddos, happy parents, right?
11. Make It Fun. We have done a lot of things over the years to help guide our children to the realization that being in the great outdoors is fun. Glow sticks, special chairs, fun flashlights, bug catching kits. Anything that helps keep them engaged. We tend to break these kinds of things out when the kids need a little boost.
Have we forgotten anything? What tips do you have for camping with the 0-3 crowd?