Camping with a Toddler/Baby

My son isn’t a true toddler yet. He won’t be two for two more months and still needs a lot more watchful of an eye than the typical two or three year old, but we are insane adventurous and decided it was high time for a camping trip!

You are going to kill me, though. I barely remembered to snap a few pics before we had packed up most of the gear to go home!


I’m actually more mad at myself than anything. But there will be more trips and I will take tons of pictures because I will be better prepared. Hopefully, haha.

Overall, camping was really great! I tried to plan for just about everything that could possibly be needed, and for the most part, that planning paid off. So, without more blathering, here’s my review of what happened and what could have gone better.

Our site was huge. Our friends actually pitched another tent to the right (your right, not the table’s right) of the picnic table and we had a ton of chairs and picnic blankets set up. We could have probably fit another two huge tents in our space! Oh, and to give you an idea of how truly gigantic our site was, keep in mind that our small-looking tent is actually 18 ft long x 11 ft wide x 6ft tall. Yeah.

Those field spots next to the bathrooms may look nice, but your kid (and all the other kids) will cry at some point, so find a more isolated spot to keep those middle-of-the-night parental cringes to a minimum. You know, the ones you have when your kid throws a fit at the grocery store or yells in the middle of church? There was a campsite on our right about 100 ft away and the park road was on the left about the same distance. It was perfect – we didn’t annoy the people next to us (and vice versa) and the road noise was minimal during the day, nonexistent at night.

Figure out your child’s comfort items and BRING THEM! For us, this was the box fan. That’s why you see a ridiculously long extension cord from the top of our site to the tent. Next time, we’ll probably just bring our small portable generator (it’s only about 1.5 ft x 1 ft x 6 in) so we don’t have to worry about cords. Having the fan was a LIFE SAVER. Clark didn’t want to go to bed on time, but when he finally did succumb to sleep around 9:30, the boxfan lulled him right to sleep just like it does at home! The only time he had trouble with sleep was when came to bed, and then he wanted to lay in between us and went back to sleep.

Our sleeping arrangements were a different story. We’ve had the same trusty Coleman air mattress for 6 years, and  now it’s a little… deflated. By the middle of the night, we adults were on the ground while the toddler in the middle was comfortably lofted on the remaining air. Blah. It made the next day packing up and going home SUPER hard because we only slept about three hours each. Def exploring new options that don’t rely on air holding us up for comfort.

YES. We’re old lol. It actually hurts us old people to sleep on the ground. Haha.

Prep as much of your cooking/food ahead of time. I did a lot of this, but some of it I had to prep at the site and I was kind of frustrated at myself because they were easy fixes. For example, I could’ve skewered the chicken at home and saved myself A LOT of time, or filled the campfire cones and wrapped them in foil. The food wasdarn good, though, and we made way too much. Oh, and make sure to have plenty of grab and go drinks and snacks for the babe. You’ll need them.

(PS – see how two skewers are missing over half of the chicken? That’s because I dropped half of the chicken all over the ground. Boo.)

Even if you don’t usually use it anymore, take the pack ‘n play. It was so ridiculously helpful and stress-relieving to be able to stick the tot in the pack ‘n play with some toys and know that he was within arms reach while we could get set up much more quickly. I’m not a set-him-and-forget-him kind of mom but there are times that it is okay. It was equally amazing when we were packing up on three hours of sleep.

Overall, though, it was an encouraging trip! Clark was amazing — much better than we expected, actually. We won’t likely be camping for a single night again and we definitely won’t be camping until we find some kind of sleeping mat for us, but we can’t wait to head out again!

One last pic – Clark playing in the “sand” (pebbles, really) at the lake’s beach. What a cute kid.

Any other great tips for camping with a toddler/baby? I’d love to hear them!


2 thoughts on “Camping with a Toddler/Baby

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