family gazing at incredible mountain and lake views east glacier national park

Tent Camping With Toddlers or Babies: The Complete Packing Checklist

Camping with toddlers or babies can be a fun time, with so many opportunities for new experiences. Watching your kids enjoy nature wherever you choose to camp is a memory you definitely won’t forget. It can be overwhelming at first because of the extra gear you have to pack for camping with a baby, but I promise it’s doable and worth it. Once you get that first camping trip under your belt, you’ll realize that the extra preparation is worth the effort for the time you get to spend outside with your family. So use this camping packing checklist to get yourself and your kids packed for a memorable and stress-free (or lower stress – let’s be real, you have little kids) camping experience.

kid on dad's shoulders hiking at bowl and pitcher spokane

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1. What to Pack for Getting There! (Road Trip Essentials)

These road trip essentials are going to vary depending on how long your trip is to get to your camping destination. I have put the basics in this list for what you’ll need for a drive to your campground!

  • iPad & iPad Charger – while obviously the goal is to be unplugged while camping, this doesn’t have to start while we’re bored in the car. Let your kids relax on the drive, and it will make things much easier for you on the way there
  • Phone charger – ideally with a car charger adapter if you are tent camping. Also consider bringing a portable charger for your phone if you won’t have access to power
  • Toys for the car – some of our favorites are the window suction cup spinner, the fidget popper toy, and this buckle toy. However, the local thrift store is your best friend for finding “new” toys on a budget for your little ones to play with on the road.
  • Car mirror
  • iPad holder for car seat
  • Snacks!! Always snacks – but you’re a parent, you already know this

TIP: Don’t forget to download books/podcasts or a great playist for your drive! Or shows/movies for the kids tablets if you will be out of service for streaming while driving

2. Camping Packing Checklist – The Food

This list is focused on what you will need if you are tent camping – you may need a lot less supplies if you are camping in a fully stocked RV!

  • Wood, lighter, & roasting sticks
  • S’mores ingredients (graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows)
  • Dinner ingredients – we love to buy sausages from a local butcher to roast over the fire. Add a bun and your condiments and you have an easy meal that the kids are sure to love. Make sure you bring food also that is suitable for the baby depending on their age
  • Snacks – fruit, chips, crackers, trail mix, hummus, etc!
  • Bread & peanut butter – if all else fails this is a very easy go to meal!
  • Coffee – Instant coffee or a french press with regular coffee
  • Way to heat water (this propane portable burner is versatile and works for heating water or other pans!)
  • Coffee cups
  • Reusable utensils, plates, bowls, and cups
  • Reusable water bottles/sippy cup
  • Alcohol – Any beer/wine/cocktails you want (canned is easiest)
  • Bottles/formula/breast pump
  • Bottle/breast pump cleaning supplies
  • Bib (if your little one is just starting to eat)
  • Water purifier (if not next to a clean water source)
  • Camp chairs
  • Portable playpen – I would skip this if your kid is walking, but if they are only crawling it may be helpful to have!

TIP: Bring more formula or food for the baby than you think you’ll need, this is not something you want to run out of camping!

sausage on bun with mustard backyard campfire

3. Camping with Toddlers Packing Checklist – Sleep Essentials

Ahh the most important part, and the part I worried about the most when camping with toddlers. How to get your kids to sleep while camping? Turns out, if you wear out your kids enough in the outdoors they will sleep anywhere! So make sure you set up a comfortable sleep area and try to keep their routine somewhat similar before bed. Depending on your child’s age, you may have to lay with them in the tent until they fall asleep, especially for the first time sleeping outdoors. After all, it is an unfamiliar place, so don’t expect them to instantly fall asleep.

TIP: Something my mom always did growing up was bring a little tub for us to get a warm foot bath before bed. She would heat up water over the fire (make sure this doesn’t get too hot) and mix with a little soap to wash our feet and then we would get carried to the tent. This is such a sweet memory for me!

family gazing at incredible mountain and lake views east glacier national park

4. Camping With Toddlers – Sun & Swimming

5. What to pack for camping – hiking

We already have a whole guide to how to successfully prepare if you plan to hike with your kids – check out our post Hiking with a Baby: Everything you Need to Pack for a Successful Day!

Hiking in Banff National Park

6. What to Pack for Camping – Clothes

  • Sleeping outfits & pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Socks
  • Hiking outfits
  • Lounging outfits
  • Sweats & sweatshirt
  • Coat
  • Hat (beanie or ball cap depending on the season)
  • Hiking boots (my favorite hiking boots for myself and kids hiking boots!)
  • Sandals

TIP: Bring more clothes than you think for the little ones. When you’re camping with toddlers you never know if they are going to spill food, get mud on them, or have an accident. It’s better to be a little overprepared with clothes/pajamas! Plus their clothes don’t take up too much room.

7. What to Pack For Camping – Toiletries

Most established campgrounds have bathrooms and sometimes sinks, but if you’re camping in a really remote location, you may not need most of this. I usually skip most of the makeup when I’m camping so I don’t have the hassle of washing it off my face, but I do like to wear some mascara and fix my eyebrows a bit on most days. I recommend showering really well before you head on your trip so you can be all clean and shaved and not have to worry about this stuff while you’re camping. However, I did include some of this on the list for completeness and in case you’re on a long trip where you may need these items!

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste (for kids and adults)
  • Razor
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Diaper bag
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Sealable bag for dirty diapers (if in a more remote camp area – could also use a bag like this in case of a potty accident for clothes)
  • Medications (prescription and over the counter – fever/pain medicine and antihistamine like benadryl in case of allergic reaction)
  • Baby safe bug spray
  • Nose Frida snotsucker – kids get colds at the most inopportune times!
  • Makeup
  • Facewash
  • Lotion
  • Soap
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Floss
  • Chapstick
  • Hairbrush
  • Ponytail holders (the best ponytail holders ever – I promise!)

8. What to Pack For Camping – Dogs!

If you bring your pups camping like we do on occasion, don’t forget their essentials. They don’t need much, and will be happy just to be included!

couple and dogs at rattlesnake ledge hike

Okay, you’re all packed and ready to go camping with your toddlers or babies. Remember that it will be worth the extra stress of packing when you get to see your little ones digging in the dirt or excited about finding sticks in the woods. Now that you’re all packed, let’s get that trip planned. Check out our trip guides to get your planning started!

Happy Camping!

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