Camping with toddlers can provide as much stress as it does enjoyment. To fully appreciate the time spent in the outdoors with your toddler, you should plan and pack carefully, preparing yourself for any situation you might encounter at a campsite. While you might end up cramming more stuff than you need into the back of your minivan, it is always better to live by the wisdom of the old aphorism: Plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Equipment refers generally to any and all items of clothing, tools or accessories that will help you and your toddlers camp successfully. Clothing items for your kids include boots, rugged, long-sleeve shirts and full-leg pants and sturdy shoes. Additionally, if you and your toddlers camp during cold weather, bring warm headgear and a jacket. Bring extras of all the clothes, as exploring the campsite can be a messy endeavor for youngsters. In addition to clothes, bring items such as towels and blankets, as well as standard camping equipment like sleeping bags, flashlights or lanterns, tarps, bug repellent and an all-purpose tool.
While adults, teens and even adolescents can make due with standard camping fare like hot dogs and marshmallows, toddlers need a healthy balance of snacks to keep them energized, but not hyper as they camp. Assuming your toddler has no allergies, pack foods that translate into sustained energy, rather than quick bursts of energy. This includes items like peanuts, dried fruits, granola bars and plenty of water. Avoid sugary foods, foods that don't pack easily such as some raw fruits and vegetables, and food that can spoil such as meat or mayonnaise. For added ease during camping, individually wrap snacks in separate containers that can be easily accessed whenever your toddler starts whining about hunger.
While older children and adults often appreciate the solitude and change of pace of the great outdoors, toddlers may view camping as an extended trip away from their colorful toys or entertainment systems. Though you need not pack the TV or stuffed animals, planning several fun activities to keep your toddlers entertained will ensure that they don't have time to complain about missing home. For example, you might take them on a nature walk or a bug or creature hunt. Additionally, you could create some outdoor bingo cards ahead of time and lead them through a trip around the campsite searching for items like red flowers, singing beards or small animals to check off the card.
As toddlers explore, they can open themselves up to bumps and bruises. Additionally, they might discover some potentially hazardous or unsanitary things in nature. Pack plenty of adhesive bandages and antibacterial creams, as well as peroxide or even iodine. If your toddler has allergies, bring anti-allergy medication and even an EpiPen. And finally, though it tethers you to the world outside the campsite, always bring a cell phone or other such device that allows you to make contact with emergency officials in case something happens to you or your toddler.
- "Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide"; Lynn Brunelle; 2007
- "Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping & Boating with Babies and Young Children"; Jennifer Aist; 2010
- Travel Channel: A Guide to Camping With Infants and Toddlers
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