Camping with Toddlers- Getting Start

Planning a car camping trip with your toddler? Congratulations! You’re in for an unforgettable experience with your little one. However, as a seasoned car camper, you know that packing can be a daunting task, and with a toddler in tow, the list of things you need to bring is longer than ever. Fear not! We’re here to help you out. In this guide, we’ll show you some necessary items and some that make a big impact on your camping experience but don’t take up a lot of space. Let’s dive in!

Comfort Items

When it comes to comfort items, every child is different. But one thing is for sure; you need to pack at least one or two of these items to promote a sense of safety, especially if this is the child’s first time spending the night outdoors. Let your child choose which item to bring, and make sure it’s washable because it will undoubtedly be dirty after the trip.

Medicine Kit

A medicine kit is non-negotiable when camping with a toddler. The kit may look different from household to household, but some essential items to include are Children’s Tylenol, Children’s Benadryl, Children’s Motrin, Band-Aids, and saline spray. If you think a sleep aid will help your child have a better experience, consider adding a small dose of children’s melatonin sleep aid to the kit. This worked wonders for us and helped our son fall asleep without fuss.


Allowing your child to have their special flashlight helps them feel independent and safe. It also keeps them from using your nice, 1500-lumen flashlight as a toy. We highly suggest an LED flashlight as children will undoubtedly forget to turn it off when not in use or may even want to keep it on next to them at night.

Portable Toilet

If you are currently parenting a toddler, chances are high that you have a small portable toilet. These are handy to have around if your toddler is struggling to poop in the woods. Also, camping bathhouses can be far from campsites, and short toddler legs may not make it in time.


Snacks are a must-have when camping with a toddler. Snacks that do not require refrigeration are ideal, and snacks that pack protein are even better. Carbohydrate-loaded snacks, such as goldfish or chips, can be a lifesaver if your child struggles to enjoy themselves outside. And if you bring items to make S’mores, your child will think you’re the best parent ever!


A couple of toys from home can go a long way in helping a child settle into their new space. Letting them choose one or two toys to bring will help them feel more involved in the experience. A couple of matchbox cars or sand toys will do the trick.

Sunscreen and Bug Repellent

These items are essential for sun and woodland safety. They will prevent sunburn and potential viruses passed from bugs. They will also help your child sleep soundly if they are not suffering from itchy sunburnt, or bug-bitten skin at night.

Other Items to Consider

A small shovel or spade is excellent if your toddler loves to dig in the ground and gravel. If your toddler is used to sleeping with a sound machine or noise maker, consider getting a portable one to help them sleep better. If your child is still in a crib at home, consider bringing a small pack-n-play and setting it up inside your tent. This will give you peace of mind knowing your child is contained and won’t go wandering out of the campsite at night.

In conclusion, car camping with a toddler can be a fun and memorable experience for you and your child.

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