Camping is a great family-friendly activity that can easily be done on short notice and with a budget. But the younger your children are, the more preparation needs to go into your camping experience to keep them safe.
Below, we review what parents should keep in mind when camping with a toddler to ensure a fun and safe experience.
Research The Campground
It’s important to ensure that your camping area is conducive to your child’s needs. The first thing to do is decide what type of camping experience you want. Take into consideration how the different types will impact your toddler.
Camping in a tent may be the most traditional, but it can be difficult for a toddler who’s known to be fussy around bedtime. Tent camping also tends to require more work and less comfort.
Conversely, staying in a cabin or RV will offer more familiarity to a toddler and can make for an easier experience for them since it won’t disrupt their routine as much.
Next, it’s important to do research into the campground before booking your trip. Look at different camps in your chosen area to pick one that’s best for a family with young kids.
It’s best to choose a child-friendly campground, as it’s more likely to facilitate your family’s needs. There will likely be kids similar in age for your toddler to play with.
Child-friendly sites also often have amenities that make caring for young kids easier, like clean bathrooms and showers. They may even have a lifeguard to supervise the swimming area.
Plus, they’re more likely to have child-friendly activities, like shorting hiking trials or a playground.
Bring The Right Supplies
The younger your child, the more supplies you’ll likely need to take with you. Make a list beforehand of all the things you need to bring, like extra clothing, sunscreen, and bug spray. It’s better to over-pack with a toddler, so you make sure you have the right supplies for any situation that may arise.
Additionally, make sure to pack food that your toddler will eat. The last thing you want is to deal with a picky eater when you don’t have access to your usual fridge contents. Try to involve your toddler in the meal preparation process to get them excited about your camping meals.
Pick foods that they’ll like but may not eat on the regular, so it’ll feel more special, like hot dogs or hamburgers.
Additionally, bring along comfort items for your toddler, like a favorite stuffed animal or book. Give them their own flashlight if you think the darkness of the outdoors will bother them at night.
Camping can be exciting but also unfamiliar for young kids, so you want to give them gentle reminders of home to help them feel at ease in this new environment.
Pack Bug Bite Remedies
You’re likely going to experience bug bites while camping. This is often uncomfortable for adults, so imagine how confusing it can be to a toddler who doesn’t know what a mosquito is.
So, make sure you pack remedies that can stop bug bites symptoms, like itchiness, and put your toddler to ease.
You can pack over-the-counter remedies, after Bite, anti-itch sticks, Polysporin, or calamine lotion to alleviate the look and feel of bug bites. If you want to go a more holistic route, consider the Bug Bite Thing suction pump, which suctions the bug saliva or venom from the bite to stop stinging and itchiness. This is a great option for kids with sensitive skin who may have an adverse reaction to lotions.
Don’t forget to think ahead for ways to prevent bug bites. Consider packing a child-friendly insect repellent (make sure it’s okay for your child’s age, as some are not safe for infants). Or, have them wear citronella bracelets or light a citronella candle as other ways to ward off bugs.
Safety Around Campfires
If you’re going to have a campfire with you kids around, you need to be extra careful. Explain the safety rules to your toddler ahead of time in age-appropriate terms. You can play campfire with their toys to mimic how everyone should behave around the fire – ie not going too close.
During the campfire, make sure your toddler is seated far enough away where sparks and ash can’t get into their eyes or hair. Make sure they understand they need to remain seated. There should be no running or playing near the campfire. Never leave young children unattended at a campfire.
Additionally, a 2-year-old isn’t going to be old enough to roast marshmallows on their own. Help them hold the stick, and ensure they remain far enough away from the fire. Or, have a designated adult roast the marshmallow.
Never let young kids take the marshmallow off the stick, as it could burn their fingers. Have an adult assemble the s’more and ensure it’s cool before handing it to the toddler.
Some other basic safety rules of campfires include:
- Watch the wind. The direction of the wind will impact where the flames and debris blow. If it’s too windy, it can be a hazard.
- No flammable liquids. While it can be hard to create a blaze, don’t try to use flammable liquids. The fire can easily get out of control.
- Be prepare for burns. In off chance someone in your group gets a burn from the fire, know how to treat it beforehand and make sure you have the right materials on hand.
Mark The Boundaries
Finally, make sure to discuss with your toddler the rules about camping. Use age-appropriate terms that they’ll be able to understand and have realistic expectations. Go over the rules before setting out on your trop and once again at the campsite.
Consider using visuals to mark the physical boundaries of where your child is allowed to go. You can use chalk, rocks, or other items to create a “barrier” around your campsite designating the area your child should stay. Make sure they understand the boundaries.
And finally, never take your eyes off your child. There will be a lot of things piquing their curiosity, but it’s important they never go off on their own and that you always keep a watchful eye.
Sources: Today’s Parent, Bug Bite Thing, AAD, Ontario Parks, KOA,