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Camping with Your Toddler Checklist

Essentials

Extra diaper wipesEven if your child is toilet-trained, pack approximately one extra box for every four days you’ll be camping. Kids get dirty in the woods (and they should), but you’ll need to occasionally excavate their tiny faces from the layers of grime and de-stickify their hands and feet before they climb into the tent with you. (Wipes come in handy for the adults, too.)

Lots of kids’ clothesJeans and overalls can be worn until filthy (remember, this is natural dirt), but it’s best to be prepared for water, berry, and roasted marshmallow debris. Bring long-sleeves and pants to help protect your toddler’s delicate skin from extra sun, mosquito bites, and poison oak. Be sure to include rain gear, extra shoes, warm sweaters, maybe a windbreaker, a hat, and light gloves, too.

Child backpackToddlers don’t always want to walk, and your hikes may turn to snail-paced strolls as the little one examines every fallen leaf, twig, bug, rock, mossy patch, and gray lizard.


Camping first aid kitA well-stocked first aid kit might hold antibacterial cream, baking soda (to apply to stings), Band-Aids (large and small), one-percent Hydrocortisone cream, hydrogen peroxide, insect repellent, Moleskin (for blisters), scissors, splints, sunscreen (waterproof, with both UVA and UVB protection), special medication (for example, if your child is allergic to bee stings or other insect bites), teething medicine, thermometer (digital, not mercury), tweezers, and Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

Standard-sized sleeping bagsBaby bags get outgrown; consider getting your child a regular one.

Snack foodGo for the high-energy and non-perishable variety: granola bars, raisins, and other dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, and so on.

Family-sized tentA pup tent just won’t do. Be sure your family can comfortably fit within your tent before embarking on your trip. Cramped quarters make for uncomfortable nights.

Recommended

Containers Stash some extra old plastic yogurt cups, egg cartons, etc., when packing your child’s play things. She can use these to collect small objects for inspection at the campsite. But remember: Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos.

Day pack/BackpackYou’ll need one of these for carrying both clean and dirty diapers while exploring the wilds with your child.

Comfort toysKeep these hidden away in your tent. Your child will enjoy having something cozy and special from home when it comes time to go to bed at night. Animal and insect noises and the unfamiliarity of the woods can be frightening for little ones. A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can help lull your tot peacefully to sleep.


Plastic bags (assorted sizes) These will come in handy for everything. From keeping dirty diapers from stinking up your campsite, for toting snacks while exploring, or keeping extra clothes dry should you be confronted with a sudden rainstorm.

A tarp and an extra old blanketBoth of these come in handy for creating a soft and safe play area, for warmth on a cold night, or to spread on your extra tarp for good napping.

An extra roll
of toilet paper
It’s always good to have an extra roll … just in case you need it.

Niceties

MarshmallowsTo roast, of course! And don’t forget graham crackers and chocolate for s’mores.

Sippy cupsPack the no-spill variety (the kind with screw-on covers). Spilled juice attracts insects, unwelcome camping guests.

Sturdy toysPack durable, easy-to-clean toys. And make sure that they’re not too small; picture yourself traipsing through the underbrush, looking high and low for a one-inch tall favorite doll. (No thanks!) .


Bubbles and
a bubble wand
Great for outside fun!

Tent toys
and games
Keep a reserve of toys and/or games in the tent should you be confronted with rain.

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