We go camping a whole lot with our three-year-old and one question I always get with readers are how on earth do you camp with a young child? We’ve always had a great experience with him camping and thought I might share a few tips we’ve learned, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
1. Get them excited about every part of it, talk it up! Play camp out at your house- we set up our tent in the living room and roast marshmallows all the time in the fireplace. They’ll love it even more if you get them excited about it before.
2. Roasting hot dogs and s’mores are a hit with young kids. Plan meals they’ll like and don’t get to eat often. Bring lots of yummy snacks!
3. Unless you’re backpacking, there’s not real reason to truly ‘rough it’. We always bring our queen air mattress and lots of comfy blankets and pillows with us. We also bring camping chairs and lamps. Let your toddler help pack up and carry easy stuff. They’ll love feeling useful.
4. We’ve tried several ways to get our toddler to fall asleep depending on what his mood has been. We’ve driven him around until he falls asleep and transported him to his bed, we’ve let him watch movies on our phones, we’ve even let him wander around in the tent and just ignore him until he finds a comfortable place and it tired enough to lie down. He’s old enough now where he just tell us when he’s tired and we put him down in his bag in the tent but it wasn’t always that easy and every kid is different.
5. If you’re in the market for a tent, check to see that you get one with a mesh pocket at the very top. It’s a perfect place to put the phone or dvd player to entertain them or get them to fall asleep.
6. Pick a place that would be fun for the kids to explore. Maybe bring a couple simple supplies like a bug catching kit or bubbles to do with them when you arrive.
7. Be creative when you’re there. Treasure hunts, nature walks, light sticks for the night are always hits with young toddlers
8. The bottom line is that you have to lower your expectations. They’ll get dirty. They might hate it. Don’t plan on things going smoothly, if it does go well you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Especially sleeping. You might get a decent night’s sleep, but you probably won’t. So don’t plan anything too big the next day.
The anti-roughin’ it tool kit: Top 25 Summer Camp Gear for Kids!