Camping with My Kids

While many people might cringe at the thought of taking a baby or toddler camping, I’m here to tell you that not only is it doable, but it’s a family-friendly activity that you should begin when they are young. Just like fishing and hiking, camping offers a great time outdoors, and the younger your kids are when they start, the more they’ll love it when you go. All of my kids have slept in tents multiple times throughout summer and fall from the ages of six months and up! Here’s how we do it.

For the babies:

Fed is best, and there’s no denying that fact. Still, if you breastfeed exclusively, camping with a baby is a breeze. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between are ready to go in seconds. If you formula feed, be sure to bring everything you need and adequate water for washing and cleaning. The only things you need to worry about aside from their diet are bug protection and a safe sleeping environment. For bug protection, there are many all-natural solutions available; just ask your pediatrician. Thankfully, camping with babies is not uncommon, and there are portable cots and cribs galore to choose from on the market. Keep in mind, if you’re using disposable diapers, make sure to keep the dirty ones in a sealed bag and properly dispose of the waste when packing out.

For the toddlers:

Toddlers make the best campers ever! They are so delighted with anything new, and exploration is the name of the game. You can bring fun camp snacks to keep them happy and pop them right in the sleeping bag or bed with you for nap time and bedtime! Even better, they crash out pretty early, and you get a whole evening to sit by the fire and relax under the stars. They’re also super helpful. All those little tasks that seem mundane to you will not only help them learn but keep them busy! Let them help you gather firewood and pick up any trash they might see. You can even make everything into a game by racing them to and fro. The best part is, these skills will carry over to next time.

For the little kids:

Once they’re fully verbal at 3+ years, your camping trip will turn into a question-answer session. This is a great time to teach them about wildlife and nature while showing them cool tricks like the Gatorade bottle on top of a flashlight for optimal tent lighting. They’ll be blown away by the fireflies in the evenings, too. The wilderness is such an enchanting place, and introducing them at this age will open your eyes to all the things you’ve stopped looking at over the years. You can spend hours drawing letters in the dirt for them to trace over, and you’ll have plenty of time to teach them how to tie a shoe while cooking s’mores over the campfire.

For the big kids:

After you’ve been doing this for a few years, the big kids know what to expect and will easily be able to pitch in. This is when you can give them real responsibilities, such as helping set up the tent and taking it back down. They’ll even be able to carry important stuff that you need! Even better, all the years you’ve put tiny bits of knowledge in their head will shine through every day you’re at the campsite. This age is perfect for teaching them how to tie certain knots and start a fire. They can even help you cook!