How to Camp With Your Little Ones
Campfires, s'mores and best of all, memories. Camping with the family, no matter how young or old can create a lifelong bond. This 3-part series will give family campers with any degree of experience tips and ideas on how to make it easier, more efficient and, of course, more fun.
Part 1: Start Packing
The foundation for a camping experience lies within the equipment and gear. When making a list, divide your camping spot into two basic 'living areas': Kitchen and Bedroom.
A few must-haves in the camp kitchen for your little ones include:
A handwashing station! Set-up a jug of water with some handsoap and a towel to at least get the 1stlayer of dirt off.
Sippy cups or personalized cups. Bring two and assign one for milk and one for other drinks. This will make it easier if, by chance, the milk gets left out in the sun for too long.
Special utensils. Try to bring the plates, bowls and utensils that they usually use. Everything will be new to them, having some familiar everyday items will make things easier.
A portable high chair or a toddler camp chair with drink holder. If there is a picnic table, sometimes you can hook a high chair to the bench of the table and sit in a camp chair on the end to feed beginner eaters. Toddlers and preschoolers take great pride in having their own camp chair.
The real fun for little ones happens in the tent. It's a riot to see them run around barefoot and dive bomb sleeping bags and pillows. The 'bedroom' of the campsite is where parents might have to get creative, especially for babies. Some bedroom suggestions include:
Cot or Pack 'n Play: For little ones and toddlers, a cot is a great option because it keeps them off the cold ground at night. Get one low to the ground so if they do roll off, it's not a far drop.
Warm clothes: Snow suits work the best for babies. Dress them in a base layer, footed jams and a snowsuit with a winter hat and they'll be snug as a bug in a rug. If the snowsuit doesn't have the fold over mittens, bring mittens. (Socks also work if you forget the mittens.)
Lights: A lantern hung in the center of the tent sheds ample light while getting ready for bed while headlamps or little flashlights can serve as reading lamps and nightlights (and also trackers for those running around in the darkness).
Extra blankets and/or towels: Whether for warmth, cushion, spills or a nose wipe in the middle of the night, they're just good to have on hand.
Wet Wipes: For the obvious, but also for a quick "bath" before bedtime, cooling a hot face or even cleaning scrapes and cuts.
Baby Powder: This simple product works wonders on stuck-on sand grit and sticky, sweaty bodies!
For bedtime there are two worthy choices. Snuggle by the fire until your little one is hypnotized by fresh air and a crackling fire, or wait until almost dark to start a 'normal' bedtime routine. Expect a bedtime routine to include lots of questions, giggles and snuggles. Once they are asleep, it's pretty much guaranteed that even a little baby will sleep soundly through the night (even through a rumbling thunderstorm).
Coming up next is Part 2: Simple Food Ideas that can easily feed a family or group of any size.
Next page: Camper Cooking Tips