Camping with a toddler
Are you considering your first trip camping with a toddler this year? As we know, foreign holiday prospects aren’t looking that great for summer’21. As a result, most of us will be looking at UK breaks this year. And with demand sky-high, hotel accommodation and Airbnb prices seem to have rocketed. So what a perfect opportunity for a camping holiday!
Last summer we went on our second camping trip with Delilah and we absolutely loved it!
Being outside for a week is fun – especially when you’re used to spending so much time sitting at a desk staring at a screen! And most kids love being outside come rain or shine! We loved cooking and eating outside, exploring and playing outside, and snuggling up in our sleeping bags at night!
But we had so many friends say to us “Oh my god why would you go camping with a toddler”, and “are you mad” and “was it a nightmare?” and “how did you manage?”
So I thought I would put together a few lessons we learnt camping with a toddler and useful things to know!
7 Tips for Camping with a toddler
Toys and Books
Don’t bother taking too many! They take up valuable space in the car and you won’t use them. Delilah loves reading at home but there are way too many other interesting things to do when you’re camping. Not to mention that they will be exhausted by the end of the day with all the outdoorsy activities. In our experience, the bedtime routine will consist of putting pyjamas on and zipping up the sleeping bag – and that’s coming from a family with a toddler who will usually avoid going to sleep at all costs.
A small puzzle, a little bag of crayons and small colouring book and one bedtime book is plenty!
Rugs for the floor of the tent
These make a huge difference in keeping the tent warm and making it feel cosy. Plus they are much nicer for crawling little ones! And a doormat is also a good idea so wet feet have somewhere to land when coming in from the damp outside.
Layers, layers, layers!
For you and them. Camping can be cold! And once the little ones are sound asleep in the tent, it’s lovely to wrap up toasty warm and sit outside the tent by the campfire with a drink.
Holiday Screen time
Download their favourite film/program onto your phone or laptop if taking. There are times when you will just need some space; either to pack bags, take down the tent or just grab five minutes for a cup of tea without worrying if your little explorer has let themselves into the neighbour’s tent.
Also, download yours for a rainy night in the tent when they’re asleep – something we regretted not doing!
Quick Food hacks
- Ready-cooked rice packs. Heated through with a scrambled egg these make an excellent quick toddler meal. You could also add some cooked salmon or ham, tomatoes and cucumber or even some pineapple chunks! Don’t forget to take a good non-stick frying pan – you’ll need this for bacon and egg breakfast rolls anyway. 😉
- The camping cliché of tins of baked beans also go down a treat. Cutting up some sausage, bacon or mushrooms and frying in the pan first, then adding the beans and mixing all together will make a yummy and filling breakfast for everyone, ready for a day on the beach or exploring!
- Mini boxes of cereal – the novelty factor of these alone will keep your little one happy!
- Packs of blueberries. I’m yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t love this little superfood. We picked up little packs of fresh fruit every time we passed a shop. Blueberries featured heavily on our snacking agenda and made us feel less guilty about the next point…
- Snacks. You can’t have too many. For them and you! Boxes of raisins. Snack bars, a variety of “healthy-ish” crisps, oat cakes and fruits jelly snacks. Give yourself a week off worrying about your toddler’s snack intake. Holiday doesn’t count.
- We have one of the cheap little gas burners in a case and it’s done us proud when our pitch hasn’t had a fire pit to cook on.
- A cool bag for keeping bottles of milk, butter, yoghurt, eggs, beers cool in the shadows of your tent during the day.
- Bumbo if young enough or small floor seat for older toddlers. It’s good to have somewhere proper to sit for mealtimes as we all know how difficult it is to keep a little wriggler still.
- A small, fold-out table – something you can all use for eating at or preparing food on.
Car Journey Music
The Peppa Pig album on Spotify for the car has been our best friend. Yes, we may have spent a good 12 hours of car time on our last trip listening to Peppa; but if it prevents a stressful backseat tantrum and means a smooth 6-hour drive to Cornwall then I’ll happily listen to Bing Bong Boo Zoo on repeat. See also Vicky Aldridge’s nursery rhymes on Spotify – much easier on adult ears than some nursery rhymes. When heading in that direction we always factor in a stop at Gloucester services, which if you haven’t been before are an absolute must stop! A farm shop on the motorway with kids play area and lovely outside space.
A Good Sleeping set-up
We learnt a lot of lessons on the sleeping front during our first camping trip. Even though we went to Cornwall in June, it was one of those freakishly cold weeks and at night-time, we froze! It was miserable – although Delilah seemed to be warm as toast all night.
So we made a few changes for the second trip…
- Decent sleeping bags for us. We finally said goodbye to our £10 supermarket sleeping bags that had done 10 years of festivals.
- Self-inflating mat for us. Warmer to sleep on than a blow-up bed, comfier, and you don’t get bounced around every time your partner moves. They take up more packing space than a blow-up bed and cost a lot more, but you can’t put a price on a decent night’s sleep in my opinion.
- Blow-up toddler air bed. There are a few options but ours was actually one of the cheapest and has been spot on for two trips. It has blow-up sides to stop them from rolling out of bed. We also brought her sheepskin from home for an extra warm and comfy base.
- JoJo Maman Baby do 3.5 tog sleeping bags with arms – these are super warm and snug and safe for little ones. Layer pyjamas up underneath as required.
- Extra blankets al round – it should be the cellular blankets for young babies.
Delilah has always slept so unbelievably well on camping trips – through wind and rain storms and with us clattering about coming to bed.
So if you’re thinking of giving it a go but have some concerns, hopefully this might put your mind at rest! We can’t wait to get out for another family camping trip!
Check out my Cornwall blog post from last year for places to visit and happy camping!