A young girl stands on the beach, holding a wooden camera, wearing a Pehr bucket hat and romper. A young girl stands on the beach, holding a wooden camera, wearing a Pehr bucket hat and romper.
Blog Home Toddler Years Happy Campers: 7 Tips For Family Camping
Toddler Years

Happy Campers: 7 Tips For Family Camping

By Pehr
Jun 21, 2024

Few things are more exciting for toddlers and preschoolers than getting outside. If you’re feeling excited but nervous to embark on a nature escape with your little ones in tow, you’re not alone! We’re here to lay down camping basics and inspire you to take the plunge. Adventure awaits just beyond the comforts of home, so here’s all you need to know to plan the perfect summer camping trip. Whether you’re camping with a toddler or camping with kids, here’s our best ideas for how to maximize fun and enjoy the sweetness of summer while sleeping under the stars. 

Top Tips For Camping With Kids

We know camping with a toddler may seem daunting, but with the right steps summer camping will become your family’s new favorite activity. Here are our best ideas for how to plan and prep for camping with kids. 

  • Set the stage. Prepare your littles for their first summer camping experience with a mini version in your backyard. Set up the tent together, roast marshmallows and have a BBQ before getting cozy in your sleeping bags. Pack a pretend overnight bag with lightweight organic cotton clothing. Involve them in meal prep for the big overnighter so they know they’ll have tasty food and snacks–even in the woods (things like cheddar crackers, dried fruit, nut mixes, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and easy-to-make campfire meals.) Go through the motions of summer camping so they’re prepared with the right expectations–and get them excited about it! 
  • Follow a packing list. Prepare for camping by packing for every kind of weather (every summer has heat waves, rainy days and cool evenings) and bringing plenty of lightweight organic cotton clothing. Your diaper bag is the ideal travel companion–even if your little ones are already potty trained. As a carry-all, it’s a great place to organize everything in separate pockets (keep toiletries, a first aid kit, kid-friendly bug spray, and snacks sorted in an On The Go pouch or mini pouch. If you plan on hiking, bring a baby carrier or toddler backpack so you can keep going once the little ones tire out. 
  • Choose the ideal campsite. This could mean a location that’s a quick drive away or a less remote campground that’s family-friendly. Try car camping at first–drive-in campsites where you can park right next to your site (choose one close to the washrooms and be sure to bring along a travel potty if you’re at that stage). Many campsites have kids activities, beaches, pools, and playgrounds so check out the programming schedule ahead of time. 

  • Prioritize sleep. Invest in a larger tent and comfortable travel mattresses (or travel cribs) that fit your family comfortably. Remember to bring extra bedding and pillows, too! For a family of four, a 2-3 room tent with a full zip will help ensure your littles aren’t disturbed if you need to grab something from your “room” after they’ve gone to sleep. If you’re camping with a toddler, try to replicate their bedtime routine and recreate their sleep environment as best you can. Bring comfy lightweight organic cotton clothing, loveys, a sound machine, favorite books and pajamas! Even if you do everything the same, it’s a thrilling new experience for your littles and assume it may take longer for them to unwind.
  • Give littles ways to pitch in. If you have older kids, ask them to help with pitching the tent. Toddlers can lay out sleeping bags and pajamas for everyone, or collect kindling and firewood. Embrace teachable moments like introducing little ones to the steps that go into building a fire and how to respect nature and wildlife. Get them to choose their own lightweight organic cotton clothing and help pack their overnight bag. 
  • Make it fun. Bring fun foods to roast over the fire like marshmallows and hot dogs. Don’t forget outdoor activities like bubbles, frisbees, and bikes–they’re a necessity when camping with kids. Plan outdoor crafts using leaves, twigs and acorns to make art or prepare scavenger cards to hunt for local plants, trees, and wildlife. If there’s water close by, prep for baby’s first beach day and bring Fisherman Sandals to protect their delicate feet. Set up a play area outdoors with a play mat and toddler camping chairs. 
  • Prepare for bugs and practice sun safety. Have a plan for peak sun times, and also avoid being out when bugs are the worst–at dawn and dusk. Pack a Pom Pom Mini or Pint with toys, coloring books, puzzles and magazines so you can hide out in your tent during the hottest times of the day. Create a shady spot with a big umbrella, or go swimming in UPF 50+ swimsuits and bucket hats.


We hope this guide to summer camping inspires you to create fun memories with your little ones in nature. Camping with a toddler is far more approachable than you may think with a few simple comfort measures that help ensure littles have an unforgettable experience. It’s also refreshing for parents to return to activities they enjoyed together before kids. This is your invitation to embrace your inner tree hugger, create time for connection away from modern distractions, and try camping with kids this summer! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Prepare and clean the campsite before you pitch the tent. Look for small rocks, dangerous debris, or anything left behind that could pose a risk. If you’re in a remote location or if your little one tends to wander off exploring, write your campsite number on your child’s hand. If you have older kids, give them a whistle and compass and teach them what to do if they get lost.

Prepare the most comfortable sleep space you can. Whether that’s in the pack and play they usually use when traveling, or on an inflatable sleeping mat or foam topper depends on your kid’s age and temperament.

There is no specific age that’s best to start camping as a family. If you feel ready, babies as young as 3 months can go camping. Camping with a baby or toddler is both possible and enjoyable! As long as you prepare and pack efficiently, most parents who try camping with kids actually have a good time and start going regularly. Start small at a local campsite with full amenities. Once your kids have more experience, you can try a remote campsite and either walk or portage in with your canoe.

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