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Essential Camping Gear for Toddlers

Camping is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. Whether it’s to take some well-earned time off from work or to build lasting family memories, we love special getaways like this! But we know what you’re thinking. The open-air, no electronics, and a different environment – it might all seem daunting when you try camping with a toddler in tow. But, as usual, having a good plan and some of the best camping gear for toddlers are what will help you make the most of your family camping trip.

The key to learning how to camp with toddlers is to start slow. Every family vacation works differently so you need to know what works for you and your toddler. Think of what toddler camping equipment you need for a small weekend away. Then, after your first successful family camping trip, work towards longer vacations so that you can learn from experience and make each trip a memorable one.

Apart from planning the itinerary itself, you will need to arm yourself with some of the best toddler camping gear to ensure a comfortable trip. And if you’re wondering how to plan the coolest ever camping trips with your kids, then look no further. 

a mother and father are happy to be camping with their toddler

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20 Items of Essential Toddler Camping Gear

When planning your family camping trips, you’ll need to consider a range of things to keep everyone happy and healthy. Nutritious snacks, fun activities, excited yet exhausted kids, not to mention the weather and other logistics are only naming a few. Stocking up on these toddler camping essentials will go a long way towards happy and successful family outdoor adventures.

1. Silicone Bowls & Plates

Silicone bowls and plates are one of the most important pieces of toddler camping gear that you’ll need to carry. Baby-safe dinnerware like these are not only easy to clean, but also perfect for little hands to use. 

When shopping for camping plates and bowls for your toddler, make sure to opt for 100% food-grade and BPA-free materials. This toddler camping gear is so valuable, you’ll want to bring them on every family camping adventure.

2. Utensils

snack cup and sippy cups - essential toddler camping gear for meal times

Spoons, forks, sippy cups – you name it. Your toddler’s everyday utensils are must-haves for camping with little kids.

Along with silicone plates and bowls, be sure to pack high-quality “chewtensils” that your toddler can use. Packing travel sippy cups and food warmers for camping is also an amazing idea that will save you a lot of hassle. They’ll help you keep a check on whether your child is sufficiently hydrated, and allow you to serve them quality home cooking, even at the campsite.

3. Spill-Proof Snack Cups and Containers

Snacking is a big part of your toddler’s everyday routine. Your toddler camping gear is basically incomplete without a reliable stock of snackables that your child can feast on at any time of the day. I swear that our toddler didn’t let go of his snack cup for a full year!

Spill-proof snack cups and containers are very useful toddler camping gear. In addition to packing yogurt pouches, cheese strings, you can fill your snack cups with finger foods such as Cheerios, giving you a wide variety of toddler snacks you can pack ahead. We highly recommend charting out a meal plan and then packing your toddler’s snacks in easy spill-proof cups and travel containers that are specifically made to be used on the go.

Filling collapsible boxes, stackable jars for mini bites, and tiny little Bento boxes with the simplest toddler travel snacks are your ultimate saving grace.

A camping trip out in the great outdoors becomes a lot simpler when your toddler is well fed. This simple, yet very useful camping gear for toddlers results in happy kids. A happy toddler means happy parents, and we’re sure you’ll love the time that this will give you to sit back and relax. 

toddler holding one of the best toddler snack cups while hiking in a forest with his older sister

4. A Quick Wash Bib

The truth is, feeding your kids can be messy. Especially when on vacation, clean-up is the last thing you want to have to worry about. Here’s where the good ol’ bib comes in. 

Quick wash bibs are essential toddler camping gear, and you have a wide variety to choose from, be it silicone bibs, water-resistant bibs, or even full-sleeve ones.

Completely hassle-free, you’ll simply need to wipe clean and that’s all. No fussing over stains and spots, allowing you to let your toddler have the time of their life as they play with their camping food. 

5. Activities and Toys 

As your toddler gets older, he or she will need to be kept engaged during your family camping trip. Thankfully, toddlers love to explore and play with just about anything!

Involve the whole family in imaginative camping activities for toddlers and games to strike up some wholesome fun. You can do everything from painting rocks to discovering vibrant birds and insects with them. Bring along an automatic bubble maker and there’s no end to the fun you’ll have in the great outdoors as a family.

toddler and father bird watching - perfect camping activity for toddlers

Alternatively, you could even bring their balance bikes and three-wheeled scooters with you and let them ride around the campsite as you watch for some quieter moments of respite. 

The quality family time spent outdoors away from screens and other distractions is one of the best reasons to go camping with your kids.

6. Hiking Carrier

For parents who like to going hiking, a hiking carrier should be the topmost item on their checklist of toddler camping essentials to carry. Good hiking carriers are like backpacks and ensure the safety of your kids while allowing you to relax and take in the beautiful scenery around you. 

toddlers sitting in hiking backpack carriers for toddlers

Carry your toddlers around in a comfortable seat of their own as you and your partner explore the great outdoors. These hiking carriers offer a protective cover from sun and rain and often have extra storage to pack your toddler hiking gear in. Some even have pillows for them to rest their heads and come with a water storage bladder for you (and them) to sip on to stay hydrated. 

Adjustable and safe, carriers ensure proper airflow between your back and your toddler, making it an an excellent addition to your camping equipment for toddlers.

Hiking carriers are expensive, big-ticket items but you can get so much use out of them. In addition to a steady stream of hikes with kids, we used our two hiking carriers extensively when we traveled with our kids around the world. We can tell you that kids love being carried around in these!

best carriers for hiking with toddlers and babies

7. Toddler Camping Chairs

Portable camping chairs for toddlers are super-effective at making up for the absence of high chairs.

There’s a wide variety of camping chairs for toddlers that you can explore to pick out the one that suits you best. While most toddler camping chairs come with removable snack trays and spots to keep their sippy cups, there are also some that are more outdoorsy and sturdy.

a toddler and his sister enjoy s'mores while on a family camping trip to Zin National Park in Utah

Snug and comfortable, these durable kids camping chairs have no trouble staying balanced on rugged terrain. You’ll especially like them when you need your toddler to stay put while getting dinner ready.

8. Toddler Camping Bed

A happy and well-rested toddler can enjoy a grand family camping adventure with the least amount of fussing. But with a new brand environment, getting a toddler to sleep while camping can be quite the task. 

Toddler travel beds are a brilliant solution to get your toddler to sleep on time by providing them with some homey comfort. Portable and made to use with a sleeping bag when camping, some of them are even inflatable for easy storage!

The best part is that an inflatable toddler bed can easily transition from travel to camping, making them a highly versatile piece of camping gear for toddlers.

a toddler in a sleeping bag and a Shrunks travel bed gets ready to go to sleep while tent camping in Utah

9. Portable Tub

One of the best reasons to go camping with kids is to let them run and play in the outdoors all day. All of this fun outdoor time will be super fun for your kids, but you can expect your toddler to get filthy playing outside all day.

Portable bathtubs are the smartest ways to incorporate your toddler’s bath time into your trip. Often inflatable or foldable, an inflatable tub for toddlers is lightweight and takes up very little space in your camping stuff for toddlers. Plus it’s one more fun camping activity for your toddler to help fill the day!

a toddler enjoys an outdoor bath near the campfire while on a family camping adventure

10. Camping Sleeping Bags for Toddlers

Toddlers tend to move about and throw off their blankets when they sleep. This makes keeping your kids warm and toasty all throughout the night a challenge when tent camping outdoors.

A toddler sleeping bag is the perfect solution! Not only do camping sleeping bags guarantee a good night’s sleep, but they also keep your toddler warm in any weather. 

Toddler on chair in Big Mo 20 Sleeping Bag for Toddlers Camping

Some toddler sleeping bags have snaps to adjust the size, while others have foldover handcuffs or removable sleeves to regulate your toddler’s temperature. There’s some excellent toddler sleeping bag options depending on what type of temperatures you expect while camping.

Easy to store and equally easy to use, camping sleeping bags are a great addition to your list of the best camping gear for toddlers!

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11. Hiking Shoes / Toddler Hiking Gear

Who says that hiking is only for grown-ups?

From their very earliest days, we love hiking with our kids and can tell you that hiking with your child can be an extremely rewarding event. Each hiking trail you walk together will be well worth it, even though your toddler will make a million stops along the way. This stage doesn’t last long, so stop and take in all the tiniest of details with your toddler.

With these hiking with toddler tips, set out on your own mini-exploration with your toddler and let them discover nature in all its glory.

Baldwin Trail is one of the short hikes in Sedona

Even if you plan on having your hiking backpack carrier on you, it’s only natural that your toddler will want to step out and walk around on their own at some point. That’s why it makes sense to get them their first pair of hiking shoes if you are planning to take your toddler on some trails with you.

When camping with toddlers, the proper gear goes a long way. With sturdy yet well-cushioned shoes, your little one will have the balance and confidence needed to try and climb over small rocks and make the most of the trip. Just make sure your child gets used to how they feel at your local park or in your backyard before using them out in the wilderness.

Picking out hiking backpacks for your soon-to-be big boys and girls is not a bad idea as well. It’s a great way to encourage taking responsibility and give them a sense of purpose while at it. 

a toddler wears a hiking backpack on a family camping trip to Utah

In addition to proper hiking shoes, browse through the best toddler hiking gear so that your child can safely let their imaginations run wild. 

12. Travel Potty

Any kind of travel while potty training can be a challenge, and camping is no exception. Potty emergencies are real and scrambling in search of a toilet for your newly potty-trained toddler can be a challenge when outdoors. Pit toilets, commonly found in many campsites, can be scary for little ones (and many grown-ups!), so put this worry to rest with a portable travel potty

A travel potty is another essential for camping with toddlers that is fairly straightforward to operate and doesn’t require too much lugging around – features you will appreciate while camping with your toddler.

Choose a travel potty that is standalone and easy to sit on, allowing you to place your toddler on the seat and not need to hold them the entire time.

13. Sunscreen

Your young child’s skin is precious and sensitive. To avoid the harmful effects of UV rays, pack baby-safe sunscreen for your toddler with an SPF of 30 to 50. This is one item of camping gear for toddlers that needs to be on your must-bring list.

a child in a sun hat gets sunscreen put on while outdoors

Keep in mind that it is not advised to use sunscreen on babies who are 6-month-olds or younger, but is perfectly fine to apply liberally on toddlers. Reapply sunscreen from time to time and you’ll be protecting them from burns and unnecessary tans, while also letting them roam free without the constant fussing. 

14. Insect Repellant

Insect repellent is an important item to add to your handy list of essential toddler camping gear. Carry some bug spray that is organic and baby-safe or look into essential oils if you want to steer clear of the chemicals. Natural citronella, lemongrass, cedarwood, and peppermint are some options that you can explore to keep the insects away. 

Apply the insect repellent carefully and keep your toddler safe from the bugs and mosquitoes at your campsite. For added protection and comfort, consider carrying mosquito nets as well. 

how to hike with a toddler

15. Diapers & Wipes

When out camping in the woods, you need to be prepared for every situation, and diapers are number one when it comes to keeping toddlers clean and comfortable. It’s always better to have extras, so pack as many as you can fit. 

Make sure to also carry a set of wipes. They’ll not only help to clean your toddler, but they’re also useful in wiping dirty hands, sticky faces, and unclean surfaces. 

The diapers you choose will depend on your little one’s comfort and the facilities available. Disposables need to be carried home to respect the rules of the outdoors by leaving the place as clean as it was when you arrived. Achieve this by storing smelly disposables in an odor-free bag and packing them away in a bear canister. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, will require more frequent changes and washing.

baby diaper changes while hiking

Your child will appreciate a travel change mat, especially if you are out hiking for the day.

16. Sun Hat

Pack a sun hat for your toddler to protect their skin and eyes from the sun. It’s the perfect accessory for all the pictures you’re bound to take on your camping trip too!

Some of these sun hats even include neck flaps to offer your toddler some added protection from the harsh rays. With this on, you’ll be able to let your child have fun in the sun without worrying about sunburn. 

Toddler in front of hiking sign wearing blue wide brim toddler sun hat

17. First Aid Kit

One of the most important things to include while packing your camping gear for toddlers is a first aid kit. It’s not only crucial for your child, but for you as well. Make sure to pack a first aid kit with baby bandages, ointments, and other medicines that your child may need. 

Make sure you also carry a list of important contacts and pre-program some of them on your cell phone to make accessing emergency services in a crisis less stressful. 

A long-lasting rechargeable torch, rain covers, and bear spray are also good safety gear for longer camping trips. Bring along a satellite communicator, and a map to remain accessible in areas with spotty connectivity. 

18. Rain Suit

When you’re camping outdoors with kids you never know how the weather may change. A sudden downpour can happen anytime. Toss in a hooded rain suit with your other kids camping essentials and you be prepared to handle whatever mother nature throws your way.

a toddler in a rain suit balances on a fallen tree trunk while camping with her family

Look for toddler rain suits that come with elastic cuffs and are sealed at the seams for the best protection. Adjustable waists and hoods are also practical features that make sure your toddler is well covered. 

19. Books for Bedtime Routine

As discussed earlier, toddlers are happiest when their routines are kept intact. Even when on vacation, try to follow through on all your everyday rituals together like reading before bedtime and good night snuggles.

Bring along a couple of their favorite books and spend some quality time with your little munchkin. Consider packing some toddler books about camping which will relate to the adventures you are having during your family camping trip together to help them recall their action-packed day.

20. Blackout Blinds 

Travel blackout blinds can useful for blocking out the sun when camping in a trailer. It’s a lifesaver when trying to get toddlers to sleep on those long summer evenings. This simple camping hack creates a soothing atmosphere during bedtime and replicates the feeling of being at home with barely any effort.

zipping upTravel bag for Sleepout - best blackout curtain

You can choose from different kinds of portable blackout blinds – easy-to-carry foldable ones with suction cups or travel crib covers (only use as per the manufacturers recommendation and ensure they are suitable for outdoor use). Effortless to use, they’re also great space savers and fit into the tiniest spaces with ease. 

One brand of portable blackout curtain we have tried and recommend is the Sleepout Curtain. You can get more information on our full Sleepout Curtains review.

Best Camping Gear for Toddlers Summary

As you can see, there is a lot of camping gear for toddlers to choose from. Not all of them will be right for your family, but we hope that you pick up the camping stuff you need to help make your family adventures as safe and fun as possible! Kids love camping and we hope your family will enjoy it for years to come!

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Toddler Camping Essentials

This post was written & edited by:

Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site