Many people will look at you like you are crazy for even contemplating going camping with very young children. Toddlers are hard enough to manage at home, surrounded by their own comforts and toys. Why on earth would you want to take them camping? Well, it’s wonderful, that’s why. Just like taking them to the beach! Toddlers have a sense of wonder and adventure that we lose as we get older. They look at everything with an entirely open mind, seeing only joy and fun in their surroundings.
What could be better than letting this adventurous, pure little mind explore nature at its best?
That said, it’s not always easy and camping with a toddler certainly has its challenges. Here’s how to make it as stress-free as possible.
Prepare for Change
Whether you attempt to stick to a routine while you are away or not is up to you and depends on your own parenting style. But, either way, you should be prepared for change. They’re sleeping in a new place, eating different foods and have completely different surroundings. Be prepared for a few tantrums and sleepless nights.
Pack Some Home Comforts
If they’ve got a favorite toy or blanket, pack them, as well as a few other things from home to ease the transition. You may want to pack their usual cups and plates to help them settle at meal times.
Practice at Home
There’s nothing to stop you practicing at home before you go. This can make things much easier. Set the tent up in the garden and spend time playing in it to make it seem safe and fun, reassuring them that this is a safe place they can relax. You could also practice picnic style eating and have a few slumber parties in sleeping bags in the lounge. Adventures are fantastic, but young children like routine, so make it all seem as normal as possible.
Children today spend much less time exploring outside that they did 20 years ago, so even this can seem like a big change. Go for some nice walks to make sure they can do it safely. You may want to invest in a carrier or wrap, as these will be easier to use than trying to push a pram on rough terrain.
If possible, drive to the campsite. Then, you’ve got the car in case of emergencies, and you don’t have to worry about trying to carry equipment and a child.
Think of Safety
Part of the joy of camping is being free and getting away from constant safety concerns and protections. But, if you are with a young child, you do still need to think of safety. Outdoorser is full of information about camping and alternative equipment, so check it out. But, if they are very young you may want to take a playpen or travel cot for them to play in while you are cooking, or consider a safer alternative to a campfire to reduce the risks.
Toddlers grow and change so quickly that you won’t get many opportunities to take them camping. You don’t want to miss out on the magical experience of watching them explore and enjoy nature, so get prepared and have a go!