August 7, 2012

Tips for Camping with a One Year Old

Last summer we took our one year old daughter tent camping twice. She was 13 and 16 months old at the time. We went again this summer at age two, but before I write about this year's adventures, I'd like to reflect on our strategies for tent camping with a one year old.

Camping with a one year old does require a little bit of strategy and logistics, but it can be done. More importantly, it can be done while EVERYONE is having fun. Here are a few things we learned (and that I want to remember for any future camping trips with additional children).

  • Find a way to safely contain your baby while you set up your tent and also to keep baby safe during meal preparation. For us, we used a stroller, but a friend of mine brings her pack-n-play when she camps.
  • Bring toys that are easy to clean and difficult to break.
  • Plastic, waterproof books are virtually indestructible and great for camping. 
  • Plan early morning activities. When our baby awoke at the first hint of daylight, we took advantage of her early awakening to enjoy morning walks on the beach before anyone else was up.
  • If camping at the beach, wait to buy umbrellas and other sun shields until at your destination. They are easy to find at grocery stores and are MUCH cheaper to buy at destination.
  • If your baby isn't walking yet, bring a tarp or large blanket for your baby to play on. Although, they will eventually crawl off. This also doubles as a nap area :)

  • Make sure your baby eats and drinks enough. Pre-portioned snacks such as applesauce and fruit cups, and small zip bags full of Cheerios (packed ahead of time) are extremely helpful. Push the fluids on hot days.
  • Although drinking cows milk at home, during the first camping trip (age 13 months) we reverted back to formula during the trip for the mere convenience and availability of it. Our first camping trip was very hot, so it was easier to use formula than worry about keeping enough ice in the cooler for fresh milk. 
  • Tip: If using formula, buy the prepackaged formula pouches. The kind you rip open and pour into the water. Not only is this super convenient for traveling, but it's also a bit "cleaner" while camping in the sand and dirt. Toddler version formula is cheaper than the infant version.
  • Be prepared for unusual sleep patterns - staying up late, waking up early, skipping naps, etc. Don't worry about it; your child will return to her normal sleep habits upon returning home. 
  • Our baby slept with us on top of our sleeping bag. I also laid down with her at bedtime until she fell asleep. No bad habits were formed because of this.
  • Bring an extension cord an multiple fans!!


  1. We loved to camp with the girls when they were babies. We would bring the pack n' play to keep them contained and they would sleep in it, in the tent.

    The one horrible part of tent camping with babies is keeping them quiet once it gets late. My eldest would wake up and cry at night and we would quickly rush her into the car and shut the doors so we wouldn't wake up the entire campground. The sound of a crying kid outside in the middle of night is A LOT louder than when you are at home! ha ha ha!

    1. Ha! The sound of a baby IS SO much louder in a full campground than at home. Thankfully, she was a great night sleeper by that point, but I know exactly what you mean as her pre-sunrise wake up babbling carried quite well throughout the sleeping campground- hence the necessity of an early morning activity to put our noisy selves somewhere else!