Now, if you thought we were crazy to suggest camping with babies, you’re going to laugh your head off at this one! But before you shut us down, hear us out…camping with toddlers honestly can be done!
So, you’ve got through the baby stage…firstly well done! Maybe you chickened out of taking baby camping but are now thinking let’s give it a go? Or maybe you took baby and are ready for the next stage? Whatever your situation, let’s look at how to make your experience fabulous! (Or at least not a total disaster.)
The good news about this age is that they’re still very easy to transport hither and thither in carriers and pushchairs. This is important as at this age, they won’t be content to just stay in one place – so plan to take them out to tire them out in the fresh air as this can help that magical thing ‘the nap’ to take place.
They are still easy to contain within the tent when required and there should be considerably fewer things for them to injure themselves on…no electric socket and cables, no sharp edges of furniture, no ornaments to pull down, etc. So, you are less likely to follow them around frantically moving things. I would definitely invest in a carpet for your tent (check out those by Outdoor Revolution) as this would be nice and soft for them to crawl/roll about on. Bring a few of their own toys to play with – indoors and outdoors – the more entertaining for them and the less ‘bleepy’ for you the better.
Talking of outdoors, when they are outside, let them crawl. Don’t be afraid of the dirt. I know we live in a germ-obsessed society and are encouraged to clean up the slightest emission, but it really won’t hurt them. In fact, they need some of it to boost their immune systems. At the end of the day, chuck them in the shower/sink and marvel at the colour of the water that runs off them.
As for food, they will be on solids now. They will also probably be self-feeding and therefore onto finger food versions of your own meals. Obviously, this makes it easier for you in terms of packing, preparation and mess. If you are still feeding pureed or mashed food, you could bring some of your own from home (depending on the length of your stay and storage facilities), make some there or be a disgraceful parent and buy a jar. Obviously I’m joking – as long as you feed them, that’s all that really matters!
Running to the hills stage
I’m not talking about you as parents at this point, although you might often feel like doing just that. No, I’m talking about the point when your toddler develops a bit of strength and confidence in their movement and also the ability to make like Usain Bolt. I actually lost a lot of weight when my eldest reached this stage as at the same time he developed what appeared to be a hearing problem, but I later concluded that it was just ‘ignore mummy’ syndrome.
So, I spent a lot of my time retrieving him from places he shouldn’t be. To be honest, this is just the way it is so be smiley and apologetic to other campers as you fish little precious out from exploring their tent, toys, campfire, toilet but don’t panic too much about what they must think. If people have children they get it; if they haven’t, let’s face it…people that go camping are generally happy and slightly feral anyway!
To help your situation, take care to choose a campsite that will entertain your kids in the way that best suits them – whether that is wide open spaces, a playground, sandpit, a stream, petting animals, etc. Take what you can to entertain them toy-wise but do remember the small matter of packing! Maybe consider a trailer if it all gets too much! Venter Trailers UK
Now then…the toilet training thing.
If they are around this age, you will need to think carefully about this. If you have a camping trip planned, you will need to plan the timing of toilet training. You do not want to be halfway through as you commence your trip as it is likely to disrupt their progress and leave you in the land of wee and run out of clothes. So, either get your toddler fairly secure about it first or leave it until you get back. And even if they are secure, do pop a nappy on at night as you don’t want to be washing sleeping bags. It’s all about making your trip easier and fun…and wee everywhere is not fun!
On the plus side, “jungle wees” can be quite appealing to those mastering the art and camping lends itself to this. However, do be aware of this: our eldest was quite partial to a jungle wee and after we parked up along a busy road at Cheddar Gorge (which is lovely, by the way) for an “emergency” wee, from my vantage point in the Landy, I heard Daddy utter one or two naughty words followed up with “Oh God, we’re in trouble here, you’ve got to help quickly!” It became apparent that the jungle wee had turned into a jungle poo. Thank God for wipes is all I can say!
- Wear the kids out in the day to get the best night’s sleep possible.
- Do not fear dirt.
- Find a campsite that suits your children
- Pack nearly everything you own.
- Don’t let them do a jungle poo.
- Remember not to expect perfection – this in itself will help your trip be a “perfect” family memory.