Packing List for Camping with a Baby or Toddler

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Are you scratching your head about what to pack for your upcoming family camping trip with a baby or toddler?

Wondering which things might make it all the more enjoyable and which things to just leave home? Especially if this is your first time camping with a baby?!

Here is one of the packing lists included in the guidebook to help you with extra items (on top of the usual) to help make your family camping trip as easy and enjoyable as possible.

(And don’t forget there are WAY more tips and advice for camping with babies and toddlers (and little kids!) in the Travels with Baby guidebook and on the website — see the links at the end of this post.

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Things to Pack for Camping with a Baby or Toddler

Here are some helpful items to add to your regular packing list for camping when you’ll be adding a baby or toddler to the mix. I’ve grouped them together by things to pack for: Evenings in the Campsite and Tent, Kitchen and Dining Essentials, and more.

A) Helpful Items to Pack for Evenings in the Campsite and Tent

1. Mosquito repellent, including a DEET-free insect repellent for babies or those who prefer it. TIP: These moist repellent towelettes are helpful when you don’t want your baby or toddler to get spray mist in their eyes or noses.



2. Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces for a nightlight in the tent (and to attach to your free-range toddler or preschooler in the evening)

3. Hands-free headlamp or wearable light such as the Beam N Read (great when you don’t want to shine your light in your baby’s face while changing a diaper in the tent)

4. Travel bed or bassinet to create a “tent within a tent” in colder regions (see recommended travel beds here)

B) Kitchen and Dining Essentials for Your Packing List

5. Family camping kitchen kit with bowls, spoons, and cups for your new addition(s)

6. At least one quick-and-easy-prep meal in case rain rules out cooking in your campsite (e.g., extra sandwich fixings, bagels, cereal, pasta salad)

Portable high chair or camp chair with tray for camping with a baby
The roadtrip-ready Ciao! Baby portable high chair weighs in at just 8 lbs. and packs into its own travel bag.

7. Travel dining booster (preferably with tray) for baby meal times in camp or portable high chair

8. Wide-mouth thermos (with hot water) for keeping a “midnight feeding” or early morning bottle warm and ready in your tent

9. Water reservoir with tap with plenty of drinking water (we always bring one like this–or larger)

2-gallon water jug with spigot for family camping trips
Bring your better-tasting (and filtered?) water from home for refilling water bottles.

C) Clothing to Pack for Camping with a Baby or Toddler

10. Warm hats for the whole family and hooded play suit or jacket for the littlest one in case nighttime temperatures take a dip.

11. Sun hats for the whole family (see Anatomy of a Great Travel Hat for Kids for help choosing the right one). TIP: These adjustable-fit bucket sunhats are UPF 50+ and have the all-important lanyard to help keep them on your baby or toddler even in a breeze (also sized for up to 7 years).

sun hats for babies

12. Two thermal suits for babies (backup in case one gets wet). Bonus points if they have hoods!

13. Swim suits for the whole family and swim diapers if needed (see ideas for infants and toddlers here)

14. Infant life jacket or child-size swim vest (where appropriate, see our favorite swim vest here)

Stearns infant life jacket
Stearns classic infant life jacket for babies and toddlers up to 30 lbs.

D) For Camping Fun and Recreation

15. Bucket and scoop for frogging or “crawdadding”

16. Butterfly net and bug house

17. Toy dump trucks, sand toys, garden tools

18. Pop-up sun tent for a shady retreat by the lake for nursing, napping, diaper changes, and doubles as a play house in camp.

E) Practical Items to Pack for Camping with Babies, Toddlers, and Young Children

19. Portable training potty (if currently using at home)

20. Tecnu soap in case of a brush (or possible brush!) with poison oak. TIP: These Tecnu towelettes are great to keep in your daypack or diaper bag for unexpected encounters with poison oak while out and about with your baby young child.

20. Anti-itch cream in case of bug bites or rashes (add to Travel Kit, pg. 61 of Travels with Baby)

21. Children’s antihistamine in case of bee sting or other allergic reaction (ask pediatrician for advice and current dosage for your child).

You've come a long way, baby--since that first edition!
Camping with babies, toddlers, and young children? Let’s go!

If you’d like more help planning your family camping trips, be sure to check out the section on Camping Trips in Chapter 2, which includes:

  • advice on deciding where to go camping and where to stay,
  • what to bring,
  • what to avoid, and more–
  • including tips for back-country camping with babies and toddlers!

Want more ideas and inspiration for camping in California? Check out pins to some of our family’s favorite California camping and road-tripping destinations on my Pinterest boards. And hang on there… these posts may also help!

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