Camping With Toddlers Checklist (Printable & Editable)

Going camping with a toddler sounds a little daunting if you weren’t big campers in the first place. How do you keep them safe? How do you feed them? How do you keep them entertained? Is it worth it? 

Yes is the answer! Taking toddlers camping can be some of the best trips of your life as you watch them learn, grow in confidence, and experience things that are new and exciting for them. 

Getting up close to bugs, seeing a sunrise or sunset, cooking over a fire, and exploring the woods will expose your child to the wonders of the outdoors, and watching them do that will put a smile on your face and joy in your heart. 

Check out our camping with toddlers checklist below. Take the plunge and take your toddler camping! We’ve put together a comprehensive list of camping essentials and toddler-friendly items to make camping fun for the whole family!

Sleeping Gear For Adults And Toddlers

  • Tent, poles, stakes/pegs, mallet, rainfly, or tarp
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  • Groundsheet, footprint, or tarp
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  • Sleeping bag, sheets, blankets
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  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses
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  • Pillows
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  • Doormat to go in front of tents
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  • Children’s special sleep toys
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  • Portable cot or safe place for toddlers to sleep
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Related: Looking for a tent that can handle all the family? Check out our review of the best family tent.

Kitchen Packing List

  • Camp table
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  • Camp chairs
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  • Tarp or shelter
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  • Portable camping stove or campfire materials
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  • Extra stove fuel, lighters, matches, firewood, firelighters
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  • Cooking pots and pans
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  • Large bowl
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  • Stovetop kettle
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  • Cooking utensils (Wooden spoons, tongs, flippers, spatula)
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  • Can opener, corkscrew, bottle openers
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  • Cutting board and knives
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  • Cooler with ice or ice packs
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  • Rubbish bin/bags
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  • Bucket for dishwashing, scrubber, detergent, tea towels, dishcloth
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  • Large drinking water container with potable water or water purification system
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  • Food containers and resealable plastic bags for food storage.
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  • Foil and paper towel
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  • Marshmallow cooking sticks
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  • Dustpan and brush
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Eating And Drinking On Camping Tips

  • Plates and bowls
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  • Knives, forks, and spoons
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  • Mugs and water cups
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  • Wine glasses!
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  • Water bottles
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  • Toddler-specific plates, utensils, cups, and bottles
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  • Camping high chair
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Wet weather protection For The Kids And You!

  • Tarp, poles, ropes, stakes
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  • Rain jackets or waterproof hooded ponchos
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  • Clothes pegs and clothesline
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Suitable Clothing & Footwear For Camping With Toddlers

  • Bag for clean clothes
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  • Quick-drying suitable outdoor clothing for the season
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  • Suitable nightwear
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  • Sun protection (Hats, sunglasses, sun shirts)
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  • Snow protection (Jackets, boots, thermal underwear)
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  • Cold weather protection (Hats, gloves, scarves)
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  • Trekking boots, water shoes, slip-on shoes
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  • Socks
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  • Swimming gear (swimsuit, towel)
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  • Plastic bags for dirty/wet clothes
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  • Usual baby bag items but lots more of them
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  • Extra clothes – Toddlers will get even dirtier than usual
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  • Slip-on shoes for around the camp
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  • Squeaky shoes or bells to put on their shoes so you can hear them!
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  • Swimming diapers
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  • Two-piece PJs if you will have to change a diaper at night!
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  • Bright-colored T-shirts so you can see toddlers easier away from camp
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  • Bright-colored sun hats
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Toiletries Packing List

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
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  • Deodorant
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  • Soap, shampoo
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  • Quick-dry towel
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  • Hairbrush
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  • Shaver
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  • Toilet paper
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  • Medications
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  • First aid kit
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  • Cartoon bandaids!
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  • Child-specific painkillers and medications
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  • Child-friendly insect repellent
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  • Child and toddler sunscreen
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  • Stop itch cream or antihistamine cream
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  • Chapstick or lip balm
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  • Reading glasses/contact lenses
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  • Toilet shovel
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  • Big collapsible bucket to bathe your toddler in
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  • Waterless hand sanitizer
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  • Baby wipes
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  • Potty if your toddler is using one
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Camp Lighting

  • Lanterns
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  • Candles
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  • Matches/lighter
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  • Headlamps
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  • Rechargeable torches
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  • Flashlights
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  • Torch or headlamp for each child
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  • Spare Batteries
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  • Portable solar panel for recharging
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Toddler Suitable Entertainment

  • Field guides, star charts, and books
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  • Binoculars
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  • Notebook and pencils (pencils write on wet-ish paper)
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  • Music player, Bluetooth speakers, phone, tablet, etc
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  • Musical instrument
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  • Ball, frisbee
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  • Watercrafts
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  • Hammock
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  • Camera
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  • Fishing gear, bait, license
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  • Deck of cards, Jigsaw, board games
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  • Day pack for short hikes
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  • Child carrier or backpack
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  • Blankets and toys (that can get dirty) for playtime
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  • Balance bike (with helmet), blow-up boats, buckets, bubbles…
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  • Games, coloring in, or board games for quiet time
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Useful extras For Camping With Kids

  • Phone charger
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  • Watch or clock
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  • Rope – thick and thin
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  • Multi-tool/Pocket knife/Scissors
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  • Duct Tape
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  • Extra guy ropes
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  • Bungee/shock cords
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  • Tent pole repair
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  • Hammer/saw/axe
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  • Compass or navigation device
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  • Reflective blanket
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  • Mosquito net
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  • Credit card/cash/Identification
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  • Repair kits for tent, tarps, water toys, blow-up mattresses
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  • Bear spray for errant bears also works well on unwanted human intruders
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  • Whistle for attracting attention
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Toddler dressed in a raincoat, boots, and a hat walking in leaves outdoors.
Dress your toddler for the weather and then let them get out and play and learn in the great outdoors!

Family specific camping hacks and tips for first-time toddler campers

Before You Leave To Go camping

  • Book a place with a bathroom for your first few trips. Practice using strange toilets and trees before you go so it’s something your little one is familiar with. 
  • No matter how comfortable or basic your campsite is, your toddler will love it anyway. 
  • Get a bigger tent. You’ll appreciate the extra room for the cot and extra gear.
  • Get your toddler to practice sleeping in a sleeping bag or camping cot before you leave.
  • Put up the tent at home and let them play in it and get used to it. Maybe sleep in it too if you can. 

Once You’ve Set Up The Tent

  • Set up camp early. Give yourself plenty of time to be available for your toddler.
  • It could be wise to plan to camp well away from water, busy roads, and dense bush with a toddler. 
  • Camp near the bathroom. You’ll be using them more often than you thought!
  • Ban toddlers from the sleeping tent outside of sleep time to keep it cleaner. Take a pop-up instant tent so they have one to play in if they are fascinated with the tent. 
  • The first night is the worst. Toddlers sleep well after that!
  • Keep toddlers warm on a cold night with socks, hats, mittens, and a snowsuit or a sleep sack.  

Give Your Toddlers The Best Camping Experience Possible

  • Keep it simple and slow. Meals, activities, and expectations.
  • Keep your at-home sleeping routines in place on camp
  • Plan a decent breakfast to keep them (and you) going!
  • Bring lots of snacks. Camping makes toddlers very hungry.
  • Write your phone number on your toddler’s arm if you’re worried about them getting lost at the campsite. Bells on shoes also help track them around the camp, especially if they are runners or wanderers.
  • A fold-up stool can be handy in camp bathrooms so they can brush their teeth etc without you having to hold them over the basin. 
  • Normal camping activities will probably be enough to keep your toddler entertained.
  • Understand that toddlers take a long time to walk anywhere so unless you want to carry them, take the hiking pace down a few notches and let them lead and plan on seeing everything in a very short distance than attempting long walks. 
  • Let your 2 or 3-year-old “help” you. Get them to collect twigs for the fire, put the table cloth on the table and wash their plates and cups.

And once the camping trip is over? Make a list of all the things you didn’t use and when you get home, remove it from your list. Then add the things you wish you had bought while you were camping. 

And a few other things to consider before you Go Camping With A Toddler

It’s a good idea to make sure you have the campsite booking number, address, phone, direction, and a printed confirmation with you. A paper-based map is going to be handy if phone coverage is patchy where you are planning to camp.

It’s also a good idea to know what the weather is going to do, what the fire ban status of the area is, and what dangerous animals or toxic plants you may encounter in your campsite.

Always leave with a full tank of gas in the car and remember to tell someone exactly where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Relax and enjoy the experience – you’ll remember your first toddler’s camping trip forever!

Stay safe!

Happy Camping 😊

Next up: Going camping with kids of various ages? Check out our family camping checklist. Or if your family has recently got a little bigger, see our camping with a baby checklist.

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

Kara grew up in New Zealand where camping in the backyard as a child turned into multi-night trips in the National Parks as a teenager and then a full blown backpacking adventure for a year in Asia, by herself in her early 20's. Camping, bush walking, car camping and road trips still feature heavily in her current life style. She lives right next door to a World Heritage National Park on Springbrook Mountain and highly recommends having them as next door neighbours!