Camping with Little Ones


artwork by Kathryn Cole designs

artwork by Kathryn Cole designs

Camping with Little Ones

For some of us, camping with a little one may sound scary or difficult...the thought of it may stop you from even trying. I hope the pull and magic of mother nature is stronger than any doubts because,YOU CAN DO THIS.

Our family loves camping, and I'd love to share a few practical tips to hopefully get you out under the stars. Before you head out on your adventure be sure to check the local weather report and pack accordingly. Layers are essential here in coastal northern California as well as at high altitudes. Under woolens, rain gear, warm boots and hats are essential to keep you and your children comfortable. You might try to look at your campsite via google earth to see if you will be in the shade or in full sun. If you are in full sun, bring some sort of shade structure for respite. On the fancy end, I recommend the light speed sun shelter. We bought this when our son was a few months old and couldn’t be happier, it’s light-weight, sets up in a minute, and provides wind break and shade. It’s one of my favorite bits of gear for being outdoors. You could also string a rope between trees and use clothespins to fasten a tapestry to provide shade and give you a festive feeling. My friend's mom has the greatest system for camping and i have somewhat adopted it for our family; camping bins. Each waterproof tupperware bin is labeled with a laminated list of what goes inside, you can use a dry erase pen to check off the list each time you go. When you return home, repack it so you are ready for next time. One bin for kitchen/cooking/eating items, one bin for shelter and sitting needs, a bin for clothing, and one bin for sleeping items. The bins are so helpful when you arrive, you just carry each one to it's place....bam, done.

A few favorite fun items for camping are: glow sticks, a telescoping marshmallow roasting stick, solar string lights, and the creature peeper bug viewer. You can create a nature scavenger hunt, build a fairy house, make a leaf and rock mandala, draw a map of your campsite, navigate by compass and map, search for animal tracks and be sure to relax and enjoy mother nature. Less is more, remember you are getting AWAY from the hustle domesticated life, this is your chance to be wild!

A few creature comforts that make life a bit easier are:

  • A thermos to keep cocoa, tea or coffee warm for a long time
  • Make up a few jars of overnight oats before you go, just add milk of choice the night before and breakfast is ready for the early risers.
  • I like to keep a book light nearby for those inevitable middle of the night wake ups. It clips onto the side of your tent next to your sleeping bag and casts just enough light.
  • Cook a dinner before you go and pop it in the freezer, it will keep your cooler cold and you can simply warm it up for dinner one night.
  • For babies, a sleep sack will keep them warm and cozy without getting tangled in a blanket or half out of a sleeping bag.
  • The journey is just as fun as the destination. Slow down, stop along the way, let it be easy.


  1. Kai Harris on July 30, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Great tips, thank you! I find a pee bottle is so helpful for me personally. I use something with a large opening and a screw-on top, like a large nut container or coconut oil container from Costco. I don’t have to make all that sound zipping and unzipping the entire door of the tent at night — though I might place the bottle just outside the corner of the tent. I ideally bring a little bag with handles for the pee jar so I can go discreetly to the porta potties if I’m in a campground or festival. There have been many porta potties I’ve been in where I’m glad I didn’t have to actually use them, just dump my contents out, thank you very much! But even when wilderness camping, it’s nice, especially for a nighttime hydrator such as myself, to consolidate the pee in this way.

    • Orsa on August 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Love this. We just got back from our camping trip and were far from the bathrooms. Yes, the zipping and unzipping of the tent at night in the stillness of the sleeping campground. If it is after 4am I always have to hold it b/c our daughter is such a light sleeper in the morning that she easily wakes up and won’t fall back to sleep. Which means I can’t fall back to sleep because I am uncomfortable having to hold my pee. Such a great and simple solution! No more having to dehydrate myself before bedtime:)

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