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Ready for the Great Outdoors? Essential Camping Supplies and Tips for Parents

Camping is a fantastic way to create lasting memories with your family and provides a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, but to ensure your camping trip goes off without a hitch, it’s essential to pack the right supplies.

forest view looking out from a tent camping

We embark on an annual weekend camping trip every year and I can tell you having the right supplies makes all the difference, especially when your camping with kids.

Camping with your children is such a wonderful time to connect as a family, explore nature, and build new family traditions around the camp fire.

Luckily, camping with kids gets easier as they grow older, but if your adventuring into the great outdoors with little ones make sure to include items to keep them entertained and comfortable at night.

I remember going camping two years ago with a crying toddler and my older daughter whom proceeded to stay awake all night because it was so darn humid and hot that we were all melting and even though it was terrible in the moment it makes for a good laugh now and we refer to that camping trip as Tap Out because we were ready to leave watching the sunrise after being awake all night.

Now we have invested in several portable fans it's a must when you camp in the summer time in North Carolina with kids.

Also make sure to have your phone charged to use for white noise if your camping with little ones it can help them fall asleep faster by providing a comforting noise.

a tent at night sky forest view

Essential Camping Equipment for Camping Trips with Children

Here’s a comprehensive list of must-have camping gear for parents, including extra items for babies and toddlers, along with easy activity ideas to keep the kids entertained and simple meal suggestions to make your trip even more enjoyable.

Tent and Sleeping Gear

  • Tent: A spacious, weatherproof family tent that is large enough to provide ample room.

  • Sleeping Bags: Choose season-appropriate sleeping bags for each family member or just bring sheets and comforters to keep you warm at night.

  • Sleeping Pads or Air Mattresses: This is a must have for me as I can't take sleeping on the ground and comfort is essential for getting the kids to bed at night.

  • Pillows: Small, packable pillows or pillowcases to stuff with clothes.

  • Portable Crib or Bassinet: For safe sleeping arrangements for babies.

  • Baby Blankets and Sleep Sacks: To keep little ones warm.

smores over fire

Cooking and Food Supplies

  • Camping Stove or Portable Grill: Skip the hassle of starting a fire each time and make meals easily with a portable grill.

  • Cookware: Pots, pans, and cooking utensils.

  • Cooler: A large, insulated cooler to keep food fresh and don't forget the ice.

  • Reusable Plates, Bowls, and Utensils: Durable and easy to clean.

  • Soap: For cleaning cookware and hands.

  • Food Storage: Sealable containers and bags to keep food secure and away from wildlife.

  • Water Filter or Purification Tablets: Essential for ensuring safe drinking water.

  • Wood: Don't always count on foraging for wood always bring your own if you can.

camping in tent on lake at night

Simple Meal Ideas

  • Breakfast: Pancakes with pre-mixed batter, scrambled eggs, croissants, and oatmeal packets.

  • Lunch: Sandwiches, wraps, or pita pockets with deli meats, cheese, and veggies.

  • Dinner: Foil packet meals like chicken and veggies, hot dogs and hamburgers, pasta salad and steak.

  • Snacks: Trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruit, string cheese, crackers, and s'mores ingredients.

  • Baby Food and Formula: Ready-made or easy-to-prepare options, along with bottles and sippy cups.

a women sitting in a hammock

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Layers for warmth, rain gear, hats, and sturdy shoes.

  • Personal Hygiene Items: Biodegradable soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer.

  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, sunscreen, antiseptics, insect repellent, and any necessary medications.

  • Diapers and Wipes: Plenty of diapers, wipes, and diaper cream for babies and toddlers.

  • Extra Clothing for Babies and Toddlers: Plenty of changes for accidents and weather changes.

camping breakfast spread

Safety and Navigation

  • Flashlights and Headlamps: With extra batteries or purchase rechargeable items.

  • Multi-tool or Knife: For various tasks and emergencies.

  • Map and Compass/GPS: In case cell service is unreliable.

  • Fire Starters: Waterproof matches, lighters, and fire starters for campfires.

  • Baby Carrier or Backpack: For easy transport of little ones on hikes.

  • Solar Charger: To keep phones, Bluetooth speakers, and rechargeable lighters ready to go.

a boy with binoculars

Recreation and Comfort

  • Camping Chairs and Table: For comfortable seating and dining.

  • Hammocks: A fun way to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

  • Outdoor Games and Activities: Frisbees, soccer balls, and scavenger hunt lists to keep the kids entertained.

  • Arts and Crafts Supplies: Colored pencils, sketchbooks, and nature-themed craft kits.

  • Books and Binoculars: For stargazing and wildlife watching.

  • Portable Playpen: To keep babies and toddlers safe and entertained in a confined area.

  • Baby-Friendly Toys and Books: To keep little ones occupied and happy.

tent camping looking out at lake

Miscellaneous Items

  • Trash Bags: Leave no trace by packing out all trash.

  • Tarp: To create a dry area or for additional shelter.

  • Rope or Bungee Cords: Useful for securing items or setting up a clothesline.

  • Portable High Chair: For easy feeding times.

tent camping at sunrise

How To Have a Successful First Camping Trip with Children

A successful camping trip hinges on preparation.

By packing these essential supplies, including extra items for babies and toddlers, along with some fun activities and easy meal ideas, you’ll be ready to handle any situation, ensuring a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience for the entire family.

So, gather your gear, plan your route, and get ready to embark on an adventure that will bring you closer together and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy camping!



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