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  • Writer's pictureOnce Upon A Mommy

Toddler Summer Camping Essentials!

Updated: Mar 20

By Cris S.

March 13, 2024


As a mother to five children aged 1-18, I would consider us camping experts at this point... We camp every single year with all of our kids, no matter what their ages and stages!

We only tent camped up until 2 years ago, when we bought our first travel trailer. (With several daughters in their teen years, we decided that we needed an actual bathroom!)

No matter what kind of camping you do, there are several essential items that we just can't live without while camping.

Some of these items just came about in the last few years, but they sure would have been nice to have back when my older kids were little!

The toddler years can be particularly challenging while on a camping trip. Luckily for us, there are many new items out there that make it much more doable and enjoyable for everyone!

There are many versions of all of these items I'm about to show you out there... The links I'm providing you are for the items I personally bought for my kids and 100% approve of!


This is not a big kid's folding chair, it's a toddler folding chair that sits only a few inches from the ground.

It has a buckle to strap them in and a tray for snacks that slides on and off very easily!

Our daughter was able to use this as soon as she was able to stand. It also worked great as a booster seat at our table in the camper.

It folds up and has a carrying bag just like any other folding chair. One of the best things I've seen for toddlers in many years!

I've been buying these as gifts for people I know who are having babies and every single person has been thrilled to get it! There are several colors to choose from.

I don't have any great pictures of my daughter in this, but it worked just as great as the folding chair. This one you can put right up to a picnic table.

I found that we only really used one or the other, so I would only recommend this or the folding chair. They really serve the same purpose... Both are foldable and super portable! This one just sits higher off the ground.

I'm proud to say I came up with this idea all on my own last summer! (Ok, I'm sure I'm not the first person to do it, but I hadn't seen anybody else do it on Pinterest yet, so...)

I put a beach blanket down right on the dirt, set up this six-panel baby play yard right over it, and TA-DA!!!

The perfect play area for a crawling baby, a toddler who is just learning to walk OR a 2 or 3 year old who spends every waking moment trying to run full speed out of the campsite!!

This was a game changer for me last year and will be again this year my soon-to-be two year old... Yessssss!

Here's one of the folding picnic blankets that we used to layer under the panels:

Here's a fancier and enclosed version for when you camp at a spot that's really bug-ridden...

This product pops up and down nicely. The little ones love being able to see what's going on around them, and this is big enough for an older sibling to pop in and play with them for a bit!

My daughter didn't mind this enclosed one at the beginning of the summer, but towards the end when she got a few months older, she preferred the 6-panel setup that was open to air.

Okay, my one issue with these are that they are expensive... But... We had one for our fourth and fifth children, and if you do a lot of hiking, there is no better product on the market!

One of the best features is that you can set it down on the ground with the baby/toddler inside and they don't fall over!

It is amazingly SUPER comfortable to wear, and has a sun shade and several storage pockets.

Plus it folds to make it a bit more portable.

Just watch the Amazon video on these things..

Here's the Osprey Poco Light:

Here's the fancier version like the one we had with our fifth. It was worth the cost, and you can hold onto it for another baby or resell. Once again, there is enough storage to hold diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, keys and hats. It eliminates the need for an extra "supply" bag.

Honestly, this is not only great for tent camping... It's perfect for trips to grandmas, hotels, or a cousin sleep-over.

You are guaranteed to get use out of this year-round. And of course, it inflates and deflates quickly and is super portable!

If you're on more of a budget, a good old fashioned cot is a great way to go. These ones are nice and low to the ground in case of the accidental roll-off!

Yes, they make just about everything miniature sized these days! Kids love having their own personal camping gear, and the smaller sizes take up less room.

These Coleman's are excellent quality and my kids have been able to fit in them for the last 3 summers, going on four!

As with almost everything else, they have different color options available!

Make sure that you get an actual warm sleeping bag for camping and not a "nap mat". These look like sleeping bags, but are just a light pad with a blanket that folds over the top.

Here's a "mummy style" if they like this better: This particular style comes in "little kids" and "big kids" so double check the size before you order!!!

My kids LOVE hammocks! Last year when my youngest was just a baby her favorite thing to do was lounge on a parent or sibling and just sway back and forth in the hammock.

When they finally came out with these kid's ones my children just about lost it! They couldn't wait to try them out..

Okay, okay, so a hammock is not necessarily "essential"... But they are certainly a fantastic edition to any family campsite, especially now that they make ones specifically for kids!

Now THIS is essential with a baby or toddler when camping! Whether you are in a tent or trailer, there is always plenty of noise echoing through the campground (most of it is probably from your other kids!)

This made all the difference when camping with my babies, and helped them get to sleep faster (which many babies and toddlers find challenging in such a strange environment like a tent)

It's battery-powered and rechargeable, so no need to have an outlet.

I also love that it can clip on to the poles of the tent.

Here's another one that we received as a gift. It's small and portable, plus has a little built-in light (although this drains the battery faster, it's fine if you can recharge it each day)

Sometimes you just end up in a campsite where the bugs are out of control! We not only used this net on the stroller and over the toddler "playpen", but we also bought these mosquito bug clips which seemed to help! We clipped one on the stroller shade and another one on the back of my toddler's shirt where she couldn't reach it!

#11. Baby/Toddler Sun Protection

Not only did this serve as the summer-long napping spot for my baby and toddler on the beach, but it made for the perfect changing room for my older kids after they were done swimming. It zips all the way up for total privacy.

Plus it's big enough to give the adults room to sit and lounge out of the sun.

Very easy set up and take down: Even my kids figured out how to do it on the first day we had it.

My daughter's summer beach-nap zone!

Many toddlers have "issues" when it comes to certain textures on the bottom of their feet. Whether it's sand, grass, dirt, or just cold water, most little ones will feel more secure with some kind of shoes on.

These ones also have a hard sole to make sure they don't step on anything sharp or hot.

I will buy these for my daughter every year until they don't make her size anymore! They slip on and off easily and are super lightweight. Plus they come in several different colors and designs for boys and girls!

Here she is sporting the pink and black ones! They are super easy to rinse the sand off and they dry quickly!


Aside from all the stuff that you NEED when you take a toddler camping, let's not forget about all the FUN stuff too!

Is this wearable blanket just a little ridiculous? Yes... But does it have glow-in-dark-stars and will keep your toddler super warm during a chilly night camping? Also yes!

My toddler LOVES hers... And so will yours!!

Not a summer goes by where my son doesn't get a new bug catching kit. The excitement on his face when he shows off his bugs to his sisters is priceless...

Getting him these kits has encouraged him to have a healthy relationship with nature and not be so "scared" when a weird bug flies onto his jacket while camping!

Here he is a little bit older... Still utilizing the same bug catching tools, but we upgraded to a kit with a vest so he can have pockets!

All the kids love these cute animal lanterns, there are several to choose from. The headlamps are perfect for those night-time potty trips.

And of course, don't forget these bags for collecting shells... Or rocks... Or sticks... Or whatever else the kids decide to pick up and haul back to the campsite!

No matter what your toddler throws at you this summer, just know that they are only this little for so long. One day, you will be looking at an adult version of them and thinking back on these fond memories of camping and exploring.

Have a fantastic camping trip!

Cris S.

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