Camping with a 14 Month Old

Updated on July 23, 2009
K.T. asks from Playa del Rey, CA
16 answers

We are going camping at the beach and for the first time we are taking our 14 month old baby girl with us.I need advice on the must-haves to make it comfortable and fun for all of us; and also how to deal with sleeping, naps and night.We have a pretty good schedule at home and she is a great sleeper but how do we do it while camping?
Any advice will be great...Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the great advice!!!!We decided to postpone our trip until we have all the proper equipment for the baby:)

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answers from Los Angeles on

Have you heard the baby powder trick? Gets the sand off everywhere. Just apply it liberally to feet, diaper area, wherever you are trying to remmove the sand. Sand just wipes away easily. I keep one of the small bottles in my car for beach trips. My kids are 7 and 10, It beats trying to rub it off with the towel.

Have a great time!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.! We just went camping a week ago with my 20 month old. I'm not a big camper, but we did have a nice time. The first day was a little rough, since she just wanted to run around everywhere and had to be watched EVERY SECOND of the day. It's not like at home, where 75% of our house is child proof and the rest we have gated off or a door closed.

Anyway, I was a little grumpy and tired by the end of the first day and wasn't looking forward to the rest of the days. However, once she learned the boundaries, between our 3 camp sites it was a little easier. As for naptime, we brought our white noise machine, which she uses at home to drown out any background noise and used batteries. That worked well and also, she was so exhausted from running more than she ever does at home that she went down right away at naptime and bedtime. She's not usually a good napper either. If all else fails and your little gal naps in the car, you can take a drive and get a nap that way?

I would say, expect that her clothes, shoes and toys will be filthy and don't bring anything you/she really loves. They play in the dirt and sand and just get plain dirty. Bring flip-flops that you can put on her for the shower (if your campsite has them) or a large bucket (like the kind you would put toys or drinks in at a party) to take to the shower. If they do have showers, it's a two man job and after you have her clean/wrapped in a towel, pass her off to someone waiting outside of the shower area, so then you can shower. Lots of places charge for showers and you will need quarters- take plenty! You might also want to bring an umbrella strollers for walks.

Lastly, on our last day, we emptied our tent and while we were packing our car 3 of the little girls on the trip we all playing with their toys in the tent together. I then made the decision, that the next year we need to bring a tent just for the toddlers to play in together. We can sit outside of the tent or in there, but it was just so nice to have them safely corralled and not worrying about her running into the street or another camp site! I checked in every minute, rather than hovering over her every second. That's a nice option if there are a bunch of kids. Otherwise, she can play in your tent, but if she's anything like my gal I had to make sure there weren't any bottle of shampoo or lotion for her to get into. Best of luck to you! Have a great time and take lots of pictures!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We have been camping with our children since they were infants. The pack-n-play was indispensable. We used it in the tent (and later a motorhome) for sleeping and used it outside when I couldn't watch every move my child made (like when I'm trying to cook dinner).

At the beach, make sure you have lots of sunscreen and make sure you keep it applied so your baby doesn't get burned. I also make sure I have baby powder. I sprinkle it on absorbs the moisture and sand just brushes off the body. This helps keep sand out of your living area.

A really fun thing for young kids at the beach when camping is to bring a small pool. You can fill is with either ocean water or fresh water and the kids love splashing around in it. We've had those inexpensive plastic pools, but they're bulky. A dishpan has also been satisfactory to my young children to play in.

I also use the dishpan to give baths. I love the Johnson&Johnson disposable washcloths that already have body wash in them. You just get them wet and they suds right up. It makes it so easy to bathe all the sunscreen off your little ones without using a lot of water.

Shade is good umbrella, easy up, awning, minimize sun exposure.

Ensure your little one is drinking lots of water. My 4 yo son ended up with heat stroke a week after a beach camping trip where he got dehydrated. His fluids never caught up after our trip. He just wanted to play and play and play. I had trouble getting him to break away to eat and drink. I learned the hard way to enforce it.

Also, make sure you have a first aid kit and know where it is. I had an issue when my son was a little more than a year old and he fell on his face. He was fine, but I freaked out because I couldn't find the first aid kit to treat him. I rarely need it, but I always know where it is.

I think you might have it easier with a girl. My experiences with lots of friends and with my own children and that girls stay around camp and will sit and play in the sand/dirt. The boys take off and explore and climb and you're always having to chase them around. But, who knows.

We've been camping for years with our children and love it. Beach camping is our favorite. We upgraded to a motorhome when we had the desire to camp year round and a tent wasn't real great in the winter. The bottom line...have lots of fun. These are family memories that your are creating that will last a lifetime. The experiences are invaluable!



answers from Los Angeles on

My son has loved camping since he turned 1. It's better, too, when they're walking (less dirt on hands, etc.) He thinks sleeping in a tent is really cool, and I think the fresh air and nature sounds helps him sleep. We do a communal/family bed (spread open the sleeping bags on a mattress) and he has no trouble sleeping or napping, although when he was younger I remember snuggling by the fire a lot. I warm water on the camp stove and give a bit of a wash cloth bath at night and bring lots of wipes. Other than that, buckets for collects items (sand, pinecones, whatever you have) have been a hit, and a carrier for walks. Have fun!



answers from Los Angeles on

too funny that i would see this post now, as we just got back from our first camping adventure (beach) w/our 17 month old was miserable (even though it was only 24 hrs). Now, don't get too upset, because I'm SURE our daughter's misery came from a few different points :

1) she's NEVER been the best sleeper
2) there was a train that came nearby the campground (with horns blaring) every 3 hrs
3) some of the people we were camping with had NO idea of "camping etiquett" (like quiet time after 10pm)
4) it was hot inside the tent during her morning nap (so we moved the portable crib outside in the breeze under a shady tree, but there was too much going on, so she just wanted out. that led to a missed nap, which led to cranky-pants later in the evening - took 2 hrs to get her to bed & she basically passed out from exhaustion/crying).

Things I would recommend you take are :

1) ALL her favorite "things" - books/toys/blanket/stuffed animal/food/snacks
2) a portable crib w/crib sheet (so you can shake out the sand that inevitably be there!)
3) sunblock, hat, long sleeved light colored clothing (a sweater/sweatshirt for night - it cools down)
4) a small stroller (take a walk around the paved roads of the campground, looking at all the people/pets,etc..)
5) a large umbrella or "easy up" to put on the beach. it can be a hassle, but SO worth it to help keep her in the shade during her down time on the sand)
6) sand toys (just a shovel & bucket will do)
7) "little swimmers" water diapers

BABY POWDER (helps to get the sand off of her). just put a little bit in your hand & rub it on her face/arms/legs/feet, and the sand comes right off! :-)

hope you have a fantastic time! i'm sure you will come back with all kinds of memories - not to mention experience & knowledge of what you need to bring NEXT time! lol



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K.,
When my daughter still fit in it we would take our pack-and-play and set it up in our tent (big tent, sleeps 9). It worked great we just made sure we had her comfort items, favorite sleeping toy, the blanket from her crib and anything else she normally had while sleeping. We would bring her in the tent for naps, go through our usual routine and she would fall asleep. I would keep part of one window zipped down so I could easily check on her without all the distractions. Same for night bed time, just the usual routine we did at home (stories or whatever).

We bring toys that it doesn't matter if they get dirty like sand toys and balls. I just go knowing she will get dirty and have fun doing it. I just make sure hands and face are clean before eating and worry about the rest later. My now 5 1/2 year old daughter has been camping probably 6 or 7 times and loves it so I am glad we started early.

Good luck and have fun,



answers from Los Angeles on

The best peice of advice I can give you is to be flexible in your schedule. It is quite unlikely that she will follow the same schedule she does at home. We are avid campers (actually leaving Friday for a 6 day trip) and both my girls have been camping since they were newborns and have done great! I'd bring a pac-n-play for naps, etc, lots of sun screen and then a bunch of sand toys. Again, the best thing I can tell you is relax on the schedule, remember this is new to her and she'll be exicted and off for a while herself. Enjoy yourself and go with the flow. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm glad you asked this question. We are going on our second camping trip with our 14-month-old this weekend. We love the Kidco PeaPod for our daughter to sleep in. It is smaller than the pack-n-play for the tent and keeps it a little darker for them to sleep. I like the fan idea, for air and to block out noise. I will be heading to the store to find a battery-opperated one.
I rcommend the swimsuits that are long-sleeved and long-legged with SPF protection for the beach (I got ours on sale at One Step Ahead: is a link to one like ours), but also make sure to use LOTS of sunblock and a hat!
Most important, have fun and take lots of pictures.



answers from San Diego on

We took our son camping at age 6 months then again at 18 months.

Definitely buy the bigger family tent so you can fit the pack n play in it. That way baby has her own place to sleep. Also you can pop her in the pack n play if you are busy cooking or just need a break while on the beach. I think we have an 8 man tent. Bring extra blankets since it will get very chilly at night or a thick sleeper if your daughter rolls around at lot at night.

My next piece of advice is to not get upset if the nap/sleep schedule gets messed up. She will be in new and more exciting environment, so she won't want to nap at the regular time. She may nap earlier or later and at different times each day of your trip. So just go with the flow and try not to plan more than one activity a day.

Take lots of pictures and video. Bring lots of drinks and snacks for her. My kids always eat a TON the first couple days of vacation. And don't forget the sunscreen and umbrella.

Have fun!



answers from Las Vegas on

Look into getting a Kidco PeaPod; you can even get one used on Amazon. Here are my thoughts on this. A tent inside a ten will mean less light for your little one which means more sleep. Also it will take up less room then a pack and play. It will still be wide but not as high and tents are not as high as we all would like. Look into getting a battery operated fan especially for naps it will cut down on noise so you won't have to worry about keeping quiet. Oh and the PeaPod has a blow up mattress.



answers from Los Angeles on

I just wrote about sleep and travel, sleep and camping in June on my sleep blog- I would write it all out for you again- but just check out the posts! It is definitely possible and realistic especially if you are prepared. just read what fits your needs.

C., mother of 3, sleep consultant, sleep blog writer



answers from Los Angeles on

My hubby and I started taking our son beach camping at 7 months. We have an RV, so that makes it easier, since he has always had his own room. We did tent camp once, though, and we have a huge tent that he slept in with his pack and play.

My advice, just have fun. We didn't worry about keeping everything clean and organized until it was time to leave.

We also planned our meals ahead, and made them all very simple. Rather than eggs and bacon and stuff for breakfast we did muffins or croissants, sliced ham, milk and juice and coffee. For lunch we just had snack foods like chips and 7 layer bean dip (can be made healthy)or an occasional sandwich. For dinner we did everything outside with paper plates, like burgers or hot dogs, and had dry sides like chopped veggies or chips.

We would give him his bath at night and put him to sleep in his pack and play in the rv, and then make sure we didn't need to go in there until bedtime (get everything you need for the evening ready before you go to bed. I would bathe the baby and my hubby would "pack" for the night). That helped him to not get disrupted.

Another thing that we couldn't live without was a fan for the tent, so he wouldn't get too hot during naps, etc. My hubby and his friends would go down to the beach during nap time, and my girlfriends and I would lay out at our campsite until the baby woke up. Then we would go to the beach. He was able to sleep without any issue. Or you can always take the baby for a walk in the stroller, and they can nap there. But again, the schedule might get a little haywire, because there is so much new to see and do. If your baby can't take a good nap, just make the bedtime ritual a little longer or put her to bed earlier.

If you are tent camping, bathing will be much easier if you have one of those plastic bath tubs for the baby. Also, go to the dollar store, because they have cool plastic bath caddies for $1. You can get them dirty and just rinse them off. Will also help you keep everything together, because you can put it all back in wet or dry.

Take a large beach blanket (or a couple) that you can use down on the beach, as well as at your campsite. This will give the baby space to walk around without getting too dirty.

Sun umbrella! Give your baby some shade. And LOTS of sunblock. We use Neutrogena. Works great.

Don't take your diaper bag to the beach, get a cheap beach bag at Big Lots or Walmart, then put just the basics of what you neeed to take to the beach. We would put 2 diapers, a swim diaper, sunblock, towels, bottle water and formula (in a cool container), wipes, and snacks. It limits what you need to lug around.

Hmmm... I know that's alot, but it will help. Basically take the bare minimum of what you need. Pack the bare minimum of what you need. I usually take swim shorts for my son, 1 other pair of shorts, 3 shirts and 1 jammie.

It's definitely more stuff with a baby, but it's not really all that difficult, and should be really fun! We will be in San Clemente all August, so if you need supplies, you can always pop over to our site!! =)

Have fun!



answers from Los Angeles on

We love to camp and took our daughter for the first time when she was about 18 mos. old. It was great! She was a good napper too. We also camped at the beach. She had been going to the beach for day trips with us since she was about 6 mos. old. We were lucky because my daughter would nap anywhere. If you put her blanket on the ground she would sleep right where you put it. Also she slept very well in her pack n play. At night that's where we put her and she would go right to sleep. The first night was a little hard, just it being different and all. Once she went to sleep she would be out the whole night. My hubby and I could enjoy a campfire and sit and relax. I just kept plenty of wipes available since she got into everything at the campsite, it's all just curiosity, but what great memories too. I just brought some of her favorite toys, we played on the beach, she loved digging in the sand and getting her feet wet. Bring lots of sunblock, a hat and aloe vera gel (in case she gets a little burnt).
Hope your trip is fun.



answers from Los Angeles on

Take a pack n play, it will be your life saver for naps and bedtime, also you cab put baby in it when you are cooking and cleaning to keep her safe. It is very hard to keep a schedule while camping, but they do get exhausted so a nap will be necessary. Have fun!



answers from Los Angeles on

We went beach camping with our daughter who was 17 months old at the time. We had a shade tent (separate from the sleeping tent) that blocked the wind and sun. That came in handy to play in during the day. Our daughter definitely got off "schedule" from her usual nap and bed times. It seemed like all her usual sleep times moved back by 1-2 hours. She fell asleep in the bike seat when we went on longer bike rides, so that became her nap. At night my husband or I just walked along the beach while holding her or with her in a backpack (or we just sat with her and listened to the waves) she eventually fell asleep and then we transitioned her to the tent. Going in the tent with her to fall asleep didn't work for our little might have been because we still had a campfire going and with all noises of the people - she wasn't interested in sleeping! Have fun!



answers from Los Angeles on

In my experience beach camping is really close to the train tracks. And the train rolls through all night long blasting the horn. At least the first night it WILL wake you up and most likely your daughter. What we have always done so that they know what it is, is during the day we arrive, everytime we hear the train we run to great it and wave and say Hi train. so when it wakes them up in the middle of the night they know what it is. It may scare them at first but they will kind of get it. The second night last year for my daughter who is now 21 mos she jumped up and shouted Train!!! and then went back to sleep. We could hear other campers laughing. Other than that a pack n play is great. Take the baby powder for the sand. It is nice to have an old rug or scrap of carpet for in front of your tent. If you have a table hook on high chair those are great too. My family is going beach camping this weekend at carpinteria. I can't wait to get there. happy camping.

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