Camping with Toddler

Updated on August 07, 2009
K.C. asks from Redmond, WA
6 answers

Hi Mamas,

My husband, daughter and I moved to Bellevue, WA a little over a year ago. We weren't settled enough last summer to plan any camping trips, but we're considering one now. I guess I'm asking two questions:

1. What are good places to tent camp with a toddler? We'd prefer something within a couple hours' drive of the Bellevue area. As far as amenities go, we would want to park near the site (rather than carry our gear in), and we would need to buy our firewood nearby (won't have room in the car to pack wood in addition to gear). I'm thinking we'd be shooting for early-mid September.

2. What are your suggestions for camping with a toddler? I'm most concerned with how to keep her safe when hubby and I are doing tasks that require four hands (putting up and tearing down the tent...) and keeping her away from the fire. And again, our cars are pretty small, so I'm not sure that taking the pack-and-play is practical. We would probably co-sleep for those nights, so I'm not too worried about that.

Thanks in advance for your advice. Hubby is an experienced camper, me not so much, but I'm trying to learn.

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answers from Seattle on

Hello K.,

We started tent camping with our daughter when she was 9 months old. I took a pack and play (so she could be safe while with worked around camp) and I also took a chair that attaches to the picnic table - the kind you take to a restaurant. These items help so much I'd never camp without them for a young one.

I haven't tent camped around here as we upgraded to a travel trailer when we moved here - but there are some awesome camping around here. Our favorite for ease of travel and nice setting is the Tolt McDonald Campground in Carnation. It has a great play field, clean and wonderful hiking trails - along with a playground nearby at the baseball fields. We only gone once this year - there were only 6-8 sites available, they started some renovations work for the salmon and a lot of the sites are torn up, so you may want to do a drive by to see how it is doing. The tent camping is in a field that they mow - so the long grass grows up and around your site for privacy - which is nice, but minimal shade - I remember once site near a big oak tree - that one look nice.

Another campground nearby is in Snohomish - Flowing Lake. This campground is on a lake - a 3 - 5 minute walk across the parking lot. This site is heavily wooded so there is great shade, along with really neat trails around the park. The lake has a really nice grassy beach along with a play structure. I'm not sure if the address is Monroe or Snohomish - look up Flowing Lake and you should find it.

Best of luck to you!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We went to Flowing Lake up in Snohomish a couple of weeks ago. It was close to home but felt far away :)! We had a great time.



answers from Seattle on

We went camping last summer at Dash Point and had a ton of fun. It's very close to anything you might need, but still "in the wood". I grew up here and my parents used to take us camping all the time at Deception Pass. I haven't been back with my own kids yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. I would check into both those places. As for advise: do you have a kid's chair with a trey that can buckle onto a kitchen chair? That is what we use for our every day high chair, but it works nice camping too, and you can strap her into it with food to munch while you're setting up the tent, etc. You can also do the same thing with a stroller. Then you don't have to worry about her getting into the fire pit, etc. Also, bring lots of extra wipes for cleaning up the dirt. :) Have fun!



answers from Seattle on

The state parks website has a searchable database for campground. You can search for things like which ammenities you'd like. I find the state parks to be pretty good, and they often have playgrounds, and you can choose one with flush toilets, showers, etc. They all seem to sell wood. There are a number near by.

My toddler was just fine, except during the tent setting up phase. If you don't start your fire until after that, and maybe bring some crayons for her to use in the car, i think you'll be ok. It took some vigilance on our part to keep her safe, but, nothing very onerous - it seems like usually, actually, some one was free to entertain her or at least keep an eye on her.

Bringing some snacks helps, and if you can find her a special 'camp pillow' or sleeping bag, she'll probably dig it!

have fun!!



answers from Seattle on

We use to take our kids to state parks when they were that age....that way all the ammenities you need are there. Two favorites are Camano Island State Park and Deception Pass State Park. We were always happy with these two places. We would hike with our little ones in backpacks....great trails and lots of beachcombing to keep little ones entertained for hours. I have taken an exersaucer when they were under a year to keep them occupied when we were setting up tents, etc but like you said, hard to pack. Maybe this is the time to get a new toy and just have her sit in the car for a few minutes - you are able to park right at your site and she would be very close by. Or you could take a bowl and fill it with water and give her some camping dishes....that would keep her busy for a while! Good luck!


answers from Seattle on

Several of my friends in the area have gone camping with their toddlers with great success. I can find out where they have gone, but my guess is any place you can car camp should be fine. Lower cascades etc.

My husband and I haven't been camping in over two years - of course we used to back country camp so we can't do any of that anymore! :)

We understand what its like to be far away from family too! Hang in there!


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