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Camping with kids

What age is a good age to introduce kids to camping - and what's the best way to do this? Tents? Cabins? I'm at a loss - I have two boys, aged 6.5 and 1, and I feel like I'm doing them a disservice by not taking them out into the great outdoors for an overnight adventure!

21 Replies

@ted6184 I think the sooner the better 🙂 Expecially with the younger littles, I would be prepared for some possibly sleepless nights, due to the excitement of it all. I know I had a few of those with my twins in the early days. That being said, they are now 7 and sleep better in a tent than anywhere else. Keeping them warm and dry as well as well fed (we are all over the snacks) tend to be the most important things I focus on being prepared for (and this goes for any adventures - camping, skiing, backpacking, etc). I think giving it a trial run somewhere close or in the backyard can help set you up for success when you adventure further away. I doesn't hurt to have other activities available (journals to doodle in, star chart for at night, or a deck of cards) if they aren't immediately into it. 

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Such great ideas - thank you for your thoughts!!


We are taking our 1.5 year old for the first time in a couple of weeks.  We chose a backcountry location that is only a mile walk in from our car and ten miles from a hotel in case we have to abandon ship at any point.  I think our expectations are fairly low for sleep but think it will be a great experience regardless.  Have you had them hiking yet by any chance?  We kind of started there and made sure he was good with being in a carrier.  Now that we know he loves it, it feels like the right time to try a tent camping trip.  It definitely won’t be an ultralight gear sort of trip.  Good luck, I hope you get your kids camping soon!

We're thinking of taking our 2 year old in a few weeks - I'm curious where you're having your child sleep? That's my biggest concern actually. He still sleeps in a crib at home and rolls around so much. I'm not sure he'd actually settle in anything else (though he's a good sleeper).


@PszczolkaM My kiddo slept in a pack n play in or tent. The next night we tried her on the pack n play mattress on the ground and she slept fine. She was about 18 mo old at the time and also rolled around a bunch at home, but I think being in the kids sleeping bag made it easier for her to stay relatively in one spot. She's 2.5 now and could sleep that way or on the kid's cot that her grandpa keeps at his house for overnights. I think they run $30-40 onli

Whatever method you choose I'd recommend a trial run in the backyard first if you have that option.


@MBri Thanks, that's great to hear it worked so well for you from one night to the next. Does she sleep in a crib at home still?

I think a backyard trial run is definitely in our future, we just need to borrow a big tent from a friend. Our tent (from pre-child days) definitely can't accomodate a pack and play.


I’ve got all girls ... 13, 7, and 5. Each got initiated around 3 1/2. We’d pitch the tent in the backyard on a Friday but camp on a Saturday night to build up a little anticipation. I’d usually incorporate another activity we seldom do, such as S’mores, pond fishing or campfire hot chocolate. I agree that you have to make comfort the top priority the first few outings.

I’ve got two, 6 and 2.  The first camp out I took them on was last year for a family camp out with extended family in a forest service campground.  My five year old (at the time) loved it, but the younger one was up all night and have to share my sleeping bag, which made it a hard night.  This year I tried again, the little one still didn’t sleep, so I didn’t either.  Next year I’ll try again,  like others said, I make comfort a priority.  I usually go to an established campground, lots of air mattresses and good food.  

taking our 1yr old next week. we’re planning on car-camping at first, just in case, and bringing “sorry our kid will probably scream tonight” treats for potential neighbors.