Our toddler (now 2.5 years old) is curious. He also likes to push the limits constantly checking to see where his boundaries lie. In other words, he keeps us on our toes, and in our adventures and travels we must constantly be aware of potential dangers or accidents lurking around the corner.
Enjoying the outdoors with him obviously has so many benefits, but like everything in life there are always things to watch out for. Thinking of our most recent camping trip to the Oregon coast, along with getting enough sleep, planning out meals, and staying dry and warm from the elements, keeping Bergen safe and unharmed from our campfires was at the top of the list.
Like many toddlers, he’s a mini-scientist. He wants to know how things work, but we’re not about to let him test out how a fire might feel and risk potential burns and a visit to the emergency room (especially while on the road). Instead, we’ve done our best to prevent any mishaps.
4 Tips for Keeping Toddlers Safe around Campfires
1. Talk, talk, talk.
Before this last trip, we had several conversations about the dangers of touching a campfire and what to expect. We talked about why we would make the fire, it’s purpose, and how to safely interact with it. He may seem young for these discussions, but you might be surprised at how much a toddler actually understands!
We also talked about the campfire when we arrived at our site, while my brother was making the fire, and of course when the fire was burning away ready for us to warm up and roast marshmallows around it.
2. Read books about camping.
Also before our last trip, we checked out several picture books from our local library that had camping themes. This not only prepared Bergen for our trip in general, but allowed him to see pictures of kids and their families around the campfire interacting safely. A few of the books we found that were helpful included:
- When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs
- Let’s Go Camping! by Jan Mader
- Follow the Trail: A Young Person’s Guide to the Great Outdoors by Jessica Loy
- The Lost Lake by Allen Say
*Note: We found each of the above titles at our local public library. I’ve also included links to our amazon store (Wild Tales of…Travel and Adventure Store) for quick and easy purchase.
3. Communicate with camping partners and trade-off supervision.
After our first camping trip with Bergen as a toddler (as opposed to a baby when we could easily carry or lay him down safely), we quickly learned that one of the adults had to “be in charge” of supervising him exclusively. Setting up and doing chores around camp can be a lot of work, so at first we (my husband and I) thought it would be better for both of us to work at the same time and do our best to wrangle the little guy.
That plan backfired when we realized we actually got less done and we felt more frustration. Instead we decided to trade off supervision. One adult would enjoy camp life with Bergen while the other worked. Without a plan, one parent (or adult) is bound to think the other is paying attention and vice versa, and that’s when accidents can happen!
4. Build a physical barrier to act as a visual.
An actual physical barrier, such as a circle of large rocks or even a fence, serves as a reminder that the fire is present. In addition to being curious, toddlers are also easily distracted and that extra step can help when something off in the woods catches their eye. Just don’t completely rely on the obstruction you create though. Proper supervision and teaching about fire safety is still very necessary!
Have you experienced campfires with toddlers? What are your suggestions for safety?
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