Hiking can be challenging for adults, but it gets even more complicated when you add a baby into the mix. Despite the difficulty, bringing a baby on the trails is well worth it. My parents started hiking with me before I could walk, and I’m grateful that I learned to appreciate nature from a young age. Here are some tips on how to make hiking with a little one a little easier.
1 – Start young. It may be intimidating to take a baby on the trails, but it can make things easier down the road. A child that grows up around nature will learn to appreciate hiking at a young age and will learn the basics more quickly than an older child who doesn’t have experience.
2 – Choose a carrier wisely. Babies can be carried in a soft, front carrier until they are about 6 months old. After that, for their comfort and yours, you’ll need backpack with a frame. It’s a good idea to shop for the backpack with you baby so that you can be sure it’s a good fit for both of you.
3 – Practice. It’s important to use the backpack before your first real hike. Wearing the backpack around the house will help you learn how to maximize comfort for you and your baby, and it will let your baby adjust to being in the backpack before you’re outside. You don’t want to get to the trail and suddenly realize that your child can’t stand the carrier or that it doesn’t fit you properly.
4 – Go with the flow. Having a toddler or baby around means you will have to stop more frequently and go at a slower pace. Try not to worry if you don’t make the type of distance goals you’re used to and enjoy seeing the trails from their perspective. You might notice things you’ve begun to take for granted as an adult!
5 – Let toddlers walk when they can. Although walking with a toddler will slow your pace, it will help them develop their balance and other motor skills and will help them get used to hiking more quickly.
6 – Give older toddlers their own gear. Your child will feel more engaged in the hike if they have their own special things to hold.
7 – Hope for the best; prepare for the worst. It’s always important to have emergency plans and first aid kits, but it’s even more important when little ones are around. Make sure you have plenty of first aid supplies with you, and when your child is old enough, practice basic survival skills with them.
8 – Pack more. Sometimes packing light isn’t the best option. When hiking with a baby, make sure you have extra clothes and diapers. It’s better to have more than you need than to realize you’ve run out of diapers halfway through a trek.
9 – Bring plenty snacks. Little ones tire more easily and need to rest more frequently than adults. You’re going to need to pack more food and water than you would for yourself.
10 – Finally, a tip from my own parents: attach a toy to the backpack. This will help entertain babies and toddlers who may need more stimulation that just taking in the scenery. Just remember, you will get whacked in the head with this toy, so make sure it isn’t too hard or too pointy.
A note: remember that using common sense is the most important thing when hiking with children. Make sure that you monitor them and take breaks when necessary because they get tired more quickly and need more water even though they don’t always ask for it.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it will help you make the most out of hiking with little ones!