Beginning with that day you first held the newest member of your family, you began to celebrate each miraculous moment: first smile, first word, first step. For those of us who love the outdoors, another milepost beckons: first hike.
My husband and I enjoy hiking and were determined to keep hiking a part of our life even after we had children. We therefore found ways to make hiking both possible AND fun with an infant or young toddler. So in the spirit of fun times ahead, here are a few tips for hiking with your baby:
Only Hike In Good Weather
This may go without saying, but many adults have no problem hiking in the rain or the cold. Babies, on the other hand, are not as able to regulate their body temperature like adults can and since they are not generating heat through activity, they can lose body heat quickly through their hands and feet. What’s more, babies and young children do not follow instructions even when it’s to their benefit to do so! The end result? Unhappy baby, unhappy parents. Always check the weather forecast before leaving and bring inclement baby carriers for hiking even if it’s not forecast.
Check Baby Frequently
Take frequent breaks to stop and check on your baby. Check arms and legs to make sure s/he is warm enough but not overheating. Check the diaper to make sure it’s dry and clean. Check to make sure the baby is not hungry. Let baby lay (or sit or crawl or stand) along the trail and explore. Babies usually enjoy gazing at trees, clouds, and other sights along the way.
Bring the right supplies
- Basic hiking supplies, including emergency shelter, food, water, and first aid kit
- A wet bag or plastic Ziploc for wet clothes and/or dirty dipes
- Anti-bacterial hand wash
- A blanket to serve as a changing pad as well as an extra warmth layer if baby seems cold.
- Best rocking bassinets to keep them close to you as much as possible, without having to disturb their sleep
- Snacks for baby. If your child is eating solids, snacks are a great way to keep a fussy baby entertained while on the go
- A baby wearing mirror for checking out your baby while on the go. Babies also love mirrors as toys.
Plan extra time for your hike
I always say that doing anything with kids takes twice as long, and this is certainly true for hiking! The extra weight of carrying your baby will slow you down some, and you will need to take more frequent and longer breaks to attend to baby’s needs and give him/her a break from the carrier. If you go into the hike planning for this extra time, you will have a much better time. Try to be less goal-oriented and more experience oriented than you may have been when hiking with adults.
Have you been hiking with your baby? I’d love to hear about it! Tell your story, in the comments. Looking to buy a baby carrier for hiking? Read reviews and make the best buy.