In our increasingly urbanized world, a little green is refreshing. We love being immersed in nature and hiking is one of our favorite activities.
My husband and I were determined to keep it a part of our active life even after we were parents. Therefore, we found ways to make hiking possible AND fun for the 3 of us. We started when Curren was 6 weeks old. At this time he was so tiny that we needed the ErgoBaby infant insert!
Too many families don’t get outside because they are afraid to miss the nap time, struggle to entertain their kids, or simply because they don’t have enough info. Curren can be cranky and needy at home, but he is always happy, observant or active outside. Being surrounded by nature is stimulating and fun for Baby, and our son never seems to get tired of it. Getting outside is a mood enhancer for everybody and the outdoors are a great way to stimulate your baby's brain. Also, Scientists have found evidence showing that a connection to nature is vital to our psychological and physical health. It helps recharge our brains so that we're better able to deal with the stresses in life.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir.
I would have loved to have some more advice before starting our hiking adventures with our baby. We’ve learned from experience. Many many hikes later, we are here to guide you to avoid the same mistakes we made. After reading this article, you will be ready to fully enjoy your family hikes!
Here are a few tips for hiking with your baby:
· Check the forecast and ONLY hike in good and temperate weather. Your baby doesn’t move as much as you do and he needs to stay warm, dry and comfortable for a few hours. Otherwise your lovely family time can become a real nightmare for all of you.
· Choose your favorite baby carrier. It has to be comfortable for both you and the baby. We have a few donated backpacks that work well, but none are perfect. We ended putting diapers under the shoulder straps to avoid pressure points! An attached sun-cover is often a necessity. If you are a serious hiker and have a higher budget, my dream baby backpack goes to the Deuter Kid Comfort II. However, we still love the Ergo Baby Carrier, it has been a must-have since Curren was a few months old.
· Hiking with trekking poles has been very useful, a energy saver, and even safer for the one carrying our precious cargo! Not only do your poles reduce the impact of hiking on knee joints and leg muscles, but your arm and shoulder muscles also support and relieve your legs. Poles help many people with balance issues, mostly when you’re carrying a decent amount of weight on your back, or when you have to walk on a steep rocky trail! Try to choose some that are retractable and light. We chose the REI Traverse Power Lock Cork Trekking Poles and we are very happy with them.
· Bring the right supplies and some extra. Supplement your basic hiking supplies and first aid kit with a few more items for your little one to be ready for everything. See baby hiking list bellow. You never know, the temperature can drop dramatically and quickly at altitude and you all need warm clothes. Also, the sun can be intense and a good hat and zinc sun-protection are a necessity (for all of you). Even in good and warm weather my son always wears long sleeves and a hat or light hoodie. A receiving blanket can become a nice pillow or a changing pad. Last but not least don’t forget Baby’s pacifiers or favorite (light) item/toy. Note that a strap prevents you losing this precious item, or bending each time he drops it!
· Check on Baby frequently and interact with him. Offer him some water or food regularly. Point out different objects: rocks, trees, birds... Tell him stories, or sing. Let him touch things you pass by and connect with nature. Our son, like many other babies, loves trees and gets so excited when he sees them or touches a pinecone or a leaf. Simple pleasures!
· Plan many diaper changes… Believe me, no one is safe from a blowout, and you don’t want to run out of diapers or wipes! (Yes, it’s happened to us, and it’s not fun! We survived thanks to a receiving blanket, a plastic bag, and an extra pair of pants…). Take a plastic bag/big Ziploc bag to collect the dirty items.
· Plan extra time for your hike! Start with short hikes to see how everybody reacts. Not only will you be slower because of the extra weight on your back, but you will also need to take extra and longer breaks to take care of your little one. Allow him to loosen up his body after each diaper change, to explore and play unstructured. Remember he needs to enjoy the adventure too. Keep it fun; it’s a family time!
Hiking list for Baby
Before being parents we could pack our bag last minute. But since we are three, it has changed and we need much more organization and anticipation to have the right supplies for everybody and have a good time.
To make it easier we now have a list of items we need to bring to our little adventures.
Here it is:
Protection from the elements:
- Comfortable outfit: our favorite goes to Patagonia Baby Capilene® Midweight Set. It super comfy, it stays warm, dries fast and is very durable. We use it as an outdoor outfit or a base layer when it’s cooler, and UV protection when it's warmer.
- Baby Sunhat with a chin strap (the strap is important!)
- Baby Sunscreen: The best option is always to keep baby’s skin covered with clothes. However, after 6 months old, we also used a healthy and baby safe sunscreen named Burn Out – zinc protection
- Baby Bug Spray (if necessary)
- Baby Sunglasses: We love the BabyBanz because of their strap.
- Warm Layers and a winter hat. Also, a pair of extra socks can become a perfect pair of gloves for little ones!
- Rain Cover or Rain Jacket
- A few diapers, wipes and a plastic bag (trash).
- A Receiving Blanket: as a pillow for baby’s head during his nap or as a changing pad.
- Change of Clothes: I recommend bringing two changes of clothes. You never know… a diaper explosion can happen so fast!
Baby’s favorite toy:
- A light toy
- If your baby has a pacifier add a string to it, so it doesn’t get lost on the way
Food and Water:
- If you’re nursing on the trail, you’ll need to stay extra hydrated and well nourished.
- Meals and snacks: we love the Plum Organic Baby products and the Lärabar bars. Whatever you choose to feed your baby, don’t forget to pack it and take a few extra with you and in the car. Choose items that don’t need to be refrigerated.
- Bottle of water - formula
Remember that these items are in addition to what you would normally pack for yourself.
Have you been hiking with your baby? We’d love to hear about it! If you are not there yet, click on the title to access the comment section. Tell us your story!
More pictures from our many adventures: