Going on a Hike: Our Contributors’ Best Tips on Hiking with a Baby
When it comes to hiking, you already know the importance of being prepared. Having enough water, wearing the proper footwear and choosing a route suited to your physical abilities can mean the difference between an idyllic day in the woods and a dangerous one. But what about hiking with a baby or toddlers? This requires a little bit more planning and strategy, but is totally doable. Read on to learn our contributors’ best tips on hiking with little ones.
Photo by Ranjana Armstrong
1. MAKE IT SHORT.
When hiking with small children, it’s necessary to keep the hike short and not too difficult. Choose trails that aren’t too long or steep, but have great views or a waterfall at the top. This is especially true if you’ll be carrying your baby! If you head out for a longer hike, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper gear to comfortably carry your baby. Martina Eder, a nugget contributor from Munich, recommends the Manduca Baby Carrier for children under the age of one. For those over one or who can sit properly, she recommends the Deuter Kid Comfort Air carrier.
2. BE PREPARED.
Preparing for a hike involves striking a delicate balance between bringing everything you need and bringing too many things. When hiking with a baby, this problem is amplified. Martina says that while she always tries to bring the least amount of stuff possible, she’s always prepared with extra diapers, cleaning wipes, a change of clothes, a warm jacket, extra snacks and a toy. Devin Featherstone also recommends the Delorme Inreach. “It’s a two-way messaging SOS system with mapping and a compass. I always have this but especially with my son in case something happens where we need to get out as soon as possible.” While this might not be necessary for short hikes, definitely consider it when going on more remote outings.
3. MAKE IT FUN.
While avid adult hikers may find strolling in silence to be the perfect way to pass time, energetic toddlers typically need a little more stimulation. Martina looks for trails that have features like waterfalls, lakes or a hut so there are highlights to point out along the way. Devin agrees, “I think the biggest thing is to keep them occupied and interested. Look for the blue rock or the red bird and they get set on finding it.” Also, Martina adds, “Sometimes I sing while hiking and encourage my toddler to sing with me.”
I think the biggest thing is to keep them occupied and interested. Look for the blue rock or the red bird and they get set on finding it.
4. MAKE IT A TREAT.
As Ashley Daley has begun dabbling in hiking with her four- and two-year-old, she has made it a priority to give her kids a little treat at the summit. “When we reach the top, we stop to have snacks and “mermaid juice” (juice box from Trader Joe’s). Our girls rarely have juice so it’s a great motivation for them to keep going!”
5. BE FLEXIBLE.
As an Adirondack 46er and mom of two, Ronni Lieberman of New York knows a thing or a two about hiking with small children in tow. “Sometimes, you just have to stop in the middle of the trail and eat lunch. It’s hard to argue with a hungry toddler.” The most important thing to consider when hiking with small children is that it will be a different experience than hiking alone or with other adults. But if you’re enthusiastic about the outdoors and impart that on your kids from a young age, it will hopefully carry through to when they get older. Happy hiking!