When a baby comes into the picture, a lot of new parents are concerned about their hiking expeditions. Can I go hiking with my toddler? What sort of gear will I need? How far can I travel with my baby?
But above all these concerns, the one thing that most hiking parents are worried about is whether their babies are old enough to be taken hiking. This article explains the best age to start taking your baby hiking. It also highlights a few tips for taking your baby hiking.
When Can You Start Hiking With Your Toddler?
The simple answer to this question is: whenever you are ready. There is no one specific age that fits every toddler. As long as the parent is ready to start taking their baby hiking, then they can. Even if they are just a couple of weeks or months old.
Hiking is good for both the parent and the baby.
Yes, hiking with your baby is going to be exhausting. If your baby has gotten to the stage of saying “dada” or “mama” then this means it’s also going to be noisy. And, it’s going to be twice the hassle of hiking alone. But on the plus side, the memories and moments you have hiking with your young ones are unforgettable!
That said, following these tips can make the hiking expedition easier.
Before Your Hike
Lower your expectations
When hiking alone, you probably aim to accomplish some goals such as a hike for a particular distance. But when you’re hiking with your baby, you shouldn’t have so many expectations. The point of taking your baby along is to enjoy the outdoors together not setting a new trail record.
Iron out the kinks at home
Whatever you have planned out for your sleeping arrangement, food, clothing, you should first try it at home. For instance, if you intend to share a sleeping bag with your baby, try it at home and see if you both fit. Experimenting helps you know what works and what doesn’t. This way, you can tweak your plan before heading out.
Don’t skip on your carrier
If your toddler weighs less than 20 pounds, then bringing a hiking baby carrier is a must. We recommend the front-facing soft carriers, which give you plenty of flexibility. With this hiking baby carrier, you can position your child to face when they fall asleep or out when they’re awake. But if your child weighs more than this, a better option would be a backpack equipped with a child’s seat as well as a sun/rain cover.
On The Hiking Trail
The easiest way to ensure that your child is enjoying the hike as much as you are is to engage them in conversations. Point out to the small wildlife you come across. When you come across a stream or waterfall, stop for a couple of minutes and let them enjoy the view.
Take more breaks
When hiking with your baby, you’ll need to stop every few hours. Remember that while you are an experienced hiker, your toddler is not and they’re likely to get tired. Plus, going hiking is a lot different than staying at home all day, where they can snack every couple of hours.
During these breaks, examine the condition of your child to ensure they’re okay. If they are cold, you can have them wear an additional coat. And if it’s too hot, you can remove some layers of clothes.
If there is one thing that you should be very cautious about when hiking with your toddler, it’s hydration. Give your baby adequate amounts of water. Ideally, your baby should pee five to six times in a day, and this should be light yellow in color to prove that they’re adequately hydrated.
As a parent, you should also drink enough water, especially if you’re still nursing. And even if you’re not, you are probably carrying a lot of weight on your back. Factor in the hot weather and chances are that you’re losing water rapidly.
Expect a little chaos
Children can have very disruptive behavior, so you should expect a bit of chaos during your hiking expedition. They might get upset that they’re sleeping in a different environment, and as a result, start yelling uncontrollably. They might start throwing a tantrum, and in the process pour food all over.
To prepare for such situations, you can carry an excess of essential supplies. Also, if you’re hiking in a group, it might be a good idea to set up your tent a bit far from your friends. If they ask, explain that the night might not be all that quiet.
You can start hiking with your baby regardless of how old you are. It all depends on whether you feel ready to embark on hiking and how well you can prepare for the expedition. To get the most out of your trip, start small. Do not hike for too long or too far from home. Also, remember to carry essential items like a baby carrier, adequate water, a first-aid kit, enough snacks just to mention a few.