Hiking has always been a huge part of our lives and one of mine and Josh’s favorite pastimes. We didn’t want the fact that we had little kids keep us from the things that we loved and, in fact, we believe that hiking is great for kids! That being said, there are definitely a few things that we needed to change when we started hiking with kids. Hiking with kids (especially a baby) is a whole new ballgame! Here are some of the tips we’ve learned along the way:
1 | Invest in a quality baby backpack/carrier
During Ev’s first few months, we always hiked with her in a front carrier that we had when David was little but, boy, was that rough on my back! For my birthday, I asked my mom to get us a legit baby backpack to carry her in and we have LOVED it! I don’t think the brand is all that important but I would recommend getting a back carrier with a wedge on the bottom that baby can sit on. It allows their weight to sit at your hips rather than pulling at your back or shoulders. We’ve also found that even though our carrier is mean to be like a backpack, we can switch it around to the front if we want to.
2 | Pack essentials in a backpack rather than a baby bag
It’d be nice if all you had to remember to bring on your hike was the baby but, sadly, that’s never the case. Babies usually need things. Maybe not lots of things, but they do need them. Things like diapers, wipes, nursing covers or bottles, extra clothes, toys, pacifiers, etc. And you’re not going to want to lug that around in a single shoulder strap baby bag.
3 | Be smart about what you and your baby wear
Take it from this picture, Josh and I haven’t always been prepared when it’s come to hiking with the kids. We took this picture in the middle of August when the weather down at sea-level was sunny and in the 80s. Up in the mountains, though? Totally different story. It was misty and cold and we found ourselves in light sweatshirts with no extras. These next pictures tell a different story:
Although one setting was colder than the other, we thought ahead and came prepared in the right clothes. We got this great lamp outfit for Ev which was SUPER warm but loose enough to add a layer of cozy PJs underneath if we wanted her to have extra warmth (I’d also recommend a cold-weather suit like this). It’s also usually a good idea to grab a brimmed cap or bonnet just to give baby’s head come cover in case the weather turns bad unexpectedly.
Secondly, if you’re breastfeeding, be sure to keep that in mind on your hike. While hiking, you might feel most comfortable in a sports bra, which is one of my favorite clothing items in the word to wear. Just make sure that your shirt and bra are loose enough to easily move aside for a hungry baby. Breastfeeding can be tricky when you’re on the trail but having easily adjustable clothing will make things less complicated. I use this nursing cover and freaking LOVE it. It feels light and silky like an athletic wear material which is GREAT during the summer!
4 | Understand just how long your baby can go
This picture makes me laugh because Ev and David were just SO DONE with being outside (even though we had technically just arrived there).
Every baby has his or her limits and no matter how well fed or clean the diaper, that baby is going to want to go home or nap eventually. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a baby that falls asleep effortlessly in the baby carrier. Evy has always been hit or miss. Sometimes we’d be pleasantly surprised because she’d fallen asleep in the carrier without us even knowing and other days there was no mistaking that she just wanted to be home in her crib. Josh and I usually have the expectation that we may need to cut the hike short and head back before Ev (or David, our toddler) gets grumpy, that way we make it home in peace. Every child will be different, just do your best to set your expectations for finishing the hike on what you know your baby to be able to handle.
5 | Take a buddy
Whether you hike with your spouse or a friend, it’s always a good idea to hike with someone else, especially if you have kids with you. I’ve gone on smaller hikes with David and Evy in the past and while it started out nice (like most hikes do) I ended up regretting not going with Josh because BOTH kids wanted to be carried home (I should have seen that coming). Besides just having a helping hand, there’s safety in numbers so it just makes sense to have another person with you and the kids on a hike.
6 | Time your hike wisely
This point goes along with point #4. Like I said, every child has his or her limits but why not start strong by starting a hike first thing in the morning or first thing after naptime? That way, your kids are refreshed, getting outside will more likely be exciting rather than tiring, and you’ll give yourself plenty of time for a great hike before kids get worn out. You might think that you’ll be able to push through naptime and/or your kids can just sleep in the carrier or in the car on the way home but, take it from me, a hike down the mountain is no fun with tired and crying kids.
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