Hiking with a baby may sound like an impossible challenge, but the reality is many people successfully go hiking with infants and children of all ages. Hiking is a great way to get exercise while setting your child up for a love of the outdoors. Many parents opt to include their infant when they hit the trails. If you want to survive hiking with a baby, then you need to know a few tips and tricks for a safe and fun outdoor adventure. Today I’ll share my best tips and tricks so that you and your little one will have a fabulous time hitting the trails this year.
How to Hike with a Baby, Toddler or Little Kid
Can you Hike with a Baby?
Yes but your success depends on how old your child is and whether you carry them in a sling, push them in a stroller or let them walk on their own.
Always be prepared for the worst but expect the best. Knowing that your infant may get fussy halfway up the trail helps you keep your expectations realistic. Always keep in mind that you might have to stop and turn around halfway, so if you do make it to the end of the trail, it will be even more of an accomplishment.
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When can a baby go in a hiking carrier?
Babies less than 3 months old are too young to go on a hike and chances are you probably aren’t even recovered from childbirth yet and ready to hit the trails yet yourself. Babies this young are too young to be exposed to the elements like the sun or bad weather. Babies can get hurt from the jostling that comes from walking on rough terrain or being bounced in a hiking stroller. There is danger of accidentally hurting your infant in a similar way to shaken baby syndrome, if there is too much movement in the stroller or carrier. Always check with your pediatrician to find out when your child will be ready to go in a jogging stroller or hiking in a carrier.
3-6 month olds
A front carrier with head and neck support is a good idea for babies this age. An infant, especially one not used to the confinement of a front carrier, may get fussy after just a short while. Older babies may be content for more than an hour before the cranky, hungry, and wet diaper factors set in. If you’re lucky your baby will fall asleep and you can enjoy your hike even more.
A baby is old enough to ride in a baby backpack when she can sit up on her own (about 5 to 6 months). Until then, it’s best to stick with front-style carriers.
6- to 14-month-olds
The key here is a good back carrier. It’s safe to start using one when your child is able to sit up on her own – usually when she weighs at least 15 pounds and is 6 months old. If you’re well rested, your baby is comfortable, the weather is temperate, and you pack enough supplies (snacks, drinks, and diapers), you may last several hours if you take a few breaks.
14 months to 4 years
Once your child starts walking with some confidence, adjust your expectations. You can still put her in a back carrier if you’ve invested in a good one with a wide age and weight range (up to 60 pounds). But toddlers like to get out periodically to walk by themselves. That will slow you to a snail’s pace as they look at this leaf over here, and that puddle over there. Given ample water and snacks, 2- to 4-year-olds can usually hike a mile or so in good weather if the terrain is safe and predictable and you take breaks. But be aware, you’ll probably end up carrying your child at times, especially on the way home. Try to stick to trails where you can take your stroller. That when when your kiddo decides they don’t want to walk anymore you can still enjoy your hike on wheels.
What should you pack for hiking with a baby?
- Diapers/pull ups
- Snacks and water
- Extra water
- Extra bags for trash/ dirty diapers
- Fully charged cell phone
- First aid kit
How far can a child hike?
That depends on the kid. Even a kid who loves to go on long walks or hikes may have a day where they are just not that into it. It’s important to choose an easier hiking trail rather than get stuck out in the wilderness with a cranky kid. Review the trails around you to find one that doesn’t have too many steep hills or treacherous conditions that would take a toll on your infant’s little legs or tire you out as you carry your infant in their baby carrier.
These are just some of the best tips for hiking with a baby to help you enjoy this quality time together.
While your infant may not be old enough to remember these days of hiking together, you can still instill a love of hiking and adventure in your little one when you opt to start hiking with them during childhood.