Hiking with Little Adventurers
Once you have children, your whole world flips upside down. Your entire life looks completely different and there’s someone that matters more than you.
When our family became pregnant with our first child, I heard from everyone around me that I won’t be able to adventure anymore. Thomas, dear supportive husband, definitely will be able to, but I won’t. Not nearly as much as him. No more backpacking, no more climbing, no more hiking, no more mountain biking. I was completely shocked to hear some of the comments I got as a new, and pregnant, Mother.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t naive and totally knew that my life wasn’t going to be the same. I knew that adventuring was going to look different. However, I’ve always been quite passionate about getting outside and exploring. Heck, I have a degree in Recreation. Why would I just stop doing that stuff? Or wait until he’s older to do it again?
Now that my little adventurer is here, running around through the woods, I wanted to share the baby steps of getting your kiddo to adventure with you. The first being, going hiking.
Hiking is a simple way to do all the adventuring that you, my adventure Momma (or Dad) friend, love. We’re just going to take it down a notch. Yes, you can absolutely take your kids out climbing, backpacking, or mountain biking right off the bat. However, if you want to take it slow, that’s ALRIGHT, too. This is how we take our little adventurer with us on a hike.
First off, get your kiddo outside as much as possible. They need to play in the grass, the dirt, and leaves. Let them explore your yard or a park and get used to the weather, smells, and feeling of being outside. If your kid is inside in the AC all day long and then you take them on a long, hot trek, it’s going to shock their system and they will not handle it well. Your hike may turn into a crying fest at the least. However, could need an ER very quickly if you are in the summer season.
Where to go
Choose the right trail for the two of you. Look at the terrain, the difficulty of the trail, and the mileage. Ease yourself and your kiddo into hiking now that y’all are ready to do so. There’s no need to be a hero and jump right back into what you could normally do. Because pre-baby, you weren’t carrying the baby AND all the accompanying baby items.
We quickly found out that 5 miles was our little adventurers limit. He would be looking around and enjoying the sights in the beginning. Then, he would sleep for maybe an hour or a little more. Normally as we near about 4 to 5 miles, he would wake up somewhat happy as long as snacks were available. However, once we hit 5, he wants out of the carrier and run around. Knowing their limit and respecting it will make everyone's experience much better.
What you should pack
Speaking of baby items, these are the items that you need to pack. This is based on an 18 month old, however can be easily adjusted:
- Enough water for you and your kiddo
- A variety of snacks for baby
- Toddler fruit bars
- Puff snacks
- Whatever your kid’s favorite “on-the-go” snacks are
- Snack Cup
- Change of clothes
- Baby sunscreen
- Baby Bug Spray
- Baby Sunhat
Some things you can leave in the car depending on the length of the trail. However, you should always think of what if. What if the baby does have an accident while on the trail? What if the baby gets hungry or thirsty? Do I have everything that will be essential to my kid having a fun and safe time while adventuring? We have packed a cooler many times with bottles already made up so our kiddo is staying hydrated and happy even when we get back.
What should the baby wear?
When it comes to what they should wear, check the weather and check their closet. We always recommend synthetic materials if it’s going to be hot out. Your kiddo will stay cool and dry with synthetic materials. However, if it’s going to be cool, bundle them up. Make sure that they have long pants that won’t ride up while they are in their carrier or fashion them in some super long socks. Pack more than you need just in case. You can always add and take away clothes but not if they aren’t in your pack.
What to carry baby and the essentials in?
You’ll need something to carry the baby and all this stuff with you, too. If you have someone else hiking with you, you can easily have them carry these essentials while you carry the baby either in a sling, harness, or a stroller if the trail admits it. However, often enough, you may need to carry all the baby essentials with the baby.
We highly recommend a backpack kid carrier. We were looking at these features when shopping for a kid carrier:
- Sun Protection
- Rain Protection
- Comfort for baby
- Comfort for parent
- Space to carry essentials
The Gear Up family uses Osprey’s Poco Plus Child Carrier, though there are similar carriers out there from other brands like Deuter or Kelty. This particular pack checked off a lot of features we wanted and the design of the pack makes carrying your child with all the things much more comfortable.
Heading off on the trail may seem daunting at times. However, give yourself some grace and be patient with yourself and your little adventurer. The time that it takes to do a mile may have changed. Heck the time it takes to actually hit the trail will mostly be later than you expected. Sometimes, you do all this work to ensure your baby is going to have an awesome experience, and then they fall asleep for the whole hike. That’s okay! You are getting yourself and your kid outside. They will learn so much more about themselves and their world by this one simple thing you did for them.
Eventually, take your kiddo out of the carrier and let them walk along the trail. Have them take the lead and slowly teach them about staying on the path, observe what’s around them, and be nice to other hikers or trail runners. With our little one, we’ve been pointing out funny looking trees, having him play with a fallen leaf or flower, and letting him get up close and personal with the trail. Now he knows what his carrier is and what we’re about to do. He’s excited every single time, even though he often falls asleep on trail.
I hope you’re planning a hiking adventure with your baby or little explorer and feel just a bit more comfortable. Remember, it takes time and practice for the both of you. Again, give yourself grace and patience and the experience will bring so many memories.