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Camp Life Journal is where we share travel experiences, camp hacks, and new gear discoveries. We also discuss outdoor issues like public lands conservation, sustainable living, and reducing our impact on people and places.
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How to Hike with Babies & Toddlers
How to Hike with Babies & Toddlers
Gone are the days of the two of you hiking 6+ miles on rugged terrain with nothing else to worry about except yourselves. While hiking with little ones has some challenges, don’t hang up your hiking shoes just yet. It is definitely doable, but your adventures will go much smoother if you prepare and pack accordingly.
Prep the day before:
Lay out everything you will wear and bring, down to the detail. Clothing includes an outfit for each person, hats and sunglasses, and a backpack with an extra outfit for each baby or child, diapers, wipes and a changing pad.
What else should you bring?
- •SNACKS. Nothing motivates a cranky toddler to keep moving forward like a snack. Some healthy ideas include crackers, beef jerky, non-watery fruit like bananas, oranges or apples, dried fruit, nuts, trail mix or granola bars. Obviously what they can eat will be age dependent, so if your children are at different stages make sure to pack items for each child.
- If your baby isn’t breastfed, formula and bottles, and a portable bottle warmer if you have one.
•Bottles of water and/or hydration backpacks. There are even kid-sized backpacks!
• A few light toys. Again, this will depend on age. Baby items can include teething toys and anything that will be easy to clean. For toddlers and older kids, small vehicles, shovels, binoculars, a ball, small bucket, basically anything that they can play with in the dirt and will encourage them to interact with nature. If they’re old enough you might consider letting them wear their own backpack! Even some younger toddlers like to carry their own things.
•A baby/toddler carrier (or two, with more than one child.) Obviously babies need to be worn, but even if your toddler is walking, don’t expect him or her to be able to hike for long. Even if they’re excited, even at age 2 or 3, they often tire out before you’re finished. Never be without the carrier. It is more comfortable—and safer—than carrying them in your arms.
• Lunch. Even if you don’t think you’ll be out that long, you might. Best to be prepared with lunch like sandwiches or wraps.
In addition to packing, prepare by researching the trail, parking, directions, if there are bathrooms, etc. Find out if your trail choice has any steep drop offs or anything dangerous for a little one. Figure out if their will be difficult terrain such as crossing a stream that you may not feel comfortable with while wearing a child. Choose a trail that is easy and fairly short.
•Remember to bring a few items in the car as well: sunblock to put on before hitting the trail, extra water, a phone charger, and bags to store any trash.
While out on the trail, keep your expectations in check. Enjoy the journey. You may not finish the trail, you may have to turn around or stop for a long time in the middle, but it’s worth it to have those memories with your kids.
Do you hike with your young ones? Comment below and tell us where you’ve been and your best tips and tricks.