Hiking has always been something the two of us have loved to do together, and still love to do! It just looks a little different these days. What used to be the two of us hiking 15 miles a day through the desert and rugged terrain has turned into shorter, mini hikes with our babies in tow….but we are so happy that we are still able to get outdoors and hike some of our favorite trails and explore off the beaten path – our favorite way to adventure!
We might not be going as far as we used to, but sometimes it still feels just as hard 😉 We’ve been taking these kids out since they were only a month old so they are growing up loving hiking just as much as we do. Their first hikes started out more as nature walks in my baby sling, but as they’ve gotten bigger they’ve evolved into real hikes in some of our favorite places. Taking young babies and toddlers out definitely takes some work – but we wanted to share some tips and tricks we have learned along the way that has made it a little easier for us.
One thing that has made it a lot easier to take them out and explore is having a good, trusty hiking backpack they can sit in. Make sure your pack is fitted right for you so it’s comfortable to wear, and comfortable for your kids to be in. If it pulls on them or pinches their legs they won’t want to be in it for very long. There are a lot of good quality kid carriers these days, that when fitted correctly for your body should feel as comfortable as any other hiking backpack. We use the Osprey Poco Plus for our three year old. He has been in this pack since he was six months old and it’s been perfect to grow with him as he has gotten bigger. We also just got the Osprey LT for our baby! It’s their smaller and lighter model and perfect for me to carry our nine month old in. Investing in a quality pack is definitely worth the investment if you plan to be out a lot.
Start with shorter hikes close to home or camp to get them used to being in a pack before you try to take them on longer hikes. If you slowly start increasing the amount of time they are in it at once it will be an easier transition to longer hikes and backpacking trips.
Take breaks so they can get out and play! We have learned that sometimes it’s not how fast you can go or how many miles you can log, it’s more important to have fun and just get everyone outdoors. Even if that means stopping at every river we see to let them throw rocks in it 😉 Sometimes the random stops we’ve had along the way have been the most memorable. We try not to worry so much about the destination and just try to make it a good experience for them. Keeping it fun for them will help make them excited to go the next time because for them it really is an adventure.
Talk to them while you’re hiking, sing songs, play games, and point out the wildlife you see a long the way. This helps keep them entertained and engaged with you and their surroundings. Help them learn to appreciate what is around them, because little nature lovers turn into big nature lovers.
Go early in the morning or later in the evening so you miss the hottest part of the day. If it’s the middle of the summer and 100 degrees outside it will be miserable for everyone to be out. Kids don’t regulate their body temperatures like adults do- so be mindful of the heat! Bring a good sunscreen to protect their skin, drink lots of water, and replenish electrolytes to keep everyone (especially the kids) hydrated!
Bring lots of snacks! Simple snacks they can eat in their pack and also pack a lunch if you’ll be out for awhile. My kids are just like me and if they are hungry they get cranky! 🙂
Expect for the unexpected. Just like at home some days are great and some days are hard. Learning to let go of expectations has been huge for us. Some hikes have been great and we’ve gone far and some hikes we didn’t make it too far from the parking lot and that’s ok! Adjust your plans and go with the flow!
Enjoy the adventure and have fun! Making these memories with our kids has been so fun and so special. Even though they may not remember these moments outdoors when they are so little we always will. They won’t be this little for long, so we are making the most out of this season of life.