Hiking With A Baby is truly an amazing experience. Babies are naturally inquisitive and by taking them outside they not only connect with the world they help you reconnect with it as well. I have walked hundreds of times on a specific trail and have never once noticed a unique design of a laurel leaf on a branch. But, a baby will look at that leaf with a newness and amazement that only a baby can. The sound of a bird’s chirp that you no longer pay attention to, but is so crisp a sound for a baby to hear.
It is a wonderful experience and adventure to hike with your baby. But, there are a few things to keep in mind when you take your little one out into the woods. First off, is safety. You are the life blood to your baby and you must not only keep them safe, but you as well.
When it comes to safety, what we take depends on the season. We want the highest amount of safety for our baby, but also us. Make sure you and your baby are dressed for the season. Too much clothes, to hot. Not enough, freezing. Check the weather and elevation of the trail before you leave. Also, know what side of the trail the sun will be rising and seating on. You don’t want to have a cold morning to a cold evening hike when you could have started on the other end of the trail and had a nice warm hike the complete day.
Hiking in nature also puts you in the middle of nature, which is the point. But, you also don’t want your baby or yourself being a smorgasbord for all the woodland insects. So, bug spray and tick repellant is a must. We also take baby wipes with us to clean our baby’s hands once we apply any type bug or insect repellant. That is something we don’t want anywhere near their mouth.
During a day hike and under the canopy of the trees you may have a false since of UV protection. There have been days we have been protected by the trees, from the sun, but still came out with a sun burn. So, make sure to apply sun screen to not only your baby, but yourself as well.
With your baby’s curiosity and also just accidents, always carry a small hiking first aid kit for you and your baby. Something that you can easily flush eyes, clean cuts, wash hands, and bandage a cut when needed. If your baby or you have severe allergic reactions to anything, make sure to bring your epipen. We always have baby, children, and adult pain and allergy medicine in ours. They are light weight and there if needed.
In the beginning of Spring a lot more animal activity is occurring in the woods. Bears are coming out with their new born cubs and snakes are coming out from under the rocks to find food, breed, and get warm. These two animals put the fear into many people. Most of the time they will hear you and be long gone before you ever see them. But for another layer of protection we have a pair of Bear Balls on our back pack. They are nothing more than a ball with a jingle bell in it. The purpose of it, is to once again, allow the bears to hear you and run before you ever see them. The snakes on the other hand could care less about Bear Balls. The best protection is to be on the lookout for them and to be aware of your surroundings. Also, we use our hiking poles to flip them off the trails when the situation occurs. If you don’t have hiking poles, grab a stick and keep it with you.
With a baby on your back or front, traction is a very important safety feature as well. A good pair of hiking boots or shoes is a must. Something that will keep you from slipping off a rock or a side of a mountain. Also, a good pair of hiking sticks or poles is great. Not only for snake flipping, but for helping you keep your balance as you hike.
Plan for an extra few hours, every trip, and in the dark. You may think you are going for a nice 2 to 3-hour hike in the afternoon. After site seeing, resting, some photos, a small snack, and a few side excursions, you now realize you are 5 miles into the woods, on the wrong trail, and it is already getting dark. We always bring thermal blankets, headlamps, protein bars, a life straw, and extra bottle of water. They are all small and lightweight and can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
Trail Distance “Day Hike” and Maps
Know where you are hiking, bring a physical map, GPS is great when you have power. But, you will love the map if your equipment runs out of power. Review the area with good topographical “topo” maps, or the park’s hiking trail maps before you go. It is always fun to break off of the heavy-footed trail, but know your area. No one wants to be stuck out in the woods with no food, water, shelter, or light while trying to keep their baby safe. This is also why we always carry a thermal blanket, headlamps, protein bars, a life straw, and extra bottle of water in our emergency kit. Mark out your path on a map before you head onto the trail and make sure you head out early enough to have plenty of daylight for your trip. If it is an overnight trail, make sure you have enough daylight to setup camp.
To get started hiking with your baby. Start small with a few Day Hikes. Pick a well-marked, short, easy to moderate trail, to let you and your baby get used to hiking and how it feels for both of you.
We love being comfortable and outdoors. A good pair of hiking boots, some hiking poles, and a backpack on our back is how we enjoy life.
The most comfortable position for us is baby on back. Either with a backpack, baby carrier or a single baby carrier is the most comfortable for us. Just make sure when you are going through low brush or under rocks, you watch their little head.