Hiking With A Baby…

IMG_1392.jpgHiking 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.

Safety

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.

Helpful Advice

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.

Check List of Gear We Pack

Hiking Checklist Please Work


 

 

Come Hike With Us – Babcock State Park

So it’s the middle of winter, there’s about 4 inches of snow on the ground, I’m sitting here in my sweats with my house shoes on and I’m still freezing.  I’m dreaming about Spring, the sunshine on my face and the way it feels as it warms my hair, birds chirping, flowers blooming…  Can you feel it?  I can!  And I can’t freaking wait.  Seriously, aside from Chris, I feel like the sun is my best friend.  So, in honor of our best friend, Chris and I have decided to host our first annual Spring Hiking Challenge!

For our first event we have set the bar fairly high, but don’t let that intimidate you…  You can do this!  We are planning a 10 mile hike around the breathtaking Babcock State Park, two different 5 mile loops with a lunch break in between.  We would love for you to join us on the whole trek or even just one of the loops!  If you decide to come along there are a few things you might find helpful…  A light backpack of any kind will work great for carrying everything!

5 Mile

5 miles seems like a really long way but you’ll be through it before you know it!  You get distracted admiring the scenery, talking with friends, and having a good time that the miles just blow by!

  • Comfortable shoes/boots (spring is just beginning so the ground is thawing and muddy!)
  • Comfortable clothing (dress in layers)
  • Lunch (to eat after or before our hike depending on what loop you choose)
  • A large bottle of water
  • Snacks
  • Light jacket (depending on weather)
  • Sunscreen/bug repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • A small first aid kit
  • A light rain poncho, just incase
  • A headlamp for the 2nd loop, just in case.

10 Mile

10 miles is a bit more of a challenge but with a lunch break in the middle will give us a great chance to rest up and refuel.

  • Everything included for the 5 mile
  • Two large bottles of water
  • Extra snacks
  • A headlamp, just incase

Hiking With Baby/Young Children

We would be thrilled to have you bring your little one along with you on our hike, it’s kind of the whole point of what we are doing here.  We want to inspire people to take their kiddos and get outside!  Bringing your little one along does require just a bit more gear and a bit more planning but we believe it is one of the best gifts you can give them.

  • A comfortable baby carrier – you can find a review of our favorite here: Baby K’tan Also, an Infanto from Wal-Mart or Target work really well.  We also highly recommend: Infantino Cuddle Up (Review Coming Soon).
  • Diapers (if applicable)
  • A thin blanket for diapering in the woods
  • Snacks for baby
  • Bottles/formula for baby (if applicable)
  • Comfortable clothes for baby (again layers are best, you can add or remove as needed)

So that’s pretty much it!  Don’t let this list intimidate you, it’s really just a set of guidelines to keep you and your little one comfortable.  The most important thing is getting out there and living your best, happiest life with your family.  If you would like to join us be sure to head over to our event page and let us know you’re coming!  There you’ll find the time info as well as directions to the park.

Adventure Begins…

One of the things that I love the most about Chris is the fact that he shares my passion for getting outdoors and being active. That has been one of the foundation blocks that we have built our relationship on. I would say that it is one of a few things that has truly helped us bond and grow our relationship, exploring the world together brings all kinds of new excitement. I had two older children from a previous relationship and they loved trekking over mountains with us! We had our little hiking family of four and life was great!
When we first found out that we would be welcoming a new sweet, precious little baby into the world we wondered how we would continue our love for exploring and being outdoors. We were told to “enjoy it while we can” because most people have the mentality that once you have children you’ve got to spend most of your time indoors. Our family and friends often reminded us that we wouldn’t be doing much exploring once we had our little Leo.
We often dreamt about what life would be like once he was old enough to explore the world with us, all the things we could show him. Would he share our love of the outdoors? What would he think of the view from the Endless Wall? How long would it be until we could take him on our favorite trails? One day we were talking and someone, I can’t remember which one of us, said “Well, why can’t we just take him with us now?” and that was what I like to call our “Ah-ha” moment.
Why couldn’t we buy one of those cool baby carriers where you can strap them onto your body? Well duh! We can! So, we began the search. Which carrier is the best? Easiest? Most comfortable? Affordable? Highest rated? And on, and on, and on. Finally, after all of our research, we made our purchase. The Baby K’tan! Chris gave it to me as a Christmas present when Leo was just 6 days old. It is AMAZING. Seriously, all around THE best carrier you will ever use. Comfortable for mama, comfortable for baby, so easy to get on, affordable, you can use it with many different sized babies. I used it from the day I got it when he weighed 8 lbs until about a week ago when we were hiking and he’s now 28 pounds. We’ve tried quite a few different carriers in our 13 months and this is still my absolute favorite. Whoops, got distracted there.
Anyway, that was pretty much the end of our concern. We strapped him on and took him all over the place! Our first trip was when he was 3 weeks old on a short, local trail. By going somewhere close to home we didn’t need to take anything with us, just the carrier and the baby. You also don’t have to go “hiking”, you can take a walk down the street and just get some fresh air. I can’t tell you how therapeutic the fresh air is when you’re a new mother. Get dressed, strap on that baby, and get outside. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed just 15 minutes out in the open can make you feel.
Once we decided to embrace having a little one strapped to us, as we explored, it opened up a whole new type of adventure to us. The adventure of showing our children the world! Rather than using our baby as an excuse to sit around and be lazy, we started using him as a reason to go! We are showing him the world, right from the beginning. He is now over a year old and he loves hiking, he has been all over the state of WV and has been to 14 other states!
Introduce your children to the world, embrace having a family and don’t let that slow you down. Let it be your guiding reason to explore every inch of this world that you possibly can. Get out there and create your own adventure. We cannot wait to see where your baby’s life takes you!