6 Tips for Hiking with Babies and Toddlers

Posted by Amanda Shapin Michelson on

Let's get out there!

Posted at 10:00 • 30 June, 2021

When you have a baby, there are a lot of things people might say you aren’t going to be able to enjoy anymore. Some might claim you can never travel again because it’s logistically challenging with kids. Others might insist that you can say goodbye to date nights because who has the energy? While things certainly look different after having kids, we here at Rafi Nova know that these adventures may not look the same, but they are all still very possible (and dare we say it, enjoyable!) with kids. Hiking is one of those activities that is a very different experience with kids, but absolutely one worth having.

Hiking is an amazing way to be active, to be out in nature, and is a way to enjoy fresh air and epic scenery. Plus, it’s an opportunity to bond and to challenge yourself. If you were an avid hiker before kids and want to keep up with your hobby, or you’re new to hiking, we’re here to tell you that it’s a great family-friendly activity.

However, it does take extra planning, a lot of extra patience, and it may cost a little extra money to ensure you have the right gear. Once you’re properly prepared, hiking as a family is a great weekend activity near home, or a fun element to add to your next trip.

If you’re new to hiking with a baby or toddler, here’s what you need to know and do to make it an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

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What you need for success

Get the right gear

You don’t need us to tell you that babies are expensive, and unfortunately this is yet another element of life with littles that may require a bit of extra spending. For your tiniest hiking companions, you’ll want a quality baby carrier that has good back support for the parent. For the early months (ages 0-6 months), we like the Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier All-In-One and once your baby has good neck control (usually around 6 months) you can graduate to a hiking backpack like the Opsrey Poco Child Carrier Pack. 

For older kids that will be doing their own hiking, make sure they have sturdy and comfortable shoes, high quality socks, and they are dressed in breathable layers. Sun safety is also important, so be sure to pack hats and sunscreen.

Consider the elements

You should think about the weather whether you’re hiking with or without kids, but especially when with kids. While you might be willing to trek through the rain, your kids might not be quite as keen. If it’s not looking like optimal weather, don’t be afraid to plan for another day. Consider if it’s going to be rainy, too cold, too hot, or any other extreme weather situation. While we want to teach our kids to be adaptable and resilient, sometimes it’s not worth the risk with potentially bad weather situations.

Start small

When introducing hiking to babies or toddlers, you’re going to want to start small with very short hikes. While you may be in the mood for a 10-miler, you have to remember this is all new to your little ones, whether they are being worn on your back or holding your hand. Even getting used to the hiking backpack will take time. Start with a one mile hike and ensure your baby or toddler is comfortable before moving on to longer and more ambitious adventures.

Pack a first aid kit

Safety is of utmost importance when heading out on adventures, so make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit that comes with you on the hike (not that you leave in the car!). Make sure you have bandages of various sizes, antibiotic ointment, pain medication, blister bandages, gauze, sunscreen, and anything else that you might need in an emergency situation. If you ever end up using items in the kit, make sure you restock it before heading out on your next adventure. The best way to ensure you have what you need is to restock the kit as soon as you get home from a hike to replace what was used. A great place to start is with the Rafi Nova Oh Sh*t Kit.

Stock up on snacks and drinks

If you have a toddler you probably already know that many of them love snacks and they can be used as a distraction or bribe when necessary. Aside from the love of snacks, food is fuel when out on adventures and hydration is super important as well. Always pack more snacks and drinks than you think you or your kids will need. Keep snacks super handy by storing them in the Around the World Belt Bag.

Know when to turn back

If you’ve ever been on a hike and debated whether you should go one more mile further or turn back, you know as an adult that sometimes you end up pushing yourself just a tiny bit further than maybe you should have. And oftentimes that’s OK for grown ups. Maybe you’re really tired or sore the next day, but chances are you kept your spirits high enough and enjoyed the experience. We can’t say the same thing goes for kids. If you ever aren’t sure whether to push a little further or to turn back, in most cases we’d recommend turning back. You want to keep the hiking experience as a positive one for kids and you need to know and understand their limits. You don’t want to push it too far and sour the whole experience with a meltdown. And always remember that if your toddler gets tired and you don’t have a hiking backpack, you may end up carrying them on the way back.

While hiking with little ones is likely to be slower and tamer than what you might be used to, it’s worth it when you get to adventure with your entire family.

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