With summer in full swing, and fall just around the corner, my husband and I are itching to take the kids out on a hike. Hiking is a great way to help teach toddlers about the beauty of nature, while getting in an adult workout! There are quite a few things that we take into consideration when hiking with little ones that we wouldn’t normally. But with a little extra planning and packing, we can ensure a fun and safe hiking trip for both children and adults.
This post was written in collaboration with Earth Mama Angel Baby. I received some of their products at no cost to help facilitate my post, however all opinions remain my own. For more information, see my full disclosure policy.
Choose Your Trail Carefully
There are a few extra considerations I take into account when bringing my kids on a hike. Difficulty, length and beauty. Although my toddler loves exploring and hiking, I know his limits. At about an hour to an hour and a half mark, my toddler is typically done. He’s ready to eat, or swim, or nap, or go home. Sometimes we can get away with putting him in a carrier for a little while longer, sometimes not. For this reason, I choose hikes that are both easy for little legs and are fairly short (or are easy to turn back). Since my toddler loves the water, I also tend to choose trails that are near bodies of water so we can swim or explore at the end of our hike.
Hike It Baby is a great resource for finding childl friendly trails (and even for meeting up with other hikinh families!). You can also search for local babywearing hiking groups on facebook as well.
It’s easy as an adult to speed through a trail, especially if there is something interesting at the end of a hike (lakes, rivers, mountain views). Children, especially toddlers however, are often more interested in the journey rather than the destination. Slow down – not just your pace, but completely… slow down. Watch the caterpilla slowly inching its way along the trail, stop and smell the wildflowers growing in the field, throw some rocks, collect leaves. Let your toddler take the lead. No matter if you end up finishing a trail or barely make it five steps from the car, remember, for your toddler its all about the journey.
Pack Lightly… but for Everything
Packing for hiking can be difficult; it’s a balancing act between bringing everything you need without creating an overly heavy backpack. Add into the equation a baby or toddler (who already needs a whole bag to themselves) and it can quickly tip you into an overly heavy backpack.
Depending on the length of our hike, will depend on how much we pack. We usually only plan a 1-2 hour hike (not including drive time) since anymore and our kids seem to get a little overloaded. Since we typically don’t go very far, we are able to leave a lot in the car. I’ll
- 1 Extra Outfit Per Child (leave additional outfits in the car)
- Diapers & Wipes
- 2 Small Wetbags – One for Clothes, one for trash
- Handsanitizer – Bring an alcohol free one for use with children
- Extra Socks for everyone
- Water – Remember, the weight that water adds will get lighter the longer you are out
- Food – Snacks, and if staying long lunch
- Watershoes & Swimsuit if hiking near a swimable area
- Babycarrier – The baby is always worn, but we bring one for our toddler to in case he gets tired of walking (which is often). Wraps or soft structured carriers are great for short hikes, but for longer hikes or heavier children, you may want to consider a special hiking carrier.
First Aid Bag
In addition to the above, I also make sure to pack a small first aid bag.
- Bandages & Gauze – Toddlers are notoriously clumsy. Even in pants my little guy still manages to end up with some kind of scrape so defnitly a must have. Also great for those blisters I always seem to get on the back of my foot.
- Earth Mama Morning Wellness Spray – This one actually stays in our car, but I always make sure it’s with us. This spray is great at battling any tummy queasies. We’ll spray it in the car to help combat car sickness (not a good way to start a day!). It’s safe for children of ages including babies and toddlers.
- Earth Mama New Mama Bottom Spray – I used this extensively after giving birth to both my children, and the generous size of botttle still left quite a bit left over. Luckily, it’s great for all sort of skin problems including bug bites, sunburns and scrapes. I also love spraying it on the back of my neck for a quick cooldown while out in the sun.
- C-Mama Healing Salve – Great for burns, scars and rashes, I like keeping this with us to help treat any scrapes, bumps, or blisters we may get, including the aforementioned feet blisters.
- Angel Baby Bottom Balm – This is hands down our favorite diaper rash balm, but it’s great for other skin problems too. I take it with us while were hiking not only for the kids diaper rash, but for any other skin ailments that may occur. I tend to be prone to heat rash, especially between my thighs, and this works wonders for easing the sting.
Earth Mama Angel Baby products can be found on their website, Earth Mama, on Amazon, or in health food stores and baby stores.
Hiking with toddlers can be a fun experience for toddlers and babies, but can also be stressful. Packing correctly, knowing your toddlers limits and carefully picking your hiking trail is vital to ensuring a pleasant trip.
Got any hiking tips of your own? Let me know below.
Joie Gahum says
I think Its better not to bring my toddler to hiking. but ill keep these things in mind if ever. Thank you for the post! Great one!
Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama says
Great tips here! We go hiking regularly as a family, including my 2 year old and 4 year old. I find packing a big variety of snacks helps everyone. And sometimes my girls love to bring a magnifying glass, bucket or pinchers to collect natural goodies along the way!
A Traveler Shop says
I experienced bringing my 3 year old son on a hike. I love how he appreciate nature and never get bored during our hiking. I believe hiking is a great experience for a child while growing up.