Hey smart moms!
Today I was feeling incredibly antsy (walking back and forth, standing in rooms staring aimlessly while my mind wandered), so I went out and hit the dirt trail.
Hiking has always been a favorite activity of mine. Getting out in the red tinged dirt and hiking along red mesas that contrast sharply with the blue sky…it really makes me appreciate being alive.
We have so little time to waste.
Usually I really enjoy company on my hikes, especially that of loved ones. And even though today I was solo, I thought about how much fun hiking is with kids.
They have a special way of looking at the world that reminds you to stay present and in awe of mother nature.
That made me think about writing this article up for any of you out there that want to get out with your little ones more often but maybe don’t know where to start. (Now for some of you, hiking is so not your scene. No problem! I still think this post has some good ideas for any day trips to the park or family reunion).
I was thinking of how monkeys and apes carry their offspring around all while swinging from trees and swimming. Obviously our babies don’t have the amazing grip baby monkeys do, but I think it’s important to remember that we’ve been doing this for a long time. Even way before all our modern conveniences with baby slings, sun screen, and bug spray.
You can do this!
You should know your routes when you’re first starting out. And I wouldn’t go more than 5 miles away from your car the first few times as you start figuring out your body, how well your kid handles the adventure, and as you test your own strength.
Wearing your sling/backpack/baby-carrier around before you take it out for a longer hike can help break in the equipment and your body. Better to break in stuff before you wear it out for long. This will also help you build up those muscles and get them used to that equipment and motion.
Read up on your hikes and ask park officials such as Rangers as to what to watch out for, what the best hikes are with babies, and if certain hikes are dependent on good weather (it’s smart to make sure the area you are in is not prone to flash floods).
Speaking of weather, it’s probably a good idea to check the weather. Make sure it’s going to be ideal for you and Junior, and that you’re not going to run into any surprise showers. (3)
Take the right equipment.
Good hiking shoes are a must (I love my waterproof boots and sweat-wicking socks from REI. They keep me dry and comfy).
Always take small jackets (preferably something that is water proof in case it rains) because you don’t know what the weather will do all the time.
Junior’s clothing is important. Protect your baby from exposure whether it’s from the sun or the cold. Dress them accordingly and shield them. They’re depending on you to take care of them and know what’s best for them out there.
I think (and many others do as well) that it’s a good idea to use cloth diapers. I know a lot of people use the AIO diapers and reuse the liners if they’re just peed in. Just remember you’re going to have to either clean or carry what Junior does. So bring an airtight bag to put the dirty stuff in. Regular diapers tend to get heavy as they absorb everything plus they’re not that great for the environment. (4)
As far as carrying Junior…you have quite a few options.
On shorter, straightforward hikes I liked baby slings. It’s intimate, fun, and you can keep an eye on Junior (which is a good idea if you’re hiking alone with them).
On longer hikes (and when they’re able to sit up on their own pretty well) I really enjoy my child carrier backpack. I got mine from REI but just gets what works for you and makes you happy. The only down-side is that it’s harder to keep an eye on them. It’s all good as long as I keep Junior interacting with me and I can hear them, or if my partner is there to help keep an eye on them.
I also like the canvas top that shelters Junior from the sun and the net mesh that can keep bugs out.
It’s not necessary, but it helps.
(Note: there are some baby carriers that have the child on the front which may be a better option for some).
Again there are a lot of different options out there, and you’ve just got to find the best option for your team.
Ultimately…remember the important things. Let those take up most your weight. Keep things light. And get/take good equipment. You’ll have a lot more fun.
Packing Up (Food, Water, and Junior)
You’ll want to plan how you’re packing formula, water, food, as well as Junior (for Junior, see baby slings and baby carrier thoughts above).
One easy way to carry formula is by using a bottle with a disposable liner. You’ll want to fill the number of liners you need with dry formula and add purified water as you go. (1)
If you’re breastfeeding, remember to stay hydrated! It will help out the process and you will also tend to be much thirstier anyways. I personally enjoy backpacks that have the bladders in them so that you can easily move the mouth piece and drink without situating or moving baby.
Plan on bringing more water than you need. (2) Of course that’s all going to depend on the weather, how far you’re going, etc. But I can’t stress enough…water is important. Don’t way until your thirsty to drink. And drink small amounts consistently throughout the hike.
Make sure Jr. is going to have enough liquids as well.
Food is easier on these smaller hikes. Bring a sandwich and some granola/protein bars. I always bring bananas, apples, and carrots as they’re easy to snack on as I go. Depending on Junior’s age, you can bring along cereal or an easy snack to get them satisfied.
And don’t forget first aid!
Adding baby Benadryl, tiny Band-Aids, and antibiotic ointment that’s good for your kiddo is important. Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray (as long as Junior is 6 mos. and older). (1) I usually try to go the more natural route when it comes to these last couple things. It gives me some peace of mind when covering Junior in it. I usually use Burt’s Bees brand, but again, find what works for you and do it.
You’ve thought everything out, you’ve taken everything your kiddo needs to have fun and be safe. The outdoors is an amazing way to connect and bond with your children. You’ll be creating amazing memories together as well as getting fresh air and sunlight.
Remember to laugh and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Other interesting sources/resources:
Street Smart Favorites
There are a lot of baby carriers out there for hiking, if you aren’t careful you might find yourself spending $200 + after seeing my friends go through this, and never being happy I found a baby carrier that worked great for me and it was under $50. Check it out here.