Become a parent and you will began to celebrate each miraculous moment: the first smile, first word, first step. For those of us who love the outdoors, another huge milestone his the first hike.
There’s no one right answer as to when, though I would urge that you get out there “as early as possible.” We had our first proper hike when Noah was 4 months old, and we all had great time.
So, here are some tips when hiking with children:
Keep Them Dry, Warm and Fed
If your child’s most basic needs are not met, you and him will have a terrible time! When children are warm dry and full, children possess explorer superpowers.
Keep Them Hydrated
Make sure you get a drinking bottle appropriate for your child’s age. Even though it is cold and you do not sweat as much, walking in the snow uses up at least twice as many calories as walking on dirt trails and sidewalks. Keep asking your child to drink!
The Right Child Carrier
The child carrier also varies with the age. We hiked with Noah on a front sling until we was 6 months, but by the time we went to Japan Noah graduated to his Kathmandu Child carrier backpack.
Having the backpack enables us to carry Noah when he is tired and pack all his stuff at the same time.
Make sure you get your child used to a new child carrier before hitting the trail. With Noah, the walking mention makes him sleep so, if it’s a short hike I will time it with his nap time.
Ease Into Things
With our fist hike in the snow I eased into it before the big hikes: we started small and see how we coped with the weather – which has proven to be no worries for him: hail, rain or shine, little man is happy to come along!
The distance an average adult can cover in an hour is about 3 km. With children an half a day hike is an entire day. It is a fact: Everything takes twice as long when you are doing it with children.
Remember: Children will need to take more steps than you to cover that same distance. And the terrain is undeniably different, whereas dirt and pavement will resist stomping feet, snow will either let them slip or sink.
Each step will require more energy to regain balance or dislodge that foot from the snow, only to take the next step to slip or sink again.
Cover or not to Cover
We usually put the sun protection cover and also the rain cover if needed. However, while hiking under snowfall we found that the cover (rain cover) would fog up and Noah would get upset because he couldn’t see that well.
Under snowfall (heavy) Noah was happy to have his binnie on and also his ski jacket hod on.. And it worked fine!
Pack Up Extra
I’m terrible at this! I remember the first time ever I flew with Noah – he was 3 weeks old and we were going to spend a weekend down in Sydney. And there I was in the plane with a daypack with a jumper for me and another for noah, pyjamas and a couple of shirts.. I learnt quickly that travel with a baby required a bit more packing and always extra pair of pants!
Hiking under snow fall might mean that your child will get wet so please make sure you have spares with you: binnie, gloves, socks and all the rest!
With Noah as a toddler, we have now entered the half carry/half hike years, so adaptability is key. Toddlers want to toddle, so plan on lots of breaks to let them explore small areas in great detail.
Noah has his own hiking shows and boots. And we always bring both with us! Keep feet dry is important!