Written by Gina Hackbarth
Taking your littles hiking is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy fresh air, and get your babe(s) into nature. As a mom, I LOVE hiking. I take my girls out once a week (sometimes twice...it's hard not to go every day!) for a 2-3 hour hike. One of the reasons we love living in Lakeland is that we're close to many virtually untouched nature parks. Since hiking with an infant and toddler is a little more challenging, here are some tips to make hiking with munchkins easier:
1. Hike when the infant is napping and/or bring a carrier
My daughter naps in the morning after breakfast, so we skip breakfast at home and pack into the car to drive while she's awake and happy (she usually falls asleep on the ride), and I wear her in a carrier while we hike. She naps, then wakes up to eat (I nurse her in our carrier while we walk), and then she naps again while we hike. It's almost like she's not even there, which can make hiking with a baby and a toddler a little easier.
2. Pack the same snacks each time to keep prep simple
I always bring the following: whole wheat crackers, cheese slices, nitrate-free lunch meat, fruit, applesauce pouches, hard boiled eggs, and a piece of chocolate. This works for our breakfast and lunch. I pack everything in the cooler the night before and just grab & go in the morning. I'm all about making it as easy as possible to get out the door in the morning, because it gets so hot later in the day I don't want to waste time packing food in the morning.
3. Bring a jogging stroller
Jogging strollers are made for outdoor terrain and can be much easier to push than regular strollers. BOB is our go-to of choice (and guess what?! Select BOB products are on sale until the 30th! Click here for the sale!) Even if your little one(s) decide to walk most of the trail, it's great to have when they get tired, hungry, or just want to take a break. Plus, having the stroller on-hand makes it easier to carry/pack snacks, a diaper bag, and water bottles so you don't have to carry everything.
4. Bring pictures of some of the birds/animals you might see and point them out to your toddler
Toddlers may get bored, sweaty, and tired quickly while hiking, so making a game out of spotting animals can keep them busy and happy. Try pointing out all the animals you see and talk about their species, where they live, what they eat, etc...
5. Take a break and sit down for a good 10-15 mins
Are you hiking to a lake or another pretty scenic stop to pause? Taking a break is perfect when you arrive at your destination, or for a lunch break. Taking even 10-15 minutes here and there can give your little(s) the energy and reset they need to get through the rest of the hike (and who isn't in a better mood after a snack break?!)
6. Carry insect repellent or bear spray
There are many great bug sprays out there whether you're a "crunchy mama" into essential oils or not. Try to shop for natural options when possible, but be sure to talk to your doctor and pediatrician when trying to decide on the best fit for you and your family! If you're hiking in bear country, always remember to talk to local rangers and see what you should be carrying on your belt, like bear spray. Did you know carrying "bear bells" is no longer advised? They have recently been renamed "bear bait." Eek! Talking to your local park rangers is always a good idea to stay in the know!
What are your hiking essentials? Do you have any tips on hiking with infants and toddlers?