Many people are afraid to take their precious little ones out on their first hike. Those who embrace this adventure have concerns of safety, whereabouts, and what if’s. Which leads to one question, “What Should I Take?” Hiking with a Baby is truly an amazing experience. Babies are naturally inquisitive, and by taking them outside, they not only connect with the world they help you reconnect with it as well. I have walked hundreds of times on a particular trail and have never once noticed a unique design of a laurel leaf on a branch. But, a baby will look at that leaf with a newness and amazement that only a baby can. The sound of a bird’s chirp that you no longer pay attention to, but is so crisp a sound for a baby to hear.
It is a wonderful experience and adventure to hike with your baby. But, there are a few things to keep in mind when you take your little one out into the woods. First off, is safety. You are the lifeblood to your baby, and you must not only keep them safe but you as well.
When it comes to safety, what we take depends on the season. We want the highest amount of protection for our baby, but also us. Make sure you and your baby dress for the season. Too many clothes, to hot. Not enough, freezing. Check the weather and elevation of the trail before you leave. Also, know what side of the trail the sun will be rising and be seating. You don’t want to have a cold morning and a cold evening hike when you could have started on the other end of the trail and had a nice warm hike the complete day.
Hiking in nature also puts you in the middle of nature, which is the point. But, you also don’t want your baby or yourself being a smorgasbord for all the woodland insects. So, bug spray and tick repellant is a must. We also take baby wipes with us to clean our baby’s hands once we apply any bug or insect repellant. That is something we don’t want anywhere near their mouth. Check your baby regularly for any trace of insects or insect activity. After hiking, check your clothing, hiking gear, yourself, and your baby thoroughly for any bugs that can cause harm to you or your baby that are indigenous to that particular region.
During a day hike and under the canopy of the trees you may have a false sense of UV protection. There have been days we have been protected by the trees, from the sun, but still came out with a sunburn. So, make sure to apply sunscreen to not only your baby but yourself as well.
With your baby’s curiosity and also just accidents, always carry a small hiking first aid kit for you and your child. Something that you can easily flush eyes, clean cuts, wash hands, and bandage a cut when needed. If you or your baby has severe allergic reactions to anything, make sure to bring your EpiPen. We always have baby, children, and adult pain and allergy medicine in ours. They are light weight and there if needed.
At the beginning of Spring, a lot more animal activity is occurring in the woods. Bears are coming out with their newborn cubs and snakes are coming out from under the rocks to find food, breed, and get warm. These two animals put the fear into many people. Most of the time they will hear you and be long gone before you ever see them. But for another layer of protection, we have a pair of Bear Balls in our backpack. They are nothing more than a ball with a jingle bell in it. The purpose of it is to once again, allow the bears to hear you and run before you ever see them. Snakes, on the other hand, could care less about Bear Balls. The best protection is to be on the lookout for them and to be aware of your surroundings. Also, we use our hiking poles to flip them off the trails when the situation occurs. If you don’t have hiking poles, grab a stick and keep it with you.
With a baby on your back or front, traction is a crucial safety feature as well. A good pair of hiking boots or shoes is a must. Something that will keep you from slipping off a rock or a side of a mountain. Also, a good pair of hiking poles or sticks is great. Not only for snake flipping but for helping you keep your balance as you hike.
Plan for an extra few hours, every trip, and in the dark. You may think you are going for a nice 2 to 3-hour hike in the afternoon. After site seeing, resting, some photos, a small snack, and a few side excursions, you now realize you are 5 miles into the woods, on the wrong trail, and it is already getting dark. We always bring thermal blankets, headlamps, protein bars, a life straw, and an extra bottle of water. They are all small and lightweight and can be a lifesaver in an emergency.
Trail Distance “Day Hike” and Maps
Know where you are hiking, bring a physical map, GPS is great when you have power. But, you will love the map if your equipment runs out of juice. Review the area with good topographical “topo” maps, or the park’s hiking trail maps before you go. It is always fun to break off of the heavy-footed trail, but know your area. No one wants to be stuck out in the woods with no food, water, shelter, or light while trying to keep their baby safe. For safety and emergencies is why we always carry a thermal blanket, headlamps, protein bars, a life straw, and an extra bottle of water in our emergency kit. Mark out your path on a map before you head onto the trail and make sure you head out early enough to have plenty of daylight for your trip. If it is an overnight trail, make sure you have enough daylight to set up camp.
To get started hiking with your baby. Start small with a few Day Hikes. Pick a well-marked, short, easy to moderate trail, to let you and your baby get used to hiking and how it feels for both of you.
We love being comfortable and outdoors. A good pair of hiking boots, some hiking poles, and a backpack on our back is how we enjoy life.
The most comfortable position for us is the baby on back. Either with a backpack, backpack baby carrier or a single baby carrier is the most comfortable for us. Just make sure when you are going through low brush or under rocks, you watch their little head.
What Should I Take?
*Links in the document is the equipment we purchased and use. We will update the links as items become available on Amazon.
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