The Complete Guide to Hiking With Toddlers
Hiking can be an exhilarating and challenging experience at the same time. It requires dedication, resilience, and a general fun and adventure spirit to help everyone keep up with the momentum. However, introducing toddler in the picture raises endless questions because they can be a slight hindrance to your goals especially if you kicked off the hiking without proper planning. In addition, the age of the toddlers plays an important role in how you will plan for the hiking.
Well, you might be wondering why anyone would go through all the extra effort just to go on a hiking trip with his/her child. While leaving your kid with the nanny would be a good option, a hiking experience will strengthen the bond between you and your child and relax the both of you physically and emotionally as well.
Preparing for the Hiking
Introducing a toddler in the picture wouldn’t make your hiking plans any different. You only need to remember to include the child’s basics so that you won’t have to share things such as your water. For one, you should know that kids generally tire quickly. As such, you ought to choose a path that is family-friendly and one which you are totally familiar with. In addition to picking the right trail, you also need to watch out for the weather. It can be quite a hassle to be rained on while hiking with your son/daughter. Early mornings can be great when you have toddlers around as the sun won’t be a nuisance to the both of you.
Preparations If You Have an Infant (0-1 Year)
You’ll want to include a good baby carrier that is comfortable for both you and the baby. Depending on how much time you intend to spend hiking, you might generally need very few things for the baby if you want a short hike since chances are that he/she will be sleeping.
Preparations If You Have a Toddler (1-3 Years)
Toddlers are generally curious and would want to experience everything the hiking trip has to offer. You should have at least 2 extra clothes depending on the weather and pack the right shoes or boots for him/her. It would be cute to also include a tiny backpack for him/her just to instill that sense of involvement.
Preparations If You Have a Kid (5-12 Years)
These ones are bound to be all over the place. It would be a great idea to have at least two kids in this age bracket as they can share and relate with a lot of the experiences that come their way. The hike doesn’t need to be long but giving them that sense of responsibility like allowing them to pack their own bags will give you a lot of peace during the actual hiking.
1. Pack Lots of Snacks
Toddlers easily get hungry despite having eaten back at home. You would thus be much safer if you remember to include snacks in your backpack and theirs as well. Having a wide variety will ensure that they always have options and won’t refrain from eating just because they don’t fancy one snack.
2. Don’t Forget Sun Protection
If you chose to hike on a sunny day, don’t be fooled by the shade that the trees will offer you while hiking. It is still important that you carry sun screen because the weather could change. Chances are you might not use it, but it would still be great to have it in case you do need to use it.
3. Give Them Responsibility
Don’t be too uptight. Let them walk and experience nature just like you. Doing this gives them a sense of responsibility and shows them that you trust them enough to let them hike on their own, but under your supervision.
4. Occasionally Take Breaks
You might not be jogging or running, but despite walking slowly, toddlers grow tired very fast. During these breaks, it would be wise to offer them water to drink and ask if they want to have any snack of their choice.
5. Hand Them Nature
This is especially important for infants. Since you will most probably have them tied on either your back or on your chest the entire time, pick a few flowers or leaves and hand it to them. Infants learn a lot about the world thanks to their sense of smell and taste. Just keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t put everything in their mouths.
6. Pack a First-aid Kit
Of course, you shouldn’t be banking on anything bad happening during the hiking trip, but it would be wise to have a small first-aid kit just in case anything pops up. It really doesn’t need to have everything. The essentials such as adhesive bandages and antiseptic towels will do just fine.
7. Engage Their Curiosity
While you may know a lot of things about the world, they’re only getting to learn about the world at that moment. It would therefore be a good idea to occasionally invoke them and ask them interesting questions about what they see around them. Hand them kid-sized binoculars, a journal, a magnifying glass, and even a tiny container where they would store any cool things they find.
8. Remember to Keep It Fun
Let yourself go and make them feel the hiking vibe. Hiking is all about appreciating nature and generally relaxing. Ensure that they collect happy and relaxing memories from the hiking by engaging them and letting them feel free. Once the hiking is over, reward them for a good job.
While hiking with toddlers can be a bit scary for first timers, it is very easy to turn things around and make it a fun experience. You can generally start by setting small goals such as choosing a path that is short and family-friendly. In addition, you are more likely to enjoy the hiking experience if you make the toddlers feel responsible throughout the hiking. Doing so will boost their egos and make them look forward to the next one.
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