When it comes to getting into shape after having a baby, the task can seem insurmountable. One of the best ways to get back into shape post-partum is to take your baby along for the ride. Hiking with your baby not only allows you to get some much-needed exercise, but it also gives your baby the chance to experience the joys and wonders of the natural world. Here’s our guide to hiking with a baby.
Keep it Mellow
When selecting a kid-friendly trail, be sure to keep things mellow. Don’t cover any terrain that requires you to scramble, or use your hands. Avoid intense elevation gain until you’ve had a few hikes with your baby under your belt. Instead, opt to go for distance over gain or technical challenge.
Gear Up! What to Pack for Hiking with a Baby
Before you hit the trail, you’ll want to be prepared with a few extra items. First, you’ll need to decide how to carry your baby. Only use a baby backpack if your baby can support their own head, otherwise, you’ll want more of a wrap set-up, so the baby can stay supported and close. Other items to pack include:
Appropriate sun protection for both you and your kiddo.
Extra diapers and wipes, as well as a waste baggie to put everything in. Remember: Diapers should NEVER be left on the trail.
Plenty of hydration and snacks for you and your kid. Keep in mind that you’ll need more than what you usually take for yourself.
Comfortable footwear that’s suitable for walking on dirt trails.
A GPS (there are many apps on your phone) and a map
Hiking poles if you’re carrying a pack. Baby packs can be heavy and take a toll on your knees. Having hiking poles can greatly reduce stress.
Extra layers for you and your baby in case the weather turns.
A breast pump. Hey, it happens, and being outdoors won’t change that.
Sun’s Out Hands Off
Lots of people use sunscreen on their babies since sun protection is essential. However, don’t rub sunscreen on your baby’s hands. Because babies love to gnaw and chew, most of the sunscreen could end up in their mouths! Make sure your carry system has shade and have your baby wear a hat for shade.
Hydrate. Then Hydrate Some More
Breastfeeding moms need to take special care to hydrate often. Even just a one-hour hike at elevation or during the heat of the day warrants a six to seven-liter intake of water throughout the whole day. That’s a lot of liquid! Hydrate before your hike by drinking a few liters in the morning, then continue to sip water throughout the hike (consider using a water bladder instead of a water bottle). Next, be sure to continue hydrating after you’re done. Proper hydration takes effort and needs to be balanced with proper salt intake, so plan accordingly.
Keep your baby hydrated as well. For mothers that are nursing, don’t forget to bring a bottle or feed on the trail. Your baby may need extra hydration if it’s hot, so come prepared and stop often.
Unless you’re used to backpacking or carrying lots of weight while you hike, you may find that hiking with a baby is difficult, you’re carrying all of this extra gear after all. Remember to take your time and go slow. Enjoy the hike. Let your baby take in their surroundings. The change of pace may be an adjustment, but eventually, you’ll be able to move quicker.
Consider Hiking in the Morning or Evening
No one wants to swelter in the summer heat, including your kiddo. Consider hiking with your baby during the cooler hours of the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day. Rise and shine early and catch a sunrise, or go out during the evening hours and bask in the beautiful evening light.
Ditch the Headphones
Personally, I’ve never understood hiking with headphones, but now that you’re hiking with your baby you’ll want to leave the headphones at home. With headphones in you won’t be able to hear that well and you can’t hear your baby. Instead talk to your baby, at even just a few months old babies love to coo when they are awake.
Now you’re ready to take a hike with your baby. Get fit while spending quality time with your kiddo this summer by going for a hike. Happy trails!