Are you dreaming of hitting the trails with your little bundle of joy in tow, but feeling a tad overwhelmed about where to start? Fear not! Hiking with a baby can be a rewarding experience, bringing a whole new dimension to your outdoor adventures.
But let’s be honest, it does come with its own set of challenges. From choosing the right trail to packing all the essentials, there’s a lot to consider to make your family hiking trip both safe and enjoyable.
In this post, we’re diving into some essential tips for hiking with a baby. Whether you’re seasoned hikers or just starting out, these pointers will help ensure that your outdoor excursion is a success for both you and your tiny trekker.
So, strap on that baby carrier, pack up those snacks, and let’s get ready to explore the great outdoors with your little one by your side! 🌲👶🥾
- 1. Choosing the right hiking trail with a baby
- 2. Best time to go hiking with a baby
- 3. Essential Baby Hiking Gear
- 4. Dressing Your Baby Appropriately
- 5. Practice makes perfect
- 6. Don't hike on your own
- 7. Flexibility is key when hiking with a baby
- 8. Soothing a baby on the trail
- 9. Don't give up after the first hike!
- 10. Capture those memories while hiking with your baby
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Choosing the right hiking trail with a baby
When planning a hiking adventure with your baby, picking the right trail is crucial for ensuring everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Here are some factors to consider and recommendations for baby-friendly trails:
- Trail Difficulty: Look for easy, flat trails with minimal elevation gain. Steep or rocky paths can be challenging with a baby carrier.
- Trail Length: Choose shorter trails that match your baby’s tolerance and your comfort level. A trail that takes an hour or two is ideal for a start.
- Accessibility: Opt for well-maintained trails that are accessible with a stroller if you plan to use one. Wider paths are preferable.
- Shade and Shelter: Trails with natural shade and sheltered spots are great for protecting your baby from the sun and for taking breaks.
- Facilities: Trails with nearby amenities like restrooms and picnic areas are convenient for diaper changes and feedings.
- Scenic Interest: Pick trails that offer beautiful scenery for you and engaging elements for your baby, like streams, birds, or rustling leaves.
- Safety: Ensure the trail is safe and well-marked. Avoid areas with known hazards like steep drops or unstable ground.
Remember, the key is to start with something simple and build up as you and your baby become more comfortable with hiking adventures!
For instance we started with simply walking around our neighborhood with César in his carrier. That went very smooth so next we did a short hiking trip to the Ardennes in Belgium. There’s not a lot of elevation here and we were comfortable with doing hikes up to 10km.
Our most recent adventure was when we went to Tenerife when César was nearly 3 months old. Most of the hikes that we completed in Tenerife were around 4 to 5 hours long (for us with a baby, so including a feeding).
2. Best time to go hiking with a baby
Hiking with a baby requires a bit of extra planning, especially when it comes to choosing the best time to embark on your outdoor adventure. The ideal times of day for baby-friendly hikes are typically early morning or late afternoon.
These times help you avoid the midday sun, which can be harsh for your little one, even with sun protection.
Weather-wise, aim for mild and stable conditions; extreme heat or cold can be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe for babies. Spring and fall usually offer the most agreeable temperatures for baby hikes.
As for avoiding crowds, weekdays are generally less busy than weekends, providing a quieter and more relaxed environment. It’s also wise to check the trail’s popularity and peak hours online or with local hiking communities.
Additionally, be mindful of the season; avoid hiking during extreme weather seasons, like the peak of summer or dead of winter.
💡 TIP – Try to organize yourself so that you can leave for your hike after your baby had its first feeding of the day and preferably had its first poop diaper as well.
💡 TIP – If your baby sleeps well in a carrier you can time your hike so he has his nap while hiking. If your baby only sleeps in his cot then it’s best to start hiking after his nap. The younger your baby, the more he’ll sleep during the day.
3. Essential Baby Hiking Gear
When setting out on a hike with your baby, having the right gear can make all the difference. Here are some essential items to pack for a smooth and safe outdoor adventure:
- Baby Carrier – A sturdy and comfortable baby carrier is a must. Look for one with good support for both the baby and your back, especially for longer hikes. I use the Artipoppe Zeitgeist carrier in linen. It’s definitely one of the more expensive baby carriers out there but has also been one of my favorite purchases for César (and myself 🤣). Make sure both you and your partner are comfortable wearing the baby carrier.
- Weather-Appropriate Clothing – Dress your baby in layers to easily adjust to changing temperatures. Include a hat and mittens for cooler weather, and a sun hat and lightweight, breathable clothes for warmer days. I love the sleep suits and playsuits from Zipster. They’re made from lightweight and breathable bamboo, stretches and helps regulate his temperature.
- Diapers and Wipes – Pack enough diapers for the duration of the hike, along with a portable changing pad and a pack of baby wipes. Bring a ZIP-lock bag with you to store dirty diapers.
- Baby Food – We calculate how many bottles we need to bring with us and always pack one extra. We use a milk powder dispenser and fill up his bottles with the correct amount of water from before.
- Bibs – Make sure to bring a bib with you that your baby can wear during his feeding. We also always have a muslin cloth with us in case of any spit ups.
- Sunscreen – Protect your baby’s skin with baby-friendly sunscreen factor 50. Remember to reapply as needed.
- Emergency Contact Information -Just in case, carry a note with emergency contact information and any important health information about your baby.
- Spare Clothes – Accidents are bound to happen and with a set of spare clothes you’ll be safe if there would be any diaper explosions.
- Trekking Poles – Hiking with a baby can be pretty exhausting on your post partum body. Our first hikes on Tenerife I managed without trekking poles but once more elevation is involved I highly recommend using trekking poles. It also helps a ton with keeping your balance while carrying your baby.
4. Dressing Your Baby Appropriately
Dressing your baby appropriately for a hike is crucial for their comfort and safety.
The key is to dress them in layers, which allows for easy adjustments based on the weather and your baby’s body temperature.
Start with a body as a base layer to keep them dry, add an insulating layer like fleece for warmth, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer for protection against the elements.
In cooler weather, don’t forget a hat and mittens to protect their extremities.
In warmer conditions, opt for light, breathable fabrics and a sun hat to shield them from the sun’s rays.
If your baby is walking, choose sturdy, closed-toe shoes that provide support and protection, especially on uneven terrain.
Always check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changes. By dressing your baby appropriately for the hike’s conditions, you’ll ensure they stay comfortable, protected, and can enjoy the experience alongside you.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like i’ve said before: practice makes perfect. Christof and I already were avid hikers while on holiday so we have a good idea how long it would take us to complete a certain kind of trail.
When César was just born I wanted to take things very easy. Both for me as for him. But I quickly noticed that some daily fresh air works wonders, both for him as for me. So I started by going on short walks around our neighbourhood with him and then went from there.
By the time we went to Tenerife I was very comfortable carrying him inside his baby carrier
Going on a few shorter hikes with your baby before attempting a longer hiking trail is an excellent idea.
6. Don’t hike on your own
When it comes to safely hiking with your baby it’s important to not go at it alone. This isn’t me saying that as a woman you can’t do this alone. Cause hell yes you can. But you never know what might happen. It’s a bit the same as when you go hiking during your pregnancy. You want to be as safe as possible.
You can be the most careful person in the world and still twist your ankle. Not to mention the extra weight you have to carry with you when hiking with a baby.
Have your partner or a friend join you on your hike and help you carry the load. Oh and there’s nothing more fun than creating these memories together as a family.
7. Flexibility is key when hiking with a baby
Ah let’s be fair. This is your baby’s world and we’re just living in it 🤣. All jokes aside, the best thing you can do is set aside any expectations that you have.
Christof and I used to go on the biggest adventures and while traveling with a baby can still be adventurous you can’t just expect to wake up and be ready to go for a sunrise hike 20 minutes later.
Those days are over for now and that’s okay. We’ve had some crazy sunrise missions over the past years, especially when we canoed all the way to Spirit Island in the Canadian Rockies in the middle of the night.
Cause let’s be honest, it’s not an exception that you’re all set and ready to go, your baby is strapped in its car seat and all of a sudden you hear the well known sound of a diaper blowout.
The same goes for during your hike. Your baby can become unconsolable. We haven’t had it happen to us yet. But if it does it’s good to know that you can turn around as well. On the other hand, the fresh outdoor air can also cause your baby to take an epic nap so you can simply keep on hiking.
8. Soothing a baby on the trail
In all honesty. I find it a lot easier to be out and about with our baby than to be sitting at home and keeping him entertained the entire time. If your baby is getting fussy during your hike there are three culprits you should first check before going into panic mode and finishing your hike early.
First and foremost, is your baby hungry? Whether breast or bottle feeding, taking the time to pause and nourish your baby can help settle any fussiness. With us it was Christof who did the feedings during our hiking adventure and afterwards César was back to his happy self.
Does he have a dirty diaper? This can be checked very quickly by simply smelling his cute little baby bottoms. If there’s poop, you will definitely smell it. If that’s the case take out his changing pad, look for even surface that’s also shaded and go for that diaper change.
And the final culprit is fatigue. Especially babies that don’t like to sleep in their baby carrier can be affected by this. César tends to get very grumpy right before he falls asleep and we know by now that moving around with him helps him a lot to quickly settle down.
If your baby is teething or enjoys oral stimulation, having a favorite teether or pacifier handy can be a lifesaver. Gentle rocking or bouncing while in the carrier can also mimic the soothing motion they feel when you’re walking.
If they’re old enough, a small, engaging toy or singing a soft song can provide distraction and entertainment. Sometimes, a change of scenery or a brief break from the carrier to explore (if they’re crawling or walking) can work wonders.
And remember, babies pick up on your emotions, so staying calm and relaxed yourself goes a long way in keeping your baby at ease. With patience and a bit of creativity, you can ensure your hiking trip is enjoyable for both you and your little one.
9. Don’t give up after the first hike!
Chances are, you’ll likely forget something. As a new mom you’ll have a ton of things on your mind and you try to manage everything as good as you possibly can. Just remember, you’re not the first mom who forgets something for their baby and you won’t be the last either.
For instance on our first day out and about in Tenerife I had left César’s sunscreen and sunhat in the car. The weather forecast said it would be overcast during the morning but instead we were greeted by hars sunshine halfway through the hike. There wasn’t nearly any coverage so I tried covering his sensitive skin as much as I could from the sun. It’s safe to say I felt like a crappy mom.
And that wasn’t all that day. Once we finished our hike we left for the next destination but while in the car César had a massive blowout and everything was filled with poop. His bodysuit had poop on it, his pants had poop in it. And I had forgotten to bring him a spare outfit. At home he never pooped outside his diaper so I figured we wouldn’t need it. WRONG. Always… ALWAYS bring spare clothes for your baby!
I could have easily felt defeated that evening but instead we started planning for our next hike the following day. And never agin did we forget his sunscreen, sunhat or spare clothes…
10. Capture those memories while hiking with your baby
A great tip is to have your camera or smartphone easily accessible, so you don’t miss those spontaneous moments.
Capture not just the scenic landscapes, but also the small details like your baby’s expressions, tiny hands holding a leaf, or first steps on a trail.
If you’re comfortable with it, a wearable camera or a smartphone sling can be handy for taking photos without breaking stride. Don’t forget to snap some candid shots, like your baby napping in the carrier or your family taking a break together
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age can you take a baby on a hike?
There’s simply not one answer to this questions. It all depends on how you are feeling, how your baby is developing and your hiking experience. The first time I went walking with César in his carrier was when he was 2.5 weeks old. The first time we went hiking in Belgium was at 2 months old and our first hiking trip abroad was at 3 months old.
Hiking with a baby is not just about the physical activity but also about bonding with your child in nature and fostering an early appreciation for the outdoors.
How long can you hike with a baby?
Start with shorter hikes and go from there. I don’t recommend going on a hike that would take more than 5 hours when it’s your first holiday. Cause those 5 hours on AllTrails will easily turn into 6.5 to 7 hours when hiking with a baby. Always make sure that you’re down the mountain before dark.
Can you hike a mountain with a baby?
Hell yes you can! You just need to bring all of the necessary equipment and check if the terrain is okey and to make sure there aren’t any hazards along the way. I recommend wearing proper hiking shoes with a good grip, bringing trekking poles for extra balance and a lot of water to stay hydrated.
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Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.