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Hiking with baby? Of course it's possible!
Here is our complete guide and all our advice on how to go hiking with a baby, in all simplicity, from birth.
You have a baby and you want him/her to discover the benefits of a walk outdoors?
You are totally right!
You just have to equip yourself well, anticipate the needs to embark on a hike with your baby, in summer but also in winter.
What equipment do you use? How do you carry a baby when hiking? How do you dress?
Here is a guide full of advice for hiking with a baby.
The good news:you can hike at any age and therefore from birth or almost, it is possible to go hiking with a baby.
A means of gradually resuming physical activity after the birth of a child, a solution to take care of older children despite the presence of a newborn baby, the idea of affordable vacations ... hiking is for everyone.
A hike with a baby of 3 months, 18 months, or even 3 years?
At each age, you must of course adapt your route, your equipment and take some precautions; but it's totally possible and even advised.
It will just be necessary to find the right carrying system so that the walk is a pleasure for everyone: the one being carried along with the carrier!
Thanks to these few tips and advice, hiking with your baby will be a real pleasure!
Whether it is an infant or a child who already walks, it is necessary to just have a minimum of organisation.
For a successful outing with a newborn baby, you need a little preparation:check the route, its difficulty, its elevation, the accessibility of the path ... and prepare the equipment, in addition to finding the right carrying system.
Once your child is old enough to walk, you can then alternate between carrying and walking alone.
Be careful not to put the little ones off hiking by forcing them to go on outings that are too long or difficult.
Introducing your children to hiking from an early age, means hopefully that they will enjoy this type of activity when they are older too. And then you can embark on longer walks, steeper or longer outings, sleep in a refuge, go camping or even go on a bivouac:
It's the first step to a micro-adventure!
You can therefore take your baby hiking from birth.
You still have to find the right carrying system because there is no question of leaving with a stroller or carrying the baby in your arms in the middle of nature.
To ensure a good physiological carrying position for an infant while hiking, there are different systems that could be separated into two main categories: "sling" type carrying systems and preformed baby carriers.
Woven or stretch scarves, meï-taï, ring-slings… they can scare some parents because of their complex knotting system; baby slings can be used from birth for hiking.
Having your newborn baby in a belly position, close to you, will give him/her a feeling of security, while cradling him/her.
A way for walking longer, and avoid crying!
For those who do not feel comfortable with baby slings and their knot systems which seem tedious at first glance, there is another ready-to-use solution to go hiking with your young child with.
The so-called preformed baby carriers can be used from birth for certain models, or even from 6 months when your child begins to have more muscle tone.
As soon as your newborn manages to catch his/her feet, you can opt for most of these means of physiological carrying systems which are attached in a few clips.
These baby carriers often offer 2 positions: 1 front position and 1 back position.
The front position is favourable for the very little ones.
On the other hand, when the child's weight is heavier, it is more comfortable to carry the baby on the back!
These physiological baby carriers allow them to be used up to 15 kgs.
Products also feature waterproof protection systems to add in the event of rain. For hiking in all weather conditions.
Your child is growing, they are more and more curious, maybe now is the time to switch to a hiking baby carrier positioned on the back
With its padded shoulder straps, its metal frame, its folding sun protection, thanks to this baby carrier, your little one will dominate the landscape, above the shoulders of the wearer.
Carrying solution to adopt when it is very hot, this will prevent you from sweating too much because of the two bodies touching each other and you and your child getting damp with perspiration.
A precaution to take: watch out for branches, obstacles and other signs that may touch the child's head when you bend down! It happens to the best of us, it's already happened to me...
Remember to take breaks to stretch your legs and body, even for the little one!
Allow half of the total time of your hike to be spent on breaks to explore or to take your child for a walk alone.
For a hike with an infant, we can also start from the following principle: 10 minutes break every hour or every 2 hours if the baby is sleeping.
Whatever carrying system chosen, there is an imperative: check every 10 to 15 minutes that your child is ok, especially if he/she is on your back.
Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself to make sure that everything is ok for your baby when hiking:
- Is he/she not too warm?How are their limbs?Are their feet and hands too cold?
- Are they breathing correctly?Are their airways clear?
- Is their position still physiological, i.e. sitting like a frog with the knees above the buttocks, the head aligned with the spine and the pelvis?
Despite doing everything, your little one is crying or moving around in the baby carrier, it might be time to take a break, or even go home.
Hiking with baby must remain a moment of pleasure for everyone, I remind you!
Unless you already live in altitude or if you are spending several days in a row in the mountains, it is preferable not to exceed 1,500 meters in altitude when hiking with a child under the age of one.
Up to the age of 18 months, paediatricians advise not to hike above 1,800 m altitude.
Also avoid taking gondolas or cable cars which expose your children to a rapid increase in their blood pressure in their ears.
Hiking holidays in the mountains?
It is best to choose a village between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea level and take breaks every 500 meters when arriving by car.
Tips for parents: like on an air plane, take a pacifier/dummy and / or give your baby a drink, swallowing helps to decompress eardrums.
Just like when you go on holiday, you need to know what to take with you for a hike with a baby.
After the list of essentials you need to take with you when you go to the maternity, there is also a list of things that you mustn't forget to take with you for a successful hike with your little one.
📝OUR CHECKLIST TO HIKE WITH A BABY
✅ A baby carrier (of course!)
✅ Water bottle
✅ In addition to the meal, provide an easily accessible snack, so that you can keep your baby waiting until you stop for the picnic or the next break …
✅ 1 or 2 nappies and all you need for cleaning their little bottoms: wipes, cotton wool or cloth and water
✅ Sunscreen & cap with neck protection or a wide sun hat, sunglasses with protection 3 minimum, sun cream …
✅ Protection against the cold: beanie, gloves, fleece or pilot suit depending on the season…
✅ Their favorite cuddly toy and/or dummy...attached properly, if you don't want to go back and find the lost object!
✅ It doesn't weigh much but can be very useful: take along a light scarf that will protect baby from the sun, can also be used as a changing mat, transforms into an additional layer of clothing if it's chilly
✅ Dummy clip, cuddly toy clip ...
As a bonus, you can also take along a mini first aid kit, a toy, a change of clothing ... believe me I know! « travel light »!As a young parent, we all tend to want to prepare for the worst; but in reality, an adult's piece of clothing can serve as a changing table, a simple bottle with water can clean most things …
Be careful not to weigh yourself down too much, especially if you go hiking alone: the weight of the baby, the weight of the baby carrier, the weight of the backpack with picnic and water bottle, we can quickly exceed 10 kg, or even 15!
Tip: Maybe you don't want to start by buying a baby carrier without knowing if everyone likes it?
It's not a problem, you can rent a hiking baby carrier..
So you can test the model that suits you best!
This is the question everyone asks themselves when going on a hike: how do I dress for hiking?
The question seems even more complicated when hiking with a baby. Yet the same principles apply: we often multiply the layers of clothing to add or take off!
3 layers are sufficient when hiking:Whether in summer or winter, it is preferable to favour a first layer with long sleeves and to cover legs: so as to avoid sunburn or to keep warm.
The second layer is used for warmth and the third layer of clothing should protect from the rain and wind, without making you sweat too much.
There are now clothes that are specially designed for parents who carry babies: sweatshirts or jackets that close over your newborn baby inside the sling or baby carrier.
Note that the front baby carrier and especially the carrying sling count as a layer of clothing, so it is not useful to over-dress your infant, especially in summer. Especially as the baby will also collect your body heat by being against you.
Tip for parents: an adult jacket, the sleeves of which are tied at the waist, can be used as rain protection by raising it above the baby carrier.
On the other hand, avoid the poncho if it is not specifically designed for baby carrying.
Your baby must be able to breath freely.
Even if your child is not yet old enough to walk, it is best to put on shoes or slippers.
Enough to keep their feet warm and / or protect them from the sun too!
For young walkers, it is especially important to pay attention to the grip of the soles on hiking boots, while remaining light.
Principle that also applies to parents' hiking footwear!
Good to know: although each child is different, a 3-year-old will be able to walk about 1 kilometre on their own on a hike, the rest of the time the child will be carried.
No preaching here, but we must admit that breastfeeding makes it much easier to eat meals while hiking with an infant.
No need to bother with the bottle, doses of milk, water at room temperature, or even a thermos of hot water…
For older children, an additional source of motivation:« we will stop at the next bridge ”, why not plan several small gourmet breaks to snack: dried fruits, cereal bars, mini-sandwiches, compotes…
Avoid chocolate snacks in summer.
Be careful not to skimp on the amount of water to take with you, especially in hot weather.
To give you an idea, a child between 1 and 2 years old should have a water intake of about 1.2 lighters per day.
It is quite possible to hike in winter with a baby.
Of course, you will have to be even more vigilant about checking the baby's extremities: head, feet, hands must be kept warm.
Another point of vigilance:do everything not to fall.
While skiing with a child in a baby carrier is of course prohibited due to the risk of falls and hypothermia, walking with a baby carrier in winter requires extra care.
A pair of poles can help with balance and support to the carrier.
Thanks to a dedicated pulka, a sort of sled, closed, some opt for a cross-country ski tour.
Here again, we must be vigilant to the risk of hypothermia, as a baby does not regulate its temperature like an adult.
Moreover, it will always be preferable to carry the baby rather than putting the baby in a traditional sledge when going for a hike.
The main thing to remember!
👶🏼 Hiking with baby, tip n° 1:
As with any outing, especially in the mountains, check the weather forecast.
What could be more unpleasant than a hike that ends in the rain, especially with a newborn baby.
A thunderstorm that occurs at altitude can quickly arrive and this means risks for everyone.
👶🏼 Hiking with baby, tip n°2:
Even if the baby doesn't walk yet, remember to hydrate him/her well.
Remember to make him/her drink regularly (breastfeeding, bottle of milk or water), especially in the case of hot weather; but not only.
If you hike in the mountains with your baby, the air is drier than lower down, you have to give your child drink even more regularly.
👶🏼 Hiking with baby, tip n°3:
Use common sense!
No need to go with 5 layers for a mini-hike in the woods near you. No
need to take 5 types of biscuits for tea time.
No need to take 5 different cuddly toys as you might lose them on the way... The main thing to remember!
The Internet is full of examples of parents hiking with babies on famous great trails or to world famous destinations; but no pressure.
No need to embark on such journeys when hiking with baby.
A park in the middle of a city just next to home?
A coastal path?A prepared path around a lake?
A simple route in the countryside or a mini-hike at average altitude in the mountains?
Anything can be a pretext for a hike with baby.
There is bound to be an idea for a walk of a few kilometres, or even a few hours, with a suitable vertical drop around your home.
A good idea for embarking on a gentle hike with baby so that all participants have fun!