You don’t have to give up your love for hiking just because you have a lovely “mini-you”. In fact, you should introduce them to this amazing hobby and enjoy exploring together.
However, introducing toddlers to hiking is not as easy as it sounds, and the first few times might not be as enjoyable as you might be imagining. But, once they are all in, both of you will always be looking forward to the next hike.
So, what do you need to know if you’re considering hiking with toddlers?
Prepare yourself mentally and physically
You’re probably used to hiking with people who do not need your help or attention on normal circumstances. However, if you go hiking with a toddler, you will have a tiny human who is fully dependent on you. They might be able to walk a considerably longer distance, but you might have to carry them on your back for the most part of the hike, at least for the first few hikes. Thus, you must be ready physically to handle the new added load.
Again, you must prepare mentally for the worst. Toddlers are already at a really needy stage and they are always up to something. Therefore, you must be prepared to handle tantrums and fussiness, not forgetting that at this age, your toddler is very curious and they might make many stops trying to touch this and that, hence the hike might take even longer.
Introduce your toddler to hike-similar environments and activities
Before the big day, make sure that your little one is at least familiar with the kind of environment that they are going to spend several hours in. You can watch hiking movies or outdoor documentaries together. This will help them have an idea of what to expect and also make them look forward to the hike.
Alternatively, you can look for an outdoor location, probably with some trees and trails, just to give them a feel of what’s coming.
If you don’t want to have your toddler on your back throughout the hike, let them walk often. This will increase their stamina and it will also help you know if they really love walking.
Choose toddler-friendly trails
Mostly, short trails work well with kids who are hiking for the first time. Then, as they get used to it, you can explore the longer trails.
Again, even with shorter trails, you should know when to turn around even when both of you really want to hike to the end. If you suspect your kid might fall asleep soon, or if you can tell that they are really tired but still trying to putting on an energetic face, please just turn around and explain that you will be back next time and hike to the end.
Lastly, the hike should be safe and also enjoyable for your little one. Do your research to see if the terrain is toddler appropriate. Avoid unprotected sheer cliffs, muddy paths, and too rocky trails.
Pack enough foods, drinks, and treats
You don’t want to go hiking with a hungry toddler. Remember, they will be using more energy than usual, meaning they might eat more. Thus, pack their favorite foods, drinks, and some treats. You want to keep recharging their energy throughout the hike, so make sure that you have enough for the whole journey.
You can use their favorite treats for motivation. But, remember to ration everything so that whatever you have covers the entire journey.
Plan on how to keep them entertained
Unlike adults who might be okay with hiking when silent, toddlers might find the silence too boring and lose interest altogether. Thus, find ways to keep your kid entertained. You can come up with interesting stories, songs, games, etc. This will take their mind off the hike for a bit, and they won’t even notice how long they have been walking.
Also, you might need to read some environmental history so that you get some hike-related stories to tell your toddler. Read about trees, animals, insects, birds, etc. This way, you will be telling them something that they can relate with, here and now.
Get the best hiking carrier or a hiking backpack
You don’t want to risk carrying your toddler on your arms or on your hip because this might strain your back, and it will not be comfortable for either of you. Holding them close to your chest with their legs around your waist might be comfortable for them, but you will get too tired too quickly.
When it comes to hiking with toddlers, you want to do everything in moderation. If you walk too fast, they might get tired really quickly and you will be forced to carry them on your back
They will obviously be more energetic when starting and they might even want to run. But, because you want them to preserve this energy for the entire journey, encourage them to take things slow and also take rests as you go.
You can take as many rests as they are necessary, but they should not be too long because the time factor is also important.
Pick toddler-friendly hiking time
Some people like to go hiking late in the evening or very early in the morning. Now, with a toddler, things might change because you want to work with their schedule. Again, you don’t want darkness to find you in the woods, so you must choose an appropriate hiking time.
Consider the weather
Again, just like with hiking time, you want to put the hiking weather into consideration if you will be hiking with your toddler. This will help you dress them appropriately and also know if you need to reschedule the hike.
Dress them for the hike
Your kid might have a favorite outfit, but it might not be the best for hiking. Get them hiking boots or shoes, and also dress them for the weather.
Toddler Hiking Necessary Supplies
- Wet wipes
- Bug spray
- Foods and snacks
- A hiking carrier or a hiking backpack
- First aid kit
Hiking with toddlers can be fun, but you need to prepare and plan early enough. Also, you need to prepare your kid for what’s coming to ensure that they are excited and looking forward to it. All the best!