Those of us who love walking and hiking, want to introduce our children to our passion as early as possible, but there’s no doubt it, walking with small kids is never easy and no matter how much preparation you do, there’s bound to be some problems.
I’ve been out hiking with mine many a time and I started her young. The journey started from when I was carrying a small baby on my back to now I have a 5 year old who loves the outdoor as much as I do.
This is what I’ve learned along the way:
The last thing you want to be is stuck a long way from camp when your youngster or baby is unhappy and wanting to get back or even worse screaming. Start slow and see what works for your little one before setting of on more adventurous routes.
Follow a map not your instinct
Most of us love going off map for a little added excitement and adventure, but impromptu river crossings or thick bush terrain are not what you want with a small child in tow or baby on your back.
Allow for your babies naps
You’re not going to be well received for long by other hikers or walkers with a screaming baby who can’t get to sleep while bouncing around on your back. Not only that, it’s not very nice for your child either. Plan your walks around your babies nap times. I normally find a short hike in the morning then a proper out of backpack nap around mid day followed by another hike in the afternoon works well.
Bribery is OK
When it come to lunchtime babies will not be considerate of the fact you may be on a wind exposed ridge with no chance of stopping, if they’re hungry, they’re hungry, so I like to keep handy snacks to hand which can be used to placate them for a short time until you reach a handy stopping place. Now my daughters walking and talking I can at least reason with her, but I still find some handy snacks help with the negotiations, especially if she’s feeling a little bored or restless.
Take Regular Breaks
When I was carrying baby on back, I found it necessary to take a break approximately every hour to 90 minutes to get her out of the backpack for a little play. This has carried on and still now we take regular breaks to play, eat, rest or learn. This does make for a much slower journey, but happier kids make for a more enjoyable experience.
For baby, a good lightweight baby carrier with a kickstand so it can stand up on it’s own for a trail highchair also, sun/rain shade, waterproof cover, & easy access pouches for bottles, toys etc. A head & neck support for bouncy trials and something waterproof for an outdoors play mat such as a poncho or waterproof jacket.
For children, good outdoor clothing and walking boots is just as important as it is for you. Regatta does a good range of children’s outdoor clothing and walking boots.
Be aware of the extra weight & watch your step.
The extra weight of carrying a baby and extra supplies will inevitably mean that you need the regular breaks as much as they do. Not only that, it’s likely to unbalance you on wet ground or rocky terrain or steep down hill sections. Make sure you’re wearing quality and flexible walking boots, although this is always important, it can be even more so with a baby on your back.