5 Tips for Hiking With a Baby

June 20, 2017

Written by: Jennifer Kolbuc

If you’re a new mom or dad who has recently welcomed a little bundle of joy into your lives – congratulations! While there are some activities that may have to take a back burner for a while as you sort out your new routine as parents, enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t have to be one of them.

Hiking with a baby

In fact, hiking is a great activity to enjoy with a new baby once you’re feeling up for it and able to be hiking again. There’s nothing like a bit of fresh air to help combat the sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. If hiking with your little one feels a bit overwhelming at the moment, here’s a few tips on how to get started:

Start slow

Don’t plan on tackling Black Tusk your first time out with baby. If you’re little one hasn’t spent a lot of time in a carrier out walking, you will want to get him or her used to it on shorter hikes, before working your way up to longer stretches. Some great shorter hikes for baby’s first time out include: Deer Lake in Burnaby, Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, Admiralty Point or Sasamat Lake in the Tri-Cities, Rice Lake on the North Shore, or Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver. You’ll also want to consider hikes that don’t have challenging river crossings, or sections with chains and ladders since you’ll be hauling precious cargo around with you.

Hiking with a baby

Jug Island near Belcarra

Pick a carrier with proper back support

Ring slings and wraps are great for around the house or for running quick errands, but they won’t provide you with the proper back support needed for a hike. For babies under a year old both the Ergo and Baby Bjorn offer great options with carriers that face both in and out with back support. I’ve personally had great success with the Ergo 360 Performance line, but I recommend trying out a few before committing. If possible, try out a few carriers from your other mom friends before committing so you can see what works best. Once your little one isn’t so little anymore, you’ll want to look at structured back carriers like the MEC Happy Trails Child Carrier Backpack for more support.

Start off on the right foot

Before you hit the trails, you want your little one to be as comfortable as possible. A fed, well-rested baby with a clean bum will make a much happier hiking companion. If your baby sleeps well in the carrier try to time your hike with his or her morning or afternoon nap. Or if your little one doesn’t’ sleep in the carrier then you’ll want to hit the road after they are well rested. Don’t make plans when your little one isn’t feeling well or is going for their vaccinations etc. It’s hard to enjoy the quiet serenity of the forest with a screaming infant.

Hiking with a baby

Be prepared

In addition to the 10 Essentials that you would pack for any day hike, baby is going to need their own supplies. Keep baby happy with a soother, teething ring or soothing device depending on what your little one likes. Don’t skimp on extra diapers, wipes, and a full outfit change for those ill timed diaper blowouts. It only needs to happen once to make it worth it!  You will also want to pack a plastic wet bag to store those dirty diapers on the trail. See the photo below where my little one has lost a sock mid-trail and I did not have any extra. This was taken just minutes before he had a massive blow out, requiring a full strip down in the great outdoors. I learned the lesson the hard way about not packing a full extra outfit – luckily my hiking buddy had a spare! And on that note. . . .

Hiking with a baby

At Buntzen Lake

Go with a buddy

It’s one thing to get a bit lost on the trail, run out of food or water, have your car stall or cell phone battery die when it’s just you hiking on the trail. Now that you’re responsible for the well-being of another human being, it is even more important to go hiking with a trusted buddy and all the essentials. If you can find another mom to hike with perfect! If not, choose a friend who is baby friendly and won’t mind when you inevitably need to stop for feeding, bum changes, soothing etc. on the trails. It’s a great way to make bond not only with your baby but other new parents as well!

Have you hit the trails with your little one(s)? What other tips would you pass along to first time parents? Share in the comments below!

Jennifer Kolbuc

Jennifer Kolbuc is an avid hiker, new mom and social media professional. Originally from Ontario, she moved to Vancouver 10 years ago and fell in love with the great outdoors. You'll find her sharing her hiking adventures on Instagram with other hikers and new parents.

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