How to Prepare For Hiking With an Infant
Having a baby is the start of a new adventure, but don’t worry — that adventure can still include hiking and spending time outdoors!
In fact, with the right equipment and knowledge, it’s easy for your outdoor adventures to include the whole family. Here are a few things to consider as you think about taking your infant on their first hike.
Hiking is good for babies
You may love hiking because nature can bring serenity and beauty into your busy life. Babies can experience similar mental benefits, too.
It seems rare for children to prefer spending time outside these days, especially when they could play on an iPad or watch TV. But, kids who are taken on outdoor adventures in their early years are more likely to gain a love of nature that stays with them for life.
Studies have shown that outdoor adventures help children:
- Sleep better
- Become more confident
- Develop early language skills
Aside from the mental benefits, introducing your child to the great outdoors in their infancy can promote emotional development as well.
You may need to save the high elevation hikes for later
Before you summit a 14er together, make sure your infant is acclimated to higher elevations. Since you’ll likely be hiking with your baby in a backpack or carrier, you also want to make sure you’re physically up for the added challenge.
There’s no rule saying you have to summit a mountain, either. You can start by taking a walk through your neighborhood and working up to traditional hiking with your baby.
You can use special gear for hiking with an infant
Baby carriers and outdoor-friendly toys are becoming very accessible for parents who want to hike with their infants. For younger babies, front carriers are recommended because they offer better neck support, and it’s easier to soothe your child if he or she gets restless.
The most important thing is to make sure you have enough sunscreen, diapers and wipes, a fully charged cell phone in case of emergencies and formula if you’re using it. It’s also a good idea to test your carrier before you hit the trails to make sure it’s correctly adjusted for you and your baby.
People hike with babies all the time
Hike it Baby is a national movement made up of parents who regularly take their babies with them when they go on hikes. Though the focus is on community building and not necessarily on certain parks or gear, Hike it Baby partners with recreation equipment companies like REI to encourage families with young children as they hit the trails with their toddlers and infants.
Local communities often have hiking clubs as well, many of which are family-friendly. If you’re a little nervous about taking your baby on a hike for the first, find a group and partner up with other parents who have more experience.
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