Getting your baby used to a new carrier before you hit the trail is one of the steps you should take to foster the child’s connection with the outdoors at a tender age. Here are some of the steps and tips you should take to bring out your toddler out on the trails successfully.
Involve Your Toddler in the Planning
You need to find a good baby carrier for hiking. You need to choose the framed one which is sturdier and able to hold the weight of the baby more effectively. The softer baby carriers are lighter than the framed ones and are more suitable for toddlers younger than 5. Make sure you opt for a carrier that can be easily packed into the backpack.
In addition to a good baby carrier, you need to pack other essentials, including sleeping bags, first aid treatment stuff, snacks, toys, sleeping bags, extra clothing, insects and bug-repelling creams, anti-venom medications, Binoculars or cameras for kids, baby wipes, toilet papers, and kids jackets. Make sure your toddler is involved in the planning because he understands what makes him comfortable.
Dress Them Appropriately
You don’t need toddler boots for hiking; sneakers should be fine for them. You need to ensure that you pack some extra socks to keep their feet dry. Some boots can be heavy on their feet, but sneakers are much lighter. Make sure they wear lighter clothing ( including a light jacket).
Keep Them Dry and Warm
When your child’s basic needs are not met during hiking, their favorite fun spots may become a nightmare for both of you. Do not expect your toddler to be as resilient as you, but keeping them warm, dry and well-fed will make them possess some superpowers to hike successfully. You may want to take frequent rest and stops in convenient spots to help them replenish their energy.
The rest time could be the right time to indulge in his favorite kids’ games. Games can help you distract your kids when you still have some few miles to cover on the trail. You can play the “Guessing game” where you ask each other questions like “what animal’s name starts with letter O.” You can also play the game of imitating his favorite animals.
Kids must be kept hydrated during hiking, especially when the weather is hot. Make sure you keep two spray bottles, one for you and the other for him.
Pick Him when Hiking in Difficult Terrains
You don’t expect your toddler to hike by himself in difficult terrains such as sloppy hills, and mountains. Do not allow your kid to find his way through shrubs and heavily wooded paths, doing such can deplete his energy fast and he will lose interest in the whole thing. Be prepared to carry your toddler when you suspect he is becoming stressed out.
Go Hiking Often with Your Kids
It is important that you get your kids on the hiking trail as soon as they are able to handle between 20 to 60 minutes of outdoor activities. Make hiking part of their weekly schedule, and they will get used to it quickly.
You may want to consider stopping near creeks, ponds, and rock outcroppings. Kids love to play around this area. You may want to start training them for hiking by keeping your hiking time to 1 hour at a time, then increase it steadily while monitoring their reactions and endurance. Kids that are brought out to hike in a progressively increasing distance will naturally endure hiking difficulties more than those that were abruptly introduced to hours of hiking.
Be prepared for harsh weather conditions
If you can’t deal with adverse weather conditions such as excessive cold, extreme heat, and rainfall, do not put your toddler out on the trails. It is important to understand when to call it quits. When a kid becomes miserable, you will definitely become miserable too.
Hence you should not set an unreasonable target knowing fully well that the weather is unpredictable. Nasty weather conditions can make hiking very scary for toddlers. Hence you must be prepared to head back home when the weather turns stormy and dark.
Hiking with a toddler is fun when adequate preparations are made. You need to ensure that you hike mostly on flat and hazard-free areas where you can feel comfortable to allow your toddler to explore. You should also learn to embrace dirt because your toddler will naturally do so. This does not mean you have to change his clothes too often.
Keep a wiping cloth in your hand to dust off dirt on his clothing. Keep a safety whistle in his pocket to keep the communication line opened. There are some modern trackers you can also keep on him especially if you notice he wants some independence.
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Ashley Casey is an author of Adventure Gears Lab and lover of world cultures, food, oceans, languages, souls, wild spaces and urban places by nature.