Hiking with toddlers can be a fantastic family activity. It’s an opportunity to spend time outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, while getting some exercise at the same time. Plus, your kids will love to explore nature!
Some parents may be hesitant to take their little ones on the trails with them. That’s understandable, but most toddlers will actually exploring the outdoors. Though you may need to make some provisions for them, get into the habit of taking them hiking with you as much you can!
How far can a toddler hike?
It is a good idea to walk no more than two miles (or one hour) with a young child. If you are hiking for longer, it might be better to break up the trip into shorter hikes and take breaks in between.
Another option is having one parent stay at home or wait halfway through the trail so they can pick-up or drop off their toddler later on in the journey.
Tips for Hiking with Toddlers
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It is important to plan ahead for your hike so that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips for hiking with little ones in tow:
1. Make sure to bring snacks and water for your toddler
When you hike with a toddler, make sure to bring plenty of snacks and drinks. Chances are your little one will be extra hungry and thirsty with all the walking and exploring. It’s important that they don’t get dehydrated out on the trail.
Recommended snacks perfect for hiking with toddlers include pretzels, applesauce, and granola bars. It’s best to opt for plain water on the hike. Pack a few bottles of water or use a hydration pack designed to keep it cool for hours in the sun.
2. Bring some of their favorite toys or books along for the trek
It’s important to keep in mind that toddlers do not have the attention span or adults, or even of older children. They will be more into the hiking on day than they will be the next. Always be prepared with a few toys and books to keep them occupied. Let your little one enjoy rolling their cars through the dirt or relax on a rock while you read a story before you continue your hike.
3. Plan to carry your toddler often
Though toddlers have a lot of energy, they aren’t great at staying on their feet for long periods. They will want to take more breaks than you, so a toddler carrier or hiking backpack is a must when hiking with toddlers.
They will likely switch between walking and being carried, and you want to promote this. The more they experience nature, the happier they will be. And over time, they will start hiking more than they are being carried.
4. Dress your toddler in the proper clothing for the hike
Dress your child appropriately for the type of hiking you are doing, and with extra clothes in case it is colder than expected. You want to make sure they are comfortable from the beginning of the trail to the end.
Consider the weather before heading outdoors, and make sure they have a jacket or raincoat if necessary. Invest in a good pair of toddler hiking boots to keep their precious feet protected.
Before heading out, make sure they have a hat to shield them from the sun and bugs that might get in their hair.
Pack an extra change of clothes, should they get too muddy or wet. You’ll also want to have plenty of diapers and wipes on hand.
5. Expect to take lots of breaks when hiking with toddlers
Hiking is an excellent activity for toddlers, but it can be a little more challenging than you might think. Just as you will be doing a lot of carrying, you’ll also want to sit down and take breaks. During this time, your little one can explore, climb on rocks, or just sit and have a snack.
Breaks are also prime time for diaper changes or even a quick nap!
6. Time your journey appropriately
Toddlers have short attention spans, so you’ll want to keep your hike relatively brief. In the beginning, plan for a total time of thirty minutes or less. You can always increase the time you spend hiking as the toddler gets more familiar with the experience.
Head out early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and bugs aren’t as much of a nuisance to you or your little one. Also, check for any inclement weather.
7. Make sure the hike isn’t too difficult for the little one
You definitely want to stick to toddler friendly hiking trails. Pick trails with a lot of shade if possible, like in the forest. This will give your family a place to cool down when you take your breaks. Also, make sure the trail is mostly flat without a lot of steep inclines. This ensures your toddler can walk along with you without getting hurt.
As you can see, hiking with toddlers can be a great activity for the entire family to enjoy. It’s perfect for exposing your little one to nature while also letting them burn off lots of energy. You’ll want to make the appropriate plans for having just a little one along for the hike, but if you set up a lifelong love of the outdoors, it’s totally worth it!