Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice, hiking with a toddler can be a challenge. With a little planning and preparation, however, it can be a fun and rewarding experience for the whole family.
Here are tips to help you make the most of your hike with a toddler:
1. Choose the Right Trail
When choosing a trail, consider its length, elevation gain, terrain, and whether it’s likely to be crowded. A shorter, less challenging hike is probably best if this is your first time hiking with a toddler.
2. Start Early
Hiking in the cooler hours of the day will be more comfortable for everyone involved. Starting early also gives you the option of turning back if the hike is proving to be too much for your little one.
3. Bring Snacks and Drinks
Pack plenty of snacks and drinks, as well as extra food in case you get delayed on the trail. Consider packing finger foods that are easy for your toddler to eat while walking.
4. Dress for Success
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that’s appropriate for the weather conditions. Layering is always a good idea in case the weather changes while you’re on the trail. Be sure to pack any essential items like hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
5. Pack Some Toys and Games
A few small toys or games can help occupy your toddler during rest breaks or periods of boredom on the trail. A portable cribbage board or deck of cards can also be fun for older toddlers who are able to sit still for longer periods of time.
6. Take Plenty of Breaks
Hiking with a toddler will require more frequent stops than hiking without one. plan to take rest breaks every 20 minutes or so to give your toddler (and yourself) a chance to catch your breath and have a snack. If possible, find a shady spot to take your break in order to stay cool and prevent dehydration.
7. Be Prepared for Accidents
While accidents are hopefully rare, they can happen when hiking with a toddler – so be sure to pack supplies like diapers, wipes, Band-Aids, etc., just in case something happens on the trail. Bonus points if you include a small first-aid kit in your backpack!
8. Don’t Forget About Potty Training Toddlers
If your child is newly potty trained – great! However, don’t forget that there may not be any bathrooms along your hike…so remember to pack extra underwear and pants, just in case!
We also recommend bringing along some small plastic bags for used diapers or wet clothing items too! Nobody likes dealing with stinky garbage on their hike – least of all other hikers who might have to smell it later.
9. Remember – Hikes Are Meant to Be Fun
At times it might seem like more trouble than it’s worth – but try to relax and enjoy yourself! This is an amazing opportunity to spend time outdoors as a family and explore nature together!
And who knows – maybe your child will develop a lifelong love of hiking (and being outdoors in general) as they grow older.
10. Have Any Other Tips We Missed?
Were there any specific things that worked well (or didn’t work well) when you took your own toddlers hiking? We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Happy (and safe) hiking everyone!