Trails and Infants

baby carrierA good friend of mine—heck, the guy stood in my wedding—and his wife are expecting their first child in a few months. Both are healthy, active individuals who enjoy a good day on the trail and I don’t see that love for hiking diminishing once their child arrives. I’m sure they’re not alone in that, either. To some, the notion of hiking with a baby or toddler in tow doesn’t seem to like a relaxing outing, but all it takes to enjoy some time on the trail with a baby is a bit of preparation, and today we’ll explore some tips to help parents learn how.

When it comes to infants and the outdoors, I’ve heard that it’s smart to wait until your baby is at least one month old before hitting the trail. Children younger than that are still very sensitive to sun exposure, heat, wind, and rain.

Gear up.

There are a variety of hiking-friendly baby carriers available on the market today, ranging from those made to handle newborns all the way up to children around 50 pounds. I’d recommend using a front carrier for children 1 to 6 months old and a back carrier for children 6 to 12 months old.

Pick an easy trail and try it yourself first.

In the interest of safety, it’s smart to search online for easy trails in your area, or check them out yourself, if you plan on taking your infant for a hike. If you do scope it out yourself, look for stretches that would be too perilous to navigate with a baby on board, such as those with steep grades or obstacles. It’s also a good idea to take note of any shady spots, in case you need to take a rest or get out of the sun when the baby’s with you. Finally, I’d initially plan to hike small portions of the trail at first.

Have fun.

Remember to take advantage of hikes with your baby and bond with them while taking in the beauty of Mother Nature. You can sing songs, look for animals, and even teach your child a thing or two, if they’re old enough and you’re knowledgeable enough. As your child ages and gets used to hiking, you can switch to hiking longer sections of the trail.

If you plan ahead, your first hiking trips with a new baby in tow can be a great experience for the both of you. Infants absorb so much more than adults, and you’d be surprised at how much the smallest details can impact your child for years to come.