Studies show that there are endless health advantages to spending time outdoors as kids. Getting out in nature, away from TV screens, and into green spaces is important for the health and development of children. Being the proactive parent that you are, you put Paw Patrol on pause and pack up the family to hit the trails. The idyllic day hike you ever imagined goes upside down when realism sets in cranky toddlers with melodramatic meltdowns and making you marvel why you strapped on the backpack in the first place. Hiking with toddlers and young kids can be a challenge, but these tips will aid you to achieve whine free hiking this summer
Protect Against The Sun
Even if it does not look that hot out, small ones can simply burn. Slather on that sunscreen and wear a hat. Dress the children in lightweight, long-sleeved shirts made from breathable fabrics to protect them from the sun. Several companies sell hoodies with 50+ UPF sun protection. They’re also fast dry, so moisture is wicked from the skin to keep children cool and dry when they inevitably splash in a mud puddle or douse themselves in water. Always ensure to apply sunscreen, bring a hat and shades for protection. Dress your toddler in comfortable attire, light material clothing, and prevent exposing your toddler’s skin.
It was a sunny afternoon, about 70 degrees when we started our hike. We dressed her up with rubber shoes, light material pants, a shirt, socks, and hat so she can move freely and let the air circulate on her body and to keep her fresh.
Pack Snacks and Drinks Lots of Water
Before you set out on your trip, assist your kids in packing their healthy snacks like apple slices, protein bars, bananas, nuts, and crackers. Pack the children’s water bottles, and make sure to take water breaks often.
Buy Kid Sized Gear
Children love having their gear, so get your toddler a little pack to carry a few lightweight items such as a hoodie. While hiking, the weather can change rapidly, so dress the children in layers and pack a warm jacket in your backpack in case the temperature drops. Eddie Bauer and Columbia sell few brightly colored windbreakers and fleece jackets for even the little hikers. While it is best to be prepared, do not bring too much stuff. Do know that whatever the children bring in, you will end up carrying out. If you do not want to feel like a pack mule, plan on packing a light bag and leave unnecessary stuffed animals or beloved toys in your home.
Keep it Safe
Ensure your cellphone is charged and your route is not too lengthy or off the beaten path. Also, inform a friend or family member if you are hiking alone with your kid and allow them to know just where you are going and when just for double safety. Inspect the weather in advance and dress in layers in case it gets cool or hot unexpectedly. Do not ever allow your kid to wander out of your view or near water. Also stash some antibacterial bandages, wipes, and spray in your backpack in case you require them. Hiking with a kid means safety is a priority so being ready and prepared is key. Engaging your child to enjoy nature can foster a lifelong love of the earth and the desire to explore. When hiking, be mindful of the things the kid is touching around the place. The area where we hiked had poison oak everywhere. What we did, we made a short briefing with my toddler around and showed her the different types of plants. We pointed out what poison oak looks like and we told her the consequences of getting poison oak on her skin.
Know that this is not going to be like hiking with adults and if that’s what you’re looking for, find a babysitter for your children and go without them. Hiking with children can be such fun and such a good family bonding experience, so we recommend going for it. Do not expect the first or even the third or tenth time to go better because it likely will not, but stick with it and you and your family will figure it out. Hiking with children requires doing what you need to do to make it work. Then over time, it takes less and less effort and your children will get understand and enjoy it.
Hiking with kids is a rewarding adventure for parents and children alike. The feeling of being self-sufficient for some days, getting back to nature and enjoying the fresh air, away from the sanitized grounds of parks is best for dad and mom. Children love the sense of discovery, adventure, and animal-spotting of new and exciting campsites and obviously, the marshmallows over the fire. With that in mind, above are five best tips for taking children on a hike.