8 Tips for Your First Hike with Your Baby

hiking with a babyGood news moun­tain mamas and papas: hav­ing a baby doesn’t require you to toss your hik­ing boots into stor­age to make room for those cute lit­tle baby booties. Hik­ing with babies is entire­ly pos­si­ble and can be quite enjoy­able. Go into it with the right mind­set and the right gear.

Try not to let your new­born curb your pas­sion for hik­ing. Get­ting your baby into nature ear­ly is a great way to intro­duce them to the sights, sounds, and smells of the great out­doors. Plus, a lit­tle boost of Moth­er Nature can do won­ders for a new par­en­t’s morale, which is often much-need­ed after plen­ty of time spent cooped up indoors try­ing to fig­ure out the whole par­ent­hood thing.

Hik­ing with your youn­gin’ will be the first of many adven­tures you’ll share over the years to come. Here are some key ele­ments to con­sid­er before you hit the trails in tan­dem.

1. Hold Your Hors­es
Out­doorsy types tend to get a lit­tle overea­ger when it comes to get­ting their nature fix—especially if you’ve been holed up at home or in a hos­pi­tal room in recent days. If you recent­ly gave birth, it’s a good idea to get the thumbs up from your doc before head­ing out for a hike. Most med­ical folks encour­age walk­ing and being out­side but give your body a bit of time before tack­ling more rig­or­ous trails.

2. Get a Good Pack
While you’re wait­ing for your doctor’s approval, start shop­ping for a device to car­ry your baby in while hik­ing.

Lit­tle babies are gen­er­al­ly best car­ried in front car­ri­ers. These can be nice and cocoon‑y for your lit­tle one, encour­ag­ing on-the-go naps as you hike (bonus!) How­ev­er, as cozy as it is hav­ing your baby nes­tled against you, it is also the recipe for a sweaty mess on more phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing hikes.

Babies that can sit up inde­pen­dent­ly (usu­al­ly around six months and up) can be put in a back­pack-style car­ri­er, which allows for much more air­flow. Be choosy when pick­ing one of these out—they are a bit of an invest­ment piece and you’ll like­ly be wear­ing it for a cou­ple of years. Babies are sur­pris­ing­ly heavy—even young ones—so check for good padding and com­fort­able, adjustable straps.

hiking with a baby3. Bring Lay­ers for Both of You
Any hik­er knows that the key to stay­ing com­fort­able is to bring plen­ty of cloth­ing lay­ers. Don’t for­get to do the same for your baby.

Even though you might be work­ing up a sweat, your baby isn’t doing any actu­al work—they’re just along for the ride. While you could be at a com­fort­able tem­per­a­ture, your baby might need an extra lay­er or two to stay warm. Bring extra socks for your lit­tle one: not only is this handy in the very like­ly event that they lose one along the way, but they can also dou­ble as mitts if their lit­tle hands get cold.

4. Start Short, Go from There
Your first hike with your baby prob­a­bly shouldn’t be a mul­ti-day trekking expe­di­tion. We’re not say­ing it’s not pos­si­ble to do that with your baby. It’s just that you want to build up to that type of dis­tance rather than div­ing in head­first.

A hike that you con­sid­er easy and that you’ve done before is the per­fect first adven­ture to take your baby on. This will do won­ders for build­ing your con­fi­dence. The goal is to fin­ish the hike think­ing, “Wow, that was awe­some, I could have kept going for anoth­er hour or two!” Next time, you can amp up the dif­fi­cul­ty or the length a lit­tle bit, and keep going from there.

5. Start Ear­ly and Don’t Rush
Give your­self lots of time for your hike. As you can prob­a­bly guess, it’s going to take longer to hike with a baby in tow than it would be hik­ing child­less. Take off ear­li­er in the day rather than later—you don’t want to be caught rac­ing against day­light in case things go slow­er than antic­i­pat­ed (and put a head­lamp in your pack, just in case). Try not to have any set-in-stone com­mit­ments post-hike that you need to rush back to. Few­er time con­straints mean less stress and more fun.

hiking with a baby6. Take Fre­quent Stops
This is not a pow­er hike. Hik­ing with your baby is not the time to suf­fer through dis­com­fort of any kind. Stop to re-adjust straps. Stop to fix your baby if they have tipped over heav­i­ly to one side. Stop to feed your baby if they get hun­gry. Stop to fish your water bot­tle out of your back­pack.

Just think—all of this stop­ping will be great prac­tice for the fre­quent pit stops you’ll take when you’re hik­ing with your mobile kid in a few years!

7. Bring the Right Peo­ple
A sol­id crew makes even the best hikes, bet­ter.

Your part­ner is a great com­pan­ion if they like hik­ing, too. You can switch off between who car­ries the baby and who takes a break.

Oth­er par­ents with babies are like­ly to be patient and under­stand­ing. If your baby starts cry­ing, the oth­er par­ent won’t mind—they’ll just be grate­ful it’s not their own who is wail­ing. Plus, if one of you runs out of wipes or dia­pers, the oth­er can share.

Baby-less com­pan­ions can be excel­lent, of course. Just be sure that you’re all on the same page in terms of what you hope to accom­plish on the trails.

8. Braid Your Hair
A final bonus tip: if you’re car­ry­ing your baby on in a back­pack, beware the pony­tail. New moms are already deal­ing with post-par­tum hair loss and a pony­tail makes a tan­ta­liz­ing toy for a bored baby. Just say yes to the braid!