Hiking with a baby seems like a daunting activity for some, but it’s a unique way for your baby to discover the world and nature around us.
If you have many questions on how to go hiking with a baby, I can relate to you. I remember as well how clueless we were the first time we decided to hike. Is it too soon? What do we have to bring? Didn’t we forget anything? Is he gonna be fine?
Throughout our travels, we always seized the opportunity to hike every mountain around us. That’s why we ended up on the highest summit in Taiwan (3,952m) or hiking Machu Picchu for the one-year birthday of Darian.
In this article, we chose to share all our best tips for you to feel confident about hiking with a baby.
General tips about hiking with a baby
1. Start hiking with your partner or a friend
Don’t go alone for your first time hiking with a baby! Go with someone else and gather some experience first.
2. Try to avoid the hottest hours of the day
It’s not always possible, but depending on the climate it’s a good idea to prefer hiking with a baby in the morning or the late afternoon.
3. Don’t over-worry about altitude
Babies older than 3 months possess a similar reaction towards higher altitude as adults do. Slowly go higher, and don’t hesitate to go down if you feel that something is wrong with your baby. We had a lot of experience with Darian and altitude: we landed and lived at more than 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in Mexico when he was just 5-week-old, and before turning 1 we had already hiked at 4,600m (15,100ft) in Peru.
Consult with your doctor first if you have any concerns.
4. Don’t overload your backpack!
It’s tempting to fill your backpack, thinking about every possibility that can happen, but the lighter your backpack is, and the faster your pace will be. Find the right balance, but be sure not to overload your backpack by bringing light multi-tasking elements.
5. Breastfeeding makes hiking with a baby easier
We probably wouldn’t have been able to hike that much if it wasn’t for HiuYing breastfeeding our sons. It’s just so convenient.
6. Don’t give up after the first hike!
Things might not be perfect right away. Your baby and you need to get used to this new activity away from the comfort of home. Give it several tries, and start with small distances close to home.
Things to do before hiking with a baby
7. Get reasonably fit
You’re gonna carry another human being, which might add 5 to 15 supplementary kilos to go up the mountain. You might wanna make sure your physical condition is on point before starting.
8. Invest in a good baby carrier
A baby carrier is a must-have to travel around. It’s important to invest in a good baby carrier to protect yourself from backache and to make the whole hike more enjoyable.
You can also buy a hiking baby carrier. Your baby will be behind you, much like a backpack, and you need to wait until baby is able to sit on his own (~6-month-old)
9. Check the weather forecast
Before heading out in the unknown you should check the forecast and make sure you’re prepared for the weather.
10. Get baby used to the carrier
Some babies don’t like to be in a carrier, especially if they haven’t been used to it. Before attempting a hike, you should get baby used to the carrier by regularly taking a stroll.
Packing for your hike
11. Bring enough wipes
Wipes are insanely useful when you’re hiking with a baby. Make sure you bring enough of them! Of course, you need some to change the diaper. You might also need a few to clean dirty hands.
12. More water than usual
You will probably drink more often since you’re carrying extra weight. Your baby will want to drink and you want to make sure you have enough for everyone. The chance to fill your bottle can be quite scarce in the mountains.
If you think you might not have enough water, I’ll suggest you bring a lifestraw.
13. Pack some food
Baby will be hungry, and depending on baby’s age you might want to give him food. I’d suggest bringing some fruit and rice crackers. It can be a good motivator.
14. One spare set of baby clothes
Should I explain why? It can happen, and you’d want to be ready in that case! You might even want to bring two sets if you are going on a long hike.
15. Bring 3 to 4 plastic bags
One plastic bag will be used as garbage, another one will be useful if baby’s clothes get dirty. You might wanna use a tight plastic bag and seal the dirty diaper in it right away.
16. Bugs or mosquitoes in the area? Fully cover your baby!
We often hiked with Darian in Latin America, and we decided to always fully cover his skin to avoid any bite. The weather might be hot, so you wanna invest in breathable clothes (not too thin so that the mosquitoes cannot bite through).
17. Don’t use sunscreen! Protect your baby with a hat.
Another reason why your baby should be fully covered is to protect him from the sun. It’s easy to get a sunburn at this age, and you don’t wanna use sunscreen before he gets 6-month-old (we waited much longer than that). Baby should always wear a hat while exposed to the sun.
18. Too cold? Use a winter hat!
Humans lose a lot of body heat through the head. Instead of stockpiling clothing layers, one simple element is to wear a winter hat to keep baby warm.
19. Don’t forget the first-aid kit!
It’s essential for your safety and of others, yet it’s often overlooked. Most of the time you won’t need it, but the few time where you will, you’ll be quite happy to have brought a first-aid kit with you.
20. And some familiar toys
Bringing a few toys will definitely lift your baby’s mood whenever he starts to feel a bit upset.
21. You need good shoes!
Not only while hiking with a baby, but anytime you are hiking. You don’t want to slip on the wet path and fall while carrying your son. Having a good pair of hiking shoes limit the risk.
22. Sunglasses to protect your baby’s eyes
Don’t forget sunglasses to protect baby’s eyes from the sun.
23. Be ready for the rain
You should not cancel your hike because of the rain, no! It can be super fun as well, but you need to bring some rain wear. A rain jacket is super light but so useful! In your backpack you should have one for you and another one for your baby.
During the hike
24. Feed the baby just before the start
Whether you are nursing or formula feeding, it’s important to feed your baby just before starting the hike! With a bit of chance and timing, he might even sleep for most of the hike.
25. Be receptive to baby’s needs
The great thing about baby, is that they will make you understand when they need something. You know your baby better than anyone else, and you need to be responsive to his demands.
26. Tips to change diapers
How to proceed? You should bring along a changing pad (another must-have travel equipment). It’s quite light and so useful! Find a relatively flat spot and you change your baby without trouble! Take out a plastic bag before, then you’ll just have to put the dirty diaper, the used wipes, and seal the bag.
27. Take frequent breaks
Staying in a baby carrier is not the most comfortable position for a baby. I’d recommend taking breaks as often as baby asks for it. He might even promptly cry to get out of the carrier if he hasn’t been used to it at a young age.
28. Taking a break? Good! Put baby on a mat.
Give him the chance to spend his energy. He will want to have the chance to explore his surroundings. It is also a perfect way to give your body a break after carrying him!
29. Stop and smell the flowers
One thing I particularly liked to do with my sons was to stop and let them smell different plants, different flowers. I’m not sure what effects it had, but I firmly believe that it’s great to train their olfactory system as soon as possible!
30. Talk to your baby
Use this wonderful opportunity for an open-air lesson. Talk to your baby and describe what you see. Introduce the animals’ and plants’ names.
31. Keep baby hydrated
You surely have brought enough water thanks to our tips, but don’t forget to give some to him more often than you would usually drink.
32. Always give your baby some head support!
Your baby will fall asleep if you hike long enough. One thing I noted on the carriers is that there’s not enough head support when baby is sleeping. Bring a towel or a piece of cloth to keep his head while he sleeps!
Bonus tip: Enjoy what you’re doing!
The most important when you go hiking with a baby is you need to enjoy it. Don’t force it. You will need patience and preparation to make it work. You might even need some improvisations skills in case everything doesn’t go as planned.
Baby and you will get a lot from these experiences, but some efforts from parents are required. Are you ready to do so?
Yes? Then I can guarantee you’ll have a great time!
And YOU? Share with us your experience hiking with a baby! Comment and let us know!