If you’re thinking about taking your little one on some outdoor adventure, but don’t know where to start, here’s my main piece of advice: start small.
Hiking is a really good activity to try with your little one, especially if you have any short, easy hikes nearby to test it out for the first time.
Let me tell you, the first time I took P out hiking, I was absolutely terrified! So many thoughts racing through my head before we left: Did I pack enough? Did I pack the right things? Is he warm enough? Am I strong enough to carry him the whole time? What if he cries? What if he poops? Can I nurse him in this outfit? Are we going to get mauled by a bear!?
Spoiler alert: There was no mauling that took place. 😉
I chose a hike that I was familiar with and had actually completed when I was about 5 months pregnant with P. I figured if I could do the hike while carrying him inside me, I could also do the hike while carrying him outside me. This hike is about 4 miles with less than 1000 feet of elevation gain. Easy peasy – for the most part.
The drive to the trailhead was just over an hour. Southern California doesn’t generally get snow for the most part, but this was in the mountains in January. There was a good amount of snow! But I figured humans lived through times with no heaters, so we could do the same, right? 😉
The beginning of the trail had a bit of a scary section that was basically just one giant block of slippery ice with a large drop off. I knew that this would be the case, so I came prepared. I brought traction devices for my shoes and had P strapped into my child carrier hiking pack (linked here – not sponsored, I just really love this pack). This was the scariest part of the hike, but because I was prepared, we made it through with no issues.
After we got through that first challenge, we were ready to get to the old mines that were just under 2 miles away. So far we were doing great! Porter was chatty and having a good time. However, we got about a mile in and he started getting a little fussy. I was too nervous to nurse him for no reason, so I made him a bottle. That helped a bit and we went on our way. A bit further, I realized that his mouth was bleeding. I felt terrible! The air was so cold and dry and it never occurred to me to bring anything for his lips.
By the time we got to the mines, he was very upset and I decided that I needed to nurse him. I got myself situated and nursed him for a bit, but it wasn’t really helping. Normally when we go to these mines we like to hang out for a while, eat, and enjoy the scenery. But I looked at my hiking partner and asked her if it was okay if we immediately headed back to the trail head. Of course she was so understanding and we went back on our way. P actually calmed down as we made our way back to the car and even napped in my carrier most of the way back.
Although we encountered some challenges on this hike, this was, in my opinion, the best first experience with hiking with a baby. It was so fun and refreshing and confidence-boosting! I have never felt that motherhood came naturally to me, but accomplishing something even as minor as this helped me to see that I was more capable than I gave myself credit for (and that babies are more resilient than we give them credit for)!
So here’s my “tldr” tips for first time hikes with babies:
- Keep it simple. Find a short, easy hike and gradually increase difficulty as you gain more experience.
- Don’t be afraid to nurse or change diapers on the trail! Hikers are generally really friendly people and definitely don’t care. Also, bring a small blanket to lay your baby down on.
- Don’t start too early. Wait for your body to heal and be strong enough. Giving birth is a huge feat and your body deserves the recovery it needs.
- Babies are incredibly resilient. Don’t be afraid to take them outside.
- Write out a packing list and make sure you have all the items you need (but don’t bring more than you can carry).
- It’s worth spending the money on quality products, like the child carrier pack. However, always check places like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp to see if there are any cheaper used ones to purchase!
I have lots of tips and tricks, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! And if you have any input, I would love to hear it as well.