Tips for hiking with toddlers
Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Hiking with toddlers can be fun and rewarding. You'll get some much-needed fresh air, and your little one will start to learn about the outdoors. But it also takes planning, preparation and patience—especially if you do it with a small child! Here are some tips on how to make hiking with toddlers easier:
Bring a sturdy hiking carrier.
A sturdy hiking carrier is a must. It should be safe, comfortable, and easy to use. A backpack with a waist strap is best; it allows you to distribute the weight evenly across your body so you don't have to carry your child on one hip all day.
If possible, get a carrier that can be used in front or back and on both parents—especially if you have more than one kid! We recently also started using the TrailMagik carrier as the girls are starting to want to walk the trails on their own, and having the Trailmagik allows us to fold it into our backpack when they aren't being carried.
Start on a flat, short easy trail.
If you're new to hiking with a toddler, start with a short and flat trail. I love using AllTrails to plan my hike based on distance, type of route, and elevation gain. Steep trails can be tough on little legs, and they don't have the endurance of adults. Keep in mind that toddlers have very short attention spans—even if they're having fun at first, they'll soon get tired or bored and want to stop. Try not to let your toddler wander off into the woods or rush ahead of you while hiking; they may fall down an unseen hole or step into poison ivy! Also keep an eye out for ar
eas where there could be ticks; ticks love hanging out in tall grasses and brushy areas.
If your child gets tired before you've reached the end of the trail (or midway through), take a break and rest for a few minutes before continuing on again, or bp It's important not only to keep yourself safe from falling hazards but also so other hikers won't accidentally run into you during their own hikes if there's anyone else coming down this same path at any point during theirs."
Bring plenty of snacks and water for your toddler, and for you.
When planning your hike, bring plenty of snacks and water for your toddler, and for you. It's important to plan out what food you'll eat before the hike. You don't want to be stuck with no lunch because it was hard to pack or eat on the trail.
Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what to bring:
Make sure that the snacks are easy for toddlers to eat without utensils. Small pieces of fruit or vegetables work well here.
Think about how far away from home you'll be hiking and whether there will be any stores nearby where you can buy food if necessary. If not, make sure your child has eaten enough during breakfast so they won't be hungry by lunchtime!
Minimize the packaging of snacks and pack in whatever garbage you brought with you.
Go early in the day or late, to avoid heat and crowds.
Avoid the heat of the day by getting an early start. It will also help you avoid crowds, which are more likely to be found at high noon on weekends and holidays.
As much as possible, try to avoid trails that have steep drop-offs or exposed roots where your child could easily slip and fall. You don't want to take any chances with their safety! Also, pay attention to animal behavior along your route: if they seem startled or scared by your child running around (which can happen), make sure you stay alert so nothing gets spooked into doing something dangerous—like biting or scratching someone!
If possible, time your hike with naptime—your toddler might need a rest anyway after all that running around earlier in the morning before getting home again so soon afterwards too!
Hiking with toddlers is fun, but it also takes some planning.
Before you head out, it's important to think about safety and comfort. As much as your children are excited to be on a hike, they may not have the endurance or patience that an adult might have. You should plan for shorter hikes (no more than 3 miles) and take more frequent breaks when hiking with toddlers. Don't expect them to hike as far or as fast as adults—it is more important for them to enjoy themselves rather than reach the destination fast. And remember that rough terrain can get tiring on little legs!
Another thing to consider before leaving is what clothing and gear works best for your toddler(s). If you're going on a long hike in chilly weather, make sure they're wearing warm clothes like fleece pants and jackets made from wool or synthetic fibers instead of cotton (cotton holds moisture which could cause your toddler's body temperature drop). When it comes time for lunch break after some good exercise under the sun (or rain!), pack some snacks that won't spoil easily so they don't need refrigeration until later in trip when there might not be electricity available at camp site location where you'll be staying the night...
So, there you have it! Hiking with toddlers is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and vitamin D for the whole family. The key is to go early in the morning or late afternoon so that you’ll avoid crowds (infants can be pretty fussy around other people), take lots of snacks and water, and bring an appropriate carrier so they don’t get tired out too quickly. Good luck on your next hike!