What better way to get your toddler outdoors than to head off on a hike together? While the prospect of setting off on a long hike with your little one may be daunting, it can do them the world of good. Not only does it help introduce them to nature and the world around them, but it also helps to keep them active.
There’s a lot of benefits hiking can provide for you and your toddler. However, if you want to ensure you experience these benefits, there’s some tips you’re going to want to follow! Below, you’ll discover 10 essential tips for hiking with toddlers.
1. Start With A Short, Easy Hike
Before heading off on a long hike, it’s worth starting out small. Pick out a nice short, easy hike to begin with. That way, you can see how your toddler gets on and whether or not they enjoy it.
The last thing you need is to set off on a long hike, only to find half way along the route your toddler has had enough! Ideally, your first hike should take no more than an hour in total.
2. Build Up Their Stamina
It could be worth building up your toddler’s stamina before attempting a hike together. This means, walking as frequently as possible. You don’t need to head off on long walks, start by walking around the block, or to your local park. The more your little one gets used to walking, the more stamina they’ll have when it comes to hiking.
It’s important to still take their stroller with you, as even walking short distances may be challenging in the beginning. It’s going to be much easier for you and your toddler if they can enjoy a little rest as and when they need it. With each walk you do together, increase the amount of time they spend out of the stroller.
3. Make Sure You Research The Trail
Once your little one has developed enough stamina to go hiking, one of the best tips you can follow is to research the trail. Never just head off hiking without first familiarizing yourself with the route.
You’ll need to know where the nearest toilets are, whether the route is toddler-friendly and consider the terrain on the hike too. Think about what your toddler would most enjoy. What kind of things would they find interesting to see? Waterfalls, trees and lakes are just some of the things your toddler may enjoy exploring.
4. Consider Creating On-Trail Activities
If you’re worried they will get bored of just walking, you could always create activities they can take part in on the trail. Scavenger hunts are a particularly great idea. When researching the trail, find out what kinds of things you’re likely to come across. Then, create a list of trees, plants, insects and anything else they might be able to look out for. Your toddler can then have fun trying to spot everything on the list as you make your way around the trail.
You could also print off information about the things you’re likely to see and use it as an educational activity. Your toddler will enjoy learning more about the different plants, trees and insects you come across and it’s a great way to keep them interested.
There’s lots of activities you can take part in during a hike and the more fun you can make it, the more your toddler will enjoy hiking.
5. Try To Go As Early As Possible
Ideally, you’ll want your toddler to have as much energy as possible when you hit the trail. So, it’s worth going as early as possible. This is also a great tip when you’re hiking in the summer as it won’t be as hot early in the morning.
You’ll gain all of the benefits of being out in nature, your toddler will be raring to go and you’ll be back home by lunchtime. You’ll even get to enjoy a little peace and quiet when you get back as your little one will most likely be ready for a nap!
6. Ensure You Have Lots Of Rest Stops
Even if you’re just heading out on a short hike, it’s a good idea to ensure you have lots of little rest stops. Toddlers become tired pretty easily, so when walking, especially in the heat, they’re going to need plenty of rest to prevent them from getting overtired.
During your rest stops, give them snacks and refreshments to keep their energy levels up. This will also reduce the chance they’ll become fussy during the rest of the hike.
7. Be Sure To Take Snacks And Refreshments
Following on from the tip above, it’s important to make sure you take plenty of snacks and refreshments. Not only are these needed to keep your toddlers energy levels up, but they can also act as a great distraction when your little one starts to become fussy.
A great additional tip is to carry a few special snacks in your backpack. These can be used when your toddler is extra-fussy, and you need to settle them down quickly!
8. Ensure They’re Dressed Appropriately
Pay attention to what your toddler is wearing for the hike. Even on cooler days, they could quickly become overheated after walking a while. Therefore, it’s best to dress them in lightweight, layered clothing. That way, if they do start to become too hot, you can remove a layer of clothing and keep it in your backpack until later.
9. Let Your Toddler Choose Where To Go
You may find your toddler is reluctant to go on a hike. In this case, it’s a great idea to let them choose where they want to go. If they’ve had some input into the trail, they’re more likely to get excited about going on the hike.
Research several local toddler-friendly hikes and then ask your toddler which one they want to go on. You can tell them about each trail, so they fully understand what their options are.
10. Take A Carrier!
As much as you want to believe your toddler will walk the entire trail with you, it’s highly unlikely! While taking a stroller is the obvious choice, it’s not always practical to push a stroller around a hiking trail. Therefore, you’ll want to consider taking a carrier instead.
When your little one gets tired or has had enough of walking, you can pop them in the carrier for a while. This will give them the rest they need, while also proving to be more practical and easier for you too.
These are 10 of the best tips you can follow when taking your toddler hiking this summer. Remember, the more you prepare, the more likely it is you’ll enjoy the experience. Always start off small and work your way up to longer hikes. When you’re well prepared, hiking can be a fantastic activity for you and your little one.