Hiking has always been a big part of my life – most of my days off work you can find me in the mountains. I love exploring the beauty that B.C.’s backcountry has to offer, and so when I had a baby I promised myself I wouldn’t lose that identity as a hiker and adventure enthusiast. Sure I knew it was going to be harder to get out there with some extra weight on my shoulders, but I knew it was important to me and so I would figure out a way.
So far, Max and I have conquered some great hikes together including the Chief, Lakside Loop, and Mt Crumpet and are planning to get out on some more adventures in the near future. I wanted to share with you all some tips that have helped me be able to get out on hikes with a baby successfully.
1. Find a comfortable carrier
Once your little one has enough neck strength to hold their head up (usually around 6 months) then you are able to put them in a backpack carrier ( steep hikes with them strapped in front is not enjoyable). The key here is finding the right carrier for you and babe. I have heard so many friends say that one brand is better for tall people, another for shorter – you have to find the right fit for you because remember, you are carrying an extra tiny human up a mountain. After some research we went with the Dueter Kid Comfort. The selling point for this one was the comfort for both baby and parent, as well as the fact that it comes with a sunshade and a decent amount of storage (one issue I have with this carrier though is that the sunshade keeps hitting me in the head #tallgirlproblems). Some of the other top brands when it comes to carriers are Thule and Osprey. Do your research, read reviews, and test them if you can because this will be the difference between being able to hike for long distance and be comfortable vs. breaking your back along the way.
2. Start slow
My first hike with my little one was the Chief, and let me tell you, my back and shoulder weren’t too happy with me the next day. Remember that this is new for you and baby. Get out on a few easier hikes or trails so that both of you can get used to the carrier and this new method of hiking.
I feel like this is a top tip no matter where you are going with your baby. If you want to be out on a hike that is several km and you want baby to be happy the whole time – the key here is lots and lots of snacks. I love taking mum mums with me (my son is only 9 months) because he is able to eat those on the go – I can keep him happy even if it isn’t time to take a break
Your baby and your back will thank you. The great thing about babies being 6 months is they have enough head strength for longer hikes, the hard part is they are usually starting to become mobile and sitting in a carrier for several hours can be a little boring for them. If you are doing a bit of a longer hike, just expect it to take some extra time and allow your little one to get out of the carrier for a quick crawl every once in a while. Hey we aren’t trying to set records, we are trying to get out in nature with our babes (I keep reminding myself now hikes are different, more about the journey with Max than the destination).
5.Time the hike with naps
I usually set out after nap time so that Max is awake and happy and can take in the surroundings. If we are going to be out for a while, I will try and plan the longest leg of the hike during a nap time since Max still falls asleep in the carrier – try and get a feel for your baby because this will be different for everyone.
6. Bring Layers
Weather in the mountain can be unpredictable and while it is always important to bring layers for yourself, even more so for babe because they aren’t moving. You might be sweating after an incline on a coolish day – but your baby is just enjoying the ride so make sure they are dressed for the weather.
7, Plan out diaper changes, if you can
Thankfully at this age you are probably passed the dreadful poo explosions – but if you are out for a few hours it is likely baby will need a change at some point and so planning the right time is key. I try to avoid anything too high in the alpine because there is less protection from sun or wind and will also be cooler.
Happy exploring mommas,