Is hiking with toddlers even possible?
You were probably in the car when you passed by a hill and thought to yourself, “When was the last time I went hiking?”
You have an instant flashback of the younger version of you, conquering the peaks, and suddenly a loud shrieking noise comes from the back going “Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!” in all different intonations.
You’re brought back to reality and you think, “How do you even go hiking with toddlers?”
You’re already dreading the idea and think it’s not worth the energy, but here is a guideline and everything you need to know before hiking with toddlers.
I know how difficult it can be to hiking with toddlers and run after them at the same time, as a mama of 2 I’m telling you that you’ve got this! I’ve got a 3-year-old daughter and a 15-month son who both got minds of their own.
Bringing our children for a hike was the last thing on my mind, but both my husband and I missed it! So we said, let’s just bring them along and see how it goes! Here are some toddler hiking tips that you should know.
21 things you need to know before bringing your toddler for a hike!
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1. Hiking With An Infant Aged 0-6 Months
So you recently gave birth and you’re desperate to get out there again and start hiking with your baby. Personally, I would wait out till your baby at least has some head control. Babies get head control around 3 months when they start going on their tummy.
The best way to go hiking with an infant is by using a baby wrap so you’ll always get head support. Baby carriers aren’t ideal yet for their small body. And also who doesn’t love being all snuggled up with their mama?
Here’s a list of my favorite baby wraps:
For those breastfeeding mama’s this is so handy because you can easily breastfeed while your baby is inside without an additional nursing cover.
It is also very easy to tie and has an ergonomic seat for the baby. Each time you or your husband tie it, it creates a custom seat where it’s always met with a knee to knee support.
What’s amazing about this Konny baby wrap is that it’s made up of air mesh which means its perfect to take for hiking! The material is breathable making it cool for you and the baby.
The Moby baby wrap is soft and stretchable. Making it great for breastfeeding as well. The wrap can support your baby up to 33lbs!
Hiking with a baby might be a bit extra work because you would need to carry them, and also carry your diaper bag.
This Columbia backpack cum diaper bag is amazing! You can easily transform it to your hiking backpack when you no longer need it as a diaper bag.
If your baby is great on pacifiers, great! Make sure it’s clipped at your carrier for easy reach when they start becoming fussy.
The pacifier above has been a godsend to many mama’s out there. You can give this a try if you’ve been struggling to get your newborn suckling one.
Not a paci baby?
Make an extra bottle of milk and place it at the side of the bag. When your baby starts crying for milk, you’ll easily be able to reach out for it from the side.
2. Hiking With An Infant Aged 6 Months-1-Year-Old
By this time, your baby has better head control and is also able to sit upright. They’ll also be able to see further and you’ll be able to communicate and show your baby the nature around it.
Coo together with your baby and show them what’s around you.
The trees, the butterflies, the little insects. You’ll be surprised at how they respond with their little cute coos.
If you would like to give them healthier options, steam up some carrots and broccoli that are easy for your toddler to grasp.
3. Hiking With Toddlers Aged 1-2 Years Old
Hiking with a 1-year-old can be a little bit tricky. Depending on if your toddler is an early walker, if they can walk by 1 year old then it would be easier for you to bring them on a stroll.
However, if they’re not walking yet. You’re in that phase of trying to get them off the floor because they want to be on the floor but they can’t walk yet! It is a constant battle.
I say let them be on all fours with nature. It’s also part of sensory activity!
Here’s a book that you can read up more about sensory development.
If your toddler is like mine, and still taking their time to walk by the time they’re 14 months, consider using a toddler hiking carrier.
It can be challenging if your toddler loves to wiggle a lot, however, after going for a few trial walks they’ll get used to it. Alternatively you can also consider using a front face baby carrier for your toddler.
This way they’ll be able to enjoy it with a much clearer view!
4. Hiking With Toddlers Ages 2-3 Years Old
Hiking with a 2-year-old can be so much fun, but challenging at the same time. They’re going to walk, don’t worry about that. But they’re going to walk wherever they want to and stop whenever they want to. So how to hike with a toddler?
You might be walking 5 steps forwards and going back 5 steps backward, only to go 2 steps forwards again. Those little feet won’t get you far. Hiking with a toddler can be taxing, however, enjoy what fascinates your toddler.
But hey! It’s all about the fun, so don’t think too much about it and go with the flow. It could be a small little lizard that came across your path or that bright yellow flower. Enjoy the process!
5. Hiking With Toddlers Aged 3-4 Years Old
Hiking with a 3-year-old is definitely more ideal.
They can walk so much more stable, and less to nil need for a toddler carrier. Unless of course, you’re going mountain climbing, I suggest investing in one of these.
3 year old’s are often known as threenagers.
So it’s like having your very own miniature teenager coming along with you on your hike. They’ll walk, but they might also whine a lot. Ensure to make it fun every step along the way!
What’s their go-to music? Sing it! On repeat, until you get to the checkpoint! Need them to walk faster? Play a little game that puts their mind off the long walk. Keep it interesting!
Exciting Hiking Games for Toddlers
- Engage with your Surroundings
Let your toddler engage with their senses, ask them how many sounds they can hear from the hike and ask them to describe the sound.
- Alphabet Game
If your toddler has already begun to know their ABC’s, it’s a great time to polish them too! Begin with the letter A and continue till the end.
Think of something that you see along the hike that starts with the letter. I’ve played this numerous times, and I find myself picking my brain too!
Here’s an alphabet book you can bring along the hike with your toddler.
Your toddler’s imagination can really turn wild and it’s really fascinating to see the world through their eyes. Start by telling a story and ask them to continue.
It doesn’t have to make sense! We can even pretend that a pot of gold will be waiting for us by the end of the trail!
6. Ensure Your Toddler Is Ready
Bring them out for short little strolls BEFORE you bring them to hike.
Don’t immediately jump to a big hike.
They might find the hike too much for them and next thing you know you’re carrying your 10-15kg toddler on the hike.
If your toddler is tired from a 1-2 minute stroll and keeps asking you to carry them, going for a hike might not be the time yet.
Consider postponing those hiking plans and continue bringing them on strolls until they can walk further.
You can start going on strolls that last for 2-3 minutes, then prolong it until they can last 15-20 minutes.
Manage to walk longer? Bring them up for a hike!
If it’s your first time going on a hike, your toddler might not understand where you’re heading towards. They’re bound to ask what’s at the end of the trail.
Tell them it’s about soaking in the view and enjoying the wind as it brushes against your skin.
Feeling slightly overwhelmed? Follow these few hiking toddler tips below and you’ll be fine.
7. Things To Bring When Hiking With Toddlers
Here are mandatory items to bring regardless of what age they are.
1. Extra change of clothes
2. Extra diapers (in case they want to make a massive poo poo in the nature)
3. Baby wipes
4. Extra plastic to put the dirty diaper in
5. Bottle of water (for you to wash your hands in case chocolates gets on your hands)
Checklist for babies ages 0-1-year-old
- Extra bottle of milk
- If you’re breastfeeding, and feel uncomfortable nursing while using a carrier and out in the open, bring a nursing cover along with you
- Pacifier (if your baby takes them)
- Baby snacks (teether snacks or those puffs are great. You can just put some in your bag and it’s easy for your baby to grasp as well)
- Teether (they might be in the biting mood now. Having something for them to bite on would be great as they explore nature with you.)
Here’s a list of my favorite go-to baby snacks and teethers:
I love this brand! There are a whole lot of other teething biscuits, but both my children love this. They’re other flavors to this too, and we love all of them!
2. Gerber Puffs
My son personally loves the blueberries and loves nothing else other than that. It’s a great hit with my 3-year-old as well. Have this packed and you’re great to go.
We just simply love Sophie. We as in my kids, anything my kid’s love, is a love for me too! It’s soft, it squeaks, what else is there not to love?
Another great favorite is this Mombella teether. Since it can fall off easily, have it tied to your carrier so that when your baby loses its grasp, it won’t fall off to the ground.
Checklist for toddlers ages 1-2 years old
- Bring along their favorite drinking bottle. Get one that is in their favorite cartoon. It encourages them to drink even more.
- Ensure that you’ve got their caps as well. Hiking can be quite hot, and the heat can get to you.
Here’s a list of hiking hats you can get for your toddlers:
This hat has a UPF 50+ protection, and they sell in infant size which is very hard to get. It’s also adjustable so it’s great and you won’t need to worry if it’s a perfect fit!
Breathable and lightweight, this one-size-fits come with a UPF 50+ protection. The sun hat is also waterproof, so don’t worry about it getting into the water.
3. Heehipoo Hat
Heehipoo has a great variety in terms of designs and has a UPF 50+ protection too, however, even though it is adjustable, it is only catered to slightly bigger kids.
Checklist for toddlers ages 3-4 years old
- Mandatory items- opt out of the diaper for an extra pair of underwear, provided that your toddler is already potty trained. Accidents may happen, better to come prepared.
- Your toddler can carry a backpack themselves now. Pack in their snacks and water bottles inside. Keep things light so they don’t complain it’s too heavy for them.
When looking for backpacks, you want lightweight and durability as it’s for hiking and it might get dirty.
Here’s a list of hiking backpacks you can consider getting for your toddlers:
It has everything you are looking for. Waterproof, tear resistant, durable and lightweight. It’s perfect starting ages 3-years-old and above.
The straps to this backpack are adjustable and offer support and comfort. Perfect for a hike so they don’t strain their shoulders. The size is just nice for toddlers aged 2 – 4 years old.
These backpacks come with cute designs that definitely have your toddlers eyes sparkled! It has insulated front pockets that will keep your food all nice and warm. So you don’t even have to worry about carrying a bulky lunch box!
Now you must be thinking, do I really need all this? You might find it too heavy to bring it hiking with you, but my mum always says; that when it comes to children it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
8. Snacks And More Snacks
Snacks are the one thing that keeps me going sane, and most importantly; keep the babies and toddlers sane too. I cannot stress enough about snacks when hiking with a toddler.
A little snack will keep them energized along the way. If you’ve got a snack monster like mine, don’t leave the house without them. Abort mission!
Bring whatever it is that your baby or toddler loves.
Here are my go-to snacks:
3. Gerber blueberry baby puffs (even my older toddler loves them. Can never go wrong)
4. Teether snacks (my baby used to love this, he won’t take it anymore. But it’s great for children below 1-year-old!)
5. Milk box (those small ones that are only about 200ml and come with a straw). This is great. Your toddler can probably finish it in one go. If 200ml is too much for your toddler, you can opt for the smaller version which is 125ml.
Make sure their favorite snacks are always there in the bag.
9. Have A Good Carry On
Your backpack must be good enough so that it supports your back. Carrying your toddler things is going to be an additional weight that you don’t want to be cursing on bringing it along for the hike.
If you’re going to be bringing along a toddler carrier for hiking, then great! You’ll have ample space to be bringing your baby things along too.
If you’re not using a toddler carrier, here’s some choice of backpacks you can easily get on Amazon. You can also read this article on best backpacks for toddlers.
It’s so lightweight that it’s great because having your toddler hiking along with you, you don’t want to be lugging so many things around.
This bag has padded straps, so it definitely would relieve some pressure from all the weight you’re carrying. It’s made water-resistant too!
It has a huge capacity in the main compartment. You can pack all your baby or toddler’s necessities and even bring some of your things and still have more space!
10. Finding The Right Toddler Hiking Gear
If you want to go hiking with your baby that doesn’t know how to walk yet, then a hiking carrier would be in need. Here are some baby hiking gear that are great if you’re an avid hiker!
ClevrPlus comes out with great baby carriers.
This baby carrier however is only for children above 9 months. But what’s great about it, is that you can use it up till your toddler is 4 years old!
Here is another baby carrier option that you can weigh on.
Luvdbaby is a better option when you’re bringing a toddler below 2. What’s great about this one is that it carries babies as young as 4 months old! It also has multiple pockets and insulated pockets for that milk bottle!
This hiking bag also comes with a diaper-changing pad. Extra love as that means it’s more convenient for us parents out there!
Some parents are not comfortable with a baby carrier. And some babies just hate being in it, some babies are mine. So finding a suitable stroller to go on a hike would be better. Unfortunately, strollers like the one I have now are only fit for the city.
BOB Gear is a stroller that is great for a hike! Having a stroller that has a great suspension to go on any terrain is the kind we want to have when going on a hike. Very much on the pricey side, but I would have to say it is the hiking stroller.
What I love about it, is that it has a downhill control. It has ergonomic hand brakes that you can control at your fingertips. You can avoid having that paranoia of your baby going downhill like those cartoons we used to watch back then.
Another cheaper alternative would be Baby Trend jogger stroller. It’s more than half of the price but also does the work.
The jogger stroller is sturdy enough to go on tougher terrains and is also lightweight. It also has an expandable canopy to shield the baby from harmful sun exposure.
I also found this great article that shares 12 best hiking strollers!
Toddlers hiking shoes
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting good hiking shoes for your children.
If you have got one hiking shoe, then it’s more important for your toddler to have one too because those little feet are just so clumsy.
One of the best hiking shoes is Mishansha Ankle Boots.
Not only is it super sturdy it’s also lightweight.
Having sturdy shoes means that your toddler can provide more protection as they don’t fall and trip easily and having it lightweight is going to decrease that chances.
You can also check out Hawkwell Hiking Shoes.
They’re very breathable and have good ankle supports, which would help your toddlers feel less tired about hiking.
Do you need to get all the items above to go on your first hike?
No of course not! If you’d like to just see how things go and may use the carrier that you already have, you may use the current shoes your toddler has.
However, if you can foresee that hiking would be a great activity and would like to do it at least once a week, I strongly recommend investing in the items above.
11. Hiking With Your Toddlers Gear
Hiking with a toddlers carrier will be hard for the first time.
Bear in mind this is additional weight. How are you supposed to hike with your toddler while also hiking with their toddler gear? Well, other than having your stamina in check; it’s great to have a good carry-on.
Having a good carry-on that is lightweight enables you to hike comfortably with your infant or toddler. Alternatively, if your toddler is between 3-4 years old they can also have a small backpack that consists of very light things.
Have them carry their water and snacks in their backpack.
This would enable you to offload some of the weight you’re carrying and be able to hike the first few meters before they give up carrying their own backpack.
Realistically speaking, you will be carrying the weight in the end, but those first few meters without the additional weight would be bliss. It also trains your toddlers in becoming more independent.
12. Pick Their Interest In Hiking
Let’s face it. Nature is not for everyone. Hiking is not for everyone either.
So your toddler might not be in it too. If this is your first time hiking with your toddler; tell your toddler what you’re going to do for the weekend.
Make them anticipate the day, and tell stories of what fun it would be hiking and being one with nature.
Alternatively, you can also ask your toddler’s opinions before going on the hike. Talk about nature and see if they would like to experience something together.
Questions you may ask
- Would you like to explore nature?
- Would you like to go on a beautiful sunny hike with mummy and daddy?
- Would you like to see what type of insects we can find along the hike?
- Would you like to cloud gaze when we reach the top?
- How do you feel about going for a long stroll in the hills?
Here’s some amazing books you can get to prepare yourself and your little ones.
This book gives you 100 awesome adventures you can take your baby and toddler. They share a lot on family-friendly trails too!
Your toddler can start getting ideas from the illustrations in this book. It’s a great book and simple reading to encourage your toddler into this great world of hiking.
The hike shares a story about 3 explorers going on a hike. The fun narrative and illustrations will get your toddler excited about going on a hike.
13. Find A Suitable Hill
Going on a hike with your toddler can be challenging for the first time, my ultimate hiking tip would be; don’t try to be an overachiever.
Find a suitable hill for you and your toddler. Don’t start with a steep hike.
Start them off gradually. If your toddler has been on a hike before and enjoys it, take them for a longer hike, or move on to a different hill for a more challenging hike.
14. Plan The Hike To Your Toddler’s Schedule
If your toddler is still taking naps during the day, it is very very crucial to work around it. Never go when it’s time for their nap. Unless you’d like to hike with a moody mini Hulk.
You know your child’s routine, pick the best time when they have already eaten and are well-rested.
If you’re hiking with an infant, it can be a little bit tricky to gauge their routine as it’s so unpredictable. Hence why having everything with you is important.
15. Keep The Hike Interesting
Toddlers can get super-duper bored easily. Keeping the hike interesting can be easy as you try to get your toddler’s attention from their surroundings.
How do you keep it interesting?
- Play some games during the hike
- Have conversations with your toddler
- Keep the hike short
- Be hyped out about the hike, your toddler will feed off your energy
16. Games To Do During Hikes
Playing some games during the hikes will keep their mind off the walk and how tired they are. Here are some games you can play with.
- I spy with my little eye
This works with my toddler anytime she starts getting restless, even in the car! She can’t spell yet, so we go by colors. “I spy with my little eye something green..”
It’s a great way to teach them colors as well!
- Sing a song!
Singing their favorite tune is a great distraction too! Know that “Are we there yet?” from Cocomelon? Now, you just heard Cocomelon’s intro in your head, didn’t you?
Sing along to their jam and before you know it you’re already there!
- Race game
If your toddler is as competitive as mine is, a little challenge on who’s gonna win will motivate them! Mine even wants to win on who showers first.
Let’s say you’re already on the hike, and it’s a long stretch. Start by saying “Okay see that rock there, whoever reaches there first wins!”. Downplay it, and make sure your toddler actually wins. Or else you’ll be dealing with a meltdown.
- What will you find?
Here’s a book that you can bring along for the hike to keep your toddler occupied. It’s filled with activities, stickers and checklists.
17. Safety Measures
When going on a hiking with your toddlers, whatever it is, safety is no 1. Make sure the places you pick to hike are places that a lot of people go to as well.
If anything happens, there are people around that you can easily shout for help.
Don’t go hiking in a secluded place.
Anything can happen and knowing that people are around to help gives your mind at peace. Bringing along a hiking whistle is great too, make sure to teach your toddler how to use it so they can use it to call for help too.
18. Go At Your Toddler’s Pace
It’s okay if you’re moving slow. Remember the hare and the tortoise? Slow and steady wins the race. If they’re going around circles, you can encourage them to go forward and reach their destination. But never rush them into it.
If they’re taking slower steps, pace down to your toddler’s pace.
Ensure there is no pressure felt.
Avoid telling them to hurry up. Something I tell my toddler constantly when I feel the need to rush, and she gets pressured all the time.
So note to self, follow your toddler’s pace.
19. Keep It Short
We know we miss the thrill and sweat from the hike, but it might not be that 1-hour hike that you anticipate. Keep your hike short and sweet so that your toddler can go back and forth without feeling the need to ask to be carried.
If you’re hiking with your carrier, you may go as far as you can. If you’re not able to because of the amount of weight you’re carrying, don’t push yourself too hard.
Go for 15 minutes, you can try to push yourself another 10 minutes the next hike you go. Take it slow and steady.
20. Lower Your Expectations
First time going on the hike? I know you’re already fully geared and hoping that you’ll at least get to midpoint, but even if you only get to the first quarter; pat yourself on the back!
That is truly amazing! You did it! With your baby and toddler! Taking the step to go trekking with your toddler is already an achievement in itself.
Amazing job for your toddler as well. It’s fine. You’ll reach the top when you get there. This is one of the hiking with kids tips that I wish that everyone would give so that we can feel less pressured about those Instagram mums.
21. Have Fun!
Remember the whole point of doing this is so that you can spend some quality time with your children! Have fun with the process. Give yourself a break and don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your toddler.
Enjoy the sunny breeze, the smell of dirt, and the memories made with your loved ones.
At What Age Can You Start Hiking With Your Baby?
If you’re wondering at what age can you start hiking with your baby, the answer is you can start hiking with your 2 months old newborn baby! As I mentioned above, newborn routines are harder to gauge so you won’t know until you start hiking.
Start with shorter strolls. Your infant would very much enjoy being wrapped around you as you use the baby wrap.
Do You Need To Get All The Gear When Hiking With Toddlers?
Are you thinking “Do you need to get all the gear when hiking with toddlers?” Well, you don’t. However, if you’re going to be doing this frequently there is no reason why you shouldn’t.
Kids also love having their gear encourages them to be excited about going on a hike with you. Get your toddler a backpack or something bright colored for them to bring.
When Can I Start Using A Back Carrier?
You’re probably asking when can I start using a back carrier? It is always safer and more comfortable for your child when they can sit up on their own, which is around 6 months or weights around 15 pounds.
The key here is to be a good back carrier. Some back carriers can be used from 4 months old. Younger than that, I strongly suggest using a baby wrap instead.
Hiking with toddlers doesn’t sound like such a bad idea now does it?
We hope these tips have served you well! If you have been putting off the idea of hiking all this time because of all the uncertainties, we definitely hope that this article has changed your mind about it!
By the end of the day, have fun with the process. If the first day of hiking did not go well, it’s okay.
Try again next weekend. Toddlers need consistency, and consistency is key. And if they so happen to love it on their first time, you now have a hiking buddy in training!