Now that Eleanor has started walking our once several-times-per-week hiking adventures have inevitably diminished. However, as the hiker mama that I am, I’m committed to not give up on our outdoorsy pastime. If you’re in the same boat, here are some of my tips for hiking with a toddler.
While hiking with a baby has it’s own set of issues that arise it is generally easier than with a toddler. Babies sleep, you can use a pacifier, they only drink milk so you can easily offer breast or bottle without having to plan out snacks. They are much more content to enjoy the view from against your chest rather than down on their own two feet exploring.
Then they start walking. Good bye peaceful hikes of silence while they nap. With their newfound sense of independence they say, “let me explore, mama!” Or at least that’s probably what they’re scream babbling. They are more aware of their ability to demand what they want. They walk but they walk/stumble preeeeeety slow so your once 5-6 mile hilly hikes have turned into 1-3 mile walks on flat ground.
Your only choice is to adapt. Accept the change. It’s good for you.
Hiking With a Toddler
My 14 month old daughter isn’t talking much yet. I know I’ll be able to add some more fun activities to this list once she is a bit more verbal. Until then, here are my current tips for hiking with a toddler:
SNACKS: Bring snacks. DO NOT forget the snacks. Food pretty much solves everything (well, at least for me it does). Bananas, berries, turkey, dried fruit, beef jerky, apple slices, cheese sticks. You might also want to have a special treat to bust out if things are going south, fast.
WATER: OK so you’re probably thinking how is this a tip? If you don’t have a camelbak, then get one! Eleanor loves to chew / drink on the tube. It provides entertaining hydration. Thumbs up!
SING: Don’t be too shy to belt out the tunes on the trail. Just sing away those whines. I have some go-to songs (My Girl, Peace Like a River, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Wheels on the Bus).
NATURE TOYS: I’ll hand E “toys” from nature like sticks, leaves that are as big as her head, flowers that have fallen, a piece of sour grass to chew on, pinecones. I’ll also show her the textures of different trees and leaves.
SELFIE: Babies are vain ASF. They love to see themselves. Bust out your selfie camera and do a nature photoshoot.
DAD or FRIENDS: We hike alone a lot and sometimes I just run out of things to say to a tiny human that doesn’t respond in any coherent way. Bring dad or a friend to entertain and talk to baby while you hike. She will also just be entertained listening to your conversation. She’ll usually be cool for another couple of miles when the whole fam’s out.
GO HOME: Sometimes the best thing you can do is get back to the car and go home. You may listen to crying the whole way back. It happens to the best of us.
Most important tip is don’t give up! Remember why you’re doing this and don’t give up after one hike that went south. There will be successful trips again. You will adapt and so will your child.
What are some of your tips for hiking with a toddler? I’m always looking for new ideas. Please share in the comments!