A First Hike With Kids

I often receive comments from friends, family and passersby about having such a young child in the outdoors hiking and camping, and I find it strange that people think it's strange. Considering the passion we have for our outdoor lifestyle, I can't imagine it any other way.  Now that J-Man, my son, isn't an infant those comments have fallen to the wayside but when he was younger I felt like we were aliens from the looks and comments we would receive. I'm hoping with the exposure of our adventures with J-Man and others who are venturing out with their young children it will become more and more common to see them hitting the trails and enjoying what nature has to offer.

With that said, here's how to plan your first hike with your child...

Let's start off by talking about what a hike is. I know when I mention hiking to my non-outdoorsy friends they think I am going to be scaling a mountain or hiking for an eternity.

 Mother hiking with child in Glacier National Park

Definition of hiking courtesy of Wikipedia:

Hiking is an outdoor activity, which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking have been confirmed in studies. Some of the health benefits of hiking include, but are not limited to, losing excess weight, decreasing hypertension, and improving mental health. The word hiking is understood in all English-speaking countries, but there are differences in usage.

There is nothing in the definition about how difficult the hike must be to be considered hiking nor is there any mention of duration or length of the hike that defines it as hiking.

So with that said, don't let the word hike intimidate you. Think of it as a nature walk or hitting a well-maintained dirt path in nature for exploration, solitude and enjoyment.

Makes it sound much easier, right?

Now that hiking isn't intimidating and you want to take your child on a hike, here's how you go about planning your adventure.

First hike with your child

1. Choose a trail close to home. This way if you have to bail for whatever reason the trip home won't be so long. Also, your child won't lose interest or get fussy from such a long car ride to the trailhead.

2. Make sure the distance and difficulty of the hike is appropriate for your fitness level. A hike can seem much longer than anticipated, especially, if you are carrying your child for the first time or even the 20th time. Hills can increase the difficulty of a hike quickly.

3. Check the weather. If any foul weather is predicted choose a different day. You want the first hike with your child to be enjoyable with clear blue skies. No need to fuss with extra gear and clothing for your first experience.

4. Decide how you are going to bring your child along. Are they going to walk on their own or are you going to carry them? If they are under 6 months old, use a front carrier, sling or wrap. Backpack carriers are recommended for 6 months and older. There are numerous carriers, slings and wraps on the market. My favorites I used when I carried J-Man in the front were Belle Baby Carrier and Ergo. There are some great new options now, too. Just like front carriers there are many backpack carriers to choose from. I love our Deuter Kid Comfort III, but make sure the backpack carrier you choose fits your body and is comfortable. Having an ill-fitting carrier will make for an uncomfortable hike. If your child is walking on their own make sure they are wearing comfortable and supportive hiking shoes that have good traction. This will allow them to run, skip, jump and climb to their heart's desire. Also, make sure you are wearing comfortable supportive shoes with good traction. You don't want to go slipping and sliding while carrying your child.

5. ALWAYS bring water and an extra water, just in case. Your thirst might increase as you move along the trail and if the weather is warm you will get thirsty more often. Always bring snacks, too. Children are known for constantly being hungry and guaranteed they will want a snack on the trail. Not just one snack, either. They will want NUMEROUS snacks!

6. Make sure you and your child wear comfortable clothing. Clothing that hinders movement, doesn't breath properly and isn't appropriate for the weather can make your time on the trail uncomfortable. Wool or synthetic socks will help keep your feet dry and that helps prevent blisters.

7. Bring a First-Aid Kit. You just never know when it might come in handy. Wondering what you should have in your first-aid-kit? Here's what I put in mine.

8. DON'T FORGET your sense of humor. Your first hike may not go as planned or it may go better than planned. Whatever the case, laugh about the mishaps, learn from them and move on. Enjoy the time out in nature with your child and remember you are making lasting memories.

9. Have fun!

10. Have FUN!!

hiking with children

Have you hiked with your child? Why not? If you have, how old was your child when you first hiked with them?

Be sure to visit Melissa's blog: AdventureTykes

TeamSierra Outdoor Blog Network
Melissa Edge
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Melissa Edge
Melissa Edge lives in Moab, Utah, where she enjoys exploring the beautiful red rock landscape with her husband and son. She is the founder of Adventure Tykes and loves inspiring and motivating parents to get outside with their kids. Melissa is an avid runner, hiker and amateur chef.
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