How to Survive a Vacation With a Baby (And Enjoy It, Too!)
See the world... with your little one.
No matter how much I loved cuddling with my baby and watching him giggle and coo – at his toys, the ceiling, the air around him – I was not used to being cooped up in my house all day. I knew I needed to find outlets for me (and him) to get outside.
Hiking is the perfect outdoor activity for you and your baby.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker, or are starting a new hobby – taking a baby on the trail takes some special considerations. But with a bit of planning, you can enjoy the great outdoors and introduce your baby to the amazing sights of nature.
From studies about physical recovery to mental health, scientists have proven that spending time in nature is good for us. Being outside is energizing, refreshing, and can instill wonder. There are countless benefits for your child to be spending time outside.
Spending time outside encourages physical activity, helps reduce obesity in children, and provides sensory stimulation. Think of the variety of sights, sounds, and smells your child will experience while hiking through the woods with you.
The National Wildlife Federation has compiled scientific studies showing the health benefits of spending time outside such as lower levels of obesity, reduced ADHD symptoms, improved vision, and less stress. Long term effects correlate time spent outside with higher standardized test scores and overall higher school performance.
Time outside promotes unstructured play allowing your child the freedom to be creative and use their imagination. Studies have shown the rejuvenating power of nature, and being outside allows children to ask questions about the world, which improves their critical thinking skills.
A leader in the area of mental health for children, The Child Mind Institute claims children need to spend more time outside and that, “Most of the studies agree that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.”
Being outside reduces stress, teaches your child responsibility and confidence, and connects them with the bigger world. By exploring and interacting with nature, your child can see how they can impact the world around them.
With so many benefits to spending time in nature, there’s no reason to leave your baby at home!
What you’ll need on the trail depends on your location, the weather, your child’s personality, and how far you plan on hiking. Below is a suggested packing list, but trust your gut when it comes to your child’s needs.
This might seem like a lot to haul around through the woods, but you’ll be glad you have them. You don’t want to be miles from your car with a cranky baby.
Many parents hesitate to bring their children on hikes with them because of perceived dangers of the outdoors. While you should always be cautious, with proper planning there is no reason you and your child can’t enjoy time in nature safely. Hike it Baby is an organization that encourages, supports, and sponsors group hikes for families. They offer some tips for hiking with children:
There are a lot of different baby carriers out there. When purchasing one, it’s important to think about how much you plan on hiking and the size of your child.
Soft front carriers are more appropriate for shorter hikes with young babies who need head support. As your child grows, you could look into more structured back carriers which can hold heavier children for longer periods of time. Check out our guide for choosing a carrier.
You want a carrier that is comfortable and safe for you and your baby. See our tips on carrier safety.
The best way for you and your baby to enjoy time on the trail is for you to have realistic expectations. If you were someone who used to hike miles and miles across tough terrain, you might have to change your outlook on hiking, at least for now. Babies and even toddlers are not going to be able to keep up with you.
You may be used to continuous walking, but your child is not. They’re going to want to pick up leaves, jump in puddles, and watch bugs crawl around in the dirt. Let them! For your child, exploring is more important than sticking to a schedule or hitting a selected distance.
Your child will benefit from hiking with you no matter the distance. Even if you don’t make it out of sight of your car, the ability and freedom to explore nature will stick with your child and become a treasured memory!
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