Hiking is a wonderful spring, summer and even fall activity that gets you outside and into the heart of nature. If you have a toddler, there is probably nothing better than to get him or her started on their journey to healthy living and fun physical activity.
Hiking is an activity that the whole family can enjoy, as it brings you all closer together doing something that doesn't involve gadgets and technology. With the large array of hiking trails available, it's effortless to find one that will fit any family's activity level and needs.
Unfortunately, hiking with a toddler can sometimes be more hassle than it seems worth. You might have tried hiking in the past with your younger kids only to find that you turned back minutes into the trail because they were just not having it that day.
While it might seem daunting to try hiking with such a young child, it is always worthwhile when you find they absolutely love it. Below are five tips to follow when hiking with a toddler.
1. Choose the Right Trail
The key to a successful hike with a toddler is to find the right trail. Let's face it, you can't expect a toddler to do well on a trail that you and other adults struggle with yourselves. You need to find a trail that is relatively flat with lots of areas to stop and take a rest.
It might help to do a dry test run on your own of the trail before simply packing up the kids and bringing them there. This enables you to get a feel for the hike before you're bombarded by fussy children who don't seem to like it because it's too steep or has rough terrain that you weren't initially aware of.
2. Have the Right Stroller
Toddlers don't have the leg strength and stamina that most adults have. They get tired walking the same distance as adults because they have to take double or triple the amount of steps that we do to get there.
This is why it's crucial to invest in a good quality jogging stroller specifically made for jogging, walking and hiking. These strollers not only offer comfort and stability to your toddler, but the wheels are also thick and tough enough to handle rough and rocky terrain.
If you're expecting your regular stroller to be a perfect fit for hiking, think again as most economical strollers have basic wheels that are meant only for pavement. If you'd rather go hands-free, you can invest in a baby carrier that can be worn like a backpack either on the front or back of your body.
3. Bring Plenty of Snacks and Drinks
If you're a parent of a toddler, you know how grumpy they can get if they're thirsty and hungry. If you're out in the middle of a hiking trail and don't have nourishment for them, expect to have a long and grueling day. You need to make sure that you bring along plenty of delicious and protein-packed snacks that will keep your toddler feeling energized.
Fruit, toddler-friendly granola bars, squeeze tube yogurt and cheese slices make for a great snack. You should also bring plenty of fresh water in the cup of your toddler's choosing, such as a sippie cup or bottle if they still drink from one.
4. Keep the Hike Short and Sweet
Don't expect your toddler to want to be out on a hiking trail for hours at a time. Be sure to choose a hiking trail that is relatively short and has lots of sights and sounds that your child will love. Even if a trail states that it is five or seven miles long, this doesn't mean that you have to hike the whole way, as you can turn back at practically any time you want.
5. Plan Fun Activities
Toddlers probably won't find much fun in just walking a long, boring and straight path surrounded by trees. Consider making the hike more fun by implementing activities and games that they can play. Stop at one point of the hike and have your toddler tell you what they hear or see out in the woods.
Bring a small bucket along with you and have your child collect leaves, acorns and other elements from the forest. You can even sing songs the whole way and hear your voices echo. There are lots of fun games that you can play when taking a hike with your toddler.
No matter what type of hike you'll be taking, it's a great way to incorporate a family-fun activity into your loved ones' lives. Your toddler can benefit greatly from getting out of the house and into nature where they can explore amazing things.
Nowadays, it's all too common for toddlers to spend their days inside watching television and playing apps on phones and tablets. Just because you feel that your toddler might not like a hike doesn't mean that you shouldn't try it at least once.
By preparing for the hike, finding the right train and investing in a great-quality jogging stroller, you and your family will be ready and able to take a hike of your choosing without any problems coming up along the way.
If your toddler gets fussy in the middle of a hike, don't be afraid to turn around and try again another day.