4 tips for hiking with baby

4 tips for hiking with baby 1Yesterday, we went on a 6-mile hike with our 1-year-old and our 3-year-old. It was do-able and fun (and I'm not even sore today!...well, maybe my legs are the teensiest bit sore).

Here's how we worked everything out logistically...

Tim carried our 28lb. 3-year-old on his back in our Kelty FC 3.0 carrier for the majority of the hike (she hiked a little bit, but not much...). He also carried our water, snacks, and supplies in an accompanying backpack (for a combined weight of just shy of 50 lbs!). I carried our 16lb. 14-month-old in my ERGO carrier.

Now that we have that adventure behind us, here are 4 tips we'd share with anyone who wants to hike with their small children:

4 tips for hiking with baby 2Invest in a good carrier. Our Kelty FC 3.0 is impressive to behold. The trail-based carrier is top-notch in terms of comfort for both child and parent. The pack offers excellent support for the back and hips - and the child seat is adjustable. The accompanying rain/sun hood is brilliant and really did keep the sun off of our 3-year-old's face. She was riding in luxury and most everyone that we passed on the trail commented on the awesome pack (and her comfortable ride).

Our 3-year-old "fits"...but her legs are getting pretty long and I suspect that she won't be able to ride in it much longer.

4 tips for hiking with baby 3Dress your baby in sun protective apparel. Sun dresses, tank tops, and swim suits are cute for the summertime, but they're not particularly practical for longer hikes. Especially for baby. Long hours in the sun can equal painful sunburns if you're not careful. I dressed my baby in a long-sleeve UV protectant onesie and accompanying pants by Agoo Apparel. Our 3-year-old also wore a specially-designed sun protective rash guard and shorts from Sun Protection Zone. UV Skinz also has some excellent options.

Sun protective clothing can be pricey, but I think it is well worth the cost if you and your family enjoy spending time outdoors.

4 tips for hiking with baby 4Slather on natural sunscreen. I'm still somewhat undecided about the use of sunscreen for every-day use, but I DO believe in using it for extended periods of time in the sun and/or for midday outdoor activities (between 10-3). Even so, I always try to select sunscreens that have the words "organic," "natural," "baby," "gentle," etc. For Saturday's hike, we used Episencial's Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35. In the past, we've used Neutrogena Baby (the stick!) and Arbonne Baby Care (though I've since heard some reports that it's not as natural as people make it out to be).

4 tips for hiking with baby 5Pack plenty of snacks (and bring enough water). We packed: World Kitchens peppered beef jerky (Our favorite brand! - We bought it at Fry's grocery store for $9.99/pound), pretzels, organic apples, oranges, clif bars (I think I like the Crunchy Peanut Butter flavor best), and Kashi's whole grain honey puffs.

As far as water is concerned, we filled up two large bladders (170 ounces total) with ice water and drank all of it. The quantity was almost exactly right for the four of us...I'm certainly glad we didn't bring less!

What tips would you add to this list? What are your favorite snacks/lunches to pack when hiking (I'm looking for ideas!)?

*** Kelty sent me an FC 3.0 sample for review. All opinions are my own.

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21 comments on “4 tips for hiking with baby”

  1. We love hiking, but haven't been in awhile now. Our son is almost three and weighs 40lbs meaning we can't use our kelty anymore! Do you have any tips for longer hikes? He can walk on the shorter/easier trips.

    1. We currently have a 6-year-old, 4-year-old, and 1-year-old.

      Our 6-year-old can hike on her own with ease. In fact, we just did this exact hike and she practically ran the whole way!

      Our 4-year-old hiked approximately 60% of it and my husband carried her the other 40% in the Kelty. She's petite so she still fits! ;)

      I carried our 1-year-old in an Ergo carrier.

  2. We bring our 3 yr old hiking several times a week. Keep the hikes to 1 or 2 miles round trip. Here in Vermont there are plenty of good short hikes. We never bring a carrier and let her know she is expected to walk. After all, in most countries kids walk A LOT more! If she gets fussy we talk about our surroundings, stop with our plant identification book, learn new things, or give her walking sticks and she's happy. It seems that the fussing is more about an idle mind than anything else. We'll carry her on the way down short distances over rough terrain for safety and because it's pretty easy! At first she was whiny but we committed to going 3 times a week and by week two she was having a great time!

  3. I've been perusing your archives. I had a bit of a chuckle at your 14 month old weighing 16 lbs - my son turns one in 2 weeks and is 23 lbs. I really enjoy carrying him in various carriers but it gets pretty warm in the summer heat and he gets heavy after awhile.

    1. Thank you, Jo-Lynne! I was sore the next day, but it was oh-so-worth-it. Our girls love being out in nature (and so do we). :)

  4. No tips, just wanted to say I love my Ergo too! Also, it reminded me how my family needs to get back to hiking.

  5. I love hiking with my son! I usually pack granola bars and apples -- he'll eat an apple whole, so it's the easiest thing to pack. I don't have a hiking back carrier, we've just used a mei tai. Now that he wants to walk, at least part of the way, I stuff the mei tai in the backpack my husband carries, and pull it out once the little guy's tired and ready to get up on my back. I'd love to get an Ergo so I can just buckle it around my waist and leave it hanging until he's ready to be carried.

  6. I always have extra water in the car for when we get back from a hike or any outdoor expedition. The sunscreen is troublesome for me - I've never used it myself and I've only burned twice - I just don't burn. But my little ones - they definitely need the sunscreen. Sugar seems to have my skin - she hasn't burned yet. Goose on the other hand... yep, he's got his Daddy's complexion. But, even without having to worry about Sugar burning I do still like to protect her when we're going to be out for a long time.

    As for snacks - our favorites are jerky and dried fruit and nuts. My wee ones love the whole wheat goldfish crackers - they aren't the best snack, but they aren't horrible either so I usually throw them in too!

  7. Great tips! Snacks and water are a must, and we always keep extra in the car for when we get back. As far as sunscreen goes, times like these are the only times that I put sunscreen on Levi. We are outside a lot, so our skin has adjusted to the sun. Levi has never actually been burned. But, if we're going to a place where we'll be out for hours and may not be able to pop into the shade whenever we want, I definitely suggest an all natural sunscreen.

  8. I feel the same way as you do about daily wear of sunscreen. And here is my hiking tip: beware of scorpion weed in the desert southwest! We've been battling the effects of exposure with my 7 yo and 19yo.

  9. Though it's not kid-friendly, my dad and I always pack dried fruit and nuts to munch on. It's easy enough to eat while climbing. (Dried apricots, prunes, raisins, apples, almonds, cashews, etc.)

  10. Jealous. Packed far too much into a city-weekend. Next weekend a re-do spent in nature. We also have a Kelty carrier and LOVE it. Starting the kids on hiking at an early age is so important. Thanks for your reminders and tips.

  11. Love the Kelty. If I did more hiking or the like, I'd invest in one. As it is, mostly I carry the baby in the Beco and DH has our 3 year old in the Ergo. I've double carried before too with the baby in the wrap and toddler in the SSC. It's not so fun!

    Great advice.

  12. LOL - My 17 month old is a bruiser - he weighs in at 31 lbs which is more than your 3 year old! He is height-weight proportionate so the Dr. isn't worried about it but I couldn't imagine hiking 6 miles with him on my back!

    For snacks, have you tried the Newman's Own Organic Dried Apricots and Dried Cranberries? They are perfect for a sweet tooth and the cranberries are small enough for when babies need smaller bites. I cut the apricots in half or quarters for my son. He absolutely loves them (and so do we) plus they come in a resealable bag which is perfect for traveling.

  13. Sounds like you all had a great day! I agree with a carrier it makes life so much easier!

    We don't use sunscreen, just because we all have super sensitive allergic skin that end up having rashes and blister from using them yuck! So we use protective clothing and do not plan outdoor activities from 11 am to 3 pm (not a big deal that is lunch and nap time for us)

    Yes snacks are great with little one!!!

  14. Hi Stephanie, it sounds like you guys had a great time. We have never really gone hiking... maybe one of these days! It is on our list of things to do, but it just doesn't seem like we ever get around to it. Lucky you had such nice weather... it seems as though we have regressed back into winter up here in Ohio with temps in the low 50's this past weekend, dropping into the 30's overnight!

  15. Hey Stephanie! I'm so glad you included the specifics. I have been ITCHING to hike and knew the little one would be good in her ERGO. But we recently had to return a "loaner" hiking pack for the big girl (it was probably getting a bit small anyway) and so I have been wondering what to do w/ her. When you posted that you hiked last week I wondered if big sis walked or packed it. I think I will carry on and shop for a good pack for Al- even if she only uses it sometimes we will probably get good use out of it. Thanks for all the info :)
    P.S. Haven't done 7 falls in a couple years- but always a good one. Looks like you had a great time.

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