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If you love hiking but are unsure if you can go hiking with baby, the answer is yes! Many parents discover that hitting the hiking trail is perfect for parenting stress relief. Living in Innsbruck, which is called the capital of Alps for a reason, we were determined to keep hiking after our twin babies arrived. Hiking with baby can be very enjoyable! You just have to prepare and keep in mind these five rules for hiking with baby that I came up with after a few hikes with our newborn twins.
Check the weather forecast and only hike in good weather.
This may be a no-brainer, but some hard core mountain enthusiasts have no problem hiking in the rain or the cold. Babies, on the other hand, are not as able to regulate their body temperature like adults can and since they are not generating heat by being active or moving around. They can lose body heat quickly through their hands and feet. Always check the weather forecast before leaving and bring inclement weather gear even if it’s not forecast. Mountain-forecast.com or Bergfex are great for accurate mountain forecasts.
Check-in with yourself.
How comfortable are you with hiking? Are you new at it? Did you hike a lot pre-baby? Now that you have baby it will be different, so think about what adjustments you need to make in gear and expectations. Do you have good footwear? Only good hiking shoes are acceptable when you are carrying a baby to avoid a risk of slipping and falling with your little one.
How are you going to carry your baby?
Make sure you have a good carrier for your child’s age. Will be able to carry your child for a long period of time without ruining your back? Does your child like to be carried? Make sure he/she can’t arch out of the carrier or slide out of straps. So far our experience with the twins had been nothing but positive. They fall asleep almost immediately when put in a carrier and sleep for as long as they are in a carrier. For hiking, I like the carrier from Amazonas. It is light-weight, breathable and can be used for both front carry and back carry and is capable of supporting a baby as old as 3 years and as big as 15 kg (33 lbs). The padded waist is great for putting baby’s weight on your hips instead of your shoulders. Adjustable hood can protect the baby from the sun and support his/her head when sleeping. I like using back carry when going up the mountain and switching baby to the front later in the hike – when going down or when the baby gets fussy. It also has a small pocket for your mobile phone, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. The carrier has a small bag for compactly packing it away and a rain cover which is a must- have when hiking with baby in the mountains.
Prepare enough food in case of emergency.
Prepare enough baby food in case your hike lasts longer than planned. If your baby is only drinking from a bottle/nursing, plan for at least 2 meals when you are away (this should last you for 6 to 8 hours, depending if your baby is eating every 3 or 4 hours). Even if you are a nursing mom, if your baby occasionally drinks from a bottle, it might be a good idea to bring a bottle just in case. Sometimes babies get distracted in a new environment and refuse to drink. Hungry, dehydrated baby = horror hike. If your baby is eating solids, bring lots of his/her favorite snacks. They can be great to distract a fussy/tired baby.
Dry bottom equals happy baby.
Plan for diaper changes. Bring a blanket or a changing pad, which will give your baby a break from the carrier. Use only a high quality “dry” diaper. Most likely your baby will be strapped into a baby carrier most of the time. The carrier naturally presses the diaper against the baby’s skin making it easier for the liquid to squeeze back. The result can be a red bottom when you get home from your hike. I tested several diapers and the best the diapers from Lillydoo (you can test them here). They are ultra-absorbent and keep the moisture inside the diaper without letting in sneaking back onto baby’s bottom. Moreover, they are all natural, free from perfumes and chemicals. Put some baby cream on your baby’s bottom for additional protection. I like the cream from Weleda –it’s doesn’t leave that nasty white residue on your baby’s bottom, all natural, and highly protective.
Have you been hiking with your baby? I’d love to hear about it! Tell your story, in the comments. What is your favorite hiking gear?