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Hiking with your baby: what you need to know

Hiking as a family can be a really fun, rewarding and healthy activity. But if you’re a novice hiker, it’s important to spend some time preparing before bringing babies and kids out on the trail. Here are a few things you’ll want to think about before you set out for a hiking adventure with your baby.

To select a site, first ask other outdoorsy parents what parks and trails they’ve enjoyed. Consider the length of the trail, the difficulty and the distance from your home. The best way to assess whether you’ll enjoy a particular trail is to try it.

If you’re hiking with a baby, you’ll need to bring a baby carrier: until your baby can sit up, use a front carrier with head and neck support. Frame backpacks, like the Deuter Kid Comfort I, can be used from about 6 months on, or whenever your baby can hold his own head up (and it does have a removable headrest, for comfortable snoozing on the go). Make sure you try your carrier on before a big hike to make sure both you and the baby will be comfortable.

Keeping your kids (and yourself) nourished and hydrated is also key to having a good adventure. Bring plenty of water and snacks to go around.

Once your child is walking, he’ll want to do a lot of the walking himself and this will slow you down. Shorter hikes are better, with lots of neat stuff for kids to look at – wildflowers, turtles, bugs, puddles, creeks! It’s terrific fun to watch kids discovering nature for the first time, and seeing the natural world through their eyes. Don’t leave the carrier at home, though; your toddler’s legs won’t hold out for as long as yours will, and you probably will wind up carrying him for at least some of the trip.

Sun protection is a must! Clothing with good coverage is your best bet, since it will also protect your baby from bug bites. Use big sun hats and light long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and put on some sunblock for good measure (and don’t forget to put it on yourself, too). Try our ultra-gentle Babysafe Sunscreen Towelettes by MD Moms – they smell great!

Finally, whether you’re new to hiking or not, don’t go too crazy with long or challenging hikes. Start out with an easy trail and slowly increase your level of difficulty. Challenging is good, but only if it’s also fun for everyone involved. And, keep in mind that different carriers are made for different levels of activity. The Kid Comfort I, described here, is great for beginners. For more serious hikes, check out some of our other Deuter packs. Have fun!

Do you have a favorite hiking spot around the Boston area? The photo above was taken from the observatory at the top of Great Blue Hill.


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