Tips For Hiking With Baby- The Family Hike

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This article made possible by the generous support of We Made Me Baby Carriers.

 

Whether it is out in nature in a park or an urban hike, venturing out for walks together with your family can become a regular part of your family routine. Though it can seem overwhelming to get out of the house and tackle even the most mundane activities with a baby and young children, with a little bit of planning and having realistic expectations, hiking with babies and young children can easily become a favorite activity for the whole family. 

I initially started family hikes because I needed to get moving and never could find the time without kids to get in any kind of effective workout. My only goal was to get my own body moving while still taking care of my children. Walking around our neighborhood was fine but got boring and I wanted some diversity, so I started looking for hiking trails in our area. It didn’t take long for me to realize there were a number of other benefits to hiking for my whole family. 

Family hikes are an opportunity for shared family fun experiences, expose your children to the world around them, normalize physical activity for your children, give you the chance to be physically active while being with your family, and connect your family more deeply with nature and/or your community. Hiking with my children has helped me find energy by getting moving and helped my kids burn energy by getting out of the house. Sleep has improved with regular hikes, our knowledge of our community has grown, and as our screen time has been reduced, our communication with each other has grown. I love the conversations that flow during hikes with my older children and I treasure the exploration that feeds my younger children’s curiosity, and there’s nothing like my baby’s calm happiness being close to me as she observes the world around her on our walks. There is something in particular about being out in nature, walking and soaking in fresh air away from the expectations of house keeping and other responsibilities that is like a deep cleansing breath that helps me tune in more and be the parent I want to be. Whether it is a new hike we’re trying for the first time or an old favorite, venturing out with the family has brought us closer together and been a centering part of our week.

In the years I’ve been hiking with my family, there are a few things I’ve learned to help make it easier and more enjoyable for all of us. If it is overly complicated or isn’t fun, it isn’t going to happen. Here are my tips for getting hiking with baby and small children.

  • Know where you’re going. Paved path? Woodsy trail? Shade? Full sun? Waterfalls? Water? Buggy area? Steep incline? Bathrooms available? How long is the trail (double or triple the time if you have toddlers or small children walking too)? Look up as much information as you can on any designated hike and hiking area. If it is a public park most have information on their website and Yelp reviews can be helpful in knowing what to expect including difficulty level, terrain, and amenities. Dress appropriately (if you’re breastfeeding, be sure your clothes make that cool and easy with babywearing!) and select the right type of footwear. Higher elevation may be cooler, be prepared with sunblock (if you need it, put it on before leaving the house), hats, insect repellent, change of clothes, etc.
  • Babywear/Toddlerwear. Maybe even preschoolerwear. Select a carrier you are comfortable using, can adjust, is breathable, lightweight, and supportive. If you’re not sure what kind of carrier that is for you, see if you can visit a local babywearing group and if they have a library, try several options. Join social media groups to learn more about options. Keep in mind that one person’s favorite carrier may not work for you, and your favorite may be considered “undesirable” by someone else. Baby carrier preference can be very individual.
  • Comfortable shoes. Typically sneakers with thick breathable socks for everyone are a safe bet but some hikes will be better with hiking boots or hiking sandals depending on the terrain. When it is hot, hiking sandals on a paved path are a great option for breathable comfort and support.
  • Share the load. Pick a carrier that works for you and your hiking partner if applicable so you take turns babywearing. My partner, my teens, and I can all use the We Made Me Venture carrier so instead of us bringing different carriers along or having just one person wear her, we take turns with her in the Venture. Be sure the one being worn is comfy too, knee to knee support in the seat of the carrier will help their legs be more comfortable, avoid irritating their sensitive skin, and make it a smoother ride for your baby or toddler.
  • Hydrate! This is important for everyone, any time but particularly for young children and if you are breastfeeding and when it is very hot. Water bottles that fit in back-pack pockets or hip holsters, camel-back systems, and fresh fruit can help your crew stay hydrated.
  • Fuel. Have easy snacks you know are favorites. A hangry toddler out in the woods will be misery for everyone so be prepared. Remember there may not be good places to stop on nature hikes, and leave the place in the same condition you found it in.
  • Community. For inspiration/ideas, join a local hiking group such as Hike It Baby.
  • Be in the moment. Family hikes are less about exercise and more about taking in the setting and spending time together. Enjoy it for what it is. Babywearing can certainly make it more of a workout, though be sure you are aware of your posture and engage your core to help you avoid straining or injuring yourself. With toddlers and young children, play games such as I Spy or a nature scavenger hunt can help hold their interest.
  • Know your limits. Even a short hike is worthwhile. Get started with something that isn’t going to physically push or stretch anyone in your party, including you. Pick a time of day that is already an energetic time and won’t interrupt a nap. Be realistic and flexible. Take breaks as needed and keep the rest of the schedule that day open. If it doesn’t go well once, don’t give up, try a different type of hike at a different time another day and see if that helps. Respecting your limits is key to having fun!
Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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We’re Moving!

by Jessica Martin-Weber and Amy West

Leakies, we’ve got something really special for you. We’re talking about #BFingPlaces (Oh!  The Places You Go!) for World Breastfeeding Month and we’ve taken it one step further. Literally.

We have every reason in the world to be physically active; heart health, longevity, reduced health problems, strength, endurance, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, joint health, mental clarity, better sleep, and decrease in depression and anxiety to name a few.  Several studies show that people who exercise more are just happier.  Which has always baffled me personally since exercise is kind of the opposite of happy for me.  Still, I know it’s good for me so I’ve tried to do it regularly and felt guilty when I didn’t.

With having children though, juggling family, home, and work (and yes, even when I didn’t have a job), getting exercise in is often an overwhelming challenge.  Between the media, “experts,” bloggers, friends, family, health care providers, and yes, even myself saying what is so important for children, there are just so many other aspects of a child’s development that require my attention.  There is every reason in the world to not be physically active; reading to our children, providing quality meals, addressing their social needs, researching all medications/foods/education, shopping to have the “best” deals on the highest quality (but the blanket MUST be organic, what about off-gassing?!), spending quality play time with our children, limiting screen time, grooming them, keeping house, bonding, learning and executing proper child passenger safety (installing that perfect car seat that took 3 weeks of research and a small loan to purchase) and being sure every minute of their every day is filled with only the best developmentally appropriate activities.  With all that’s on our plates, how do we find time to be physically active?

But really, how can we not?

We have perfectly legit reasons to not be moving and perfectly inspiring reasons to get moving.  It’s not easy sometimes but it’s definitely worth it.

I was born with a minor heart condition, something I’ve lived with all my life.  Doctors have told me that keeping my weight in a healthy range and staying physically active will go a long way in taking care of my health and sure enough, I can tell when I’ve put on a few too many pounds, have let inactivity sneak into my routine, or am lazy about my water intake.  I try to make it a priority but I’m just not crazy about most forms of exercise.  I’m not the type to become a health nut, I’m not likely become an exercise fanatic, and I don’t like exercise for exercise’s sake.  Something else has to motivate me to get off my butt and get moving.

Turns out I have 6 really talented motivators.  I want to be around for a long time to be with my children and eventually my grandchildren and I can’t afford to wait to get started.  They inspire me and not only for my own health, but for the health of my whole family.  And now they’ve inspired me to share that motivation with you!

Actually it was Amy West’s idea, she came to me about how regularly taking walks was helping her in her immediate postpartum time.  Her mood, emotional state, and energy levels went up as she walked with her two kids, Ava and Luke.  I agreed and we wanted to find a way to share it with the Leakies and their families.  And with that, #TLBmoves was born.

It’s time for #TLBmoves!

And I hope you’ll get moving with me for your own reasons.

Are you a runner? Walker? Cross-fit fan?  Couch potato looking to change? Or maybe you just want to be screen-free a little more often.

Whatever your goal, you can join us for #TLBmoves!  This is all about embracing an active lifestyle and making healthier choices, no matter where you’re starting from.

Us? We’re starting by walking more. Just the simple act of taking a daily stroll can do amazing things for your health–both mental and physical! Our initial goal is to log a minimum of 10 miles (about 15,000 steps) each week, or 30 very active minutes each day, but you can set virtually any goal that’s important to you and participate in any way you’d like! (Quit smoking, play with the kids more, eat more veggies, do jumping jacks at your desk, living room dance party – anything goes!)

If you’re already doing that (or more), awesome! Whatever YOUR goal is, we want to see you reach it. #TLBmoves is not a fitness campaign; yeah, we’re talking about steps and activity, but the bigger goal here is overall health and happiness. You can participate at whatever level is comfortable for you: walking, jogging, running, cross-fitting, swimming – anything. (#TLBmoves is aimed at all moms of all backgrounds and is not limited to or specifically endorsing those who breastfeed.)  And we’ll never ask what’s your excuse, we know we all have great excuses so we understand that it’s one day, one step at a time to reach your personal goals.

#TeamTLBmoves! Meet the four mamas who will be sharing their #TLBmoves journeys during the month of August:

Jessica: Founder, owner, and author of The Leaky Boob Facebook group and website; mother of six girls, ages 2, 4, 6, 11, 13, and 15.

Amy: Writer (www.amywest.co); mother of two children, a five-year-old daughter and a three-month-old son.

Kileah: Member of the TLB Reviews editorial team; mother of four children, ages 6, 4, 2 and 8 months.

Elise: Member of the TLB Reviews editorial team; mother of one two-month-old son.

Meet our partners:

#TLBmoves is a big undertaking and we are so thrilled to be working with brands we believe in to bring you this event. Our partners really want to see moms getting active and enjoying a healthy lifestyle with their families! We’ll be sharing tons of photos of #TeamTLBmoves using gear from the following brands:

Joovy

JoovyWe are all about taking small steps to a healthier lifestyle – literally! Going for a daily walk with the little ones is one of the cornerstones of what we’re doing. Joovy has partnered with us to feature four of their kick-ass strollers, which we will put to to the test over the next month. You’ll see the TooFold, Qool, Caboose VaryLight, and Zoom in action. From the big kids to the littles, Joovy is making it easy (and whine-free!) to stroll with the whole family.

tula

Tula Baby CarriersWe aren’t just pushing our little ones in the strollers – we’re going to wear them, too! Whether it’s in the uber comfortable Standard or Toddler carrier, or in one of Tula’s amazingly gorgeous woven wraps, we’ll be wearing our babies throughout the month as we get out and move! Where will the #TULAlove turn up next? Stay tuned…

thinkbaby thinksport

Thinkbaby and ThinksportIt’s August, so the weather is hot. A big part of #TLBmoves is getting active outdoors (work that natural vitamin D!). A good, safe sunscreen and water bottles are necessities. Thinkbaby and Thinksport care as much as we do when it comes to keeping our families safe from harmful chemicals. We’re staying hydrated and keeping sunburns at bay, minus the endocrine disruptors!

When?
#TLBmoves will run from August 1st-31st, 2014, but we hope you’ll keep moving long after the end of the month! (We may have something up our sleeves to that end, too!)

How?
Participation is on the honor system. Counting steps can be fun, but the point isn’t a number (on a pedometer, scale, or otherwise) – it’s making healthy choices and becoming more active in general. It’s all about feeling good! Moms can track their activity via whatever means they choose. (You can use a FitBit, another pedometer, you can time three five-minute songs for a dance party in your living room – it’s up to you!)

Where?
Anyone, anywhere can participate! We’ll be announcing some fun prizes from our brand partners, and those are limited to the United States at this time, but the world is your oyster if you want to get active with us!

JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (Please note: this is a co-ed community where you’ll find support as we get active and make healthy choices together. Judgement free! Come as you are, this group is your #TLBmoves tribe!)

JOIN OUR FITBIT FORUM (The four #TeamTLBmoves mamas will be using FitBits to track our steps! They’re totally optional, but if you want to use one, you can grab yours here: http://bit.ly/TLBfitbit.)

Who?
You, your friends, your kids, your partner, your boss, your mom, your dad… anyone!  Though The Leaky Boob is focused on encouraging families primarily through breastfeeding, we support breastfeeding moms and everyone that supports them.  Breastfeeding isn’t a requirement to participate with TLB and #TLBmoves.  (If you are breastfeeding and you’re wondering about exercise and breastfeeding, we have an article all about that here.

We’ll have more updates soon – in the meantime, please follow TLB on Instagram to keep up with #TLBmoves. Use the hashtag #TLBmoves on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share your pics. We want to see what you’re doing to MOVE, mamas!

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