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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Get Your Move On- Family Style #TLBmoves with Tula Baby Carriers

Active family, babywearing, Tula Baby Carriers

Hey Leakies, let’s get moving!

We’re not going anywhere in particular but we are journeying toward health, activity, and awareness. Not as isolated individuals, but as a family, a community. With each other and with our kids, we’re taking steps to get more movement in our lives. That movement may be a dance party in the living room, a daily walk at the park, hitting the gym, including more veggies, setting up the blender for more healthy homemade smoothies, you name it, you define what #TLBmoves looks like for you.

It all began in August 2014 with the first ever #TLBmoves and it took off. Some of us got a little more movement in our lives, others got a whole lot more. We cheered on some working on (and succeeding) quitting smoking, others had step goals to hit, there were those that started yoga or crossfit or pilates every day, and others started having salads every day. Getting moving together brought us closer together and we discovered that thanks to the global village of the internet, we could cheer each other on and have fun in the process. When we found ourselves stuck, we could be honest about the challenges we were facing and there would be no judgment, just support and encouragement. It was inspiring and we all wanted to keep moving.

Many of us did, though our interactions weren’t as frequent with the start of school and as colder weather rolled in, many of us found ways to keep going. And here we are, nearly a year later, and we’re still moving. The push we all got from the month of #TLBmoves was motivating and we felt it was time to do it again and invite more to join us.

As parents, 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. With having children though, juggling family, home, and for some, work, getting to exercise 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, 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?

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.

My motivation is my kids. 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!

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 and we’re here to support each other completely free of judgment each step of the way.

We have a team to help provide some inspiration, not with before and after pictures, #TLBmoves isn’t about acquiring a certain body aesthetic, but with honest sharing of the journey. Kids in tow and personal goals put out there, our team isn’t to glamorize the journey, simply to share together one step at a time.

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

Jessica: Founder, owner, and author of The Leaky Boob Facebook group and website; mother of six girls, ages 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, and 16.

Jeanna: guidance counselor and mom to a 6 month old little girl.

Kileah: Member of TLB’s editorial team; mother of four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 19 months. Kileah loves canning, cooking, and being with her family.

Iola: Mom of Cadden, Lyam,and Eli all under 5 living in Minnesota but visiting Wisconsin regularly. Iola works out of her home, blogs here, and is a doula and advocate for improving breastfeeding rates in the black community.

Brianne: work from home mom of 3 children, ages 11, 6, and 3 years old. Brianne is married to a fitness enthusiast but has struggled to find time for herself to do the same.

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:

#TLBmoves Title sponsor Tula Baby carriers, woven wrap and soft structured carriers

 

Tula Baby Carriers. Tula believes in supporting us all being close to our little ones AND getting moving toward a healthier way of living so much that they are our title sponsors. We 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…

 

Maternity and breastfeeding fitness apparel

 

Bellabumbum. Committed to high quality and comfortable apparel that provides support and room to move for the pregnant or breastfeeding mom, Belabumbum creates mindful activewear for moms. With fabrics that stretch and breathe, Belabumbum clothing is designed to last with comfortable fit that suits your level of activity for many years to come. Created by moms for moms, Belabumbum knows that moms want to look good whether they’re running a race, running to the grocery store, or running after a toddler. Perfect for Boob Out Fashion and room for growing bellies, you can’t better comfort as you get moving. Through out #TLBmoves you’ll see the convertible capri pant, nursing cami, and a new sports bra that’s not yet released.

#TLBmoves sponsoring brand

Eyla’s.  A reliable source for most of your parenting needs (they don’t sell sleep, sorry), Eyla’s will keep the whole family safely hydrated with their Eco Vessel bottles in your choice of glass or stainless steel. All Eco Vessel products are BPA and phthalate free, recyclable and environmentally friendly and come in a wide variety of styles and sizes including a line perfect for toddler hands. Drink up

 

thinkbaby thinksport

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

When?
#TLBmoves will run from July 1st-31st, 2015, 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!)

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.

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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