Author - Val

Clever Tips to Follow When Hiking with Toddlers

hiking with toddlers

Getting your child to step outside and enjoy the beauty of nature can often feel challenging in this information age. In most cases, your kid may find the idea of plodding through the woods or mountains an incredibly unexciting and strenuous task.

However, although hiking may seem grueling and demanding to your child, there are several ways for them to enjoy this activity without feeling exhausted and worn out.

So, to help you get the best out of your next family hike, we have gathered amazing tips and tricks to make your walk feel smooth and manageable. By following this guide, your children will be begging you for their next hike in no time!

Don’t Start with the Longest Trail

If you are an experienced hiker, you likely want to challenge yourself with the longer and more difficult trails each time. However, we generally don’t recommend doing this when you go hiking with kids. Remember, your children are much slower walkers than adults. Their shorter legs and shallower stamina often mean that a hike that takes you an hour may take them as many as three hours to complete.

This difficulty a child may experience on their first few hikes is one of the core reasons we always recommend starting with the most straightforward trail you can find. You should also pick a hiking route that is as short as possible. Once your children complete this walk, they will feel overcome with confidence and motivation and will become eager for their next hike.

Don’t Hesitate to Take Breaks

A lack of stamina is one of the core reasons your child may avoid hiking, as they may feel they are slowing down the group each time they stop to catch their breath. However, if your kids are only kickstarting their hiking journey, there is little chance that they will have as much energy for a long walk as you do. This lack of stamina as a beginner is one of the core reasons why paying close attention to your child during the hike is always necessary.

If you notice your kid is beginning to look tired while walking, don’t hesitate to tell the entire group to stop, as this will allow them to catch their breath. This break will also give them more energy for the walk’s next phase. Alternatively, as younger children may not mind their parents carrying them for a significant part of the trail, you may choose this route instead of stopping the entire group.

You must also ensure that you do not look downcast while your kid is recovering their energy but remain motivated and energetic instead. This drive will give your child a boost to complete the trail. As you continue to take more hikes with your family, your children will experience an increase in stamina, resulting in fewer breaks for the entire group.

Don’t Forget the Right Gear

One of the core misconceptions about hiking is that you must give up your trails for some time while your child is old enough to hike with you. Yet, this could not be further from the case. Today, there are tons of hiking gear available that make it straightforward to go on a quick and easy hike with your few-weeks-old child. However, to ensure your walk is as smooth as possible, you must prepare for all conditions.

In addition to stocking up on an effective baby carrier, you will also want to ensure your pack has a good rain cover in case the weather beats you to the end of the trail. Before your hike, you must also remember that your baby is generally not going to be doing any walking at all, so be sure to dress them accordingly.

We cannot overstate the benefits of taking your first hike as a new mom. Completing a hiking trail gives you a fantastic opportunity to get out of the house with your newborn, lift your spirits, and get you doing the things that you love again.

Give them a Chance to Experience the Nature Around Them

One of our core beliefs is that completing a hike is only half of the journey. Instead, the true beauty of a trail often lies within it. This allure of nature is why one of our top tips for getting your children into hiking is to allow them to observe their trail. Remember, most kids are naturally curious and always glad to learn about a world they are just beginning to experience.

If you choose a rocky trail on a hike, give them a moment to look through any captivating rock formations and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Alternatively, if you find yourself on a path filled with small wildlife and plants when hiking with kids, don’t hesitate to give them a moment to take a good look at them. The memories of these experiences are bound to last a lifetime.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Turning Back

If you are a seasoned hiker, the thought of turning back is bound to send shivers down your spine. However, the moods and emotions of your children should always be your priority. If they are beginning to look tired or worn down and need a break every few minutes, we recommend asking them if they are still up for it. In some cases, they may share your motivation to complete the walk and will be willing to push forward, while in other scenarios, they may feel it is best if the entire family returns home.

If you do choose to take a U-turn, you should try as much as possible to remain motivated and happy, as the last thing we all want is for our kids to feel like they have disappointed us. Instead, mark the hike as a challenge for the family, and feel free to return to it when your kids have stronger legs and have been able to rack up a few more hikes.

10 Creative Tips To Keep Kids Invested in Hiking

fun hiking activities

Hiking is one of the best family activities, but how to make hiking fun for kids? Are there any fun hiking activities that will keep your child engaged and interested?

It could be sometimes nerve wrecking because you know that any minute kids might start whining, saying that they are bored, they start asking how much longer, they are tired, they want to turn around and go back, they lost interest. And there you are, in the middle of the trail, trying your best to keep them entertained, keeping their spirits up and as a result, when you are done hiking, you don’t feel like you enjoyed the trail and made some memories, instead you feel exhausted and like you need rest from this hike.

This is not a guarantee, but some of these fun hiking activities tips might work for your child. Here are some ideas how to make hiking fun:

1. Time the hike

Most kids are at their best in the morning. And, most often, weather in the morning is much better too. Set a time for your hike, make sure kids are fed and full of energy and this way, you will probably be back by afternoon for a nap, or may be some art or card games.

2. Destination “carrot”

“Hike” is a boring words for kids. Instead, try to find something interesting that trail might have, like a scenic view, or a landmark, or a pond along the way, or something that might interest your kid. Do not say that you are going for a hike, instead, you tell them that you guys are going to check out that hunted cabin in the woods, or go skip rocks in a lake. You may think it is just semantics, but for a child, it is a critical distinction that would set them in a positive mindset.

To a child, the idea of exploring is so much more exciting than just a 3 mile “walk” in the woods.

fun hiking activities

3. Mind Games

Hiking back is the stretch where you would want to break out your arsenal of thinking games. “Name that tune” could be one of them and get their mind off of their tired legs. If kids are too young to identify tunes, try singing their favorite songs together to pass time. Try changing voices to make it funny or may be even have a little singing competition. You know what works best for your kids to keep their mind off so use every trick you can!

Other thinking games that could work: I spy with my little eyes, Twenty questions, Alphabet game, Never Ending Story.

4. Playing Physical Games

Favorite one is “Floor is Lava” or just “Hot Lava”. I think everybody knows this game. You tell the kids that the trail is hot lava and they need to hop from a rock to a tree root to avoid stepping into lava and melting off the soles of their shoes.

You can have them collect tree leaves, but they need to be different shapes and colors to be “collectable”. Or may be kids would want to play a photo safari, or a simple scavenger hunt for the are’s flora and fauna.

5. Start seeing Things. Imagination Game

You can start with taking a break and looking up, trying to see what clouds are shaped into. Kids have a very good imagination, so I am sure they will have no problem seeing all kids of stuff that is hidden in the clouds.

One caveat – you have to have clouds. If it’s not cloudy, no problem. As you walk, you can try and find different shapes hidden in the tress and bushes. With a little bit of imagination your kids will start seeing dragons hidden in the tress, or a bird head or a dog hidden figures.

You can even take a bit further and if your kids are competitive, you can tell them that whoever finds more shapes wins a small prize when you all get back.

6. Take breaks

Give up the “rush” where you have a goal to get from point A to point B. Instead, stop often, take lots of breaks, let kids set the pace. May be you will stop to look at a new plant your kids noticed, or may be there is a river near by and your kids want to throw rocks in it. Bring a kids book about hiking and stop and read it on one of the breaks. Stop to listen to the nature sounds, smell the pines, listen to the birds sing, let the kids stomp on a decaying log or pick up a pretty leaf or rock they saw. Take the time to admire the nature together.

You may not get very far this way, but your kids will definitely enjoy this little hike and you will have a lot of memories to look back at together. And next time, they would WANT to go remembering all their adventures.

7. Split Up

Even though hiking is about bonding, sometimes splitting up might be a better option. One of the parents could stay back with little ones, while the other could take older kids a bit further to finish the hike. We all know how sometimes nothing could change little one’s mind if they decided not to go any further. This could be the opportunity to take a break, enjoy little games and activities right then and there, while waiting for the other party to complete the hike and meet you on the way back.

8. Topping off the tank

Keep them fed! 🙂 Bring a lot of snacks and stop often for kids to restore their energy levels with water and food. Every kid should have their own water bottle or some kind of hydration system.

9. Bring a Friend

May be you are camping with another family, or may be your kids have cousins that you are able to take on a hike with you (you are a brave soul to do this 🙂 ) You may have a lot more success on a trail! Having a buddy to hike with would help motivate your kids. They often invent their own games along the way – race each other, play with sticks and stones. Kids look up to each other and they seem to whine less in front of their peers.

All of that keeps them occupied.

10. Bribes

Bring sweets. M&Ms or any other candy that your child loves and start dispensing them every so often for ground covered. If you have another mile to go back to the camp and your child is dragging their feet, this might be the only way to motivate them.

Yes, it is straight up bribery, but sometimes you have to go with whatever works!

All these tips apply to slightly older kids, and if you are exploring the option of hiking with a toddler, we got some tips and tricks for you as well!