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Features of Camping and Hiking with Small Children

Probably, all keen hiking tourists, having informed their relatives and friends about the upcoming addition to the family, hear similar phrases: “Well, now the hike will have to be postponed for several years …”

In fact, with little ones, you can walk to the mountains quite successfully and with pleasure. Most likely, you will have to slightly change the complexity and format of these trips. But for parents with existing hiking experience, the difficulties will be surprisingly little. In this article, we will cover the answers to the most popular questions on this topic.

A couple of clarifications at once:

  • By babies, we here mean children who either still cannot walk, or cannot walk for a long time, and are carried by their parents. That is, it is up to about 3 years old. (Traveling with children who cover the entire route on their own deserves a separate topic.)
  • Hiking is understood as walking tours, completely autonomous, for several days, but without elements of mountaineering. Heights up to 3,000 meters, so we are not talking about acclimatization either. Oregon coast camping is a good example. 

Now let’s move on to the questions!

Why Go Hiking with Kids? They Are Still Small, They Will Not Remember Anything.

The answer is simple: parents need it. A small child feels good where mom and dad are. It is better if they are happy with life, mom and dad, who do not have to give up their favourite hobbies. Many parents have no other alternative but to take the child with them. Others just like to do everything with him, because they are one family.

Most likely, it is also useful for the baby to see the world outside the apartment and playground and learn how to adapt to changing circumstances. Parents often report developmental leaps after travel, although this may be just a coincidence. No one has any evidence of this, so you should not count on the fact that a child will start talking or walking due to travel earlier than his peers. But without a doubt, small children are interested in the hike! It is priceless to see the first impressions of a baby who has fallen into the “big world” of moss, grass, stones, sand. It cannot be reached even in a whole toy store.


At What Age Can You Start Taking Your Child On A Hike?

While small – scary, maybe let him grow up first? Experienced parents report that they are always afraid of their children … Therefore, in my opinion, the sooner the better. Of course, this period is different for everyone. We do not take into account the first couple of months: both the mother needs to recuperate, and the baby needs to get stronger, establish feeding, sleep. At this time the family usually has no time for hiking. But, in general, the first six months is a great time to travel. Of course if the baby is healthy and everything is in order with him. It is simply a pity for him to sit at home, because this will not happen again!

While the child still does not know how to move independently, there are quite a few problems with him on the hike. It is especially convenient if the child is breastfed – he does not even need to take any food with him.

Later, the child begins to crawl – you need to make sure that he does not slip somewhere in a river or cliff. He drags leaves, earth, and pine needles into his mouth. One parent has to do everyday life (put up a tent, cook dinner), and the other has to keep an eye on the baby. His teeth are starting to cut and he sleeps worse at night. Then he begins to walk and does not want to sit in a backpack for a long time. And then he will have his own opinion, and he may not want the same rest as you.

In general, a hike is only one of the facets of ordinary life. But everything is the same in it: at first it is relatively easy for parents. And as the child grows, it requires more and more attention, energy and time. But, having gained travel experience in the first months, then it is much easier to solve new incoming tasks.


Will The Child Freeze On The Hike?

Experienced hikers know that it is very difficult to freeze on a hike with good modern equipment. But there are still doubts about children. In our culture, it is customary to dress children too warmly. Many of our compatriots are surprised in other European countries to see how lightly children are dressed.

A newborn seems to us very fragile. In fact, he comes into the world with a powerful mechanism of adaptation to a huge range of conditions. The same biological species can survive both in the tundra and at the equator. You just need not to break this wonderful mechanism. But for this you need very little: allow the child to experience at least some contrasts and temperature drops. It costs nothing, but it will return a hundredfold. A person will grow up to a adult who is not afraid of drafts and does not get sick from accidentally wetting his feet, the bus was blowing out of the window, or a colleague turned on the air conditioner.


In general, if a child is accustomed from birth that adults do not wrap him up, but dress him for the weather, like themselves, then nothing will happen to him on a hike when the temperature suddenly drops by a couple of degrees, and the parents do not have time to put on an extra blouse in time.

There is one important point to remember in cool weather: when we go, especially uphill with a backpack, we are much warmer than the child who is being carried. Therefore, in this case, the baby needs to be dressed warmer than yourself. Do not forget warm socks and mittens – the child’s limbs freeze in immobility, even if you yourself do not need gloves on this trip.


Where To Start And What To Expect From Your First Hike?


Obviously, it is better to start with familiar places where you have already been. The first trip with a child is an equation with many unknowns, so let it be known as much as possible. It will not be boring, because even the old boring places will still open in a new way. For the first time, it is better not to go far from the car – even if something suddenly goes wrong (or you just don’t like it), you can always “evacuate”. The very thought is usually calm.


If you have never hiked without a child and are now just starting out, then it is very important to choose a route within your power. It is best to act incrementally. For example, let it be a one-day walk at first, then an overnight stay next to the car, after that – an autonomous hike with one overnight stay. After that, try to go with two nights, but let both of them be in the same place, and you will walk radially from the camp. And finally, after that, you can go on a linear route, where each night will be in a different place.

The weather forecast is now becoming very important. If earlier you could take a risk – “maybe the rain will not be as strong as they promise, but if anything, we will wait in the tent” – now you will have to choose very good and stable weather, because the child does not know how to wait.

Set aside twice as much time as usual for any movements. Feed, change diapers, change clothes – all these delays, especially at first, add up to hours. And you yourself carry more weight than usual and walk more slowly. Therefore, there should be plenty of time.

More about camping and hiking read here.

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