Take it Slow
If you want to hike Mount Kilimanjaro with your toddler, be my guest (you wont see me there anytime soon!). But, I highly recommend taking any hiking excursion slow at first. This is especially true if you haven’t hiked with your toddler before and do not know what to expect. It is great to have goals to work towards, just don’t jump in full throttle without knowing what you are getting yourself into. The last thing you want is to be 5 miles up a mountain with a screaming, thrashing toddler strapped on your back. Trust me, I’ve been there! The first hike you take your toddler on should not be a long, strenuous journey. Instead, start off with a shorter hike that has more flat stretches rather than a rocky incline. This will give both you and your little one the opportunity to start getting used to hiking together. You can slowly work up to more challenging hikes by increasing the duration and difficultly each time you venture off.
Use a Carrier
Throw your kid on your back for the hike! Yes, toddlers are heavy, but think of it as an extra work out. Chances are even if your little one walks fairly well, they will get tired eventually. The more difficult hikes with rough terrain also tend to not be safe for toddlers either so it is best to strap them in a carrier. I love my Ergobaby Carrier! I have used it since my little girl was a newborn and it has held up great.
Bring a Distraction
It’s no secret that toddlers have a short attention span. My daughter loves the scenery that hiking brings; however, after the 50th tree and bird she sees, she will sometimes get restless. It is always a good idea to bring some sort of distraction, whether it be a small toy, food or even music. I always pack an easy snack, such as crackers, that I can easily hand to my little one during our hike. A yummy snack will usually keep her content until we can take a break to stretch her legs and explore. If food doesn’t do the trick, try breaking out the tunes. Use your phone to play some of your child’s favorite songs or sing them yourself. If you run into a crazy lady singing made-up songs to her toddler on top of a mountain, it’s probably me.
Taking the time to take a break will save everyone some sanity. Let your toddler out of the carrier and enjoy nature for a bit. Adventures with littles are all about bonding and making memories; take the time to enjoy your time together. One of my favorite things to do is pack a mini picnic and eat once we’ve reached the top of the mountain. Hiking is about soaking up your surroundings in nature. Breathe in the fresh pine smell, listen to the birds chirp and forget about all of your worries for the time being. Take breaks along the way to immerse yourself in the true beauty of nature.