Shanti Hodges, founder of Hike it Baby, lives in Portland and has the mission to get parents and kids to step outside at least once a week for a walk in nature with their newborns and children. Below are 10 tips you can use when hiking with your baby while tracking steps with a vívofit.
Heading out for your first day hike with the baby can be intimidating, whether you are going somewhere local or further out. We know. That's why we hike together with our group Hike it Baby and count on each other to help bring things we may have forgotten.
Here are our Hike it Baby recommendations for the top 10 things to think about to keep your load light:
1) Light shelter - You can sit through a sudden windstorm or rainstorm with a cheap throw away plastic poncho or bump it up and invest in a small emergency blanket. This can be a very minimal investment and be used for many things without adding a lot of weight.
2) A Whistle - Not only can this be used to scare an animal or alert people to your whereabouts, but your little one will love blowing on it when they are bored or you can also use it to distract them if they are upset.
3) Water - Don't skimp on water. This is a critical element to have. If you spend a lot of time hiking in an area with a lot of water (lakes, creeks or rivers) consider getting something that easily sterilizes water on the fly. There are all kinds of options from infrared pens to water bottles with filters.
4) Compass - You don't have to be a Boy Scout to use a compass. They are pretty simple and even the most basic one is very helpful on a trail where it is difficult to see and you are deep in the trees. It's easy to get lost if you start bushwhacking.
5) Lightweight food - If you under pack food you might end up with a cranky toddler so just think light, not limited. I love turkey jerky, fruit leather and dehydrated whole fruits because they offer quick energy boosts without a lot of weight or bulk. Candy bars and trail mix with chocolate are yummy, but if you are in hot weather think about the melt and mess factor.
6) Waterproof matches - They are light and they can be crucial if anything goes wrong. Even if you end up back at your car with a dead battery and you have to sleep over, might as well have something to make a nice fire, right? Consider keeping some of these in an emergency first aid kit always in your car too!
7) Small emergency first aid kit for trail - A few band aids, butterfly stitches, some antiseptic wipes and surgical tape should do it. You don't necessarily need a huge kit for a day hike but kids bang themselves up easily. One stick puncture in your kiddos hand can be quickly bandaged up if you have a little kit on you.
8) Duct tape - Ok, so no emergency kit? Bring duct tape. This can be a fix all of everything from a broken pole to a shoe sole that comes unglued to a cut on your arm to a backpack zipper that breaks. A hiker's best friend!
9) Sunscreen - It's so easy to forget sunscreen and then get out there and think you won't be out long. With a baby, you may not want to use sunscreen because they are too young (although there are some great brands that are fairly chemical free), so carry a muslin cloth that you can drape over baby. We did this in Mexico with our son when he was six months on a very hot hike and he slept the whole time and didn't get burned.
10) Headlamp - You never think you are going to be out past dark, but a baby or toddler who won't cooperate can make your day longer than you anticipated. Carry a headlamp always so that getting back to your car is a fun adventure versus a scary mission.
Hiking with your little one is fun and a great way for you to see nature through your child's eyes. Whether you get out there with a 6-week old or a 6-year old, it's never too early for someone to love nature. Your trail smarts will also rub off on them, so take the time to prep before you get out there and it will make the day more fun for everyone! Make sure you follow the group on social media to keep up with their next adventures: