Living in Iceland, I’ve had the opportunity to hike some fantastic trails. My dad and I even hiked along a lava field to an active volcano and watched liquid fire leap from the mountaintop. The hike was pretty wild, but one thing was even wilder than the frigid Icelandic scenery—the amount of parents I saw hiking with their babies.
It’s no joke. The last time I hit the trail, I saw no less than three moms hiking with babies nestled in little slings. They seemed happy to spend some time outdoors and though I can’t speak for the babies, they had some pretty smiley faces.
Hiking with Baby is a great activity for Mom or Dad, and it’s easy to see why. Strapping your child into a baby carrier and setting off on a trek through the woods is an amazing way to get exercise, connect with your child, and inspire a love of nature from an early age. It’s also a great way to spend some much needed time in the great outdoors.
Let’s look at a few reasons why you should bring your baby (and other kids) along next time you head out on a hike.
Hiking Gives You and Your Child Fresh Air
New parents are often so busy with their newborn baby that there’s no time to get out and breathe in fresh air. When you’ve been cooped up inside changing diapers for a while, taking a few minutes to go outside is enough to lift your spirits and energize you for the rest of the day. In fact, studies show that spending at least 15 minutes outside per day is linked to good health and overall well-being.
When you hike with your child, you expose them to fresh air and natural sunlight. While babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, older babies and children benefit from fresh air and limited sun exposure. Still, it’s important to be prepared with sunscreen, an umbrella, and a baby-sized sunhat to protect your child from the sun’s sizzling rays.
Carrying Your Baby Is a Good Workout
You know those people that hike with a backpack full of bricks or a weight strapped to their chest? Well, they’ve got nothing on parents. When you hike with a baby, the added weight makes the trek feel even more intense than it would if you were hiking unburdened. This extra weight makes the workout extra effective. To top it all off, hiking with your baby eliminates the need for a babysitter. There’s no need to plan a trip to the gym when you’ve got a mountain to climb and a child to carry.
While you may not need to call up a babysitter, you should do a little research before you hit the trail. AllTrails can help. This cool KidSmartⓇ App is available on all Troomi phones with the Discover plan. A compendium of all the local trails, AllTrails sorts hiking paths by difficulty, length, and elevation gain. You can even look at pictures of the trail and read reviews from your fellow hikers to determine the best hike for you and your kids.
Hiking Gives Babies A New Perspective
How often do babies and children get the chance to watch a waterfall or play in a serene forest clearing? Not often enough, in my opinion. Hiking with your child exposes them to natural vistas and interesting locales that they wouldn’t be able to reach on their own. The same goes for older kids, too. When you hike with your elementary-aged kids and teens, you help them reach spots that they would likely be unable to visit alone.
Hiking with your child also gives them a new perspective on life—literally. Carrying your child on your back or chest elevates them to a previously unreachable height. From this new height, they are able to look at the world and perceive things from a new perspective.
Reconnect with Your Child on the Trail
It’s easy for family time to get lost in the hubbub of everyday life. Between all life’s regular obligations and your role as a parent and caretaker, it can be rare to find unfettered personal time with your child. Hiking is a great way to find some of that elusive one-on-one time.
Getting out and hitting the trail with your child on your back encourages you to slow down together and reconnect, strengthening your relationship in the process. Even if your child isn’t old enough to understand language, they still perceive your voice. Studies show that hearing a parent’s voice soothes children and activates diverse regions of their brain, so don’t refrain from having a chat with your baby.
Hiking is also a great way to reconnect with older kids free from the distractions of technology. Some of the best conversations between my parents and I happen in the mountains, and each hike ends with us feeling closer than before. Involve older kids in the planning process (perhaps using KidSmart® apps like AllTrails), then use your time on the trail to ask them about their lives and interests. You never know, you might learn something new!
Introduce Babies to the Natural World Early
The world is a beautiful place. Between the peaks of snowy mountains and pristine lakeside vistas, there are so many awe-inspiring places to explore and appreciate. Expose your children to the beauty of the natural world early by bringing them along for a hike. Introducing your children to nature early is also beneficial for children’s health and development. Judy Klein, MD says that spending time in nature makes kids “more resilient, less anxious, and more self-regulated.” Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
Be a Smart Hiker
Hiking is fun, rewarding, and meditative—but it’s also dangerous. When you and your child are out traversing the trail, it’s important to be prepared for all circumstances. Pack some sunscreen, carry a first-aid kit, and do a little research on your chosen route before you go. Make sure to bring your child’s Troomi phone along, as well. All Troomi phones come with 9-1-1 pre-installed as a contact, so help is always in your child’s pocket. After all, preparation is key when you’re hitting the great outdoors.
There’s nothing better than spending time outside. Hiking with Baby is a great way to reconnect, get a little fresh air, and inspire your kiddo to develop a love for the natural world from an early age. Who knows, you may have just found a lifelong hiking buddy!