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Hiking with Kids

You are a hiking enthusiast, and now that you have kids, does this mean that your trekking days are way over? This kind of thinking is amiss, though because you, as a father or a mom, can still take plenty of family-oriented hikes with your kids. Hiking with kids does take some other preparations compared to planning your own hiking.

Although there some backpacking folks out there who shun the idea of taking children out into the trails because it’s too much work, there are also many avid backpackers elsewhere who are keen with the idea.

Hiking with the kids or babies means you have to adjust your goals first. Everything depends on the age of your children. There will be additional gear involved, plus instances when you have to carry your children around on the trail. From there, you can now choose a track that’s accessible and easy enough for kids.

Below are more helpful tips you can put into practice in order to make your kids love this particular activity as much as you do and at the same time, spend quality bonding sessions with them.

Planning the Walk

hiking with kidsPlan ahead, and plan well. There are several things you have to fix first before you and your family venture into the wild.

  • Get your kinds into the destination planning. Show them pictures of tracks online or draw out a map and discuss your circuit. Check out the  hiking trails section for ideas.
  • While deciding on what hike works best, choose the route that presents plenty of enjoyment for the kids. Children usually have short attention spans and they can get tired easily, thus shorter tracks are more recommended as compared with loop hikes.
  • Now that you will be hiking with your children, you are required to bring additional gear along with the usual stuff you carry with you on your own hikes. The following below are several helpful items to make the hike easier for you to handle.
  1. Toilet paper
  2. Diapers (for babies and toddlers)
  3. Baby wipes
  4. Additional clothing such as underwear, socks, shirts or pants
  5. A light children’s jacket
  6. Snacks in case they get hungry
  7. First aid kit with Tylenol, diaper rash ointment or teething ointment for the babies or toddlers
  8. Blister plasters

You can also bring along gear like binoculars (smaller, more compact ones), field guides for plants and animals found in the area and cameras (affordable digital cameras are great so they can use the photos on their social media). These items are a great way to keep your children interested in the course of the hike and it will make them aware of their surroundings as well.

Packing Your Gear

Yellowstone camping family with kidsIf you were used to go hiking and camping with only the two of you, you probably need to get a larger backpacking tent. Smaller kids are advised to sleep in the same tent as the parents while teenagers probably are better off in their own tent. Just make some night rules so that they do get their hours sleep and not keep everybody awake with they laughter or music.

  • Hiking Boots

Your children require proper hiking boots in order to hike all the distances without painful and tired feet. Make sure you buy the boots in the correct size (not too big but also not too small) and buy them at least a few weeks in advance of the trip. You need to go for some serious hikes in your local areas to get them used to the boots.

Carrying the correct gear can definitely ease the burden of a hike with the younger ones. Listed below are several gear you can bring along.

  • Kid Hiking BackpackChildren’s backpacks

Kids as old as age 4 can carry their own things by way of a backpack designed for them. Let them wear a pack built with pockets which can hold important items like water bottles and snacks. In addition, they can put some of the things they find interesting during the hike inside their packs.

Kids around 6 or 7 years of age can manage to carry their own bedroll, several clothing items or any favorite toy small enough to fit inside the backpack.

Find a lot of hiking backpacks for kids here

  • kid carrier backpacksBaby carrier

Framed carriers are heavier than soft ones, so the former is more ideal to bring along during a hike. They can be used on children up to 5 years of age. The soft carriers can also be tucked inside a backpack if your toddler wishes to walk during the hike by his or herself.

Find a lot of hiking baby carriers here

Along the Track

family hiking with kidsParents and children during a hike; both have different sets of concerns and curiosities. What adults will find wonderful will be boring for children. Kids are more attentive on things near them, the sounds they pick up or the amount of cool items they can grab and inspect like distinctive rocks and flowers. Below are some helpful suggestions to make the children feel at home on a route.

  • Get them to play games with you during the walk. You can opt for guessing games, play pretend/copy animal or bird sounds, I Spy or counting games.
  • Narrate stories and involve your kids in it. Widen the scope of your story and bring in elements of the hike.
  • To avoid fatigue and boredom, make regular rest stops. It goes without saying that the younger ones won’t have the same stamina and attention span that adults have.
  • If possible, you can also bring friends with you on the hike. Backpack with another family with children who are in the same age range as your kids. In addition, if you happen to stumble upon another family along the trail and you are trekking the same route, make friends with them.

Children are more often than not cool with the idea of making new friends and having kids with similar ages around will boost your kid’s interest and staying power.

  • Make sure that you know when to call the whole thing over. A youngster who’s not enjoying the hike can put a damper on everyone’s mood.

Additional Suggestions

  • If you want your children to have a love for this particular activity, make them start early. Make it appear like backpacking is part of your normal routine.
  • Babies are pretty much trouble-free during a hike. All you have to do is keep them toasty, well-fed and well-rested and you can take them far enough for as long as you can hold them.
  • Always have a back-up plan or plenty of options. Children are fickle and they can change their minds any minute. Be prepared to work with their requests.
  • Maintain camaraderie and cooperation in your hiking group. Let them experience the trek. Assign tasks for the kids and demonstrate the correct means to perform them. After finishing a particular task, give words of encouragement and thanks and show them how awesome and supportive they are to make the entire trek smooth and enjoyable.
  • Any creek, lake, big pond or sizable rock ledge are good places to rest and have a bit of fun.
  • Provide whistles for the children, which can prove handy for emergencies. Show them how to use it properly.

You see, hiking with kids can be done without any problem. You just need to make the preparations in advance and adjust the hiking trails accordingly.

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