These tips for hiking with kids will help you to better prepare for the best hiking experience possible!
As any parent can tell you in detail, life changes after having children in that some former activities are off-limits while some are simply altered to adapt to a new more responsible lifestyle. Depending upon parental opinions, hiking with kids can be a fun and rewarding pastime, with some parents even carrying their toddlers along.
Going on a hike with your children is an enjoyable experience in any weather. Taking some common-sense precautions when you hike will make your experience more fun.
Whether you have babies or older children you can still enjoy the outdoors without much effort. Here is your guide to hiking with children.
If your lifestyle is active in general, then your kids may already be used to physical activity. When you plan a hike you need to keep it as low-key as possible. Make the hike be as far as the youngest in your family can go without being too overly exhausted at the end of the hike.
Although very young children can be a handful when hiking due to their needs, children that are a little bit older (5 years and above) seem to have a ball hiking and camping with their parents. Safety tips for hiking with children should be learned well by parents and taught to children at every opportunity on the trail.
In this manner, a child will not only be safer on hiking trips but will enjoy the activity greater because they have a better grasp of how to act in the outdoors.
Taking supplies for everyone on the hike is also essential. Water is the most important thing to take but light snacks such as granola and energy bars are also a good idea. If you need cold milk make sure to take a cooler full of ice.
Avoid hiking in extreme weather such as too hot, too cold, rain, snow, and too much wind. Humans shouldn’t be out in such weather anyway but especially children.
Other minor supplies to take with you should be sunscreen as exposure to the sun will be minimal. Rash or itch cream would also be appropriate in case someone gets into a plant that causes a reaction. Insect repellant may also be appropriate for the hot summer.
Our 2 Day Backpacking Supply List might be a helpful resource to check out!
Make ground rules before you even hit the trail. Tell your kids not to be too far away from a parent and always stay close enough to be able to hear someone.
Cameras and binoculars are great ways to get kids involved with nature. Look at things from a distance such as trees, lakes, and other objects.
Take pictures of things along the way such as plants, animals, and shots with mom and dad pointing things out with children. Make going outdoors a fun learning experience and your kids will remember the fun it was to be outside.
WHYou could even bring a nature scavenger hunt to make it more fun!
You Don’t Have To Carry Everything
A common mistake that parents make when taking kids hiking is to carry everything for their children on the journey. This is a huge mistake born of a parent’s kindness and desire to make the hike as pleasant as possible for their children.
Each child should carry a small pack, with very minimal and basic survival gear in the circumstance they become briefly separated from their parents.
A child’s pack should include a day’s water ration, a few trail bars or other energy snacks, a warm outer garment, a flashlight, and a cell phone if the child is old enough to know how to use it. A whistle can be used in place of a cell phone for a younger child.
A child should be instructed thoroughly what to do should they become separated – stay put, and either telephone for help or blow the whistle constantly at 5-minute intervals until they are found.
Safety while hiking is important to discuss with your kids. Wear bright clothing so you can see your children at all times even when they get ahead a little.
Wear appropriate shoes with socks. If your kids wear rugged sandals socks are essential in case of any bangs and bruises.
Parents should always stay within 25 feet of children when hiking, and take the opportunity as they go along to teach children about the natural world at every chance. In new locations, a parent should always go first on a trail, and ensure that a child does not lag.
Parents need to make certain that children are dressed properly, as well as behave properly as a guest around wildlife. A short lesson on poisonous and edible plants will prevent issues such as poison ivy or oak, as well as educate children on what plant life may be useful in a pinch.
Since harsh weather can occur at any time, children should be constantly aware of changing conditions when hiking.
First Aid Kit
When you are hiking, there will likely be loose gravel, slippery rocks, and uneven paths. While the kids have never been injured before, don’t be surprised if they skin their knees or cut themselves. You don’t want to be 30 minutes out and be ill-prepared for an accident.
A few small first aid kits go a long way. They are small and easy to pop into a backpack. Check out our gear list for more suggestions.
Check the Weather and Conditions
Before going hiking, you should check the weather. This is especially important if you will be going into the mountains for a longer hike. Avoid super hot days and areas that are prone to mudslides.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush going on a hike and keep it at your kid’s pace. If you have more than one child, have the older child care for some of the younger ones while you’re out in case a baby is a handful.
The last important thing to remember is that a hike doesn’t have to be high maintenance or even out in nature. Going for a walk in the city park can be just as valuable as a walk on a nature hiking trail. There are trees, birds, squirrels, and maybe even dogs on a leash that your kids can interact with and explore.
I hope that you found this tips for hiking with kids helpful! What would you add to the list??