Seeing the world through your child’s eyes is just one of the joys of being a parent. What better way is there to introduce them to the wonders of their world than to take them into the outdoors on a hike? Communing with nature by hitting the hiking trails is a great way to spend some quality time together as a family while teaching little ones about nature. Whether your brood is big or small, walking or crawling, hiking with kids can be safe and easy. Of course the wilderness does pose some risks—think sunburns, bug bites and stings, scrapes and scratches, exhaustion, and dehydration—but most can be avoided or easily treated with a little advance planning and know-how. These tips will help keep your family happy and healthy while on the trail.
Take Short Trips: Excursions with kids must be kept short. To build their endurance and condition their little bodies for hikes, start out with no more than a one-mile trip, then slowly build up to a distance that fits your family’s fitness levels.
Be Flexible: Kids are curious, which means they’re going to want to stop often and check out the scenery, so plan to have plenty of time to complete your hike. And remember, you’re going to be moving even more slowly now that you’re carrying extra gear and supplies, and possibly a child.
Stay Safe in the Sun: Sunscreen is a must any time you’re outdoors, even when you’re hiking under a canopy of shady trees. Choose a protection level of SPF 30+ and for ease of use, try a stick because they’re super easy to apply to little faces. Opt for a fragrance-free version, which is great for hikes because there’s no scent to attract bugs. Reapply sunscreen every half hour whether it is needed or not, as little ones can’t always communicate with you when they’re feeling sunburned.
Beat Bug Bites: Your kids will love checking out spider webs and getting up close and personal with a variety of creepy crawlers, but what bites bugs leave behind—not so much. Buy a DEET free bug repellent as this chemical can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people; instead try a natural bug repellent that is based on natural plant oils such as citronella to fight off ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and biting flies.
Dress in Layers: Your child is dressed for adventure, be sure they are wearing a minimum of three layers. Hypothermia can happen even on a summer day.
Stay Hydrated: One quart of water every two hours is a good rule of thumb—more in extreme hot, cold or high altitude.
Most importantly: Have fun!
All My Best,