On the blog we’ve talked about creating an Intentional Summer and making a “summer bucket list.” This year on that list was hiking as a family. As you know, we have a toddler. Hiking with a toddler can be a little bit more … well difficult. We have taken several hikes as a family, and I thought it would be fun to share with you some tips we’ve picked up along the way to make hiking with a toddler fun.
1. Pack lots of snacks.
We like to go on a hike during lunch. Of course, the grown ups will have already eaten lunch, but the toddler will eat his on the trail. We use snack containers (or measuring cups…work with what you have) filled with raisins, watermelon, avocado, grapes, etc. We are loving Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad for our trail snack. Pack enough to last the majority of the hike.
2. Bring sun protection.
We always bring along a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. This goes for everyone! You don’t necessarily have to use them all, but it’s good to have these items on hand just in case you need them.
3. Use a hiking pack.
Don’t expect a toddler to be able to hike the trail. We’ve found the backpack style carrier to work great. It’s comfortable and has plenty of pockets for us to carry water, sunscreen, and additional snacks.
4. Let your toddler walk.
Occasionally, we let the toddler get out of the pack to walk for a stretch. This gives him a chance to get some exercise and stretch his legs. Once he has walked for a bit, we put him back in the pack. He’s usually exhausted and ready to comply by this point!
5. Hand them nature.
As we walk, we hand our boy flowers, leaves, sticks, and whatever else we find along the trail that we think he might find interesting. Dandelions and wheat grass have been his favorite so far.
6. Don’t expect to see nature.
Kids aren’t necessarily quiet, and we rarely see anything interesting on the trail because of it. We don’t mind because we’re spending time as a family, but go ahead and set the expectation that you will probably be singing Mary Had a Little Lamb or something equally as fun to help your toddler get over a hump. Deer, butterflies, and bears aren’t really into that sort of thing. We like to hike to a waterfall, lake, or something with a view. This way it matters not how loud our children are and the destination is what we’re after anyways.
7. Take regular breaks.
Sometimes, we just need to stop and take a breather. Let the toddler explore unhindered for a little while. Drink plenty of water on your stop and replenish your snacks. Plus, until you get in shape, carrying your toddler on your back is more of a workout than you realize. You may need the breaks as much as, or more than, your toddler.
Overall, just relax and have fun. And if your toddler starts screaming, don’t worry about it. It happens to everyone at some point. You’re creating memories as a family, showing them God’s amazing creation, and forming healthy habits that will benefit your family for years to come.