How To Make Hiking With Your Kids Easy
You don’t have to stop hiking when you have kids. You will just need to modify how you do certain things in order to accommodate their needs.
Hiking is a great way to get your children to enjoy the outdoors as much as you do. The bonding experience will be priceless for all of you.
Below, you will find some ideas for making the hiking experience easier for them and for you, too.
Infants: 6 Months – 2 Years Old
A child-carrier backpack is designed to make hiking easier for you in these early stages of your child’s life. The length of your hikes will be determined by how far you can carry their weight.
Make sure you keep your infant warm, especially their head, hands and feet. Infants can get sunburn too, so shielding them from the sun is extremely important.
Toddlers: 3 – 5 Years Old
Toddlers are too heavy to carry. While they are able to walk at this age, they are probably not up to walking more than a mile at a time.
Because they are still at the age where everything is “new” to them, they will want to stop periodically to explore something that catches their eye.
Be prepared for their natural curiosity to bring your usual hiking speed down to what will become a slow walk through nature.
Encourage them to explore. Watching them enjoy these “new” sights and sounds will remind you of how you felt when you first started hiking.
Preteens: 6 – 12 Years Old
Your kids will now be able to hike for longer periods of time and distance, but you must keep them motivated to prevent meltdowns and boredom.
To do this, choose destinations that will be exciting for them. For example, you may want to look for a hike that has a swimming hole somewhere along the way.
Another way to keep them interested in the hike is to give them things to do that make them feel involved. For example, you can have them collect and purify water for drinking water and teach them how to read the map or compass you are using.
At this age, kids want to be involved in more than just walking…they want to do some additional activities that makes them feel needed.
Teenagers: 13 + Years Old
As your children get older, they will want more freedom. If they want to have a say in the planning of their own or the family’s meals, let them.
They may want to walk a little ahead of the rest of the family. If they will still be in your line of vision & it seems safe, let them walk ahead a little bit.
Some teenagers may not want to spend so much time with their parents. Inviting one or two of their friends along will make the hikes more enjoyable for your teenager.
Self-sufficiency is important to them at this point. When it is safe to do so, allow them some of these freedoms. It will go a long way with them if they feel you trust them.
At this age, kids need their own backpack, trekking poles, waterproof jacket and other gear. Let them assist in choosing their own equipment.
Final Thoughts (Part 1)
Knowing the life stages of your children’s hiking ability and experience, based on their age(s) can make all the difference for them and for you.
Next week: Hiking With Your Kids – Part 2