At What Age Can You Hike With a Baby?

You can start hiking with your baby when you feel ready, as it is a personal decision based on your comfort level. Some parents may wait until their baby is a few months old, while others may start earlier. As long as the baby is close to mom or dad, comfortable, and well-fed, they can enjoy the outdoor adventure. 

Experiencing nature has many benefits that come from our senses, like sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, as well as from elements like phytoncides, negative air ions, and microbes. 

Research shows that being in nature can improve our health, mood, and overall well-being. When hiking with your baby, they can also benefit from these positive effects. Keep in mind that our senses often work together, so experiencing nature through multiple senses can provide even more benefits. It’s important to consider your comfort and readiness when deciding to hike with your baby and to remember the potential benefits that nature can offer both of you.

We will discuss various topics to help you prepare for a successful hiking experience with your little one. We will cover how to begin hiking with your baby, the right time to introduce hiking to your toddler, and ways to gradually include inclines in your trips. Additionally, we will provide tips on planning your first hike, determining the right duration for the initial hike, and important health considerations.

We will also address the possibility of altitude sickness, choosing the right gear, picking the perfect baby carrier, and how hiking can enhance your bond with your baby.

Table of Contents

How To Start Hiking With Your Baby?

You can start hiking with your baby by planning properly, choosing the right clothing, finding a suitable carrier, using a weather predictor, preparing a diaper bag checklist, utilizing the AllTrails app, and selecting familiar hikes you’ve completed before. Keeping your baby comfortable is an important aspect to consider. 

Begin with smaller hikes and gradually introduce inclines in your hiking trips as your baby becomes more accustomed to outdoor activity. This will ensure a smoother transition and a fun-filled experience for the whole family.

As young parents, we had to learn through trial and error how to best bring our baby Quinn on hikes. With these helpful tips, you can make the experience enjoyable for you and your baby.

Should You Start with Smaller Hikes?

You won’t be able to hike as long of a distance with a baby as you could before. It doesn’t matter how heavy the baby is. You’ll also have to bring the carrier and at least one more bag for all the baby supplies. Plus, it’s a bit of a mental challenge, trying not to worry about how to feed or change the baby if need be.

Be patient and maybe try to hike for about an hour or two so both you and the baby can enjoy the experience. Too much sun and wind exposure are not good for your little one, so it’s best to start slow. Plus, you’ll probably feel tired and overwhelmed even after an hour or two.

For us, there are a lot of small hikes in Southern California. Most of them have a beautiful scenic view as well. We figured, instead of our baby looking at an electronic device at an early age all the time, let’s have her look at mother nature itself!

In many cases, you’ll have to bring wipes, blankets, bottles, and other things you may not carry when hiking alone. This additional baggage wears you down, leaving you more tired even after an hour of hiking.

How to Gradually Introduce inclines in Your Hiking Trips?

If the incline is more than 10%, it’s best not to attempt it with a baby. It will be difficult and tiring to carry them up a steep hill unless you’re athletic and experienced, and the hill isn’t that steep. Inclines are more challenging than flat terrain, but this very much depends on your health and physical abilities.

Consult a doctor (to make sure you’re good to go). Maybe even suggest wearing a watch that tracks the heart rate.  If you’re really set on hiking an incline, try using a baby carrier that supports their back and hip well. 

Find the Right Baby Carrier

“How do I carry my baby while hiking?” This is a question we often get asked. The answer to this differs from family to family. Some use slings, others prefer wraps, and some people like backpacks. Try different types of carriers and see what works best for you. You’ll be carrying your baby for long periods, so make sure the carrier is comfortable.

The carrier should be comfortable for both you and your baby. If your little one is uncomfortable, the hike will soon turn into a nightmare you won’t want to repeat. The same goes if you’re uncomfortable, so having the right carrier is crucial.

Bring Someone With You

Try not to go hiking with a baby by yourself for the first couple of times. If something happens, no one will be there to help you. It’s always best to bring at least one other person, preferably someone who knows the area well or someone you trust. If you’re planning on going on longer hikes, it might be good to invest in some safety gear like a whistle or bear repellant.

A whistle can protect you against wildlife and help you get the attention of other hikers in case of an emergency. A bear repellant is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a non-lethal deterrent that stops aggressive bears, so I suggest you don’t forget to bring one. This will give you peace of mind in case something happens.

It’s also best to go hiking with your significant other, but anyone else will do if your partner doesn’t like this type of adventure.

How to Plan Your First Hiking Trip With a Baby?

It’s never enough to just bring a carrier and think you’re ready. You want to pack all the essentials your baby will need, like diapers, wipes, and bottles. Even if you don’t intend on using them, it’s best to have these items just in case something unexpected happens. If your little one gets cranky or starts crying for no reason, you’ll be happy you brought some things with you.

  • Wipes: You’ll be using a lot of these, especially if your baby is still in diapers.
  • Bottles: Make sure you bring plenty of bottles and formula if your baby still takes it.
  • Pacifier: This will come in handy if your baby starts crying for no reason. You may want to bring one or two in case some get lost along the way.
  • Blanket: A blanket will help keep your baby warm and comfortable, especially since many hiking locations have trees, so the temperature is lower.
  • Clothes: Extra clothes will come in handy, but you probably already know that as a parent.
  • First Aid Kit: You never know what the trail may have in store, so it’s best to be prepared. A first aid kit has many useful things that you may need on the hike. It contains sterile bandages, plasters, gauze dressings, an antiseptic cream, skin rash cream, and many more things that may come in handy. 
  • Pack Small: You’ll be carrying everything, so make sure you pack as light as possible.
  • AllTrail Apps: An AllTrails app is a useful mobile app used in outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and snow sports. It offers a database of trail maps, images, reviews, and other things you may find useful when hiking. 

How Long Should Be Your First Hike with a Baby?

Your first hike with your baby should be around 30 minutes to an hour long. This will give you a chance to see how your baby reacts and whether they enjoy the experience. It’s also a good idea to choose a hike close to home for your first adventure together. This way, if the baby gets fussy, you can easily return home.

The distance your child can hike depends on their age and other factors:

  1. Newborns (less than 1 month old): Avoid hiking with newborns due to sun exposure, weather, and rough terrain.
  2. 1- to 5-month-olds: Choose a short hike and use a front carrier for support. Older babies may be content for more than an hour.
  3. 6- to 14-month-olds: Use a backpack carrier and take breaks. If well-prepared, you may be able to hike for several hours.
  4. 14 months to 4 years: Toddlers may want to walk by themselves, so expect a slower pace. They can typically hike a mile with breaks and may need to be carried part of the way.

For example, when my daughter Quinn was 4 months old, we went on an easy 2.3-mile loop hike at El Dorado Nature Center. We used her stroller mainly; it felt more like a nice trail than a challenging hike.

When she was 6 months old, we went to the Torrey Pines hike in San Diego, where I used an Ergo Baby carrier, and her mom used a Baby K’tan. The hike was relatively easy, though the steep incline was a bit challenging while carrying Quinn.

By the time she was around 2 years old, we had taken her to Joshua Tree in Southern California, where she hiked on her own with guidance. The hike she walked on her own was called Hidden Valley Joshua Tree. We took breaks and provided snacks and water to keep her happy and hydrated. At this age, she was more aware of her surroundings and enjoyed exploring the trail.

Benefits of Hiking With a Baby

Babies love exploring new things, so hiking is a perfect activity for them. They get to see new sights and sounds, smell different smells and feel different textures. This is all good for their development.

Hiking also gives you quality time with your baby. You get to bond with them while getting some exercise at the same time. It’s a win-win for both of you!

And lastly, hiking can help tire out your baby, so they sleep better at night. If you have a hard time getting your little one to sleep through the night, a hike during the day may do the trick.

Plus, it’s nice to spend time outside and away from electronics. We spend a lot of time with our gadgets when in the city, so we take this time to reconnect with nature. Sure, you can use your phone for maps, but you’re most likely not going to check it as frequently. Steering away from electronic gadgets and spending some quality time with your baby is a huge benefit of hiking together.

Do Infants get Altitude sickness?

Yes, infants can get altitude sickness. This is due to the fact that their lungs aren’t fully developed and are less effective at processing oxygen. Since there’s less oxygen in the air, an infant may have a harder time breathing when hiking.

It’s important to take your baby on hikes slowly to prevent altitude sickness. If they start showing signs of altitude sickness – such as labored breathing or lethargy – then you should immediately go down in elevation and seek medical attention if necessary.

Overall Thoughts

Hiking with a baby can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your little one. As long as you’re prepared and take things slowly, there should be no problems on the trail!

We enjoyed our first time and are excited to keep exploring different trails with Quinn as she gets older. If your baby is anything like ours, they’ll sleep through most of the experience. Sometimes, she even falls asleep on our way to the trail. But, we still get to breathe the fresh air and step away from busy city streets. Plus, we get to make a bunch of photos for the Gram.

I'm a professional marketer from Los Angeles, California. More importantly, I'm a brand new father who can't wait to take my beloved partner and daughter on all sorts of hiking trails. My mantra is that work will always be there, but watching your little one grow happens once in a lifetime.

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