Having a kid always seemed like a bittersweet thing. It’s a big change, and I was unsure of what to expect. We wanted to pack this summer with lots of outdoor trips, but thinking of doing all of that with a baby made me a little worried we would be very limited in what we could do.
Babies are wholly dependant on us and demand a lot of attention. And besides, is it really a good idea to take infants out on the trail, or even camping?
Heck yeah it is.
James loves the outdoors. He loves to look up at the trees. He loves the sounds of nature, and he loves the movement, too.
Here are 5 tips that make the trip with an infant child a good experience for everyone.
Get a good carrier.
This one is easy. Most parents will want one anyway for just being around the house. There are a ton to choose from, but if you want to spend time hiking with your kid, not all carriers are made equal.
Think about comfort. You’re going to have this carrier strapped onto you for however long the hike is. We have a nice Baby Bjorn carrier that works well around the home, but on longer walks or hikes, it digs into your shoulders and becomes uncomfortable. I find if I turn it around and carry James on my back, that helps. But that’s also coming from a flat-chested man… The straps do cross over my chest.
Does it breathe? If it’s cold, wrapping your baby up and keeping him close is a great way for him to stay warm. But for those summer hikes, our little carrier gets toasty. On a warm day, if I’m carrying James, both of us get sweaty at the points of contact. I can’t imagine trying to take out Boba Wrap on a hike. We’re excited to use our Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier, because it has some separation between our backs and little James.
Figure out how you’re going to feed them.
Babies need to eat frequently. More than that, when they eat formula or breast milk, they also stay hydrated. No matter how long your hike is, be prepared to feed them.
For those nursing their kids, we find that pumping beforehand if you can is a good idea. Milk has a shelf life, but if you can feed them with pumped milk that is the most current and private way to feed them.
Otherwise, breastfeeding is still a great option. It’s usually easy to find a private corner to nurse, and some of you don’t mind feeding in public. I don’t care how you do it, just be ready.
We “cheat” and use formula on occasion with the regular nursing. We like to buy the packets of formula and just mix one into water when James is hungry and/or thirsty.
Babies are heavy and if you need to, switch out. If you’re not alone, take turns carrying your kid. It gives you a break and gives a chance for your companion or whoever is joining you to bond with your baby.
Hailey will carry James for a while, but when that becomes strenuous, we’ll switch off and I’ll hike with him on my back.
Dress for the weather and bring extra.
Be mindful of the weather and how your kid will need to be dressed. Don’t forget a hat to protect from the cold and/or the sun!
Also bring a few outfits in case your kid needs a change of clothes. Hailey and I went on a day trip to Grand Teton and Jackson Wyoming, and even with the extra clothes, James went through them all that day. You just never know.
On that note, be sure to be stocked up on plenty of diapers and wipes. It’s not fun to be away from civilizations with no clean diapers.
Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
At the end of the day, taking care of your baby out on the trail or campsite isn’t all that different than taking care of them at home. Just be sure you have what you’ll need to take care of them.
Hailey and I have purposefully gone on shorter, and lower-risks trips as we build up for the bigger ones. The day-hikes and camping close by has helped teach us what works and what doesn’t. What we need to bring, and what we can just leave at home. We are grateful for the things we’re learning that will help us be prepared for longer and higher risk trips, like when we spend a week up at a fire lookout tower in August, for example.
My advice is to go for it, and adjust as needed. I think you’ll find the adventures you have as a family will be well worth the effort.
We can’t wait to get back out there again.
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