Hiking With a Toddler: 5 Tips and Essentials Checklist

This pass holiday, me and S tried our hands on hiking. I mean proper hiking, not just strolling on a paved path or muddy lane with a slight incline. It was intense! In the one plus week we were in Vancouver, we tackled not one but two mountains! Yep, you can sense I’m super proud of ourselves, right?! I know they are not the hardest of trails, but for beginners like us, it’s a darn good accomplishment. And we managed to do this with a 2.5 year old toddler on our backs, well mainly S’s back. So let me tell you, hiking with a toddler is possible and can be alot of fun too.

Here’s a few things I learned on our adventure that I hope will be of use to you too and won’t deter you from engaging in this wonderful activity.

1. Hike in good weather

Hiking is great exercise and you really can work up a sweat, but babies and toddlers on the other hand are not as able to regulate their body temperature as well as adults. Additionally, since they will probably be idle in a baby carrier for most of the trek, they are not really generating much heat. So make sure they are properly dressed and hiking in nice weather will help their little hands and feet from losing too much body heat. Depending on weather, think mittens, hat and leg warmers.

We quickly realised this when we had almost reached the summit and removed #JasperBean from his carrier and seeing him shiver like I’ve never seen before. We immediately wrapped him up and as the morning started off as a grey-ish day, we fortunately had packed woolies for him. It was really sunny and warm for us, but it was also our body heat that was keeping him warm. So remember to always bring extra layers. Even if the weather doesn’t change, the temperature in the shade can drop dramatically.

Hiking with a toddler. Always choose to hike when the weather is nice.
The weather was so good, we couldn’t keep a straight face!

2. Bring food and plenty of water

Wherever you go with a toddler, you always have to be armed with a bucketload of snacks, but try to bring ones that are light and filling like cereal bars, nuts and crackers. You never know how long the hike will take and as we were novices, a one hour hike for a seasonal hiker might take us 4 hours and some more with a toddler. I’m definitely not keen on being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a ravaging hunger and dying thirst, and even if that’s not how you feel, I can guarantee that’s what your toddler will make it feel like. Dehydration can also set in faster than you realise when you’re hiking and this can lead to serious complications like heat stroke and exhaustion. So don’t take your chances and sip, sip, sip!

Hiking with a Toddler. Bring lots of food and water! You never know when the hunger monster will strike.
Enjoying a purple sweet potato 🙂

3. Make sure you have a comfortable baby carrier and harness

It is always going to be easier hiking with a toddler on your back rather than on the front or chasing after them. It also makes travelling from point A and B that much quicker. But practically, not only is it more comfortable for adults, it is also safer. You never know what type of path you’re going to come across, and not having a toddler in front blocking your view is essential. Having the load on your back also makes manoeuvring and balancing a lot easier.Hiking with a toddler. Always bring a comfortable baby carrier. Take turns so you can get a bit of rest too. Hiking with a toddler. Make sure you have a comfortable baby carrier. There will be long walks!Hiking with a Toddler. Always have a light and comfortable baby carrier.
We used a traditional mei-tai which worked out okay, but if we were regular hikers, I would definitely get a baby carrier that was especially designed for hiking like the:

Deuter Kid Comfort 3 Child Carrier which offers:

  • precise load control for comfort
  • ventilation and airflow
  • integrated sun roof
  • adjustable foot rest
  • foldable for easier storage
  • weight: 3.5kg

Or the Littlelife Adventurer Child Carrier which has:

  • adjustable back system
  • pivoting hip belt for comfort
  • foldable for easier storage
  • weight: 1.9kg

We also had a harness (ToddlePak) with us for times when #JasperBean wasn’t strapped into the carrier. We didn’t want to take any chances of him venturing off a cliff or beaten track. So depending on what sort of hiking trail you choose, you may not require this. This was just a safety precaution for our own peace of mind.

Hiking with a Toddler. Having a baby harness gives you a piece of mind that you little one wont go running off.

4. Plan for stops

Even if you don’t need to rest, chances are your toddler will and even more so if they have been in the carrier for long periods. You’re hiking, out in the wild and open exploring, taking in and enjoying the sights and sounds. Your little one needs that too. Hiking is no fun for them if they are not allowed to walk and/or explore. Stop and think. Why did you actually choose to go hiking. There are a million and one other things you could have chosen to do, why choose such a tiring activity?

Personally, I would love #JasperBean to embrace, admire and love what God has created for us and restraining him in a carrier not letting him touch the ground, venture, poke and prod or pick up dirty sticks just doesn’t make sense to me. If they are yet to speak properly, you will know they need to be released when they are constantly whining, fidgeting and no amount of snack, bribery or entertainment is keeping them happy.

Other reasons to stop may be to feed the hunger monster and change any dirty diapers. 🙂

Hiking with a toddler. Playing hide and seek with the squirrels.
Playing hide and seek with the squirrels.
Hiking with a Toddler. Plan for stops to stretch those little legs. They would be so much more happier and your back will thank you too. :P
Plan for stops to stretch those little legs. They would be so much more happier and your back will thank you too. 😛
Hiking with a Toddler. Rope in relatives/friends to help out too.
Extra bonus if you have company when hiking that can help with baby duties.

5. Make sure you schedule plenty of time for your hike and then some more

Doing anything involving kids usually takes twice the amount of time anyway, and this is so very true of hiking. You’re bound to be walking slower with a toddler or heavy load strapped on your back. On our last hike, it took us just shy of 4.5 hours to get to the top and if we hadn’t rushed the last kilometre, we would have missed the gondolas/cable cars coming back down the mountain. We literally had 5 minutes to spare! Missing that, we would have had to walk all the way back down again! I definitely wasn’t keen on that especially since part of the route required rope lines to asisst us up. Alone with adults, yes. Hiking with a toddler? No. So make sure you have planty of time and some more, plan your route and check times.

Hiking with a Toddler. Plan in extra time so that you can enjoy the wonderful view once you reach the top.
Plan in extra time so that you can enjoy the wonderful view once you reach the top. P.S. This picture wasn’t taken at the top of the mountain, but isn’t it breathtaking?

Hiking with a Toddler. Plan in extra time so that you can enjoy the wonderful view once you reach the top.

Essentials checklist (Download PDF)

Hiking basics
  • Emergency shelter
  • Food, including snacks suitable for baby/toddler
  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Portable charger for phones etc.
  • Phone
    • Compass
    • Offline map
  • Torch or headlight
  • Whistle
Baby/toddler hiking supplies
  • Diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Plastic bag/Ziploc for soiled clothes, dirty diapers/wipes
  • Anti-bacterial hand wash
  • Changing pad/blanket
  • Extra set of clothes
  • Socks, but you know there will always be a puddle calling their name!
  • Additional layers
  • Weather cover
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen/insect repellant
  • Baby carrier
  • Harness
  • Water/milk bottle

What are your hiking tips? I am a complete hiking novice, so would love to find out what else you consider to be essentials.

Hiking with a Toddler. Some trails aren't easy, but it's well worth it!
Some trails aren’t easy, but it’s well worth it and can definitely be done with a toddler!

Hiking with a Toddler.

Hiking with a Toddler. It was tiring and testing, but we would do it again in a heartbeat.
It was tiring and testing, but we would do it again in a heartbeat. What are your tips for us?

Thanks for reading and until next time…

Hiking with a Toddler. Remember to take a well deserved rest!

Love MsMamaBean x

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33 comments

  1. The Mummy Bubble

    This is such a great post. So much brilliant information here. Love your pics too, looks like you had an amazing time x #dreamteam

    Reply

  2. Erica

    I’m impressed you’re hiking with a toddler. I can barely drag myself up a hill. I used to hike with friends on the weekends. And one friend would hike with her baby. And I was always amazed at how she kept up with us. But her little one was a baby at that time, so less extra weight and less extra interruptions.

    Reply

  3. iambradthompson

    Awesome post, I love the pictures it seems like you guys had a great time! I can only imagine how difficult it is to hike with a toddler especially on mountains!

    Reply

  4. Ophelia T

    I love your photos and your post. I will definitely recommend this post to my cousin and her husband. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  5. Cristine

    Great tips. It’s good to see you doing things as a family even it’s not traditional. It will creat great memories

    Reply

  6. Pooja Krishna

    Nice tips! Some of these apply to even slightly older kids. I like the idea of device free nature activities with kids.

    Reply

  7. Amber @ xoxo, Am

    Great tips! Your pictures are so cute!

    Reply

  8. Kendra

    Great tips! Hiking with a toddler can be a challenge, but with these tips, I’m sure people can conquer the task with much less stress. It must have worked great because he looks so calm and like he is loving that carrier.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Thank you! We had an awesome time as a family!

      Reply

  9. Marcie

    These are great tips! Here in Seattle, we have a program called Hike It Baby that encourages families to hike with their babies and toddlers! BTW, I’ve never thought to give my kids cooked sweet potatoes that they can just eat with their hands. Guess what I’m going to start doing asap 🙂

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      That is such a great program! I wish we had more things like that here in the UK! Steamed sweet potato – sweet, easy to eat and unprocessed! Hope your kids will enjoy them too

      Reply

  10. rebelhousewifeblog

    You are so brave hiking with a toddler!! Looks like a beautiful area!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Thank you! It really is beautiful and we had a lot of fun even though it was tiring. X

      Reply

  11. Making Our Life Matter

    Your pictures are amazing! I almost wish someone would carry me around. I can’t imagine hiking when my boys were toddlers.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Thank you! We really had a great time and hiking can be light or strenuous, so it’s really a great outdoor activity. However, there were definitely moments where I thought I really wanted someone to carry me too! 😅

      Reply

  12. Samantha Mayers

    Oh wow this sounds like so much fun. Tiring, but fun! Your photos are fantastic!

    Reply

  13. Samantha Mayers

    Hi again. I should have added #TwinklyTuesdays 😊

    Reply

  14. Annette, 3 Little Buttons

    Oh my goodness, look at you all! The photos are so gorgeous. But how did you manage a hike with a toddler on your back?! I take my hat off to you, I don’t think I could ever have managed this, even back when my little one was tiddley. Thanks so much for joining us for the #dreamteam and sharing your amazing adventures. xx

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      It was tiring, but having the little one experience this first time with us made it more fun and different! A shift in life’s little goals 😊

      Reply

  15. Danielle @ Follow My Gut

    I don’t hike much at all, let alone proper hiking so I give you guys credit for taking on the task. ANNNNNND you did it with a baby too??? Love that you guys were able to do that!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I guess when you’re passionate about something or set your eyes on it, you don’t let “little things” like a baby stop you 😂

      Reply

  16. Lisa (mummascribbles)

    This looks amazing! So brave to do it with a toddler but what a great experience for him. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Reply

  17. Carol

    A great post – pinned and shared. #MMBC

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Thank you very much! 😊

      Reply

  18. Christie Moeller

    Great tips! I love that carrier! It looks soft and comfy!

    xoxo Christie
    http://www.icanstyleu.com/blog/

    Reply

  19. Oh to Be a Muse

    I don’t have a kid, but I do love to hike. I need to get back into it.

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      Oh please do! It’s such a great activity!

      Reply

  20. dree

    That baby sling is everything!

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      I know, right!? Baby slings are the best invention ever!

      Reply

  21. Christina | From Under a Palm Tree

    This hike looks seriously amazing! I never would have dreamed of bringing a toddler but it clearly can be done!

    Reply

  22. urbansoulalchemy2013

    Looks like you had a wonderful time! We did lots of hiking with our little ones – still do 🙂

    Reply

    1. MsMamaBean

      That’s great to hear! Please do share any tips or experiences you have had 😊

      Reply

Let me know what you think!

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