How To Hike With Kids
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How to Hike With Kids

Do you love to hike? Want to know how to Hike with kids and have fun? I started thinking about all the moms out there who want to go hiking but don’t because of self imposed beliefs.

It is time to break free from the mindset that you can’t go hiking until your child is older. Don’t wait anymore- it is possible to go hiking with your kids and truly have a great time.

On a deeper level, you are also creating experiences for your child that he or she will never forget. A few times in Mother Nature when they are little could permanently wire their brains to be connected with nature their entire lives.

Think of hiking with your little ones as not just a hike- but a life changing activity. In this day and age when we are so tied to electronics, tv, phones, etc. getting out into nature is more important than ever.

#1 Make Hiking an Adventure

Start by asking the question, “Who wants to go on an adventure?” This sounds more fun than the word “hiking”. Now that it is an adventure, you must incorporate adventurous activities to do along the way such as a game of chase, or a scavenger hunt.

More specifically for the Scavenger hunt, just make a list of items and then look for them along the way and mark those items off the list once they’ve been spotted. Sure, this takes a little more effort on your part, but you need to make it fun so they will want to go again.

Another idea is to let your child collect rocks and leaves. Bracelets made with masking tape can be ideal for collecting their nature findings on the bracelet. Note there are some trails where it is prohibited to take rocks, etc.

#2 Be a Tourist Guide

Go to the library or do an online search together for some fun and interesting facts about the area. What types of flora and fauna will you find along the trail? When do the wildflowers bloom? I know where I live, it’s a matter of timing to see the wildflowers blooming on the cacti . Kids are naturally curious so they will love to hear about the environment and the history of the area.

Kids learn by making connections so once they see that plant or animal on the trail, they will be very excited. Let them share in the leadership of the hike and have them carry their own gear such as the map, CamelPak or water bottle. Make it educational and teach them about the importance of staying hydrated on the trail.

Conduct research and find a trail that works best for your child. What would your child like to see the most? What are their interests? Find a trail where you know your kid would be safe. This might seem like a no brainer, but I’ve seen little ones on trails that had very steep inclines or cliffs that drop off.

The last thing you want to do is put your child in danger. In my opinion, you should start with a shorter hike to see how well they do. Each time you go, you can lengthen the mileage and the elevation (as they get older). My kids have been hiking since they were toddlers and now they can hike longer distances without a problem.

#3 Bribe with Food

This may not be something every parent wants to do, but it certainly worked well for me. You can use food very strategically as a motivator; space out the treats that you give along the way. You can set expectations and goals when you start your hike.

For example, when you get to the 1st waterfall or waterpool, say you’ll stop for a snack and water. There are many healthy snacks that you can bring that your kids will enjoy. Trail mix, beef jerky, granola bars, string cheese and dried fruit just to name a few.

#4 Be present and Enjoy the Pace

Remember that this time with your kids will go by very quickly. Enjoy the moments you are out on the trail and just go with the flow. Hiking with your child can be a great way to bond and grow closer. If you are all stressed out thinking about the things you have to do when you get home, then it’s going to make it more difficult for you to enjoy yourself.

It’s a guarantee that your child is immersed into the experience of hiking. Personally, I have never seen an unhappy child on the trail. It’s best to start with the idea that you may not make it to the destination or you may not get the full workout that you wanted. If you push the pace too much, you could turn your kids off.

As one parent states, “A forced death march to an end objective that I have to just get to is a guarantee for a bad time."

#5 Hiking with Toddlers

The first few times you venture out with your toddler may only be for 15 or 20 minutes. Typically, toddlers between the ages of 12 to 24 months will meander rather than actually hike. There is a good possibility you won’t cover any distance at all and you’ll spend much of your time looking at the trees, rocks, and dirt.

A child-carrier is always an option if you are able to hike comfortably with extra weight on your back. It can be a little tricky to get on so have someone there that can help you. To get used to the weight and get your toddler used to being in it, just wear it while you are doing chores or other stuff around the house.

So start planning hiking trips you can take with your kids. Lose the mindset that you can't go until they are older. Incorporate some fun into the hikes and you can truly have a great time. Remember also that you are creating memorable experiences in your child's life that they will never forget.

Think about it- times at home watching TV or doing whatever else is the norm. When your child is older they won't cherish all the commercials they watched. They will remember all of the Outdoor Adventures you took them on.


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