SO you want to get outdoors, but its Fall and you have a baby... that means changing weather, changing light, and just the general extra needs of hiking with a toddler. We try to get out with Jessamyn pretty frequently so today I thought I would put together a little guide for how we get out in the Fall (and soon to be Winter) with a baby.
1. Probably most importantly be flexible. As an adult you might be able to head out in all weather conditions and be able to hike nap free but a toddler cannot. Don't just assume once you strap them in the pack they are good to go. Jessamyn does her best when she has had a nap, is well fed, and the weather isn't crazy. I respect this because then we get a longer less tearful hike in. Also don't be afraid to turn back and try later. Sometimes we head out and it just doesn't work but the beauty is you can try again later. I remember one time we went on a three day camping/hiking trip with Jessamyn and she wasn't having it at all. We ended up calling it quits after day one, going home to pizza and a movie. No it wasn't the great trip we hoped for but toddlers are little and you will have a much more enjoyable experience if you decide from the beginning to be flexible and listen to their needs.
2. Snacks and Water!! I feel like when I am tired and dehydrated I get hungry but this goes even more so for a toddler. We try to pack lots of snacks high in protein and actually in the Winter will sometimes even bring a thermos full of hot chocolate. Jessamyn does ten times better when she has a snack in hand and this is especially useful when out on a trail. I have prevented so many meltdowns with crackers and granola bars it isn't even funny! And if something did happen and you were stuck for a little while at least you would be well fed and not have to worry about dehydration. If you need some ideas Here is a website with some awesome healthy snacks!
3. Bring the right gear. We generally carry Jessamyn in a pack for most of the hike but being that she is nearly two and a bit independent she often likes to get down and hike along side of us. What this means is we all dress for the elements, especially in Fall and Winter when the weather is unpredictable. Our current favorites include -
- Hiking Pack - Osprey Poco Plus
- Shoes - KEEN boots for all three of us!
- Layering Pieces - Camp Brand Goods
- Outwear - Columbia
Also bring extra diapers and wipes when hiking with a toddler (and something to carry the dirty ones back in!) We NEVER go out without a plastic bag and a few extra diapers because seriously the last thing you need is to be hiking back with a baby covered in poo...
4. Look for little learning moments. This doesn't necessarily apply to Fall but in general look for opportunities for your child to participate in the hike, more so than just hanging out in the pack. Jessamyn loves throwing rocks into streams and so until they freeze up we stop and let her play for a little bit. Also pointing out animals, plants, whatever is around you can be a great way to expand their vocabulary and you might learn something too!
5. Lastly you can never be too prepared! With the ever changing weather in Fall and Winter making sure your car is stocked with a flashlight, blanket, emergency supplies is a must. We never expect the worst but especially with a toddler making sure you are prepared is key. We always keep our phones charged when hiking and actually even bring our Lander portable charger with us just to be safe. We also keep extra gloves, hats, and even a couple coats in the car because weather can be unpredictable and it never hurts to be prepared!
So those are my five hiking tips for the Fall & Winter! The only thing I would add is to be gentle with yourself honestly there are probably more days we end up inside drinking a hot beverage and watching Elmo and that is completely okay. Listen to yourself and your toddler and I promise you can have a great time in the outdoors even in these coming cold months!