9 Tips For Hiking With Kids
Hiking With Kids -Tips for a Successful Hike
Most people tend to think that hiking with kids is too hard and fear to take their kids on family hikes that are more difficult than a simple walk. However, the truth is that hiking with kids can be fun and enjoyable.
Research shows that involving your children in outdoor activities such as hiking can increase attention spans, decrease anxiety, and make them happier. A simple family hike is an incredible way for families to bond, get some quality exercises, and also take advantage of the favorable weather conditions outside.
You will be surprised at what your little one can do once you are out there and enjoying your fun time together. But, the key to success when it comes to kids hiking is proper planning and communication. It is critical to discuss with the child what is expected of him/her beforehand and make sure that their safety is guaranteed.
If you really want to hike with your kids but you are unsure how to go about it, you are in the right place. We compiled a list of the top five tips for hiking with kids that will help you enjoy that quality time with your little one. Read on to find out everything that you need to know.
1. Choose the Right Hike
One of the most critical things that you need to keep in mind when hiking with your little one is that not all hikes favor kids. Pick a hike that is reasonable for both their age and ability. Some kids love waterfalls and lakes while others love nature walks.
As a parent, you need to understand your child’s desires and pick a hike that is in line with what they love most. Before you decide to climb to the top of that mountain, make sure that your son or daughter will love the experience and can sustain the pressure that comes with it.
If your kid is between zero and two years old, you need to remember the fact that you are actually packing them, therefore, decide on how long you can backpack your kid. If they are between three and six years old, go for hikes that are between 1 and 2.5 miles long.
However, if you pick a flatter hike, you can do three miles round trip. Kids that are above seven years old can hike for much longer and farther. By this time, they have developed a love for hiking, and you only need to monitor them for signs of tiredness or boredom. At this stage, you can go for a five-mile round trip without any issues.
2. Hike to a Destination
Whenever you plan a family hiking with your little ones, make sure that you are hiking to a specific destination within their mile range. Whether it is a waterfall, a giant tree, or an outlook, having a clear goal is essential.
By hiking to a specific destination, it will make your kid more excited about the entire family hike. And what is more important is the fact that when they reach that destination, they will feel like they have accomplished something great and will be looking forward to the next family hike. It is also good to ensure that you take breaks along the way.
Always allow your kids to stop and do something that they love doing. They can stop to pick a stone to add to their stone collection or play with the beautiful flowers along the way. Kids will only enjoy the hike if they have the freedom to experience everything along the way. These breaks can also be for resting after a long walk.
3. Carry Proper and Essential Gear
Hiking with your kids can build long-lasting memories, but you need to remember the fact that their safety is in your hands. This is the primary reason why you need to carry essential gear to ensure that everyone stays safe.
Whether it is a simple family hike at a local playground or a backpacking trip in the mountains, the first rule of hiking is “safety first.” Before you decide to take your little one out on a hiking trip, make sure that they have got all the essential gear. You need to find a creative way to balance fun, education, and safety.
Something as small as a whistle could save your kid’s life if something unexpected occurs. Have them wear it around their neck or fasten it around their backpack.
You should also let them know that the whistle is only to be used in case of an emergency. Go for a convention whistle that can also be used as a thermometer or compass.
The other essential gear that you need to bring along includes a walkie talkie, hiking boots, rain gear, hat, sunglasses, a comfortable carrier, and extra layers of clothing that can offer the much-needed temperature regulation in case there will be weather changes.
4. Carry Snacks and Water
We can’t emphasize this point enough. Nothing can distract your family hike like a child who needs something to drink or eat. Therefore, it is essential to pack plenty of drinks and snacks if you want to make your kids’ hiking experience a great one.
Make sure that you have enough water for everyone who is hiking. If it’s hotter outside, you will need more water. The best recommendation is one liter per person per mile. This means that if you are doing a six-mile round trip and you are three people, you will need to carry at least twelve liters of water.
You should also pack some snacks such as energy bites, fruits, and nuts. Find mini-destinations along the way such as giant trees or rocks where you can sit down and enjoy your snacks as you rest. Feel free to allow your kids to pack their own drinks and snacks in small backpacks to help create that sense of ownership and entitlement.
5. Don’t Forget to Bring along a First Aid/ Emergency Kit
Another essential thing that you need to bring with you when hiking with or without kids is a first aid kit. Since the kit that you carry is meant to be used in the field in less-than-sterile conditions, it might be quite different from the typical first aid kit that you have at home.
Before every hike, it is essential to sit down and evaluate the length and nature of your hike. This will help you to understand what you are supposed to include in your hiking first aid kit.
However, your overall goal should be to minimize the bulk and weight of your hiking first aid kit. Only carry what you think is essential. Pack your first aid kit in a bag that is puncture-proof, waterproof, lightweight, and has lots of pockets to facilitate easy organization of the items. A typical hiking first aid kit should contain;
- Major injury items such as plastic gloves, roller bandages, burn salve, a blood-clotting agent, acne bandage, and butterfly bandages.
- Minor wound items such as safety pins, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, skin glue, antibiotic ointment, medical tape, moleskin, and medical tape.
- Medications and treatments such as insect bite treatment, diarrhea treatment, pain medicine, honey packets, and personal medications.
The other hiking first aid kit items that you should bring along include a thermometer, sunscreen, scissors, razor blade, insect repellent, and anti-fungal cream.
6. Let the Kids Set the Pace
If you want your little ones to enjoy a family hike, you need to make sure that they are comfortable all the time. Allowing them to set a good pace for them will motivate them to go further and further. Keep in mind that children don’t have the endurance that you do, so they are going to need to do things at their own pace.
Let the smallest hiker be in front followed by the mum and finally the dad. Always keep reminding yourself that it is okay if the kid wants to stop and explore the environment or take a snack. However, if you feel like the break is taking too long; remind him/her that it is time to get moving again. The bottom line is that you need to do everything possible to ensure the children enjoy their time on the trail.
7. Watch Your Children’s Signs
One of the most important things to keep in mind while hiking with kids is that they can get tired at any time. Therefore, it is essential to watch and listen to know if something needs your attention. Don’t be so focused on your objective that you overlook the condition of your little ones.
You need to keep in mind that there are a lot of risks involved in hiking with kids such as exhaustion, muscle strain, joint strain, and heat-related injuries. While most of these issues can be prevented with proper gear, you also need to watch your kids’ signs and understand what they want.
If you notice that your child needs a break, just stop even if this wasn’t part of your schedule. The last thing that you need to deal with is a medical emergency while far away from health centers.
Make sure that you have lots of breaks when hiking with kids and don’t ignore any signs of tiredness. Tired kids are hard to manage and prone to accidents. After all, there is no point of bringing your kid along if all of you can’t enjoy yourselves.
8. Give Your Kids Roles on the Hike
The worst mistake that you can commit while hiking with your kids is making them passive partners. If you don’t involve them in various things that you do, they will feel left out and can start to engage in dangerous activities along the way.
You need to keep in mind that everyone loves to feel useful. Therefore, don’t allow your little ones to be onlookers. Find them important roles that they can play along the way and make them feel part of the group.
After all, you want everyone to bond and enjoy themselves. Do you have a child who is aspiring to become a professional photographer? Give them the opportunity to take all photographs of your hiking experience.
Do you have a child who loves asking tons of questions? Let them hold onto the guide so that they can identify flowers and birds that you spot along the trail. If you have a kid who loves playing the role of a leader during family gatherings, you can make them the leader so that they set the pace for others.
Once you have identified important roles for your kids, you can keep them going and entertained by switching them up every 20-30 minutes to ensure that they get a chance to focus on more than one thing.
9. Focus on Fun
Lastly, you need to ensure that you focus on fun so that the kids remain active throughout the hike. Always remember the fact that kids tend to get bored quickly. Therefore, you need to get creative and ensure that you keep things fun. You can sing songs, teach them how to count the wildlife, or show them how to spot trail markers and blazes on trees.
You can also teach them about the various nature rules along the way. Consider carrying things such as magnifying glasses and binoculars that can turn a simple family hike into a road full of discoveries. You can even plan something bigger such as a family scavenger hunt to keep everyone entertained.
Hiking with kids is a lot fun than you may think. Furthermore, it helps them develop a life-long and sustainable relationship with nature. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your loved one so many things about nature and expose them to wildlife.
Kids hiking will also help your little one develop character and build self-confidence. However, before you go hiking with your kids, make sure that you are well-prepared and follow the above tips to make your family hiking experience a memorable one.