It’s embarrassing to admit this, but up until a few weeks ago, I worked for Hike it Baby and had never been hiking with my four-month-old daughter. When I found Hike it Baby, I was nine months pregnant and it hurt to lay in bed, let alone go for a hike. Then I had an unplanned C-section, confining me to my house for longer than I wanted and I had to put off hiking a few weeks longer.
Once I ran out of excuses, I packed up my daughter, carrier, diaper bag, water, hiking shoes, shoes to change into after hiking, the list goes on and on … and headed to Torrey Pines in San Diego to join a Hike it Baby hike. I was equally excited and nervous. Did I have the right carrier? Was she wearing the right clothes? Was I too early? Trust me. Just because I work for Hike it Baby doesn’t mean I don’t have all the same worries as every other parent embarking on their first postpartum hike.
But as soon as I met our host hike, Vanessa, all my worries became excitement. I was doing this! As the leader of the caboose, I had at least five people stop to ask me what we were doing. “Is this some sort of baby race?” one hiker asked. I laughed because I guess it’s not every day you see 10 babies on their parent’s fronts and backs hiking together. And that’s because it is tough. It’s not easy to get out of the house with a baby. It’s not easy to get out of the house with a baby and go hiking. But I can attest, once you do it, the feeling of accomplishment takes over every feeling of worry or doubt, and you’ll be planning your next hike before you even finish your first.
Five benefits of hiking with babies and toddler
1. Get out of the house.
Being a new parent can be incredibly isolating. Many of us transition from cruising the Target aisles and buying candles when we went in for toothpaste on our lunch break to barely brushing our teeth or talking to an adult on a daily basis. The HiB community is full of other parents who need another adult to talk to.
2. Knock out a ton of steps.
We all know exercising is good for our bodies and our minds, but that doesn’t always mean we have the motivation to do it. Having a HiB hike on the calendar might be the motivation you need to get your heart rate up and hit your daily step goal.
3. Make some new friends for you and your kids.
HiB consists of parents, grandparents and caregivers going through many of the same experiences as a new parent. Chatting with someone who can relate on spit-up, diaper rash and developmental milestones creates an incredible bond and maybe even turn into a friendship. Plus, your kids can meet new friends who also share a love for the outdoors.
4. Step up your confidence.
Getting out of the house to go hiking isn’t always easy. But the feeling of accomplishment for not only getting outside with your baby, but also climbing a mountain (or walking down the block — it all counts once you step out the front door) with your baby strapped to you will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
5. Get some fresh air and maybe also a fresh perspective.
Whenever I’m stressed, anxious or depressed, the solution is almost always to get outside for some fresh air. Viewing the world away from traffic, street lights and pollution reminds me of how beautiful it is and how our stressors are so incredibly small compared to the breathtaking expanse of nature. Stand at the top of the Grand Canyon or on the valley floor of Yosemite and it’s almost impossible to worry about the things that worry or stress us at home.
What were some of the challenges you faced as a new parent? Please share in the comments below!
- 10 Tips for getting babies on trail
- First time hiking with kids? Helpful tips to get out on trail
- 9 Tips for soothing a cranky baby on the trail
Photos courtesy of Vanessa Wright.