Whether you’re already a hiking aficionado or you’re completely new to the experience, by the end of this article, you’ll be itching to put on your hiking boots and get outside with your new baby. We’ll also discuss my best tips to make the most out of the experience.
It goes without saying that any form of exercise is beneficial to your health. Doctors recommend staying active throughout your pregnancy and in the postpartum period, once you’ve had sufficient enough time to re-coup from birth. It is especially important if you’re suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety to go for at least a 15-minute walk every day (longer is better) as a complement to your PPD treatment.
Of course, finding time and efficient ways to exercise with baby is challenging. That’s why I recommend hiking! As you’ll read below, hiking with baby can be an enriching experience for both you and your kiddo.
Benefits of Hiking and Exercise With Baby
Meet new people with shared interests, including other babywearing parents. Having a new baby can be lonely, so finding your new mom tribe is important.
So many health benefits! When you hike with baby, you get sunshine, vitamin D, and exercise.
Exercise and getting adequate sunshine help fight postpartum depression and anxiety.
Hiking exposes your baby to fresh air. Pediatricians say children should get at least two hours of outdoor time per day.
Hiking with baby gives you something to do every day, which helps structure your day.
The activity and visual stimulation may help your baby nap better and longer.
It’s good for your mental health and gives you a boost of positivity. Every time I’m on a hike, it reminds me how big the world is and how tiny I am in comparison, and I am grateful for all we have.
Hiking gives your brain a break. Put away social media and connect with the earth and the people around you. Slow it down.
Hiking with baby can help you lose the baby weight.
The National Institute of Health has this to say about sunlight exposure in infants, “Sunlight exposure has a lot of health benefits for infants, it helps the body to produce vitamin D that helps the body to absorb calcium. Also has a function of strengthening bones thereby preventing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults and possibly inhibiting growth of some cancers. Visible sunlight to the eyes gives health benefits through its association with timing of melatonin synthesis; maintenance of normal and robust cardiac rhythms and reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder. A daily requirement of vitamin D can be obtained by 30–60 min exposure to sunlight in the morning.”
Tips for Hiking With Baby
Pack only the essentials. You’ll most likely be babywearing and you won’t want to carry more weight than is necessary. The essentials include diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes for baby. Be sure to bring a water bottle and snacks for you.
I like to pack a thin, lightweight picnic blanket to sit and rest on. It’s also perfect for laying baby down on to change diapers, get a break from the carrier, or crawl around if they’re at that stage.
Put the bug spray and sunscreen on before you leave the car so you don’t have to hike with it.
Start small. Go for a shorter hike on even terrain and build your way up to more challenging hikes over time. If this is your first hike after giving birth, remember to do a mental check-in with your body while you’re hiking. Don’t overdo it.
Hike with a partner or group. If you can’t, make sure the trail you’re taking has cell service.
Attach a mommy hook to your carrier and pack a reusable bag that can attach to it. This has come in handy many times when my toddlers or older children have found something along the trail that they absolutely must keep. LOL.
Use a carrier that is comfortable and offers good back support and padded shoulder straps. Your body will thank you for it later.
Expect the unexpected. This holds true for any activity with a baby or children. They may cry or be fussy for most of the hike, they may have a blowout, you may have to stop and nurse five minutes after hitting the trail, etc.
Above all, keep an open mind and an upbeat attitude when you hike with baby, and you’ll have fun every time! And share with us, we’d love to hear why you love to hike as a way to exercise with baby. Be sure to leave a comment and let us know what your must-haves on the trail are!