Are you planning to go on a hiking holiday with your baby? You have been hiking a lot before your baby was born, and would like to continue after the birth of your baby? Read Katja’s first hand tips and recommendations. She and her husband use every opportunity to recharge their batteries in nature and sports. Her three small children are part of it and that right from the beginning.
How old should your baby be when you first go hiking together?
There is no fixed age at which you can go hiking with a baby. Each family should decide for themselves what it best. However, most new mums will not want to climb a mountain with their newborn. Pregnancy and childbirth demand a lot from your body, so you should definitely treat yourself kindly and rest during the postpartum period.
So take your time, use the weeks after childbirth to give yourself and your body some rest and get to know your baby. When you feel fit again and your baby is healthy, there is nothing to stop you from hiking with your baby. Katja’s firstborn was three months old when she went on her first hiking holiday to Tuscany. Not quite the mountains, but hiking does not always mean exploring mountains. Three months is considered by most mums as the best age for their first family holiday.
The younger the baby is, the longer he or she sleeps during the day, and the tour can be planned accordingly. The head and neck are well supported in a sling, so that you can be on the road a little longer. From the third month onwards, many mums and dads find a baby sling more comfortable. Decide for yourself what you can best handle and always remain flexible. However, don’t take too much on board, because even short distances can sometimes take longer with a baby, as breastfeeding and nappy-changing breaks often come in between. You may need longer rest periods yourself. So enjoy the peace and quiet, nature and time together. Your baby will feel too that it does you good.
What is the best way to prepare your hiking holiday with baby?
It is best to start already with longer walks at home. See how you and your baby are doing. Some babies love to be carried for long periods of time, others don’t. Also, not all days are the same with a baby. Growth spurts bring changes and upset some routines.
Pick a location you might already be familiar with. That way you’ll know what to expect in your accommodation, where the best cabins are to stop for a bite to eat (including baby changing facilities) and what the hiking trails are like. For more remote areas with poor mobile phone reception, you can download useful hiking maps for offline use.
Think about what to do on days if the weather is not suitable for hiking. In any case, pack a rain jacket or softshell jacket and warmer clothes. These are a must especially for hiking in the mountains. The weather is often different in the valley than in the upper areas. Legwarmers for baby’s hands and feet are a good idea to have and always fit in the backpack.
What do I need to take with me on a hiking tour?
Depending on the season the most important things will vary. If you travel in the summer and the weather forcast promises sunshine all day, you will need lighter clothes than in the transitional periods or even in winter. Is your baby exclusively breastfed or very often? Then nursing shirts are very practical which allow you to breastfeed your baby more easily and quickly where ever you are, and you stay covered yourself. Remember to bring your baby’s favourite toy and a spare pacifier for your baby in case he or she takes one. Sunscreen should be in your backpack at all times of the year.
For You and Your Partner
- Water bottle (warm water or tea in a thermos flask in cool weather)
- Snacks (cereal bars, fruit, cut veggies)
- Rain jacket/soft shell jacket
- Sturdy footwear
- Walking sticks to provide stability and support on uneven or slippery grounds when carrying your baby
- Sun hat, cap
For your Baby
- Water and, depending on the age of the baby, food (unless you exclusively breastfeed)
- Nappies (bag for dirty nappies), wet wipes
- Change of clothes (if baby sweats or when the weather changes and becomes cooler)
- Soft cotton cloth (sun protection, as surface when changing nappies, for wrapping etc.)
- Socks, legwarmers
- Picnic blanket for rests, when changing nappies, to play or for baby to kick his or her legs
- Sun hat or cap
Hiking with baby with a pram or better take the baby carrier?
If you have researched carefully whether the hiking trails at your holiday destination are suitable for a pram and your baby loves to lie in the pram for long periods of time, then you can also go hiking with a pram. However, you may have to push the pram uphill and hold it firmly downhill.
Family hiking trails are often easy to manage with a pushchair. Please check the travel guides, the tourist information or ask the landlord of your accommodation what the local situation is for prams. Experience shows that the pram is often used to transport luggage and you end up carrying your baby yourself. A good alternative can be an all-terrain bicycle trailer, which can be easily and quickly converted to push and hence used for hiking. If you don’t already own or want to buy such a trailer, ask around amongst your friends and family who can lent you one.
If your baby loves being carried in a baby carrier, he or she will love to be close to mum or dad. It doesn’t matter where you are. When on holiday, make sure you use the carrying system that has proven to be the best for you and your partner. There is a wide range of providers and systems to choose from. We strongly recommend a carrying consultation, as you will receive individual advice and can also try out various baby carrying systems. Because what your best friend thinks is great does not necessarily have to right for you.
“If you can carry your baby for well for a long period of time and can take turns with your partner, I would definitely prefer babywearing to a pram.”Katja from Viva la Mama
Which jacket should I take to the hiking trip?
Both the enthusiastic hikers in our Viva la Mama team as well as many mums we spoke to swear by a softshell jacket. This is simply the best way to keep out wind and rain and protect you from cooler temperatures in the mountains. If you use the principle of layering, i.e. wear several layers of clothes on top of each other, you can adapt well to temperature changes. You can find more detailed information about the all-weather material softshell in our article Softshell Babywearing Coats – Interesting facts and tips.
In any case, pack a raincoat in your backpack. The weather sometimes changes quickly, especially in the mountains. At lower altitudes, a light fleece jacket can provide warmth. Better to take a little too much luggage than too little. The way back to the valley or to the accommodation can sometimes take a longer than you think.
If you are planning professional hiking, then please turn to an outdoor specialist. Our recommendations are exclusively for families who want to go hiking with their baby on their holiday and do not want to set a personal record for peak performance. Hiking in the family means spending time together, relaxing, enjoying nature and responding to the baby’s needs.
What else should you think about when you take Baby on a hiking trip?
If this is your first hiking holiday with a baby, then choosing routes in Germany, Austria or Switzerland which are designated as family hiking trails, are a good start. You will find a wealth of information on the Internet.
To start with, choose shorter distances and allow sufficient time for breaks. Your baby needs to move after sitting in the carrier for a long time and will love to kick his or her legs on the blanket.
Be flexible and don’t take on too much. You don’t have to tick off all the hiking trails from the guidebook. Enjoy the time with your baby, your partner, the fresh air in nature and being together. Also, not every day is the same. One day your baby sleeps longer, the next day he or she may not want to be carried at all or the weather may change.
Special Tips from Katja
Katja and her husband are experienced hikers, sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. As a result, many of their experiences from various hiking holidays with their family have been incorporated into the design of the Viva la Mama carrying jackets. Especially the All-weather softshell is one of Katja’s favourite materials. And since more and more dads like to carry their babies, you’ll find suitable men’s carrying jackets in our ranges.
“I wish there were softshell carrying jackets available when my first son was born. Therefore it was a special concern of mine to include them in our line of products. Many of my experiences are reflected in the design. So that other outdoor mums can also be more relaxed when out and about with their children.”
Two more personal tips from Katja:
“I strongly recommend to prepare well and then still remain flexible. Plan for more time than indicated in the travel guide. Pay attention to your baby’s needs.”
“In the mountains, changing weather and sometimes violent thunderstorms can occur quickly. Weatherproof clothing and good shoes are a MUST when hiking.”
Wishing you a relaxed hiking holiday with your baby.
Viva la Mama Team