If you’re an avid hiker, the idea of becoming a parent can be scary. Are you going to be trapped inside forever? Will you ever hike again? Taking a newborn hiking can feel intimidating in the warmer months, and even more so in winter. But it can be done!
Hiking with a newborn in the winter is actually a cozy, wonderful experience. At that age, they love nothing more than being cuddled up close to you while you’re moving (or bouncing or shushing). So, it’s the perfect time to start getting them outdoors—even if it is a little chilly.
Practicing for Your First Hike
Once you’ve spent a bit of time getting to know your baby, there are lots of little things you can practice that will help make winter hiking easier. Get comfortable wearing your baby in their carrier at home so that it’s easy to slip on and off at the trailhead. Any chance you get, practice feeding and changing your babe in the car. Those wake windows are short in the early days, so you’ll need at least one car nap on the way to or from the trail—and you’ll have to sneak a feed in there too.
Start out with small walks in places that you feel comfortable. These little tests will help you feel confident you’ve got the right gear and clothing for both of you. You’ll also start to feel comfortable with different temperatures. Anything down to -10°C is a safe bet. Baby will be warmer than you think, because they’re soaking in your body heat.
If you’ve given birth recently, starting slow will help your body begin to feel strong again. It will also allow you to test and understand your new limits—and don’t worry, those will improve every day!
Ready to Explore
When you’re ready, start with trails that are easy and familiar to you. Try not to feel frustrated if (and when) it takes forever to get your gear together and get out the door. Just like everything else with a newborn, the more you do this together, the easier it will become!
Then, once you’ve gotten into the groove, you’ll show up to the trailhead one day after a few weeks off and realize your baby has grown like a weed. And now their little feet dangle out from underneath your winter coat! Now you’ll want to wrap a blanket around their feet or put a sleep sack overtop of the carrier so they have an extra layer, and off you go.
Since hiking trails in the winter are often quiet, this can be an amazing time for you to relax, enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and bond with your baby. It can be tough feeling cooped up at home, so spending time together hiking is a great way for you to recharge while your baby also gets exactly what they want (cuddles with you).
Gear List for hiking with a newborn:
- Good Hiking Boots/Winter Boots (for you)
- Snowshoes or Crampons
- Winter Jacket (A few sizes too large so baby can fit inside—best if the bottom can be tightened around your hips), or;
- Universal Jacket Extender
- Cell Phone (plus portable charger for emergencies)
- Handwarmers and survival gear (including flashlight)
- First Aid Kit
- Structured Infant Carrier
- Polyester Onesie and Fleece Sleeper (not cotton!)
- Pacifier (plus spare)
- Baby Hat
- Receiving Blanket or Sleep Sack (to use as an extra layer)
- Washcloth (for drool or spit up)
- Diaper bag (for everything else)
Note: Don’t forget to carry these winter hiking essentials on every chilly outdoor adventure!
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