This article about Hiking with a Baby written by baby travel expert and outdoor enthusiast Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Hiking has long been one of our favorite activities, so we were eager to learn how to hike with a baby when we had our first child. We have discovered that hiking with a baby is not only easy and enjoyable, but it’s the best way to share our passion for the outdoors with our children. Whether you are exploring the green spaces around home or traveling with your family internationally, hiking with a baby is a great way to get outside.
With a little practice, a little preparation and the right baby hiking gear, you’ll be able to explore amazing mountain trails and national parks around the world with your baby.
We took our daughter on her first hike up the Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore (near Banff National Park in Canada) at around 6-8 weeks old. I’m not going to lie, our first time hiking with our newborn didn’t go well.
With our tiny newborn in our Ergo baby carrier, we were so proud to have gotten out on our first hike. We thought we were well prepared to go hiking with our baby, but Mother Nature had other plans.
Even though it was a short, easy hike, we didn’t make it to our destination. It started to rain, and as we were hiking with an infant for the first time, it made us feel like the worst parents in the world.
Turns out this wouldn’t be the last time we’d get stuck hiking with a baby in the rain. And I can’t even count how many times we’ve had to turn back before reaching our destination. It’s something that we’ve just come to accept when hiking with babies and toddlers. Turning back early is never easy, but it’s usually the right choice to make for your family.
Despite our challenges learning how to hike with a baby, we persevered and all those struggles early on have paid off in spades. By starting early and bringing our baby hiking, our kids have learned to love outdoor activity and have developed an appreciation for nature.
Our kids are now able to hike long distances (for their ages) and we’ve even accomplished our first multi-day hike to the Lost City in Colombia with a 4 and 6 year old. We’re here to tell you that learning how to hike with a baby really pays off down the road when your kids are older and more physically capable.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Hiking with a Baby:
Benefits of Hiking with a Baby
What are the benefits of hiking with babies? The biggest benefit is that it gets you out of the house. It’s a perfect family activity that anyone can do. Your baby is happy to be snuggled in close to you and you get to experience a small part of your pre-baby life.
Sometimes just the accomplishment of getting out and doing something is what we need as new moms. Hiking with your baby in nature will lift your spirits. It will make you feel like you can still get out and do things. Not to mention the benefits of fresh air for everyone!
In my experience, getting outdoors and hiking with a baby is one of the best things new moms can do for their physical and mental wellbeing.
Finally, hiking with babies is something that you can do anywhere. Even when traveling internationally with a baby, it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of your destination. And it’s the one place you don’t have to worry about your baby crying!
13 Tips for Hiking with Baby
Based on our real-life family hiking experiences, here are our best tips on how to hike with a baby:
1. When Can You Hike with a Baby?
I don’t need to tell you that your body has been through A LOT! Give yourself the time to heal before planning your first adventure hiking with your baby.
I know you are anxious to get back out there and do the things you did before having a baby! I felt the same way. I was hiking right up to a couple of weeks before having my first baby. I was just as eager to get back out hiking. It’s just too easy to push yourself too hard, too soon, so give yourself the time you deserve to heal.
I had a C-section with both kids, so we waited until around 6-8 weeks before taking our newborn on any family hikes. And even then, we started with long walks around our neighborhood followed by easy hikes we were familiar with.
Love sharing the outdoors with your family? Read our best tips for camping with a baby.
2. Celebrate the Small Wins!
When hiking with an infant, it’s very likely you won’t get to finish every hike you start. Rather than stress about it, we believe you should celebrate your family accomplishments!
Finishing a hike with an infant is not the goal. Your family got out and enjoyed nature together. There are huge benefits in just starting a family hike, so even if it didn’t go well, you likely learned something for the next hike with your baby.
Celebrate all of that!
3. Plan Your Family Hikes
Before having a baby, it was easy to go where the wind took you. Now that you have children, you’ll enjoy your day much more if you have a plan. If your baby has a feeding or sleeping schedule, try to plan your baby hiking around that, taking into account the time that it will take you to get to and from the hiking trail.
You’ll also have to factor in the time on the hike to stop and feed your baby, diaper changes, etc.
More importantly, have a checklist for hiking with a baby. If you can, get as much ready the night before as possible. It’s just too easy to forget baby essentials or baby hiking gear when you are trying to get yourself and your little one ready for the hike.
4. Pick the Right Time of Day for Hiking with Your Baby
If your baby will nap on your family hike, then this is the perfect time to be on the trail. This works especially well for hiking with a newborn, who might be spending a lot of time sleeping.
We always tried to plan our hikes with a baby so that they would be napping on the longest part of the hike. Then we’d stop and feed our baby, do a diaper change and continue on.
If our baby was going through a phase where she wasn’t doing well napping in the baby hiking backpack, we might opt for a shorter hike in-between her naps.
5. Finding Baby-Friendly Hikes
For your first time hiking with a baby, start with one of your favorite easy hikes you are familiar with. When you have enough experience hiking with an infant and want to find new hiking trails, we recommend you use AllTrails to help find baby-friendly hiking trails.
Find your destination and use the handy filters on AllTrails to set limits on the hike distance, elevation gain etc. You know your family’s capabilities best – just make sure your family hike is something you can do with the extra weight.
Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!
Keep in mind that with all the extra responsibilities that come with hiking with a baby, you will hike at a slower pace than pre-kids. Take this into account when picking the best hike to take your baby on.
If you know the hike, you’ll also know if there is a good place to stop and feed your baby on the trail. Depending on the time of year or where you are hiking, you’ll always want to make sure you can hike in the shade to provide some relief from the sun. Especially if you aren’t using sunscreen on a baby under 6 months old.
Need some inspiration? We’ve got just the thing in this list of best hikes with toddlers and babies around the globe and this list of best hikes with a baby or toddler in the USA.
6. How to Dress Your Baby for Hiking
Keep your baby happy and comfortable while outdoors by dressing your baby in layers. Unlike you, your baby won’t be moving, so you’ll probably need to put an extra layer of baby clothing on your child.
You can further protect your baby by using a hiking backpack baby carrier with a good canopy and a rain cover (this will also help protect them from the wind). A backpack carrier for babies is especially good on a hike where you’ll be sweating, as a baby hiking carrier would get your baby sweaty too.
7. Finding the Best Hiking Baby Carrier
The age of your baby and the hiking conditions will determine the best baby carrier for hiking. For example, if you are hiking with an infant, you’ll want a comfortable front carrying baby carrier. If you’ll be hiking in warmer temperatures, opt for a baby carrier that is breathable with mesh panels.
We loved using our Ergo Baby Carrier with the infant insert as our infant hiking carrier.
For older babies, you can look into other options like doing a back carry with your favorite baby hiking carrier. This will make it much easier to hike, since you’ll be able to see the hiking trail a lot easier.
For babies who are able to sit up independently (typically around 6 months), a hiking backpack carrier for babies is one of the best hiking carrier options. We owned two hiking backpack carriers and used them extensively for hiking and traveling with our kids.
As a bonus, hiking backpack carriers will often have enough compartments to carry snacks, diapers, water and all your baby essentials for hiking. It also keeps you and your baby cooler since you two will not be in direct contact with each other.
8. Hiking with a Stroller
If you prefer to hike with a stroller, it is possible to find stroller-friendly hiking trails. Though your options may be more limited, with a little research you should be able to find suitable hiking trails for a stroller.
Look for walking trails that are wide and relatively flat. You’ll also want an all-terrain stroller like this one if you aren’t going on a paved trail.
9. Feeding Baby on the Hiking Trail
Be prepared for feeding your baby on the trail. If you are breastfeeding, it’s pretty easy to find a comfortable place to stop to feed your baby before continuing on your hike.
For formula fed babies, pack your formula in a measured formula dispenser, a travel bottle warmer and some extra water in a thermos to make your bottles on the go. Be prepared to make a few bottles on the go just in case the hike takes longer than anticipated.
- Easy to grasp fruit like cut up blueberries or bananas
- Cooked and cut up vegetables like sweet potato
- Cheerios in a snack cup
- Small pieces of bread without crusts
- Teething wafers or other dissolvable snacks
- Food pouches
10. Changing Diapers on the Hiking Trail
A portable change mat is must have baby hiking gear because it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be changing your baby on the hiking trail. Make sure to bring plenty of wipes (in a protective baby wipes travel case) and an extra outfit (or two) for those blowouts.
Out of respect for your fellow hikers and local wildlife, you’ll need to pack out all your garbage. A wet bag for your little ones dirty clothes or diapers is perfect for this purpose.
11. How to Carry all the Baby Hiking Gear
In addition to your baby, you’ll also be carrying all your baby hiking essentials. If you are hiking with someone else, you can share the load by having the other person carry the diapers, wipes, snacks and other essential baby hiking gear in their backpack.
Otherwise, a hiking backpack carrier with a storage compartment is your best option. They typically even have a spot for a water bladder which helps keep everyone hydrated while outdoors.
If you are front carrying your baby on the hike, you can carry all your hiking essentials in your own backpack.
12. Hiking With a Baby in the Rain
Weather can be unpredictable in the great outdoors, so be prepared for the elements. As I mentioned earlier, our first hike with a newborn ended with us being caught unprepared in the rain. If you are hiking with a newborn and need a rain cover, get one of these rain covers for baby carriers.
Once we started to use a backpack carrier, we bought a rain cover and brought it everywhere with us. The rain cover also worked well for extra wind protection.
13. Hiking With a Baby in Winter
Hiking in the winter with a baby is one of the best outdoor winter activities with a baby. All it takes is a little preparation and the proper winter hiking gear. You’ll want to make sure to check on your baby often as your baby will be much colder than you as they are not actively moving.
Feeding and diaper changes also get more complicated, as you’ll want to keep your baby warm. We recommend picking the mildest of days for winter hiking with a baby.
See our recommendations for winter gear for babies here.
Essential Baby Hiking Gear Checklist
What baby hiking gear do you really need? Your baby really doesn’t need all that much, as long as your baby is warm, fed and you can do diaper changes on the go.
To help you prepare for your family hike, here is our checklist for essential baby hiking gear:
- Bug spray
- Spill proof snack container
- Rain cover
- Baby carrier or hiking backpack carrier
- Anything necessary for feeding (formula, water & bottles plus a travel bottle warmer)
- Extra outfit or two
- Diaper change mat
- Diapers & wipes
- Wide brimmed sun hat
- Warm hiking booties
- Warm hat and mitts for cooler days
- Wet/dry bag
- Breastfeeding cover
What About Hiking Gear for Mom?
When hiking with babies, plan to bring plenty of snacks for yourself and lots of water. We also recommend using proper hiking boots for extra stability and hiking poles (depending on the hike).
More FAQS on Hiking with a Baby
Can you go hiking with a baby?
Yes! You absolutely can go hiking with an infant or baby. It will take more preparation and your hikes might be shorter, but this is a great way to get out with your baby.
What age can a baby go in a hiking backpack?
Most age recommendations for a hiking backpack are when your baby is able to sit upright on their own, which is typically around 6 months old.
At what age can you take a baby hiking?
You can start hiking with your baby as soon as you are feeling up for it. Start with short hikes near your house and build up from there. Only you know how long your baby will tolerate being in a baby carrier.
How should I dress my baby for hiking?
It’s best to dress your baby in layers that you can adjust while out hiking. Keep in mind that your baby won’t be moving, so your baby should be dressed warmer than you. Also protect your baby against the elements like rain, wind and sun.
Can I take my 2 month old hiking?
Yes, you can hike with a newborn as young as 2 months old. Hiking with an infant can be very enjoyable as they are happy to be carried and near you, sleeping on and off during the hike. As mentioned previously, try shorter and easier hikes first to gauge how your baby does.
How to travel with a baby hiking backpack?
If you are planning on hiking while traveling internationally with a baby, get all our tips for flying with a backpack carrier.
What is the best baby carrier for hiking?
The best hiking carrier for a baby is the one that is most comfortable for you and your baby. If your baby is much more content in a soft structured carrier like an Ergo Baby Carrier or the LILLEBaby Complete Airflow 360° carrier, then use that.
If your baby prefers to sit up and see the world, then a hiking backpack carrier for babies might be better suited. Just make sure your baby meets all the recommended height, weight and milestones before moving to this type of hiking backpack for babies.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.