If you like to hike and camp, and you have toddlers, you will soon discover that planning ahead can mean the difference between a great family outing and disaster. The first step is to realize that little kids won’t care about where they are going…they are more interested in what is in front of their nose.
Make sure to adjust your expectations, slow down…and well smell the roses. Or jump up on that cool log, or watch the fish zip through the water. You get the idea!
Toddlers and young children will ping pong between spurts of energy, wanting to be picked up and carried, and needing a nap, or at least a rest and a snack. Take a small, light-weight blanket or piece of ground cloth for those resting times.
Dress them in several layers, take extra clothing (Especially if there is any type of water along the hike!), and even if you aren’t cold (or hot) realize that they will be and they won’t be happy about it.
Make sure you encourage children to drink along their hike. Even little ones can carry their own water bottle or canteen, especially if they have a kid-sized backpack. If they don’t get enough water it can make them grumpy and cause dehydration.
Stop often for rest and energy breaks. Food and water can be a great reviver and motivator. Take lots of little snack packets with nutritious items like dried fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and small amounts of things they snack on at home. Many freeze dried meals like this high protein porridge with strawberries, tastes great and there is enough for you to share with your toddler. These types of hiking meals are light, easy and fast, and provide great nutrition and energy for your little one.
Just remember that hiking with your toddler is more about exploring along the way than in reaching any point on a map. Make sure to enjoy this journey and help them find their love for the outdoors!