How To Hike With A Toddler-Everything You Need To Know

Hiking with a toddler can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s also important to remember that special considerations must be taken when heading out on the trail. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-timer, there are some key tips to remember for a safe and enjoyable hike with your little one. From gear to snacks, here are nine tips on how to hike with a toddler.

1. Choose The Right Gear

Having the right gear is essential. From backpacks to snacks and water bottles, ensuring you have everything you need can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a disaster.

Start by packing a comfortable backpack for your child. A kid-size one works best, as it will fit snugly on their back without being too heavy or cumbersome.

Include plenty of snacks and drinks and some activities to keep them busy along the way. Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, and insect repellents – these are must-haves when outdoors. With the right gear in tow, you’ll be ready to embark on a hiking adventure with your toddler! Check out these hiking shoes for toddlers.

2. Plan Ahead

You don’t want to be in an unfamiliar place without the right supplies or clothes. The first step is to ensure your toddler has the proper gear for their age. Depending on how long you plan on being out, a small backpack can be helpful for carrying snacks or toys.

If it’s going to be cold, bring along extra layers and hats for them to keep warm. Additionally, having a few changes of clothes can help if they get wet or dirty during the hike. Once you’ve taken care of the gear, it’s important to consider other things like food and water. Have plenty of snacks and drinks throughout the trip in case they get hungry or thirsty while on the trail.

hiker with toddler

3. Start Out Small

It’s crucial to prioritize safety and comfort. Starting out small is vital. Taking on too much can be overwhelming and lead to unpleasant experiences for both you and your child.

First, you’ll want to choose a manageable trail that fits your family’s needs. If your toddler has limited walking endurance, look for trails with places where you can take breaks or go off the beaten path. A shorter distance will also give them time to explore without getting exhausted.

It’s also important to factor in rest times during your trip so everyone can refuel with snacks or whatever else they need. This will help your little one stay energized throughout the hike. Before you hit the trail, check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. With all these preparations made, you’re ready to start exploring!

Related: How To Reduce Backpack Weight

4. Pack the right snacks

Not only do snacks provide nutrition during the hike, but they can also be used as rewards or distractions when needed. When deciding what snacks to bring, pick something nutritious to keep your toddler full throughout the hike.

Think of foods like protein bars, trail mix, whole-grain crackers, or even small fruits like grapes or berries. You may also want to bring along some extra treats as rewards for completing certain goals during the hike or just to give your toddler an extra boost of energy when they need it.

5. Stick To The Basics

Keep things simple when planning a hike with your toddler. While planning a complex, full-day adventure may be tempting, sticking to the basics is usually the best option. This way, you can ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

The first step to keeping things basic is to select a hike that fits your child’s abilities. If they are just learning how to walk, pick a relatively flat or short trail so their energy isn’t drained too quickly. In addition, check the terrain for any potential hazards like sharp rocks or steep inclines.

6. Set A Comfortable Pace

Trying to keep up with adults in the group is tempting, but this can be too challenging for a young child who may tire quickly. Instead of pushing too hard, take frequent breaks so your little one can rest and explore. This will allow them to enjoy the experience more, while also helping to ensure it doesn’t become too much of an ordeal.

It is best to talk with your toddler beforehand about what they should expect on the hike. Explain that they will need to take their time and not rush through parts of the trail. Remind them that there will be plenty of opportunities to take in the sights along the way and look for interesting things like rocks or bugs. Also, discuss how you will signal when it is time for them to stop for a break or start walking again.

Encourage your toddler throughout the hike by praising them for doing well or providing reminders when needed. Let them know how proud you are that they were able to make it all the way without getting too tired or frustrated. If possible, reward them with something special at the end of your hike to celebrate their accomplishment.

7. Keep It Fun

Keeping the hiking trip fun is important as it will ensure your child enjoys the experience and looks forward to going out on hikes again. Remember that young children don’t have a long attention span and may become bored quickly if hiking isn’t enjoyable for them.

To ensure your little one has a good time, try bringing along some of their favorite toys for them to enjoy while you’re on the trail. If you plan ahead, you can also look for opportunities for your child to explore nature and learn about the environment around them by playing games like ‘I Spy‘ with objects they can find on the hike.

You could also bring some music or books to engage your toddler. Taking lots of pictures during your hike is another great way to add fun while still being mindful of breaks needed throughout the day.

female hiker holding toddler

8. Watch For Warning Signs Of Fatigue

When taking a toddler on a hike, watch for signs of fatigue. Little ones don’t have the same stamina as adults, and their bodies tire easily. As such, parents should keep an eye out for any warning signs that their child may be getting too tired.

Signs of fatigue can include decreased energy levels, irritability, an inability to concentrate, and yawning more than usual. Even if the child seems full of energy at first, they could become exhausted after just a few minutes in the woods. To prevent fatigue, take regular breaks during the hike and bring plenty of snacks and water to keep them hydrated and energized.

If your toddler does start showing signs of exhaustion, immediately stop the hike and let them rest for a while. Let them lay down on their backpacks or sit in the shade until they feel ready to move again. If needed, you can also cut short the hike so that your little one doesn’t get overwhelmed by being out in nature for too long.

Related: How To Prevent Knee Pain While Hiking

9. Have A Back-Up Plan

When taking a toddler out on a hike, it is crucial to have a back-up plan. This will help ensure the parent and the child are prepared for any unexpected occurrences. A back-up plan should include alternate activities in case the weather does not cooperate or the hike takes longer than expected. The plan should also include snacks and water for when extra energy is needed and extra clothes in case of emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Keep My Toddler Entertained During The Hike?

One way to entertain your toddler during a hike is by carrying their favorite toys or books. If your toddler loves music, pack a portable speaker or headphones. You can also create a scavenger hunt by hiding small objects along the trail and letting the toddler search for them.

What Is The Best Way To Carry A Toddler While Hiking?

A baby carrier or backpack designed for carrying toddlers is ideal as it will provide adequate support for the child’s head, neck, and back. Alternatively, parents can opt to wear their toddler in a sling or wrap, which will help keep them warm and secure while allowing them freedom of movement.

What Age Is Suitable To Start Hiking With A Toddler?

Generally speaking, toddlers who are at least 2 or 3 years old may show an interest in longer hikes. However, the exact age when a child is ready for hiking will depend on their own level of development and physical abilities.


Hiking with a toddler can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and your child. With the right preparation and motivation, creating an unforgettable adventure that will bring you closer together is possible. Remember always to keep safety in mind, but don’t let it stop you from having fun!

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