Does the thought of hiking with toddlers send shivers down your spine? Where can you go? Will I end up having to carry my kids half-way through? How can I keep them safe? All. The. Worries.
I’m here to tell you to stop worrying. You’ve got this.
Hiking can be such a fun family activity. It gets everyone moving. You can explore a new place. And, it’s a fun way to learn and explore in nature.
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How to have fun hiking with toddlers
I took my kids hiking by myself all the time when they were younger. But, here’s the thing, our hikes looked a lot different than they would if it was just me and my husband.
But, no matter how they looked, they were fun and they were valuable. My kids loved a family hike.
The key: keep it simple and keep it on your kid’s level.
You don’t need to hike up a mountain or go deep in the woods to experience all the fun of a hike. For our hikes we often stayed local and would choose a paved path in a wooded area.
We also kept it short, stopping and turning around when the girls requested it. After all, there was no way I could carry both of my kids back to the car if we went too far.
A long hike for a toddler may not necessarily seem long to you and that’s okay.
Let your kids lead the way
Another thing that worked well for me when hiking with young children was to let my girls lead the way. I would stop when they stopped. I would look at what they looked at.
We would examine anything and everything that they wanted to look at. I saw so many nature treasures that I would have missed if I didn’t have the kids along.
We’d look at a cool rock or feel the texture of the bark on a tree. My daughter had an eagle eye when it came to spotting wildflowers.
We picked up sticks and laid them all out to examine and figure out which were the best ones. Apparently there is special 4-year-old criteria when it comes to finding the best stick.
If you look high and look low, you’re sure to find something interesting, like this bird’s nest already abandoned for the winter.We also found bright yellow leaves, a big curvy tree, a small batch of berries (which we learned not to touch since we don’t know what they are), a secret path leading to a dock on a small lake and lots of nature treasures.
We found all of these on small, simple hikes.
Tips for Hiking With Toddlers
- Keep it short.
- Bring along water and small healthy snacks for energy. (And be prepared to carry your waste until you find a trashcan.)
- Keep it slow. Let your kids explore and examine as much as they want.
- Go someplace familiar. You will feel more comfortable if you know the area well.
- Turn back if the kids start getting tired. You don’t want to push them and end up having to carry an exhausted child!
- Use your eyes, ears, and nose to learn a little about the natural world around you. Experience the hike, don’t just walk it.
- And the most important… Keep it simple! You will all enjoy yourself more.
Let’s Go on a Family Hike!
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
Pick a location, get the kids ready, and just go. I guarantee you’ll have fun and want to go hiking over and over again.
Hiking is such a great family activity that you can do with kids of all ages. Keep it simple while hiking with toddlers and then as your kids grow older, you can go on longer and longer hikes.
Get out, explore, and have fun.
You may also like one of these fun outdoor family activities:
Top Ten Simple Summer Field Trips
Go on a Family Adventure and Discover a “New to You” Park
10 Fun Walk Ideas for Families
10 Reasons to Visit a State Park This Weekend (or any Weekend)
20 Summer Scavenger Hunts at EDventures for Kids
Kids to Parks Day
I wrote this post to help celebrate Kids to Parks Day from the National Park Trust which happens on the third Saturday of May of each year. It’s a fun day to get out and have fun with the family. You can attend an official event or do something on your own, like a fun family hike! You can check here to find a local event.
No matter what you do, take the opportunity to celebrate the outdoors and to celebrate your family. Have fun! Share your adventures with the #KidstoParks hashtag on social media.
Do you want to do more fun activities with your family?
Join our fun Facebook community, Creative Family Fun for Busy Families, for daily activities that are great for kids and families. We’ll chat, share, and have fun. It’s a safe and private place to share ideas for family and kids activities.
I’d love for you to join me! Just click the link below, request to join, and answer the questions (they’re easy, I promise). Come join the fun! Join the Creative Family Fun for Busy Families community here.
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