Hiking with Kids: Taking Those First Steps with Young Hikers

I never had a stroller for my oldest children and, believe me, I never missed it. To me, loading the baby or toddler in a child carrier meant freedom. As we went about our downtown errands, I pitied the parents and nannies pushing cumbersome strollers, always on the lookout for sidewalk obstructions and incoming missiles like stumbling pedestrians or red-hot cigarettes that might strike their low-riding infants, here is some issue about Hiking with Kids

Why Hike?

Time management books line the shelves of libraries and bookstores, and form a tidy row along the edge of my desk. All purport to help adults eke efficiency and excellence from every minute of every day. Compartmentalizing, prioritizing, and strategic planning may work on the job, but try saying “Later!” to a tearful toddler or teen when family time isn’t scheduled for another hour. The essence of parenting is “Now!”

Flexibility is the key. Even though our children lead increasingly structured livesmusic and dance lessons, soccer practicethey are still kids. They need an abundance of time to play, to ramble, and to explore. And they need us.

Hiking with Kids or hiking with very young children puts them in touch with nature for the first time. Even the tiniest infants delight in the interplay of shadows, shapes, and colors as they peer out from the cozy security of their child carriers. Toddlers revel in testing new walking skills and in naming each new find along the trail. Preschoolers, with ever-increasing stamina, morph into aerobic naturalists, dashing up the trail, then screeching to a halt when they spy interesting bugs or trickling streams.

Hiking with elementary school children lays the groundwork for parent-child communication, step by step. Nature becomes a springboard for discussions about family values as youngsters learn to apply ethical behavior in an outdoor setting. Self-confidence and self-reliance naturally evolve as pre-adolescents hike farther and farther, all the while adding to their body of knowledge about the natural world.

Hiking is a gift we can give ourselves and our children. The cost is minimal, yet the experience is priceless and pays dividends over a lifetime, as avid hikers can attest.

Preparation, All Together Now

Setting adult goals and expectations for any hike with kids is an instant recipe for disaster. Your trip will be cooked the first time your youngster squats in the middle of the trail to examine a bug. One way or another, our children tell usforce usto slow down and literally stop and smell the roses.

Think of hiking with kids as an ongoing adventures: each state of your child’s development provides new perspectives as you explore the natural world together. Only when your child is a portable infant can you set your own pace and choose your own trail.

If you start carrying your baby in a child carrier when he/she is quite small, carrying a squirming 25-pound toddler won’t seem so bad later on. Begin with trips around town, so that you become accustomed to baby’s weight, and baby gets used to extended periods in the carrier. Most infants readily adapt to the snuggly confines and fall asleep to the rhythm of your walk. Remember to stop periodically and unload baby for a wiggle break. Even tiny muscles can cramp.

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