Guide to hiking with your baby in Australia

If you’re here reading this you’re probably either an avid hiker keen to hit the trails with your new bub, OR, you read the title and thought surely not?! Well it’s true. You can actually take your baby hiking. (I mean, you can’t exactly leave them at home.) Some mums even consider hiking (with baby) the perfect way to alleviate postpartum cabin fever. 

In this guide we’ll discuss how to hike with a baby and (importantly) what baby sh*t you’ll need to bring with you.

Benefits of hiking with your baby

If it sounds like more effort than it’s worth, we get it – leaving the house in general is a feat with a baby in tow. (The sheer AMOUNT of things you need to pack in your nappy bag!) But when hiking with your baby, you can expect to benefit from:

  • A change of scenery – When you’re an overwhelmed first-time mum still comprehending WTF is going on, it can feel sooo good to shake things up and be in a new environment.

  • Health benefits for you – Hiking is great for your fitness, heart health and muscle strength. (It’s also an epic way to lose weight, if that matters to you. We think you’re perf as you are.)

  • Health benefits for baby – Exposure to the great outdoors has been shown to boost babies’ immunity and protect against illness.

  • A mental health boost – The American Psychological Association notes that being in nature is linked to cognitive benefits and improvement in mood. (Wonderful for mums struggling with postnatal depression!)

  • Baby’s development – A 2014 study suggests that exposing babies to hiking spaces where people talk, run, jump, climb, and move in different ways can boost language development and basic motor skills. The Raising Children Network recommends outdoor time for babies and children, as it helps them learn about the world and may lower their risk of developing short-sightedness.

  • Bonding time – It’s also just a really great activity to do together! You can chat to your baby as you hike, point out different sights, and explore the world through their eyes for a bit. (Water! Leaves! Birds! Everything is amazing when you’re a baby.)

Top tips for hiking with your baby

If you stand convinced, here are our tips for getting into hiking with your baby.

Don’t start too soon

Gave birth last week? Mama, put the hiking boots DOWN! As keen as you may be, it’s important to ensure you’ve healed from giving birth before pushing your body too much. It’s also not a great idea for super fresh babies to be exposed to wind, sunshine and jostling about in a carrier.

While some mamas feel comfortable hiking with a baby from a few weeks old, get advice from your paediatrician on this and most importantly, go with your gut feel. If you feel iffy about it, there’s no harm in waiting a few more weeks.

Don’t get carried away

We wouldn’t necessarily suggest a four-day hike for your first. Try starting small, with maybe a one or two-hour bushwalk. You may find that’s enough for you to get all those nature-y, outdoors-ey benefits!

If you’re reasonably fit and your baby seems to handle sitting in the carrier for long periods of time (and hopefully napping in there too!), you can try and go for longer hikes.

Invest in a good baby carrier

Even if your baby or toddler can walk, assume that you’re going to be carrying them for most of the hike. Thankfully for you (and your back), we’ve compiled a list of the best baby carriers around to make hiking with your baby a breeze. Well, less painful at any rate.

Bring the right gear

So, exactly what degree of packhorse do you need to be to commence your bush-bashing adventure? How much you bring with you depends on where you’re hiking, and how long you’re going for.

Think about:

  • Sun protection – Sunscreen, hats, and perhaps a cloth to protect your baby’s noggin from the sun.

  • Appropriate clothing – Thermals, beanies and blankets for cold weather! 

  • Bug repellent – Babies don’t know how to shoo bugs away yet, and some bites can lead to nasty rashes. Find a baby-friendly bug repellent that won’t irritate their skin. (Most are safe once they’re two months old.)

  • Nappy-changing gear – Whether you bring cloth or disposable nappies is up to you. But remember, there aren’t bins in the wilderness so you have to carry that sh*t home with you. Don’t forget wipes, and a change mat. Baby poop waits for no one.

  • Food and water – For yourself and for your baby, if they’re on solids. (Extra water for you if you’re breastfeeding!)

  • First aid kit – Always a good call when hiking.

Staying safe when hiking with your baby

Some people might be flabbergasted that you’re taking a baby hiking with you. So many blogs we stumbled across mentioned nasty comments from fellow hikers. (One guy’s standard response to criticism is: “My baby’s fine. And you are going to be fine too.” Hehe, tell ‘em!)

Of course, babies are indeed fragile and you need to ensure you keep yours safe when tramping about in the bush.

Stay safe by:

  • Following local hiking advice. (Visit your state government’s website, or get advice from Trail Hiking Australia.)

  • Protecting yourself and your baby from the elements.

  • Packing first aid equipment to treat cuts or bites.

  • Staying within range of calling emergency services in case anything happens. 

  • Bringing a mate along so they can help carry your baby and all the sh*t  – for safety reasons, of course.

Finding the best place to hike with a baby

Chat to friends and family for recommendations on baby-friendly hikes, and consider scoping them out on your own before bringing your baby along for the ride. 

Failing that, hit up your state’s national parks website for bushwalking advice and trail ideas:

Motherhood itself can be a bit of an uphill hike sometimes, huh? Let us make it easier for you, mama. Download Mumli today.

Australian Hiker, The Health Benefits of Hiking

Cobb, Brenda. The Importance of Taking Infants and Toddlers Outdoors

The American Psychological Association, Nurtured by nature

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child

The Raising Children Network, Outdoor play

The Raising Children Network, Noticing nature walk

Melanin Base Camp, Why Taking Your Baby Hiking Is Not The Worst Thing In The World

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