Day Tramping with babies in backpacks
Children just love the outdoors. From the warmth of the sun on their backs, to the 100s of shades of green, to listening to the songs of the birds and percussion of the insects, it's a sensory experience for all.
Some top tips for parents by Jen and her family from Backyard Travel Family
But just because the little ones are too young to tramp or take long walks, doesn’t mean that you have to leave them behind. Walking with a baby carrier is one of the easiest ways to get active and explore the outdoors with a young child. As children get older, you can then give them the option of walking, before they hitch a ride with you.
One of my favourite memories is our first big family walk to Lake Marian. It was my 5 year olds first big walk and we had 3 year old Kipton in a backpack with my husband and 10 month old Emilia in a front pack with me. After negotiating this uphill tramp through the forest, I remember being so elated as we caught our first glimpse of the lake.
The sense of achievement and the rush of adrenalin reminded me of my former self. It was in that moment, as I breastfed Emilia next to this beautiful alpine lake that I realised that this was something we could do together, but also something that was just so good for my own achievement and mental health.
We completed this walk in warm weather, so if you haven’t tramped in summer before, here's a few tips we have learned along the way.
Tramping with babies in backpacks
- Keeping babies at a comfortable temperature is key. Don’t forget that if it is hot, you will sweat and when the baby is snuggled against your chest, it can get extremely warm. Check on them regularly and have breathable layers for both of you.
- Make sure your baby has some protection from the sun. This could be a hat, sunscreen or a sunshade that may come with your carrier
- Bring a light muslin cloth or change mat so they can have a wriggle in the shade. They often love watching the leaves blow in the breeze
- If you are breastfeeding, bring plenty of water and food for yourself too.
- Don’t forget a wee rubbish bag for nappies and a change of clothes in case of a nappy explosion.
Tramping in winter is something we really love. Don’t be put off by a bit of cold weather. Uphill tramps are my favourite as they keep you warm and your blood flowing. One of our local trails is based in Methven at the Awa Awa Rata Reserve. There are short 60-90 minute short loops or if you enjoy great views, then Scotts Saddle is a good little climb with views over Mid Canterbury.
The weather is an important consideration in winter, and I find wind more of a problem than just the cold. If you are taking your little one in a backpack in winter, here are a few things to bring to ensure your child is warm and toasty.
- While you may be warm when you’re moving, your baby is sitting still, so regularly check them to make sure they are warm and toasty.
- Bring protection from the weather: The all in one suits that have hand and foot covers are perfect for winter tramping. Ensure they have plenty of layers, gloves and a hat.
- If your little one doesn’t have a waterproof winter jacket, consider an oversized jacket for yourself that you can put over both of you. Your heat will help to keep them warm.
- If you are using a framed backpack, don’t forget that the rain cover can act as a wind protector, keeping it much warmer inside.
Being prepared keeps the whole family safe
If you hurt yourself on the trail with no cell phone service, then you may not be able to get your child home safely. So try to tramp with a friend if you can, and always take a PLB with you, just in case.
Choose a track that matches your level of fitness with the Plan My Walk app. You can filter the walks by duration, difficulty or choose one of the “tracks nearest me”. If you have a good level of fitness, you will find that you can still attempt some great uphill tracks and get quite a workout with the added “weights” on your back.
Always tell somewhere where you are going and when you will be back. Give them a call, a message or lodge your plans on the Plan My Walk app.
Images: Backyard Travel Family