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Backpacker Magazine – August 2005

Baby On Board: Hiking with Infants

Simple solutions for backpacking with new babies

by: The Backpacker Editors


A new baby may deprive you of some serious sleep, but shouldn't rob you of your hiking time--it just changes it a bit. With a little planning, you can continue to enjoy the outdoors and introduce your child to the wilderness. Below, we address new parents' concerns.

How soon can we start? Short hikes can done be within weeks of birth, thanks to chest slings that provide head support. When your baby can sit, switch to a kid-carrier backpack. Make overnight trips as soon as you feel ready.

What's the best way to carry formula? Use a bottle with a disposable liner. Fill the number of liners you need with dry formula at home, and add purified water on the trail. Avoid iodine-treated water.

Where should we go? Hike familiar routes--this is no time to get lost. Skip places with biting bugs and temperature extremes. If it's your first time out, keep your destination less than 5 miles from the car.

What should we add to our first-aid kit? Baby Benadryl, liquid pain reliever, and antibiotic 1% hydrocortisone ointment, plus any medications your child is taking or that your pediatrician recommends.

What should Junior wear? A floppy hat, long sleeves, and pants to protect him from the sun. Use sunscreen and insect repellent on infants 6 months or older; keep younger ones in a front sling and use a light blanket or umbrella as a sun cover. In cooler weather, a fleece jumper with foldover hand and foot covers prevents lost mittens and booties.

Where should baby sleep? Small bodies lose heat rapidly, so zip your bags together and put your baby between you. Or consider the Sweetie Pie Bag Expander (best for a baby and one parent) or Bag Doubler (Editors' Choice Award, April 2002). www.functionaldesign.net



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Hiking Baby Momma
Aug 22, 2012

This article is a LNT fail. Seriously, how could the author and editor so grossly overlook the diaper topic? Likely not written by an actual parent, who would know that's a pretty key issue to consider when over-nighting with infants.

Dana
May 05, 2012

I'm incredibly offended by the comment about how co-sleeping (sleeping with your baby) is dangerous.
If done safely at home, it can be done safely on the trails.
Do your research and be safe.

We have a 16 month old, who loves to read a camp book before bed, dance around the fire, play frisbee, paint, etc... if there is a will and creativity, there is a way!

Kiersten
May 27, 2011

So how do parents deal with the diaper issue on longer hikes? is: pack in/pack out

Kyle
May 03, 2011

The last piece of advice about sleeping with your baby between you is terrible! It should be taken out of the article! DON'T sleep with your baby between you! It's easy for an adult to roll over onto a sleeping child and smother them. You shouldn't do it at home, why do it on the trail?!?

Christina
Feb 21, 2011

We just got back from our first backpacking trip with our three month old. It was a short trip (3.6 miles out and back), but perfect to try everything out.

Carrier: we used our baby bjorn so baby could face out and he loved it. We found that we could walk about 1.5 miles in it before needing to switch who was carrying him.

Clothes: we definitely loved our floppy hat and found some great non-cotton baby onsies from Agoo.

Sleeping: we wanted our baby to have his own space since we often find ourselves slipping around our tent in our sleeping bags, so we bought a snuggle nest. It was a bit bulky to carry (and was strapped outside the pack) - but overall was great inside the tent. We also packed a small travel computer speaker which hooked up to our MP3 player to play the white noise our baby listens to every night. It was a great comfort after he was a little freaked out from the dark combined with headlamps!

Feeding: We breastfeed and used an inflatable travel breastfeeding pillow - it was a life saver for mom! It also works great with the Alite Monarch Backpacking chair. It nice to have some back support while feeding after backpacking and was well worth the extra 18oz to bring along!

Entertainment: Obviously being outdoors can provide lots of entertainment, but having some things from home to comfort our baby was priceless. We brought a board book that he loves that helped really sooth him when upset as well as the same blanket he uses at home (luckily it is fleece).

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