Hiking can be a very fun experience as the weather gets warmer and the flowers start to bloom. Hiking is a good way to help relieve stress and to get out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings in nature. Some people want to take their children hiking to show them all the wonders of the outdoors, but when you take a kid you need extra preparation in order to keep them healthy and free from accidents or injuries. If you want to take your child hiking with you this year, there are certain tips and tricks you should keep in mind to plan for this event.
Take First Aid Kit– As a hiker you probably have a first aid kit that you keep on you but you need to make it appropriate for a child as well. Check your first aid kit to make sure you have everything you will possibly need for child such as sunscreen, tweezers, bandages, gauze, tape, Tylenol for children and any other things you know you should pack. Make sure you are prepared for a small cut or scrape if your child falls down and make sure you have protective sunscreen for their sensitive skin.
Pack Extra Clothes- You also are going to need to make sure you pack your child and extra set of clothes for your hiking trip. Pack them an extra pair of shoes, socks, shirt and pants just in case they have an accident and fall into mud or a puddle of water. Also make sure you have an extra pair of underwear for your child because they might have an accident if they are walking around for a long period of time. You want to be sure you pack an extra of everything related to what your child will be wearing because you never know if they will have an accident or get too hot or too cold in their clothing.
Wear Right Clothing- Make sure your child is wearing the right kind of clothing for the weather as well as for the hike itself. Wearing shorts and a shirt in early spring is not the best idea and it will lead to them probably getting cold. Make sure you have your child wearing pants and a long-sleeved shirt for the hike because of the branches and other things that could poke or injure your child. Also, knowing how a child is I would use the layering technique when getting them dressed for a hike. Layering the clothes on your child will help them because if they get hot then they can just rip a layer off instead of being miserable. Layering also helps because they might get cold and then decide to put that extra layer back on, especially if you are hiking into the evening hours.
Wear Appropriate Shoes- Make sure your child is also wearing the appropriate shoes to support them while they hike. Wearing gym shoes or athletic shoes are probably your best bet because they will support your child and their feet during the hike. These shoes also need to be waterproof and very comfortable since you will be hiking a while. You can get your child a pair of hiking boots if you want to but make sure they have worn them before and like how they feel so that they will be comfortable and not complaining about their feet hurting. Having supportive footwear is just as important for a child hiking as it is for an adult hiking.
Pack Lunch With Snacks- You should also pack a lunch with small snacks in between for your hiking trip with your child. You might be the type that can go all day without eating, but a child can not do this. Pack some sandwiches that you can stop and eat for lunch along with a good energy drink for your child. Also you should pack some bags of chips or crackers or maybe a bag of fruit so that your child can eat here and there throughout the hike. Make it a priority to stop every couple hours so that your child can have a little snack in between the hiking to keep their energy up and keep them from getting dehydrated. Providing a lunch and snack for your child will also help them build up their energy and stamina so they will be likely to finish the hike without too much of a problem.
Stop For a Break- Make sure every hour you stop for a 15 minute break to keep your child from being too worn out during your hike. A child might not be able to hike or walk the distances you do so it is important to stop for them here and there to make sure they have a break where they can catch their breath and relax for a few minutes. This break is the perfect time to pull out their drink and snack so they can stay rested and hydrated. You want to make sure your child does not begin cramping up in their legs from walking or hiking too far so giving them a break to stretch is always a good idea.
Invite Friends- If you have a child who is a little older then you might want to invite a friend to go hiking with them. As a child gets older they like being in company of people their own age such as a friend from school or church. If you have a child who is like ten you can ask them if they have someone they would like to invite to the hike with them. Having a friend with your child will keep them entertained during the hike and it will also help them bond with another child. Always ask the other parent involved if it is okay if their child goes on a hike with your family first though, to make sure they are comfortable with that idea. If you do have your child take a friend with them for the hike, you need to give the parent any contact information available for you so they can contact you if needed.
Get a Small Stick– You should also get your child a small stick they can use for hiking that will help them through the brush and debris. During a hike the land can become bumpy and elevated which might not be too bad for an adult but it is an easy way for a child to get hurt. Go outside and see if you can find a good thick stick that your child can hold onto and walk with that can help them keep their balance. Make sure the stick is smooth to hold and is about the height of your child so it will be more beneficial to them during the hike. Having a stick when hiking is a good way to keep yourself extra safe and to help your coordination and balance in rough areas.
Keep Things Entertaining– When you are hiking with your child you should also make it a game for them to keep them entertained. Have them take a notebook with them and a pencil so they can draw things they see on their hike. Have them draw out specific animals that they see during the hike or a certain flower they see. Make the hike a learning experience for them by telling them about certain things found in nature like a tree or what kind of bird is in the tree. By having your child draw things they see on the hike they will be paying more attention to their surroundings and they also will be learning things they never knew. You can then tell your child to go to school and take those drawings with them to show their friends about all the wonderful flowers and animals they saw while on their hike.
Let Child Set Pace– Finally, you need to let your child set the pace of the hike if you want it to be fun and hassle-free. A child has a disadvantage when it comes to walking and hiking because their legs are smaller and shorter. When you walk normally, it is probably twice as long for a child to walk the same length and this can become frustrating for a child. Let your child take the lead during the hike and let your child stop here and there to look at certain things in nature. If you set the pace yourself for the hike, your child will become tired easier and will soon start complaining they have sore legs or feet. So in order to keep your hike fun and entertaining for both you and your child just let them do the walking and hiking. Take a backseat and let them show you what path to go down or what things to stop and look at. This will also help encourage them to speak out and it shows leadership qualities and skills to your child.