Backpacking with an infant is strenuous, but possible. All you need is a checklist and some baby gear.
From knowing your baby’s sleeping schedule to getting the right baby carrier backpack, every detail counts. If you’re wandering the hills with your partner, get ready to take turns carrying the baby.
Here’s a simple guide that gives you tips for when you’re backpacking with one baby, or even two babies.
How to Plan a Baby-Friendly Backpacking Trip
You’re not being ridiculous, just adventurous.
It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking to a local spot or backpacking abroad, as long as the place isn’t swarming with bugs. The best time to take a hike with a baby is late fall or early spring. You’ll want to avoid fluctuating temperatures at all costs. Most parents take day hikes as practice before planning an overnight trip.
The best way to condition your baby to elevation changes is by going on regular day hikes. This is because day hikes are less tiring compared to a long trek. A baby-friendly hike should include a safe camping site, layover spots, and a well-marked trail. If it’s your first time hiking with a baby, then pick a trail you’re familiar with.
A comfortable hiking distance should include regular breaks for feeding and changing sessions. You’ll generally want to hit the trail when your baby is asleep, so it’s important to understand their sleeping cycle. While it all might sound exhausting, it’s a great bonding experience.
The benefits of hiking with a baby are many, since backpacking is an exciting opportunity for families to spend time together. Your baby will enjoy being outdoors, and will love looking at new things, especially when you’re around.
1. Picking the right baby carrier
While hitting a trail is a fun filled family activity, it’s also tiring. That’s why you need the right gear for maximum comfort and safety. You’ll need the right baby carrier to cover ground while your baby enjoys the fresh air. The best baby carriers are waterproof with durable straps to secure your baby in place.
Make sure your baby carrier has sun shields, a rain cover, and is adjustable as per your baby’s height and weight. If it’s super easy to use and fold, it is even better.
There are different types of baby carriers. You’ll need something that’s equipped with lumbar support. Front facing carriers are perfect for babies less than a year old, while backpack carriers are great when you’re looking for extra storage at the bottom for diapers, clothes, and snacks.
2. Putting together a baby medical kit
Whether you’re backpacking on a weekend, or for an out of country expedition, a baby medical kit is important. Pack age-appropriate band-aids, sterile dressings, disposable gloves, diaper rash cream, antibacterial and fungal creams, and antihistamines to counter unexpected allergies in the wild.
If your baby needs pediatric medications, pack twice the amount in case of an emergency. You’ll definitely need baby syrups for stomach pain, diarrhea and fever. Additionally, carry a digital thermometer, baby scissors and a pair of tweezers.
Baby Backpacking Essentials
It’s natural for your baby to need a new diaper while you’re hiking a trail. This situation is manageable if you carry both disposable and cloth diapers.
Disposables are lightweight, ultra-portable and compact. They’re very convenient when you don’t have a water source near you. But you should pack some cloth diapers as well if your baby’s prone to diaper rash.
You’ll also want to carry a few boxes of biodegradable wet wipes made from hydrating ingredients. Remember to carry wet bags, because you’ll need to trash those smelly diapers in a responsible way.
One of the most important things to carry along are ready-to-eat meals. In this case, an alternative option like formula is a great choice even if your baby is breastfed.
Add in a measured dispenser alongside a battery-powered bottle-warmer and you’re all good to go. Don’t forget to pack extra food for a breastfeeding mother.
Chopped fruits and veggies packed into an airtight box make for a healthy meal for toddlers. Pack portable snacks like instant cereals to keep your baby energized and well-fed. Don’t forget to carry a BPA-free sippy cup for those juice breaks.
Babies drink milk plenty of times in a day, so a pack of disposable bottles will help deal with such an issue, especially when you’re away from a water source. You can add pre-sterilized bottle liners to your list if your baby’s prone to gas. They prevent air bubbles from mixing with the milk, so make sure you have a pack of your own.
How do you replicate your baby’s sleeping environment while you’re outdoors? It’s a challenge.
Here’s a smart tip: carry your baby’s blanket and some toys to create a home-like feel. You’ll also need an extra-long sleeping pad and a smaller foam pad.
Another option is sharing a sleeping bag with your baby huddled in the middle. But, to do this you’ll need one sleeping pad that’s 25 inches wide to accommodate an adult and a baby sleeping side-by-side.
With a well-cushioned baby tent, you don’t need to worry about your baby lying on uneven ground. It features a breathable mesh frame to keep away bugs. This option is perfect for a baby to enjoy a nap when you’re on breaks.
4. Drinking Water
The last thing you need on a hike is an upset tummy, and an even more upset baby. To make sure your drinking water supply is ample and clean, you’ll need portable water filters, like a squeeze filter or a gravity filter. Water bottles that come with built-in filtration systems are also great. Such water bottle filters have a leak-proof design and are often budget-friendly.
When you’re hiking on a short trail, then one of the best outfits for a baby to wear is a swaddle-style baby sleep sack. This is a wearable baby blanket made from micro fleece that’s perfect for your little camper.
You’ll also want baby clothing that’s non-wicking and designed for little campers. Gear up your baby for the hike with a rain suit, and add a wide-brimmed sun hat for UV protection.
You can also pack long sleeved shirts, waterproof baby hiking boots, zip-off trousers, and one-piece fleece bodysuits, for high elevations.
A Few More Essentials
There are many backpacking activities you can plan with your family if you’re an avid adventurer. But, what if you can’t avoid an accident?
1. Travel insurance coverage
Babies are most susceptible to falling sick when you’re outdoors and away from home. In the most unfortunate cases, a suitable travel medical insurance policy can include medical benefits if your baby falls sick or suffers an injury. It allows you to give your baby the care they need when you’re on a trip.
2. Infant CPR training
Many parents take a wilderness course to learn infant CPR before taking their kids on a backpacking tour. Such training programs are essential for outdoor enthusiasts, scout leaders and adventurers alike.
CPR education of any kind is an incredible skill. You can take these courses online, or in-person from a variety of organizations.
3. Keep your baby engaged with nature
It’s a magical experience for your little camper when you’re introducing them to nature. If you bring lots of snacks and take lots of breaks, a hike with a baby is quite rewarding. Once your baby gets accustomed to shorter hikes, then you can explore different ecosystems with them.
With every trip you plan, you’ll know which baby gear works best for all of your travels. Now that you know the basics, we hope the experience is enriching. If you know someone who wants to go backpacking with their baby, share these useful tips with them, too!
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