Jul 15, 2021
Start hiking with a baby young and he/she will grow to love the outdoors, just like you! Hiking with a newborn is a great way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle for you, momma.
Below is a full guide of the important things you need to know before you go hiking with an infant. I cover the gear you need, how to feed your baby, best time to go, how to dress your baby, other essentials to bring and overall general tips.
No longer have an infant, check out my Hiking Guide for Toddlers.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.
As long as your doctor has cleared you for exercise you can start hiking with a baby. You might need to invest in a couple key items to enable you to hike with a baby, such as a way to carry your baby that is safe for baby.
Depends where you are hiking. Strollers don’t do great on rocky trails. For a non-smooth trail I would highly recommend a soft structured carrier or hiking backpack, depending on the age of your child.
If your hiking destination has a paved path or smooth ground you can take an off road stroller, such as the Bob Gear Alterrain Pro.
All dependent on you! Babies love to be carried and will have no problem going for long periods of time. You will have to think about feeding your baby if gone for an extended amount of time, depending on the baby's age.
The limiting factor on how far you can hike with a baby is your own fitness. If you are new to hiking with a baby take it easy and build up distance over time. If you are not new to hiking you might be gone the whole day. Just make sure you bring supplies!
Anytime that works for you! If you are using a soft structured carrier to hike with a baby, the carrier will be a great spot for a baby to nap. The younger your baby is the more z’s a baby requires and more likely to fall asleep while hiking.
What is more comfortable than a sweet contact nap on their momma?
An older baby will enjoy looking around at the scenery, but still should have no problem napping. The more you hike with a newborn the more comfortable the baby will be with you while hiking. In no time your child will be hiking alongside you!
Important reminder: babies can be fussy. Sometimes you might take a baby out on a hike and not have a positive experience. This does not mean you shouldn’t try again. Maybe your baby was teething or maybe just having a bad day. Don’t let it discourage you.
The most important thing you need to purchase is a couple essential baby hiking gear. Number one baby hiking gear is a way to carry your baby.
It is not recommended to take an infant younger than six months in a framed hiking backpack, but this doesn’t mean you can’t go hiking. Before 6 months old you can front-wear your baby in a soft structured baby carrier when hiking with an infant.
I used the Lillebaby Original for all three of my babies. I started hiking with my infants right at 4 weeks old. At this young age a baby will be inward facing and you should utilize the extra infant support the carrier provides. The infant support, in the Lillebaby Original, is an added flap that connects to the arm sleeve providing additional head/neck support.
The below video shows you how to carry a baby in the fetal position using the Lillebaby Original.
The Lillebaby allows you to carry your baby in 6 different ways, positions are dependent on the baby's age. You can go to the Lillebaby website to learn about all the different positions for an older baby here.
Although I preferred to use the Lillebaby there are other great soft structured carriers to select from.
Another great baby hiking gear carrier is the ErgoBaby Omni 360 Carrier. The ErgoBaby Omni and Lillebaby Original are similar and can be used for babies 7-45 pounds without an infant insert, adjustable to suit all body types, seal of approval from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and provide back support. The main difference I found was that the Lillebaby has two more carrying positions and is cheaper when bought new.
When hiking with a baby you want to make sure you are extra careful, you are lugging precious cargo! I feel most confident, especially when scrambling around on rocks, if I have on a sturdy hiking boot that grips the ground.
You are more likely to slip on wet surfaces or twist your ankle if you are wearing old tennis shoes or shoes with no treads. A great hiking boot will keep you upright, your feet dry and last for years to come. I have been using the Columbia women's hiking boots for over four years now and the shoe continues to perform.
The Columbia hiking boot is water resistant, made from leather, suede and mesh and comes in 8 different color combinations. I even bought my mom and sister-in-law a pair!
Does your baby need hiking boots? No, a baby won’t be walking any of the trails therefore a true hiking boot is not necessary. However, infant hiking boots do exist. They are designed for cuteness and warmth.
Hiking boots for babies: Hudson Baby Infant booties for the win
You will want to cover your baby’s feet while hiking for warmth in the winter and sun protection in the summer. If the trail you select is shaded infant hiking boots won’t be necessary. I commonly can be found hiking a shaded trail with my baby barefoot.
Baby hiking boots don’t have to be expensive since the infant boots are mostly just to cover their feet. The main factors you want to consider are ease of putting on/off and ability of infant boot to stay on. A velcro closure or button to secure the boot around the baby's ankle is a great start!
You can't go wrong with a Stride Rite hiking boot, my kids have had many pairs of Stride Rites. This hiking boot comes in infant size 3 and infant size 3.5 with a wide option. It is an ankle high shoe that closes with a velcro strap.
In Winter you will want infant hiking boots that provide warmth to your little one. The best hiking boots will be fleece lined and cozy, provide a closure to secure boot and waterproof.
Enteer offers an infant hiking boot designed for winter. This boot is warm, made with faux fur, waterproof sole and easy on and off velcro strap. It is designed for babies as young as 3 months old and goes up to toddler sizes.
BMCityBM make a warm snow boot that is great as a baby hiking boot. The hiking boot is only available for babies 6 months and up to toddler sizes. It offers many styles and a toggle to secure the boot to your baby's feet.
Infant Booties are a great baby hiking shoe. Since your little one is not walking yet a true shoe is not needed. A newborn bootie provides warmth to your baby and is often easier to put on your little one’s feet than a traditional hiking boot.
Hudson Baby makes a great infant bootie that works great to cover a baby's feet while hiking. They are easy to put on and stayed on my baby's feet better than a traditional baby sock.
Infant Booties was a go for my hikes with babies in moderate temperature.
In the summer months I lived in nursing tank tops. Nursing tank tops are practical and allowed me to easily nurse on the trails. While hiking I wore a nursing bra underneath my nursing tank top for extra support. (I disliked any wire nursing bras; to me they were very uncomfortable.) When the time came to nurse I would take my baby out of my Lillebaby front carrier, unclip my nursing tank top and bra on the nursing side and get comfortable.
This pack of 3 from Suiek will last longer than you needed. I am on my third child with these nursing tank tops!
In the colder months I layered my outfits. I wore a nursing tank top as my base layer and a button down flannel as my next layer. The button down flannels were great because you didn’t have to take it off to nurse.
Columbia Button Down Flannels aren't just convenient for nursing mothers, but also comfortable. I wear these flannels commonly on hikes with or without a nursing newborn.
The small poop bags are used to wrap the soiled diaper in. This way it can be placed in a backpack and carried out easier. You should always carry out all your trash, unless the park has waste pins.
I don’t like to spray my babies with bug spray, however I do want to protect them from getting bitten. A trick I use is to spray the soft structured carrier before placing my baby inside; this way he is protected without having to have the chemicals on him. Also I spray myself; given the close proximity of the baby to me this helps keep the bugs away.
Water is key on hikes. Especially if you are a nursing momma, you need to ensure you are hydrated so that your body will continue to produce breastmilk and keep you moving.
Rebecca, from HikeItBaby recommends the Popyum bottles, which separates out the water from the formula until you are ready to feed your baby. When your baby is hungry you just have to press a button to mix the formula with water. The bottle is anti-colic, comes in 5 or 9 oz size and designed to be used with one hand only!
A baby, younger than 6 months old, primary source of calories is milk. I chose to breastfeed my babies and found no issues feeding a baby while hiking.
My advice to a breastfeeding mother isn’t to be afraid of feeding while on the trails. Normally when you go places with a baby you think you have to bring lots of things. A benefit of breastfeeding your baby is that it doesn’t require anything except yourself, just make sure you stay hydrated.
Breastfeeding outside surrounded by nature felt so natural to me. Picture this, sitting on a rock near a stream bed listening to the water flow by as you cuddle your baby and feed him/her.
You can bring a portable lightweight stool hiking. Just in case the ground is wet or you are not sure if there will be a good spot to sit, you will be able to relax a bit while you feed your baby. I brought the mini portable folding stool on many hikes with a baby. The portable stool only weighs 1.3lbs and is easy to set up!
I often didn't bother to bring breastfeeding wraps while hiking with a newborn for two reasons. First, you generate heat while hiking and when you stop moving you most likely will be sweating; who wants to cover up while they are already hot? Secondly, my babies didn't like it. A lot of times it was hot out and they too didn't want to be covered in blankets.
On colder hikes I would pack my Muslin blanket. This was my preferred nursing cover when I chose to use one.
Expert Tip: Babies older than 6 months old can be distracted by their surroundings. If this is the case a simple wrap might help your baby focus on eating. My go to for an older baby was the Muslin blanket.
A role of thumb is to always dress your baby in one more layer than you are wearing. Remember, you will be hiking and generating heat while a baby will not be.
Make sure you check the weather for the whole time you are expecting to be out. Early morning temperatures could be colder than later morning temperatures.
Always bring a change of clothes for your little one, babies are notorious for blow outs that leave the diaper and travel up the back or down the legs ! If this happens to you, which it has for me multiple times, you will need to do a full baby change on your hike.
Babies under 6 months old shouldn’t wear sunscreen. The best sun protection for a baby is clothing. For a baby’s head a sun hat should be worn on a hike exposed to the sun.
Make sure to check on How to Dress a Baby or Toddler for a Hike for a complete guide.
When your baby is able to hold their heads up and is more than 16 lbs you will want to upgrade to a hiking backpack.