Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers
My husband and I have always loved to explore the outdoors; before having children, we had many outdoor adventures together. When I became pregnant with our son, we were told over and over that once he arrived, all our outdoor adventures would have to come to an end, at least for the first couple years. Oh, how those folks were wrong.
We were determined to continue our outdoor adventures and to share them with our little guy, and we weren’t willing to wait until he was “older.” He went hiking for the first time at 6-weeks-old and camping at 9-months-old. He has been on a 3-week road trip to the Pacific Northwest, camped for a week in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, spent 10 days camping in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, and we just got back from a 2 week trip to Glacier National Park. He has visited seven national parks and he’s barely 17-months-old!
Many people ask us, “How do you do it?” and “Isn’t it hard?” Actually, it’s really pretty simple. It just takes a little bit more gear, a little bit more patience and some additional planning.
Everything takes a bit longer to do with a little one. We plan our rest stops while traveling, as well as snack and stretch breaks while hiking. This helps keep us on schedule. The pace does get a bit slower with a toddler, and now that our son is walking he wants to do some of the hiking on his own little legs. We may move at a slower pace for now, but we’re thankful because it forces us to slow down and smell the roses.
We take a few things that make our lives easier while on the road. Before our son could sit up on his own, his Bumbo traveled everywhere with us. Once he became mobile we traded in the Bumbo for a pack-n-play. It keeps him safe while we work around camp and substitutes as a crib while staying in hotels or in a tent. We did buy a bigger tent to accommodate our larger family, a portable high chair, and we never leave for a trip without our kid carrier. Oh and let’s not forget the array of sippy cups, bibs, toddler utensils, toddler snacks, diapers, wipes and toys – can’t forget toys! Toys that keep him occupied in the car are especially critical.
You are probably thinking – WOW – that is a lot of stuff. Really, it isn’t. You need a tent whether you’re camping with kids or not, and one with extra space just makes things more comfortable. All the toddler specific stuff is small and can easily fit in one bag. The quantity of diapers and wipes you bring along will be determined by the length of your trip. A portable high chair is completely optional but very helpful.
We just returned from a 2 week camping trip to Glacier National Park and had so much fun with our son! We hiked 50+ miles, stayed two nights at the Granite Park Chalet , a backcountry chalet, and took him on his second boat ride. As with all our recent adventures, it required more planning, more gear, more patience and a bigger tent than pre-child outings.
We take our son on these adventures not only for him but for ourselves too. We enjoy sharing the wonders of the world with him and we hope that someday he will be tugging on our pant leg to get outside. Yes, it is more work but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the wonder and excitement in your child’s eyes as they discover new things in the great outdoors.
Melissa Edge is an outdoor enthusiast, runner, shopaholic, amateur chef and founder of www.adventuretykes.com. Her son is what inspired the creation of Adventure Tykes as a way to share her hours of research, experience and gear findings with other parents. Adventure Tykes motivates, excites and encourages others to get outside with their tykes no matter what their tykes age.
Featured photo by: Shutterstock