One of the most often asked questions I get is, can I hike with a newborn? The answer is not a clear Yes or No. Here’s why!
Can I hike With a Newborn?
We all love hiking, or else we would not even be asking this question! So is it okay to hike with a newborn baby? Must you give up hiking if you have a newborn?
There are a few things to consider:
- What kind of hike? We all have different definitions of what hiking is. For some of us, hiking is mountaineering…climbing high peaks. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those that consider a walk on a flat, asphalt paved “trail” a hike. This is where solid judgement comes into play. If you can take a regular stroller on the paved road, then the answer is an easy YES! If you will be walking on uneven trails where you could lose your balance, which is very easy to do with a newborn baby in a chest baby carrier, then NO! It is definitely not worth it because slipping with a newborn is just plain unsafe.
- Mommy, how do you feel? After giving birth, women need some time to let their bodies heal. Most of us aren’t ready for any exercise for a few days, and from there can be gradually added back in. Starting out with a baby in the stroller on a paved path in the first few days after birth is reasonable. Personally, I started taking walks a few days after my baby was born. Then I gradually added in longer stroller walks in the first couple of months. Only after that did I get comfortable taking Hiking Baby on flat, well traveled dirt trails. However, listen to your body. Mommy knows best and all of us heal differently!
- Is your hike well shaded? Are you hiking in the peak of mosquito season? Think about the baby’s temperature. Babies, particularly newborns, have a difficult time regulating their body temperature. Therefore, a hike that is in the shade is better because you can always add a blanket to your baby in the stroller. However, a hot sunny hike with a baby in a stroller is a recipe for a hot baby “cooking” underneath the sun protective layers of the stroller/infant car seat insert. Obviously this is not good, and if you live in a hot climate, aim to take your walk/hike early in the morning. The hottest time of the day tends to be mid afternoon (3-4pm), so try for a morning walk if possible. If the weather is chilly, then make sure your baby is clothed in layers and that you have a blanket handy.
- Use a car seat canopy. In hot climates, avoid using the stroller cover and get a breathable, lightweight cotton car seat canopy. I use a Balboa Baby Car Seat Canopy, and it allows Hiking Baby to be comfortable. He stays cool, and I can easy position it to protect him from the sun or open it so he can look out and enjoy the sights of nature!
At about six months of age, or once your baby can sit and hold his or her head up, then you can graduate from stroller walks to backpack style child carriers and head for more adventurous trails! Until then, be cautious, protect your baby from the sun (doctors don’t recommend using sunscreens until at least 6 months of age) More to come on that in a future article.
Have fun and happy trails!