From the second I found out I was going to be an aunt to a little boy, I knew I was going to want to take him on hikes with me. Before he was even born, I was already buying him a little onesie that said “Auntie’s hiking buddy”. I would look at it and dream about when he was going to be big enough to wear it on a hike with me. Just recently, the time for that to happen finally came. I put him in his cute hiking onesie, loaded him up, and went on a hike. Now, this wasn’t his first hike overall. I actually took him on one with my family for my birthday when he was a few weeks old. However, this time, it was just the two of us – an auntie-nephew hiking date.
This hike was very different this time around. For starters, it was just me in charge of him. I had no help whatsoever. Second, he was a lot bigger, and I couldn’t just carry him in my arms like I did the first time. I will be honest, I literally decided to take him on a hike spur of the moment and went and did it that day. I didn’t read any tips and tricks on what I should do, how I should do it, what to bring, or anything like that. So, these are a few easy things I learned while hiking with a baby as an aunt. Keep in mind, I am only his aunt, so you may have different views or opinions if you’re looking from a parent perspective.
Bring a Baby Carrier
Going into this hike, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to carry my nephew in my arms like I didthe time before. He was way heavier, and I didn’t have anyone I could switch off with if he got too heavy or if I got too tired. Honestly, I tried to convince myself that I could carry him, but, on the way to the state park, I decided to just stop in Walmart and buy a carrier.
The carrier backpack that I chose was one that transitions from an infant to a toddler, meaning they could be worn on the front or in the back. For my nephew, he probably could have still been worn in the front, but I knew that he would put a strain on my back being in that position, so I chose to put him the other way. This worked great for us, and ultimately was the safest option for us both.
Personally, for the distance I choose to go on hikes, getting an overly expensive carrier wasn’t necessary. Plus, being his aunt, I’m not going to use it frequently so splurging on a huge pack is a bit much. Instead, I just looked at Walmart’s selection and chose the one I thought would be most comfortable and useful for us both. Now, if you plan on doing long hikes, a more expensive one made for hiking is probably your best option. Regardless of what carrier you would want or choose, I definitely recommend at least getting one. It truly was super helpful. My nephew was able to sleep the whole time, while my arms and hands had the freedom to be used.
When it’s just me hiking alone, I usually never take breaks because my hikes aren’t long enough to really need one. However, taking my nephew, I made sure to have at least one break. The trail we went on was 4 miles, and I knew that about halfway through, there was going to be an old campsite with a bench made out of logs that we could rest at. So, we did exactly that. Once we reached the campsite, I didn’t just sit and rest with him still on my back. I made sure to take the carrier off and get him out, so that he could have a break too. This gave me time to rest my back for the climb back up to the car, and he could stretch his legs since they have to stay in one position in the carrier. If you’re like me and don’t take breaks, remember, it’s best to take one and check on baby just to be safe and to let your body rest. Carrying an extra 20 pounds is no joke.
Feed and Change Baby Before Hiking
Before we hiked, I made sure my nephew was full and had a clean diaper. That way, I didn’t have to take his diaper bag with us and worry about him needing a bottle or diaper change. Keep in mind, the trail we did was only 4 miles, which took us about an hour and a half. If you plan to do a longer one and your baby drinks bottles, I would consider packing at least one. It would be horrible to be in the middle of a hike with a hungry, cranky baby.
Keep Checking on Baby
Pretty early on in the hike, my nephew fell asleep, which is perfect. However, his neck was in a weird position in the carrier. While it looked odd, I don’t believe it was dangerous. I just made sure to check on him and reposition him if I felt that it was necessary. I would also turn my phone’s camera on and watch to see how he looked while I was moving, so I could see if his head was bouncing too much or anything like that. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Watch for Limbs
While we can duck and move out of the way for limbs, we have to make sure we’re doing the same for the baby we’re carrying. What we move out of the way for, may still be headed straight towards them without us knowing. Just remember to be extra cautious and aware. Go slower if necessary. For me personally, I would be extra careful and really watch my foot placement so that I knew I wouldn’t trip going up or slide going down. Again, it’s way better to be safe than sorry.
While there’s more things I could list, like being sure to dress them appropriately for the weather, these are the major ones I came up with as his aunt. This hike went so smooth, and it was lots of fun. I definitely have more hikes planned out in the future. Hopefully, this was a little helpful whether you’re an aunt, uncle, mom, dad, or whoever taking a baby on a hike.