Take a Hike! 10 Tips for Hiking with Your Family This Winter

“The weather always looks worse from the inside looking out!”

boys-pushing-stroller-fall-hike

On an ominous-looking day–whether it’s raining or snowing–once I get out and go on a hike, I’m always glad I did. Maybe it’s because I feel a sense of freedom when I’m exploring with my little one on a tough day, or maybe it’s because my son has so much fun stomping around in huge, muddy puddles.

The first step is finding the motivation, and then you just have to go for it! Here are my top ten tips for making the most of the bad weather by getting out there and taking a hike:

  1. Gear matters. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a crying baby on a hike because they just aren’t dressed appropriately. While it may seem crazy to spend top dollar on baby gear since they grow out of it so quickly, I encourage you to invest in the right stuff. Shop secondhand or borrow from friends who may be holding on to gear for a second baby. When you buy new, consider quality as your top priority. Trust me–if it’s cheap, your child will feel the difference.

  2. Take cover! Look for trails with covered areas. Whether it’s a nature center to warm up in after a hike or a shop where you can stop in for a snack. A covered area can be a great place to wait out a passing storm and a way to extend  your hike or outside time longer.

  3. Go with friends. Babies and kids will have more fun outside in rainy or snowy weather if they have a buddy to share the adventure with. Call a friend or find a group like Hike it Baby in your area

  4. Plan it! If you see bad weather blowing in, make sure you have a plan for how long you will be out and where you are headed. Let someone know where you’ll be in case of an emergency, and also have your phone close at hand.

  5. Bring layers. If your kiddo gets wet, he or she can get cold quickly. Make sure to bring a bonus layer in case your child needs to change. A wool or polyester first layer is usually the best choice. Cotton, on the other hand, tends to soak up any perspiration, rain or snow.

  6. Function over fashion. There’s a time and place for your kiddo to be cute.  On stormy days, choose functionality over style, and save the fashion for sunny weather.

  7. Get creative. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to keep your little ones warm. When Mason was a baby, I had a pair of cashmere socks given to me one Christmas that never fit. Cashmere is incredibly warm, so those socks became leg warmers for my son during winter hikes. I would put them over a layer or two of clothes to keep his little legs and toes extra cozy.

  8. Embrace the mud puddles. You might have to change every stitch of clothing when you get to the car (I always keep an extra outfit for Mason in the car–including an extra jacket!), but your child will cherish the memories of playing in mud puddles together.

  9. Pay attention to weather. Make sure you recognize the weather patterns in your area. During Colorado summers, lightening storms can creep up quickly on empty hillsides. In Oregon, we have rain that blows in quickly and can turn from drizzle to downpour in seconds. Weather isn’t something to be afraid of, but you should still be cautious, especially with your little one in tow. Check the storm warnings, make sure you have a full tank of gas, and monitor cell reception throughout your adventure.

  10. Bribes are legit. Hunger or wet diapers can shift your child’s mood from happy to cranky during a hike. Feed your little ones before heading out and have a quick snack or drink close by. My son enjoys chamomile tea with honey on our rainy-day journeys.

Remember that getting outside in the dead of winter or the midst of the rain is challenging for everyone, so you are not alone if you find yourself making excuses. Try to quiet those inner voices, push on, and get out there. You’ll be happy you did.

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