Simmone Lyons is a Whistler local, mountain bike athlete, avid snowboarder, hiker, and relatively new Mom to Bryson. Simmone, her partner Brian, and their baby Bryson joined us at Whitecap this summer for a private 4 day backcountry hiking trip. We were amazed at how well baby Bryson handled the long hiking days and asked Simmone to share her baby hiking tips with us for future reference. Please note that infants are more than welcome at the lodge on private lodge buyouts. However, due to the dynamics of mixed group hiking trips, we cannot accommodate children under the age of 6 on these trips.
Hiking with a Baby
Yes, I took my 11 month old to Whitecap Lodge. At first thought you probably think I’m crazy for taking my baby into the high alpine for a backcountry hiking experience. However, like everything involving your little loved one, with a little planning and organisation it is actually very easy and such a wonderful experience to enjoy the beautiful backcountry as a family. Prior to having our little guy, Bryson, my partner and I loved hiking and exploring BC. It became a key part of our life and having a child hasn’t changed our passion for the outdoors. We now just do it as a family of 3.
While we love taking Bryson hiking, there are a few tricks we have learned along the way to keep the whole family happy. Read below for some of my baby hiking tips that will make your adventures a little smoother.
Choose a Comfortable Baby Carrier
Getting the right carrier is definitely the most important decision before venturing out on a hiking trip. Up until 6 months old you are probably likely to go with a front carrier, but from there on it’s time to find a proper hiking carrier. There are lots of options out there but my advice is to choose a carrier made by experts in the backpack field and avoid the baby brand version. My personal choice is the Deuter Kid Comfort, a quality bag with lots of features, but most importantly it is comfortable when you are carrying a 22lb baby for 8 hours. Key features I find are most important when choosing your bag:
- Sun/rain protection for your little one to protect them from the elements
- Lots of storage – kids need lots of stuff
- Comfortable for you, remember you have to carry your baby all day
- Easily adjustable – it’s highly likely you will be swapping between parents who carry the baby and chances are you’re not the same height
- Hip pockets – I know it seems odd, but having quick easy access to snacks for yourself without having to take off your carrier is key.
Once you have your chosen bag, make sure you go on some small hikes to get used to the carrier and make all the adjustments to suit your needs.
Depending on the time of year you are hiking, you may be sharing the backcountry with a variety of bugs. Protecting your baby (who doesn’t have the ability to swat bugs away) is crucial. The best method I have found is to bring a quality bug net that is designed to go over a stroller. Once I have my little one set up in the carrier I then put on the sun shade and put the bug net over the sun shade and wrap it around the entire bag so it covers their feet as well.
When I stop to nurse I try to find somewhere with a breeze so there are less bugs. When that isn’t possible, I use a full bug jacket in an extra large size. Not only does this jacket stop me getting bitten, but I can put my baby underneath the jacket as well so I can nurse him without bugs biting him.
Throw your schedule out the window
Many parents have their babies on a fairly set schedule. However, when it comes to alpine hiking I recommend forgetting about this for a few days. Yes, you want to try and stick to it as much as possible, but being flexible is key to everyone enjoying their trip. Our little one usually has one 30 minute morning nap and a 2 hour lunch nap. However, I find in the carrier he will usually only sleep for around 1 hour at a time so I aim to make sure he has a total of 2.5 hours of naps spread out throughout the day.
I find that setting off on our hike around 30 minutes before our baby’s first nap works great. Once he is settled in he will have a nap, usually for around an hour. When he wakes up , if he is happy and content we just keep hiking. Usually we will get another hour in and then aim for a break to get him out and let him play and feed. We then repeat that cycle for the rest of the hike. We always aim to be back at camp before his dinner for the night.
Snacks and more snacks
Yes snacks and lots of snacks. You’ve heard it before but here are a few key tips that I find make for a happy day of hiking.
- Snacks for your baby that can easily be hand fed either by you or your baby make it a lot easier, steamed veggies, pasta or little mini burgers.
- Find your make your child a happy snack, for us it has always been rice teething rusks. When you only have 30 minutes left to hike and your child has almost had enough, we find giving our baby a rice rusk to chew on as we hike helps us get to the finish line without an additional stop.
- Snacks on hand for mom, especially key if you are still breastfeeding. The combination of breastfeeding and hiking will require lots of calories to keep your energy levels up. Have a quality trail mix in the hip pocket of the carrier so I could constantly snack made sure I could make it through a full day of hiking.
Being able to finish your hike at Whitecap lodge and have a delicious meal cooked for you really was a treat and enabled us all to enjoy some relaxation and get our baby ready for bed without having to stress about cooking dinner.
Having the opportunity to enjoy a backcountry hiking adventure with your baby is truly an incredible experience. Yes it is a little more work when you have a baby but is so wonderful that you won’t even notice. These are memories that will live on forever and I promise when you get back from that first adventure you will be researching your next trip before you have even unpacked.