First Hike With The Little One

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First Hike With The Little OneEds Note: This is the first of a 3 part series on hiking with little ones. As first time parents we had numerous friends tell us (in a loving way) that we should get used to the idea that our hiking days are now behind us. As a family of two, we had always been into the outdoors and you'd usually find us every weekend or vacation somewhere on a mountaintop, trekking, hiking and climbing in the woods. That's what we were known for. And we had a family saying to prove that: "the couple that hikes together, stays together!" was what we always said to each other. Although I kept a very active lifestyle during the pregnancy, hiking 3-4 miles in the beautiful Northwest until my 39th week, those words got me thinking and I was wondering myself if we would still be able to do that once the baby came. We said to ourselves that we'll just have to wait and see, take one day at a time and so we did. Once the baby was born (via C-section although I really hoped and believed in a no medicated-natural-labor plan) it took a couple of weeks to get back on my feet and ready to enjoy the outdoors again. Well, after being cooped up in the house all that time, you can imagine how for an avid hiker that can lead to a pretty severe case of cabin fever, so although my doctor didn't quite clear me for hiking at three weeks post-partum, he also wasn't totally against it knowing how active I was throughout my pregnancy. While, I had been taking walks around the neighborhood every day during those first three weeks, the woods were calling and I had the insatiable need to get out adventuring again. Our first hike with our brand newborn was to the top of Multnomah Falls - the most magnificent and memorable 542-foot waterfall you'll ever see! Most tourist will advance up to the Benson Bridge, with a paved trail leading them there, but for me, that was more like a walk-in-the-park and I needed to reach the top to feel like I'm hiking again. Multnomah Falls Which we did successfully, with no health repercussion to myself or the baby and that's because we took our time to reach the top while the baby wooed and cooed and slept for the entire 2.6 miles round-trip duration of our hike. That being said, you're probably asking yourself ok so you did it but how do I choose the right trail? When will I know if my baby is ready to adventure out? Finding Child Friendly Trails You're best bet is sticking with close friends who will be sensitive to your recent birth or seek out groups like Hike It Baby. (Make sure you join the private Facebook group to really get in with the community and if there isn't a Hike it Baby in your area yet it's easy to form one) Going with parents that have already tried those trails and can give you excellent tips is smart. Do Your Research Before You Go You should always research the trail you're planning to take so you can prepare appropriately. But also be prepared to hit and miss because to some extent, you really won't know whether a hike is child-friendly or interesting for you until you get there. What may seem like an "easy" trail in a hike guide, may not be accounting for carrying 10-40 pounds of baby on your body. Keep it Short in the Beginning Our first hikes with our baby were anywhere between 1 to 3 miles round trip. We worked our way up from there. Because of our active life-style, my physical condition has always been great and I never shied away from a good workout. But remember you just had a baby so it's ok to take it easy. This is the one time in your life where a mile might be enough of a hike. Savor these slow walks. You're in charge of your own body and you need to be able to use common sense when you're out hiking so you don't over do it. Pay Attention to the Natural Elements What's the weather doing? Are you in an area that can shift quickly? Prepare for that. Bring rain gear, sun gear, bug gear. If there is a waterfall on the hike how close will you be getting to it and could you potentially end up a little damp on the hike? Is the hike in the trees or exposed. If it's exposed could there be lightening or wind? While these things might thwart some hikes, there are bound to be plenty of hikes where these things can be avoided. What to Look For in the Beginning 1. Open wide trails that are gentle and rolling and will make you feel confident, not discouraged. 2. Covered hikes like Tryon Creek in Portland for example offer lots of tree coverage which can protect you from rain and sun. 3. A bathroom or nature center is nice in case you need to change the baby or just take a break. Audubon Society in Portland has a great place for this. So does Eagle River Nature Center outside of Anchorage. 4. Trails with great scenery that will get you excited to be back out there! Look for something peaceful and beautiful like a bird sanctuary or a nature preserve that is quiet and will be nice for your new little one (who will most likely sleep through the hike. 5. Start with a trail that has people on it so you don't feel nervous about being out there alone. It's not your fault if every twig that falls or creepy person in the parking lot makes you worry. This is part of your new Mama bear emotional state. That mellows with time so just know that it's ok to start with a well traveled trail. Keep it simple and easy to start!   Anka is a full-time Portland, OR working mom that treasures the most the special moments spent outdoors with her husband and 15-month old son, Apollo. In weekends you will always find them hiking or biking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and later blog about their son's adventures on their personal blog:

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Tips for Joining or Leading a Hike for the First Time
Hike it Baby is so happy that Stephanie worked up the courage to lead her first hike! She has generously shared her story here with tips on how to make your first hike-leading experience one to remember fondly. Have you found other hiking friends on various social media like she has? If so, share the love and tell them all about Hike it Baby and how great it is to hike with us!   I’ve recently started leading hikes with Hike it Baby and I have to say I was very timid at first. While I can easily get out and do hikes on my own with my own children, I found it very intimidating at first to join a larger group with other moms and kids. More than one meltdown, not enough snacks, and weather conditions were all thoughts that passed my mind at some point. But after leading my first hike (and consequently experiencing meetups with other moms on the trail), I felt a better sense of community and was grateful that there are other moms out there who could relate to my same anxieties. Here are few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about joining other moms or groups on hikes with children so you can enjoy the experience and worry less. Add the hike to your calendar and set a reminder I’m the first to admit, I get caught up in planning the actual hike with other people that I tend to forget to even add to my calendar. Yikes, right? I’ve now made it a point to immediately add the hike to my calendar, even if someone may cancel or the hike needs to be postponed. I even add the event link or email as well for easy reference. Setting a reminder will give you enough time to prepare for your hike before it’s time to go. Prepare your gear and supplies the day before I’m a true advocate for preparation and getting things ready the day before. I try to pack up my carrier with extra snacks for us and others (in case someone forgets a snack or wants to share - which can be the case with kids!), fill my water bladder, and get out my socks and clothes the kids and I plan on wearing. I also do a weather check to see how the weather is going to be and make any last minute changes to wardrobe as needed. Remember there are other moms with children It’s real easy to get into the mindset that something is going to prevent you and your child from enjoying a hike in the presence of other moms and kids: tantrums, sleep deprivation, fussiness, and hunger are all ailments that might plague your experience. I had to train myself to know that these things will play a part in my experience because my kid is a toddler and that’s what toddlers do sometimes. But, staying focused on other moms and their children will allow you to enjoy the hike that much more and show your child that collaboration and meeting new friends can be fun. Do some group activities on the trail Hiking with kids is definitely challenging, especially if your child is getting at the age, like mine, where they want to explore more and be on their own. This is a great opportunity to do some fun activities that will keep your child interested throughout the duration of the hike. Exchange ideas with your new mom friends and kids as to what they’d like to do and take turns trying the activities out together as a group. Sharing is caring Having a variety of snacks on the trail has been one of the most successful tips that have worked for me when I’m on the trail in a group. I try to keep a bagful of snacks including granola bars, raisins, nuts, and fruit snacks. Everything is individually packed in case someone else would like to share in the snacking. Have your child offer some of their snacks to whomever wants. Know that there may occasional stops and breaks during the hike I always try to keep my expectations in check when hiking with other moms and kids. There will be some stopping and there will be some breaks for diaper changing, etc. Your pace by yourself is very different than when you’re in a group hiking. I like to check in with people throughout the hike and this makes us all feel more comfortable, knowing we aren’t racing to the end. As long as you commit to going at your own pace as a group, there won’t be any pressure to get done quickly. Besides, your kids feel that nervous energy and it will only make them anxious. Ways to connect with the outdoor community to get started The best ways to locate a group hike and join a hike with new friends are Social Media and Facebook Groups. I found Hike it Baby through Facebook and found friends to hike with from Instagram and previous posts. This is a great way to meet other moms who enjoy the same things you do without any fuss. I also connect with other moms who may hike with their kids and write blogs because they have many resources to branch out from and meet other moms that I may not know. Here are some resources and things to keep in mind when looking for kid-friendly hikes to join around you: Use Instagram for searching for hikes via photos Stroller Hikes Facebook Groups using search terms like “Best Hikes For Children (enter your city/region here)” Reach out to your local outdoor company and see if they have a blog or events calendar. Most hikes will be listed there. Check out a book at the library or look for library events highlighting kid-friendly/local hikes Stephanie Harper is a mother of four, avid hiker and runner. Follow her family adventures, recipes, and tips to inspire you to get outdoors more at
Pumping On Trail
Friday, August 1, 2014 Hike it Baby is doing a Big Latch On on Trail, so we thought posting this piece Anka wrote on pumping on trail came at excellent timing. Whether you bottle feed or breast feed, we thank your for working hard to keep your baby healthy. Picture this, a well beaten hiking trail in the middle of a vibrant forest leading to a beautiful tumbling waterfall and to the side of the trail, me and my best/most hated friend, the breast-pump. While our baby never latched on right from the beginning, the importance of feeding him breast-milk trumped over any inconvenience pumping full-time would have brought on. In those early months, I pumped as often as my baby would nurse. That meant every 2-3 hours day and night, around the clock. Going on our first hike at 3 weeks postpartum unleashed a few series of logistical preparations. Prior to the hike I would to pump in the car for half an hour, feed the baby and bring some leftover milk with us on the trail for a later snack.  Once back from the hike, I'd pump again in the car for another half an hour to provide the golden liquid to the baby and the cycle would go on and on. Needless to say, I would have rather preferred to be able to breastfeed, which comes quite handy on a longer trail, but unfortunately that was not my option so my choice was to make the best of what I had. And because hiking was always my passion, the ticket to adventuring again was  bringing the pump along on-longer-than-2-hours hikes. During my pumping days I gathered a number of tips and tricks for pumping while hiking, which I hope to come of some help to other moms. Get the right gear and prepare for everything While you're hiking, you're burning precious calories so in order to still be able to keep your milk supply, you've got to eat enough calories and fuel your body so you can fuel your baby. Also, drink water like it's going out of style — a minimum of half your body weight in ounces. Secondly, I needed a hand-free pumping bra so I can have my hands free for my baby. More often than not, he'd be right awake, awaiting his bottle and sometimes the milk would not flow down fast enough. More than anything a quality pump is a must and the external battery pack a have-to. While it's not as strong as the plug-in, it does the job while on-the-go. I also had the car adapter for pumping while driving to save time, whenever the time was right. Invest in multiple shields and holding bottles, so you don’t have to scrub your goods in the forest, or better yet under a waterfall. You can also say good-bye to soap and water altogether with the quick clean breast-pump & accessory wipes from Medela – pure genius and a pumping hiking mom's best friend. If you're hike is longer than two hours, you will need an extra ice pack and cooler to transport your milk home, unless you feed it to your baby right there and then. If you're anything like me, you might not care much about fashion while pumping,  but wearing the right cloths while hiking is very important. Make sure you are comfortable and have easy access to your 'treasures'. Also pack hand sanitizer, something to sit on (disposable diaper pads are perfect) and a nurse cover in your backpack. While pumping on-the-go can sometimes be a stressful experience, give yourself a break ahead of time. No matter how prepared you are, the time will come when you find yourself wondering what ever possessed you to go on a hike and pump in the first place. When this happens, remind yourself of the benefits your baby is getting from your milk, the fact that you're spending time outdoors and that it won’t always be like this. Looking back in retrospect, after having pumped for 10 months to exclusively breastmilk feed my baby, there wasn't one time that I've regretted choosing to pump on some lengthy trail with my baby by my side while we enjoyed our precious time outdoors. So go on mamas:  pump, breastfeed and be happy! Anka is a full-time Portland, OR working mom that treasures the most the special moments spent outdoors with her husband and 15-month old son, Apollo. In weekends you will always find them hiking or biking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and later blog about their son’s adventures on their personal blog: