Tips & Tricks: Introducing Your Toddler to Hiking

Skritch-crunch, skritch-crunch We’ll help you get started with practical tips and tricks that’ll have your little ones hitting the trails with the rest of the fam before you can say trail mix!

Climb a mountain

Not so fast! Climbing a mountain starts with the first step, and it’s usually best to start small when introducing new activities to kiddos. Whether you want to visit every national park with your little explorer one day or just hit a local trail on the weekend, starting is easy.

First, introduce young children to the idea that just being outside is an exciting opportunity for fun. You can show them how an overturned rock can hide a mysterious bug kingdom, or imagine what birds talk about in the trees! The opportunities really are endless. Then, you might try spending an afternoon at your local botanical gardens and pointing out all the different plants and their colors. You can make this a rich sensory experience by showing your child the unbelievable variety of textures and smells of plants and flowers. Many botanical gardens even offer guided learning tours to teach everyone to identify the sweetest smelling plants and the itchy ones!

Once their outdoor imagination blossoms, it’s on to the next step.

Dress for success

Now that they’ve heard the call of the wild let’s get them outfitted for outdoor adventures! It may seem silly but consider this: grown-ups have work clothes, exercise clothes, fancy clothes, and, of course, hiking clothes – why shouldn’t kiddos? Plus, having their own special outfit and gear will get them excited about going outside.

You can start small with a tiny pair of hiking shoes and a lightweight backpack. The shoes will have little ones feeling like they can conquer every rock and root, and the pack will be precious cargo once you fill it with snacks and a few small toys! For smaller children, consider a waist pouch. The important thing is to make kiddos feel responsible. With their own pack they can carry a favorite snack or a toy to make breaktime a fun time! A small, simple toy is best. Our miniature Wooden Vehicles or Mini Monster Trucks are easy to hold on to and a great fit for any trail!

Finding the right level for little adventurers

Once your little adventurer is properly excited and equipped, the time is ripe to plan their first hike in the great outdoors. Of course, the first thing you’ll want to do is choose a trail your little one can handle. This means hiking a low-grade trail that climbs gradually and isn’t too steep or rocky. After all, you want to hike a path, not climb a mountain! And just because you aren’t going straight up doesn’t mean your family expedition won’t be rewarded with a breathtaking view at the trail’s summit.

In fact, building anticipation for the panoramic view of golden foliage is a great way to motivate junior hikers. You can even sweeten the pot by promising an extra special summit snack! The summit is also a great place to take an extended break before heading back down.

Finally, don’t be afraid of stopping for short rests on the way up (or down). There’s so much to see, feel, and smell along the trail, so there’ll never be a dull moment. Here’s a quick recap of our tips and tricks:

  1. Start small: create an interest in the outdoors.
  2. Gear up: get kiddos their own special hiking shoes or bag.
  3. Take it slow: begin with an easy trail, take breaks, and reward kids for reaching the summit!

That’s it! You’re all set to take the first step toward reaching new summits with the whole family this fall, thanks to the newest happy hiker. What outdoor adventures are you excited to introduce to the kiddos? Let us know @battattoys.