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Bushwalking with 2-year-olds

Bushwalking with 2-year-olds

March 06, 2018

Older your toddlers are "the ratio of carrying to hiking" shifts more towards the latter. They want to toddle, get messy and burn their almost unlimited energy. Your adaptability is the key and bushwalking will be fun.

Many 2-year-olds are approaching 14 kg, which is a lot of weight to carry, so it helps to have a plan in place. Their little legs will get tired, sometimes after a kilometre, often sooner, because they want to explore small areas in great detail. The more exciting trail you choose, more fun all of you will have.

 Tips for bushwalking with toddlers
  •    Sneakers with soft sole are perfect; boots are too rigid for small feet
  •    Change to the spare clothes only when you have to.
  •    Look for relatively hazard-free areas where you can let them freely explore
  •    Always pack spare clothes and socks, food, sunscreen, water
  •    Take their favourite water bottle to encourage drinking
  •    Get your toddler a small pack to carry something lightweight

Teach them young

Start with short Grade 1 walks and over the time progress to a day trip on more interesting tracks with higher grades. You might be surprised how well toddlers can navigate through rocky terrain and climb over fallen branches. Just stay close if they ask for help and let them build their confidence.

Bushwalking is not just fabulous exercise, but also a fantastic learning opportunity. Talk to your child, encourage him to spot wildlife and play with whatever he is up to.

Pick the right trail

Toddlers who barely started to walk will be challenged enough on Grade 1 trails where you can even push a pram along. Just running on boardwalks will be entertaining. Confident walkers can progress to Grade 2 trails with gentle hill sections and occasional steps, and by the time your child celebrates the second birthday, he can set off on Grade 3.

Short steep hill sections or rough surface, typical for Grade 3 hikes, might look scary, but trust them, and they will make it through. Just be sure that your child is safe and watch for steep edges and any hazards.

Plan a lot of brakes, so your child has enough time to play and explore. A 10 km long Grade 2 trail can easily become a day-trip with a few getting into and from a carrier and one decent sleep (in the carrier). But it is well worth it.

Gear up

Good hiking/walking shoes are a must, as you have to be stable when carrying your toddler. And you will carry them, sooner or later, it is not a question. Although you might lift your child on shoulders, having a backpack carrier is safer and more comfortable for everyone. You have free hands, your child can’t fell off, and if you have a good carrier, the weight distribution is ideal and doesn’t overstress your shoulders.

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