I remember the days when our son was so small I could carry him anywhere. Up mountains, through valleys, as many kilometers as I could physically manage. Then one day, he became a toddler and infant-carrying became more of a challenge. With his own personality and mindset, we set a new pace. This is a challenging time because you are stuck in a limbo between what you want to do, and what you can do. Not only is he too heavy for me to carry in our pack, he wants to walk himself. Are the mountain summit days over? Not necessarily. It’s just more of a process and I can only do these hikes on weekends when my husband is available to come so he can do most of the toddler carrying in a pack.
We started hiking with our son when he was only 4 weeks old. Of course, we started on simpler hikes as I wanted to allow my body the time it needed to heal postpartum. We wanted him to be comfortable in the hiking carrier so we could continue our lifestyle as much as possible. And there is something magical about sitting on a mountain side breastfeeding your babe. This worked until he started walking a week before his first birthday. By 16 months, he summited his first solo hike up tunnel mountain in Banff. Now, at 2.5 years old, we do mostly toddler pace hikes set around 4 km round trip and mostly flat. If we are up for the challenge, it takes some push and pull to do a hike more suitable to us.
Here’s how we manage:
- -bring the carrier even if that means a lot of stop and go as your toddler wants in and out
-bring a massive variety of snacks, including treats for bribery
-put the water bladder in the carrier as most kids think sitting and drinking through the large straw is very exciting
– we play a lot of hide and seek! This is where either mom, dad, or Jaxon run ahead and hide in trees or bushes to keep the pace moving. Otherwise we stop and pick up A LOT of sticks and rocks. Most times we pretend not to see Jaxon and walk past him so he can sneak up behind us to roar like a bear, this may get you another 10 ft or so.
– we play a lot of “Mommy’s coming!” where I chase daddy and Jaxon (in the carrier)
-accept that melt downs will probably happen and you may have to turn around early. We’ve all been there.
No matter what activity you are doing, this limbo stage is difficult. They want their independence but still need to rely on you for so many things. But it is doable. And their reaction at the top when they sit for that split second and say “wow, what a beautiful day” is so worth it. Easy for me to say…It’s not my shoulders burning in the end anymore ?