We’re back with our hiking with babies and toddlers series. Today we answer a question from a reader about how we keep our toddler safe on the trails when he isn’t being carried in a backpack carrier.
Our 4 tips are:
1) Keep your toddler within reaching distance. We like to let our kid wander as far as we feel comfortable. This means on a wide open trail in a place without too many hazards he has more room to roam than on a trail over challenging terrain with more hazards. But, we never let our toddler wander so far that we can’t quickly grab him, even if we have to sprint for a second or two to reach him.
2) Keep your toddler where he/she can be seen. If I’m hiking solo, my kid walks right in front of me where I can see him. If we’re hiking with a group we like to keep the kids in the middle, between adults, so they can’t wander too far ahead of the group.
3) Dress kids and adults in bright colors. A lot of people will say it’s important to dress your kid in bright colors (if possible) so you can see him/her. I would argue that it’s just as important for parents to wear bright colors so that our kiddos can see us too!
4) Be aware of your surroundings. I don’t like to generalize or to treat each trail or hiking trip the same. A thin layer of ice can turn what is normally an easy trail where I’d let my kid wander into a challenging trail where I’d like him to hold my hand. So, the most important thing is to always be situationally aware and try to look at things from your toddler’s perspective.
I’m not going to go into things like what emergency equipment to pack in your toddlers pack and how to teach your child about survival, because honestly my 2 year old is a social guy who likes to be with the group. He doesn’t like to wander off…yet. These are things that we’re going to have to figure out next summer so stay tuned.
What safety tips do you have for hiking with toddlers?