Gear Up for Hiking with a Baby

Studies from the Children and Nature Network have found that the more children have contact with nature, the greater the mental and physical benefits. But, without the right gear, you won't be going much further than your own backyard. Here's what you need to get outside and go hiking with your baby.

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Buy BPA-Free Sippy Cups

You never leave home without spare sippy cups, and they're even more important on an outdoor excursion. However, Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly used to harden the material of items such as sippy cups and water bottles is known for causing hormone level disruption and brain problems, among other things. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are most disruptive to children and infants.

While not every study has found BPA to be dangerous in the small amount it's used, purchasing BPA-free sippy cups will give you peace of mind. Ask your local retailer about their selection of BPA sippy cups and water bottles.

Use a Rugged Carrier

If your little one isn't walking quite yet, a rugged carrier will keep you and your baby comfortable during the hike. There are a variety of carriers on the market that range from minimalistic to multi-purpose. For a short hike, for example, you may only need a simple wrap carrier to keep your tyke tucked in tight.

However, longer hikes will require more supplies and storage space. Look for a multi-purpose carrier with a built-in backpack, which provides space and storage in a compact design.

Despite which style you need, there are a number of accessories to consider that can provide more storage options and improve baby safety. These include:

-Rain and sun hood
-Bottle holder
-Padded insert for smaller babies

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Practice Proper Sun Protection

While it's imperative to protect your child from the sun, sunscreen can be dangerous for babies under 6 months. If you're hiking with a newborn, the FDA suggests that you dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers their entire body: think, long-sleeved shirt, long pants and wide brimmed hat. A small amount of 15 SPF sunscreen or lower can be applied sparingly, but is not recommended.

Children over 6 months can, and should, wear sunscreen in addition to a wide brimmed hat. Sunscreen for your little one should be:

-30 SPF
-UVA and UVB protecting
-Applied every two hours

Despite the age of your baby, hiking in the early morning is always best. Avoid trekking midday, when the sun is at its hottest.

Make a Baby-Friendly First-Aid Kit

Though an accident is unlikely, it's always better to err on the side of safety when you plan to hike with a baby. To create a kid-friendly first-aid kit, start with a standard kit and add baby-specific medicines, as well. Some things to have on hand:

-Liquid pain reliever
-Hydrocortisone
-Baby Benadryl
-Diaper rash cream
-Ipecac syrup

Not only do children benefit from time in nature, but there are few better places to bond with your baby than on the trail. And, once you're outfitted with the right gear, you'll both be prepared to make the trek.

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About the Author

Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

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