HIKE IT BABY! Reasons To Get Your Baby Outside

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By Allison Barfield

Shanti Hodges has been an inspiration to thousands across the United States, and it started with her wanting friends in a new city! She invited three new friends on a hike with her newborn and their children. By the end of the month, the group grew to nearly 20 people. She saw the group growing rapidly and decided to do something about it. Hodges had witnessed groups such as these fall apart after a few months and wanted to make sure this would never happen for the new parents she had grown to be friends with. She quickly named the group Hike it Baby, and soon after she started their first newsletter!

Hike it Baby — where parents can enjoy nature

Within three years, the group has become a tremendous success. Hike it Baby has more than 180,000 participating families, with over 300 branches spanning across the United States. The group features over 4,000 different trails for families to meet at and hike together. Though there are many trails to explore, the group reminds people that the group’s purpose is to build a community, not just get a workout. This is where you are able to find your people — a support system for parents going through the same new struggles and happiness of parenthood. With the movement growing, Hodges is trying to find as many trails as possible to keep from overcrowding current trails. She states, “Nature itself is disrupted when we go into it.” Keeping groups small makes the experience more intimate for parents and their children.

Benefits of hiking with baby

Hiking is also a beneficial time for mom and baby. Hodges assumed she would go through postpartum depression after having her baby, but she found hiking helped keep her focused and moving forward. Hiking releases endorphins, and the activity soon became like therapy. It allowed Hodges and her baby to bond and become closer and gave her more energy to get through the day. Research has also found that time outside is good for babies — fresh air promotes early language development and healthy sleep patterns.

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How to prepare

Hodges offers tips for first timers as well as for experienced adventurers on her website. Here are some tips to help you get started:
? Modify the hike — keep your family’s ability in mind and adjust the length/intensity of the hike to meet your needs.
? Be prepared — don’t forget to pack diapers!
? Pack healthy snacks, small toys, or something to keep the infants and children entertained on breaks.
? Most importantly, hike with friends in the beginning. Keep safety a priority — friends will be able to help if there are any hiccups the first couple times out on the trail.

Hiking and being outdoors and beneficial for everyone involved. It brings parents closer to nature and their newborn. Bringing older siblings along to have them feel included is great for building a stronger family as well. Look to invite new families or old friends along to have a tighter support system for one another. There are so many benefits to immersing yourself in nature, and the opportunity to bond with your family is one of the best benefits of all.

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Multiple Contributor at | Website

Allison Barfield began blogging after receiving her Media Arts degree from the University of South Carolina and quickly followed the call of the mountains to Asheville, North Carolina, where she fully embraced hiking, nature, and landscape photography.

Currently, her writing for Aeroflow Breastpumps includes advocating for and helping breastfeeding women through the means of education and helpful tips, including a variety of articles on how to successfully introduce baby to the great outdoors.

When Allison isn’t writing and can’t play outside, you can find her indulging in her coffee addiction as a Netflix enthusiast or totally nerding out with a video game.

74 thoughts on “HIKE IT BABY! Reasons To Get Your Baby Outside

  • December 16, 2018 at 11:17 am
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    This is an useful article. Hiking with baby can be difficult but this article definitely contains some useful points.

    Thanks!!

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  • May 22, 2018 at 1:30 am
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    While it’s a nice idea on paper, I don’t think I can make it. My back and my knee are already complaining with my own body weight, so I don’t think I can still go out hiking with my kids. I know the little one will ask either my husband or I to carry her at some point and I can’t do that anymore 🙁

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    • May 22, 2018 at 7:07 pm
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      I hope your knee and back feel better soon. It’s best to never go past your limits. Smaller children usually do need to be carried on trails, so that’s a great point to consider.

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  • May 17, 2018 at 4:52 pm
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    Wow…this sounds so good. Hiking with baby is new to me. I am sure that it have opened new ways to travel with babies and enjoy nature like never before. Quite an interesting way to explore. Loved reading about it.

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    • May 22, 2018 at 7:51 pm
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      It will bring a lot of new activities for baby too. The key to success is to be prepared and to take things slow.

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  • May 17, 2018 at 11:53 am
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    I am a hiker myself and know the benefits of hiking. However, I didn’t know that hiking keeps post pregnancy depression. That’s really wonderful to know, even though I have no plans to have kids 😛

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  • May 16, 2018 at 10:32 pm
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    What a lovely post. I love hiking with my friends and being outdoors. It is very refreshing and liberating. I would love to continue doing it once I start my own family and building new memories.

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    • May 22, 2018 at 7:52 pm
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      Starting a new business can be really time consuming! I hope you find time to relax with a few day sin the woods here and there!

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  • May 16, 2018 at 9:42 pm
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    This is such a cool idea. I can see where it would help with post pardom depression for sure. It’s always good to get out and be active.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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      Each of my hikes starts off with a deep breath full of relief! I love letting the woods take my stress away.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 7:26 pm
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    Wow! Hike it baby are so awesome; being able to build such a massive group is no joke! Well, it’s worth appreciating. Anyway, hiking with the baby sounds very sweet. It is so important for baby development yet good for bonding. I just love it!

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    • May 22, 2018 at 7:53 pm
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      New moms and babies could use all the support they can get. Hopefully the hiking community is a good place to find it.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 6:23 pm
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    My husband loves the outdoors. He feels so refreshed when we spend time in nature. The pictures of you hiking with your baby brought back sweet memories.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 1:39 pm
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    It’s so great she was able to transform a desire to get out there and hike and connect with people into such a large platform. I am sure it must have been very gratifying when she realized so many people loved doing it together. And yeah, a newsletter always helps with the growth end.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:17 pm
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      The network of support being created among outdoor enthusiasts is great. I can’t wait to see more babies on the trails.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm
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    Getting babies out and about as much as possible is important. I tried to do that when my kids were babies and even more now that they are busy toddlers.

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  • May 16, 2018 at 6:48 am
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    When my toddler was small, every Saturday we went to the forest, hiking or walking along the riverbank. I miss that time!

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  • May 16, 2018 at 3:41 am
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    This is awesome! I love to hike with my daughter but she only goes when there are other children around and sometimes my friends with kids aren’t available. I’m really excited to learn about this group. I will have to look it up now.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:19 pm
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      How old is she? Soon she will appreciate nature for it’s calming qualities and it won’t matter if a friend comes or not, hopefully!

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  • May 15, 2018 at 11:27 pm
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    This is awesome! As a new mommy, I find this so inspiring.
    I’ve taken my baby to a couple of trips so far, but never a hike.
    I’m still not mentally prepared to hike with her.
    I really should take my gal on a hike. Its time to saw the wild side of nature!

    Reply
    • May 22, 2018 at 7:58 pm
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      Hiking with baby definitely depends on when Mom is ready! carrying them as well as all of their supplies can be exhausting. It’s good to enlist the help of friends or family members during baby’s first hike.

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  • May 15, 2018 at 6:49 pm
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    I think it’s great to get out and about with babies. I don’t have anywhere here I can do that but I did take mine for walks in the pushchair as often as possible when they were young.

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  • May 15, 2018 at 6:02 pm
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    I wish that I knew about this 10 years ago when I actually had a baby to go camping with! I was always afraid of not being able to carry my littles on a long hike. Looks like you guys have a lot of fun!

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:21 pm
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      Knowing your limits is always a good thing. Babies and their supplies are heavy, so it’s usually good to enlist the help of a family member or friend on the trails.

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  • May 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm
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    Love this post and it’s so true. I’m going to date myself here but my parents would pack up the little ones and we would hike long camping and hiking trips every summer when I grew up 30 years ago. That was when the baby hiking packs were not near as cushy and comfortable as they are today. and we all grew up with a love for the outdoors, hiking and camping. Awesome tips for someone getting into it.

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    • May 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm
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      Camping then and now is definitely interesting to think about. That’s awesome that your family got to really benefit from being in nature.

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  • May 15, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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    I am not much into hiking. I only like to do it when I visit the national parks. But your blogpost and the baby is very motivating. I will try to add the places near my city to my hiking list. Very well written 🙂

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:22 pm
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      Zoos and nature venters are great places to start. They provide a lot to look at during long walks with baby

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  • May 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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    you can’t imagine how much I envy kids when taken around on the back of a trekking mom or dad! it must be so diverting and relaxing for them

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  • May 15, 2018 at 11:01 am
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    Sounds a great experience and nice outdoor activity with your young ones. The fact that they were able to feel the fresh air and to see the beautiful nature, you are able to create a great bonding moment for your baby.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:26 pm
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      Connecting with your child over something you both love when they’re so young is an incredibly special experience.

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  • May 15, 2018 at 6:27 am
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    What an awesome way to spend some time outside with your baby! I think it’s going to be good for them and their health as well. Exposing them to the great outdoors can boost their immune system. Plus it’s a great way to be active for the parents!

    Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 11:57 pm
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    I have heard about this and love your post because soon I’ll have a little one out and this was always one of my ideas of things to do as an adventure with him!

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  • May 14, 2018 at 10:07 pm
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    When my sons were younger my, then husband now ex-husband, and I used to hike all of the time. We had a really awesome hiking backpack too, I have a few photos somewhere of those days. IT’s so much fun and certainly a great way to encourage a love of the outdoors and being active!

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  • May 14, 2018 at 8:50 pm
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    Wow! This is so innovative and a great initiative. I didn’t know hiking with the baby has medical benefits. These are really great tips for new parents. I’ll be sharing it with all my friends who are parents. A great way for bonding with the nature and bonding with the family at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm
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      There are definitely benefits for the whole family. I hope they get out there soon now that summer is here!

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  • May 14, 2018 at 8:42 pm
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    Great reasons! We love getting outdoors as a family, it’s so important to keep active from a young age too!

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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      Nature is a great way to teach healthy, life long habits at a very young age. It may help the parents develop healthier lifestyles too!

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  • May 14, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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    I’ve seen parents hike with their babies and it always looks like so much work, but also so much fun at the same time. Also, it might instill an appreciation for nature in the child.

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  • May 14, 2018 at 4:58 pm
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    What a great way to get out and workout for mums. Hiking is amazing

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:48 pm
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      Baby will learn to love nature and relax at the same time while mom gets to chill out too!

      Reply
  • May 14, 2018 at 4:42 pm
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    Sounds like an awesome group! I am glad that Shanti was able to get this group started. I think many mothers of young children should participate in this. Not only will they be able to bond with other moms, but this can be a good bonding time between mother and child(ren) as well!

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:51 pm
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      It’s a great opportunity to build a network of support for new mothers and for children to learn about the wonders of nature.

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  • May 14, 2018 at 3:45 pm
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    This sounds like a great idea and something different to do! So many people give up on doing things they love when they have kids so why not incorporate both things!

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:53 pm
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      Having kids doesn’t mean it’s time to give up your hobbies, it just means that you now have more stuff to carry, haha!

      Reply
  • May 13, 2018 at 11:21 am
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    What a great group for parents to get motivated and inspired to get out there with the kids! And its not all about the excercises but also about meeting new people with the similar interest…hiking with kids! Ever since our daughter was a baby we have been hiking almost every weekend ( we live in Switzerland)! Keep it up Shanti and I hope Hike it baby get even more members!

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:55 pm
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      Wow your hiking spots must be beautiful. Do you see a lot of other parents adventuring with their babies?

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  • May 13, 2018 at 4:07 am
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    What a brilliant initiative and I think the tips are amazing for parents hiking with their babies! It’s really nice to read that Shanti put the company together after she realized the benefits of hiking with her newborn and I can only imagine that it cannot be easy! To hike with a group of friends the first few times is stellar advice! Kudos to Shanti.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 1:57 pm
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      There are a lot of challenges with a baby’s first experiences, support is sometimes really needed!

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  • May 12, 2018 at 6:59 pm
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    This is such a great idea. What a way to teach them young! We carried our toddler in a backpack and the other on a hip. It’s a challenge, but it worked! 🙂

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  • May 12, 2018 at 6:38 pm
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    SO special that your little one gets to enjoy nature with you on these family outings! She’s going to grow up feeling so connected to our earth <3

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  • May 12, 2018 at 12:52 pm
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    Boy, does this bring back memories for me! We did a lot of hiking with our kids when they were tiny. My son’s first hike was when he was only 7 weeks old. That was the first time I felt up to it after a c-section. Nature is great for kids!!

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  • May 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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    My friend has tried hiking with her baby, and she says it was a crazy fun experience with her little one. Good thing she was armed with everything – from snacks to insect repellent.

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    • May 24, 2018 at 2:02 pm
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      Haha she was equipped with everything from cheerios to mosquito defense? I love it!

      Reply
  • May 12, 2018 at 9:42 am
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    This is a good list for parents who needed to bring along baby. With this, parents who wanted to bring their baby are able to hike confidently.

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  • May 11, 2018 at 10:35 pm
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    I’m not a mother, but I remember going on a family hike when my parents were in town. My sister and her husband came, along with their little girl. At first, I thought my sister was crazy, trying to hike with my little niece strapped to the front of her in one of those baby wraps. Little did I know, it was amazing for my sister to experience the hike with her daughter, and gave her reason to keep going and not stop on the mountain. It was amazing.

    Reply
    • May 14, 2018 at 12:29 pm
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      Wow, that sounds like an amazing experience. I hope you guys got a lot of great photos along the way.

      Reply

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