Preparation

Preparation is not only about getting physically fit. On the contrary, mental preparation will play an important role on the enjoyment of your hike or your trek. 

4 topics will be discussed on this page:

  1. The mountain environment
  2. Know yourself and your kid;
  3. Know your group;
  4. How to expand your zone of comfort.

1. The mountain environment

Mountains are characterised by 3 main factors:

  • generally colder temperature throughout the year;
  • increased solar radiation;
  • decreased air pressure.

While these factors never really represented a problem for you, they may play an important role to the enjoyment for your little one, especially in the first months of life. Let's see why.

Colder temperature

Newborns lack the capacity to self-regulate their own body temperature. For this reason not only it is important to dress them adequately for the day, but also to constantly check their temperature.

If you are carrying them in the sling, for example, make sure they are not overheating with your own warmer body temperature when hiking uphill. 

If you are carrying your baby on a back carrier, are they warm enough? 

Check extremities; are feet warm or circulation has been cut off by the seating position? 

 



Increased solar radiation

 

It is not recommended to use solar cream on babies younger than 6 month old. Try to keep infants out of the sun, avoid exposure between 10am and 2pm when the ultraviolet rays are most intense. I hike with an umbrella for extra protection, but remember this won't protect you and your baby from reflective radiation. 

The use proper clothing is necessary. The hat should also cover the back on the neck, use long sleeve t-shirts and trousers and check the material capacity to reduce the skin´s exposure to solar radiation.  

Check this website for tips.



Decreased air pressure

Your baby's lungs are still developing and if you are hiking to a peak your baby may suffer from altitude sickness. This sickness is due to the lower amount of oxygen present in the air and the body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. It usually occurs at altitude higher than 2500 m a.s.l . (ps: altitude sickness affects adults as well! We recommend not to hike with your baby at altitude much higher than you are used to and comfortable with when you are with your little one!). 

Before hiking up high in a mountain it is always a good idea to talk to your paediatrician and ask for opinions. Infants can be fussy for different reasons, and it may be difficult to recognise altitude sickness. 



2. Know yourself and your kid

 

When preparing an excursion, there 3 main questions I ask myself to identify the boundaries of my own comfort zone.

Your physical limits

Test yourself before embracing in a trek!

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and sleepless night may have influenced what you were able to do. Be honest with yourself about your capacity, and always remember you are also responsible for your little one. 



Your mental limits

"The brain is the strongest muscle".

Know what your comfort zone is and avoid situations that will mentally test you (extreme cold? darkness? rain?). It is hard to lovingly care for your kid when you are being emotionally tested.



The limits of your kid

Not only because they also need to enjoy the trek, but also because pushing your kid over their limit may make them feel overwhelmed. Start easy and increase difficulty over time.

 



3. Know your group

There are 2 approaches to prepare a hike for a group:

1. Plan your hike. Assess clearly what are the skills needed to succeed, and invite only those people that meet all the qualifications; 

2. Create a group. Assess the overall group capacity, and plan a trek accordingly.

 

To assess the overall group capacity, you need to be aware of each team members physical and mental limitation, including both adults and kids.  We prepared a form to be filled to assess the overall team's capacity.

For guidelines on how to fill it, check out our blog on "Know your group"

Comments? Voices missing? We would love to hear your opinion! 


4. Expand your zone of comfort

I used to love testing my comfort zone. The adrenaline high, the sense of achievement and of feeling alive that comes with it.

But hiking with a kid created a whole new meaning for me. Not only did my comfort zone stop expanding, it imploded to the most basic level! My baby is so small and delicate, how can I be sure that I am not hurting him?

The following things worked well for me...

 


Improve your physical health

A part the healthy feeling I get when I'm exercising, knowing that I am physically stronger makes me feel confident that I will be able to overcome obstacles.



Know your kid

Understand your baby's needs and anticipate them before they start getting grumpy. If for example you know you want to feed him in a shelter, find one well ahead at time! A hike with a crying baby is not fun for anybody!



Test your gear

"There is not such a thing as bad weather, only bad clothing" (Scandinavian proverb).

Your gear (including clothing!) is your first ally for a safe and comfortable day outside! Be well aware of how it fits your purpose!

 



Allow extra time

Especially in winter, when it gets dark earlier, having some extra time can be very handy. Extra time is important in case problems arise, and to allow your kid to admire undisturbed whatever treasure she/he finds on the way (an ant? a leaf? a stone?). It is nice and relaxing not having to hurry....



Plan carefully

Spending time planning does not mean you will be fossilized on a plan you cannot change. On the contrary, knowing your territory means you have more room to spontaneously change your itinerary without risks.



Find your motivation

"the brain is the strongest muscle", but your thoughts may be your biggest obstacles! Visualize your hike, imagine the rewarding moments as well as brainstorm ways to overcome difficulties. Hiking is for me both healing and a moment to bond with my little one.

Visit our "motivation" page for some positive quotes.



Engage your kid

Don't hesitate to engage your kid from the beginning by explaining what you are going to do. Communication is the key for confidence! As kids move into their second year of life, they become more mobile and independent. Plan some time during your hike to allow the kids to experience themselves in a natural environment, A great benefit for your kid! Let kids help you by packing: a great way to involve them in your adventure. 

Your child is part of the experience and they should feel that way! Let them find their own motivation to go out (collection of leaves? collection of coloured things? wanting to see some wild animals...?)



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