Alright. Let’s talk baby safety in the outdoors. Baby L has hiked, biked and swam with us through our entire National Park to Park Highway tour. It’s only been possible thanks to being prepared. Here’s what we do to keep our baby safe while hiking and biking.
The American Hiking Society recommends taking these ten essentials on every hike. Bringing baby along means you’ll need these essentials as well.
- For kids under six months – Use a wrap or front carrier designed for young babies. Newborns lack muscle coordination in their head and neck, so it’s important to provide support. Babies this age should not face forward as the jostling involved with walking can be dangerous for their developing necks and spines, and if the baby falls asleep there’s a danger of airway obstruction. Also, a baby carrier with leg support is recommended since legs dangling for too long can affect spinal development and circulation. Some brands include Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap, Tula, or Boba.
- For kids over six months – If a baby can hold their head up on their own you can carry them on your back with either a soft sided carrier like Ergobaby, LILLEbaby or Onya Baby or a framed hiking pack like the Kelty Pathfinder, Osprey Poco or Deuter Kid Comfort. Those little ones get heavy so a pack is important. Our favorite baby carrier reviews can be found here as part of the great baby wearing project from TalesofaMountainMama.com.
Other Baby Hiking tips
- Bring drinks and food for everyone in your group. A bottle or breast milk for baby and food for you give you both energy for the hike.
- Keep it short, keep it happy. It’s physically demanding to carry a baby while hiking so start by doing hikes of three miles or less.
- Know where you’re at and where you’re going and always tell someone where you’ll be and when you’ll be back.
Here are more tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics A Minute for Kids.
Although it may be tempting, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend biking with kids under the age of 12 months. Younger babies don’t have the neck strength to support their head wearing a helmet, and as tempting as it might be to bike with a baby in one of the carriers listed above, it is not safe for you or the baby. Maneuvering a bicycle with a baby strapped to you is awkward, not to mention the added weight increases braking time.
Baby Bike Seats
- Child Bicycle Trailers – The American Academy of Pediatrics states that it’s preferable for children to ride in a bicycle-towed child trailer. Trailers are lower to the ground so in the case of a crash the child would not fall as far. We’re a fan of our Burley D’Lite, but whatever bike trailer you choose, make sure it meets ASTM standards for safety. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a Burley Solstice Jogger!
- Rear Mounted Bike Seats – If you prefer a rear mounted bike seat make sure it attaches securely, has spoke guards to protect hands and feet and a high back and sturdy shoulder harness that will support a sleeping child.
- Cargo Bikes are not recommended for carrying children.
- Babies should be at least 12 months old and able to hold their head up well. Always put a helmet on baby when biking.
- Get your child a well fitting helmet that meats CSPC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) guidelines. Follow these recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Never buy a used bike helmet. Do not use bike helmets that were involved in a serious bike crash.
Other Baby Biking Tips
- Plan a safe route. Riding on the road with baby on board may not be the best idea. Look for bike paths and smooth pavement for traffic-free biking.
- If you must ride on the road ride with the flow of traffic, stay to the side and wear bright colors for visibility.
- Don’t ride with kids at night. Reflective clothing and bike lights may not be enough for cars to see you.
Susan Strayer, author of MountainMomandTots.com is all about getting families into nature. She lives with her husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah and spends her time hiking, biking, skiing and camping as much as possible.
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