So all of a sudden we’ve got two young kids, but it hasn’t stopped us getting outdoors as a family. Here are our top eight tips for walking with babies and toddlers – it’s tough, but not impossible!
1. Take plenty of transport
And by this I mean everything from prams and baby carriers to scooters and buggy boards. We did about six miles on foot with our 3-year-old boy and 5-week-old baby last weekend, and we used every one of them many times over. Then it finished up with me walking the last mile with the baby strapped to my chest using the excellent Mountain Buggy Juno carrier to stop him crying, and the toddler on my shoulders because he was too shattered to walk, scoot or even stand up on his buggy board. Balance bikes aren’t a great idea for long walks though, because you end up having to carry them for miles! Who said walking with babies and toddlers was a good idea?
2. Don’t gamble with weather
You can probably get away with bad weather for a short spell, but sooner or later everyone’s going to get cold and tired if it’s tanking it down with rain or blowing hurricane-force winds. Roasting hot weather isn’t ideal for walking with babies and toddlers either, because you’ll all be sunburned, dehydrated and exhausted by the time you get home.
3. Pack spares of everything
In the course of our 5-hour family walk, we had nappy explosions and toddler toilet accidents to contend with; plus multiple examples of why even adults should probably pack spare clothes due to a mixture of puke, food and general dirt ending up all over our clothes. Also, just when you think you’ve packed enough nappies, wipes, bottles and dummies for the baby, chuck a few more in too. If you’re away from civilisation for a few hours, it’s always worth taking more than you think you’ll need.
4. Load up on snacks and drinks
Both for yourselves because you’ll be burning loads of energy, and for your toddler because – let’s face it – they seem to eat more than both parents put together. Plus, snacks are great motivation-boosters when moral and energy levels are flagging.
5. Know your route
Careful planning is everything when walking with babies and toddlers, because the last thing you want is to get lost. Not only will the inevitable blame game and arguments follow, but it’ll also potentially add hours and miles to your route. And time and distance are precious! Plan your route with plenty of attention to detail. Circular walks are good, because they keep things varied and often have shortcuts back to the start if you need to change plans at short notice.
6. Use decent footwear
Learn from my mistakes here. I love flip-flops, but when you’re carrying two big ugly boys, the support they offer is virtually zero. Comfortable walking shoes or trainers are a great idea when walking with babies and toddlers, and the same should be said for your kids. If you need some help choosing children’s outdoor footwear, check out our round-up here: Best Outdoor Activity Shoes for Toddlers – 2019.
7. Plan a pub stop
Not only will it give you chance to have a rest, grab some good food and have a pint (probably to settle the nerves), if you can find one with a kids’ playground you’ll also be able to perk your toddler up if they’re starting to get tired of the long trudge.
8. Have a good sense of humour
Because things will go wrong. Toddlers will have meltdowns, babies will start crying, and parent patience will inevitably get stretched. Just remember, you’re out doing a great, fun thing as a family and I can guarantee that whatever happens you’ll be delighted you’ve done it when you get home.