Taking your kid with you while hiking is not so easy as it seems. But the experience is unmatchable. I have seen a lot of people who don’t take their kids with them for certain reasons. However, there are parents who take their kids with them on hikes while others are confused about if their kid is old enough to go on trails. If you are a parent who is confused if a 4-year-old goes hiking then keeping reading today I will tell you all things you need to know if you take your 4-year-old hiking.
Can a 4 year old go hiking?
Yes, you can take a four-year-old to hike with you, as he passed the age of toddler and became a little bigger so, it’s a good idea to take your kid outdoors with you on short hikes. However, you need to know that most of the time you have to carry your kid on the trail which will make you tired quickly. Moreover, you also need to keep the trip more interesting while making sure that your 4-year-old is not pushing his or her limits.
So if you haven’t taken your kid with you on a hike then you need to keep some things in mind to enhance the overall experience of the trip. But before that I want you to know some basics things that a parent should know before taking their kid on a hike.
How long of a hike a 4-year-old can do?
There is a limit to how far a 4-year-old can hike. Usually, a 4-year-old can not go on long hikes or can hike for long because they have little feet and they burn more energy in a short time. Even if you carry your kid still, make sure the hike is no longer. It’s best to take your 4-year-old on hikes that are no more than 5 miles. 3 miles hike is enough for a kid to make him feel happy. A four-year-old is not mature enough to go on longer hikes because most of the time at this age kids play and sleep. So, you need to make sure that the kid will not get bored on long hikes.
What if your kid is less or more than 4 years?
In case you have a toddler who is below 4 years old then you should know that, for most of the time on trail you have to carry them up, they barely can hike half a mile with those little feet, and even that’s far if the trail is steep or incline. So, if you are just taking your kid to have fun then a 2 mile or 3 mile is enough for that.
However, if your kid is above four or above 6 then you have an advantage because he or she can walk more on the trail. But don’t push your kid if he is just 5 or 6 because they are small and sometimes if the kid is not that strong then you have to carry him up for most of the hike. So, in this case, also keep the distance low. If your kid is 6 or 7 then a 5 or 6 miles hike is enough.
Does your 4-year-old need a backpack?
Well, that depends on the kid. If he or she wants it then you can get them a small backpack which weighs around 2 or 3 pounds. But you need to keep the bag light as much as possible. A kid who is 4 years old can barely take 5 to 10 % of their body weight(most of the time it’s 5% only). So either you have to keep the backpack empty or you can add light items like a jacket or snacks in your kid’s backpack.
Important things you need when you hike with 4 years old
Carrying water is more important with kids, even on short hikes. Kids get thirsty easily and they can not wait for a trip to over to drink water, so always carry the appropriate amount of water with you. Moreover, when you are with kids on the trail it’s a common thing that they get their hands dirty by touching things such as socks, mud, etc. And for that, you should pack extra water to wash their hands every time they get dirty. Washing hands is important because usually, kids have this thing of putting hands in their mouth most of the time.
Backpack or carrier
A kid who is 4 year old, don’t have the ability to walk for long so you need carrier or backpack to carry them behind you. Carriers and backpacks make this thing so easy for us. You can buy various types of carriers or backpacks according to the size or weight of your child. If you don’t know what will be the best carrier backpack for your 4 years then check out this article, in which I have listed some best backpack carriers for 4 year old
Another suggestion I want to give is that you can use a backpack to carry your child on longer hikes, carriers work best on short hikes.
Some tips to make the trip fun
Manage the timing
When you decide to hike with your 4-year-old, time management is very important. What I mean by that is toddlers or 4-year-olds need to get a nap in a day. They sleep more and when you plan a hike with your 4-year-old, you should make sure that he or she gets the time to take nap. It’s best to avoid the specific time they likely get naps every day. Most toddlers and 4 or 5-year-olds take naps in the afternoon, so you should avoid afternoon time to take them on a hike. The best is to take them in the morning. But you should also make sure what is the developed routine your child for a nap.
Let the kid hike
As discussed above, if you take a 4-year-old then you have to carry him for most of the trip. However, you should also not limit your kid to have fun. Toddlers or 4 years old see the world differently, where we adults get excited with the views and greenery on the trail, kids love to play with rocks, touch things while hiking. So, you should always let your 4-year-old have fun and hike with you so that he can learn early and have fun at the same time.
Bring food and snacks
This along with water may be the two things you must need in your backpack when you are hiking with 4 year old. Because they eat less and burn calories fast so, they get hungry fast. So, carry the snacks that your kid can eat. Even if the hike is small, you should always carry snacks whenever you are with a toddler or 4 years old on a trail.
If you don’t know what is the best food to eat before a hike then check out this article-What to Eat Before a Hike ?
Bring extra clothes
Always bring extra clothes for your 4 years old whenever you are on trail because they love to play in the mud and get dirty. Instead of limiting them to play or have fun, you should bring extra clothes for them, and change their clothes after reaching the destination.
Put hiking boots on those small feet
Hiking boots are important because toddlers slip and fall easily, even on plain surfaces. A good pair of hiking boots is always good to protect your 4-year-old from slipping. Socks are also important to avoid any insects bites on trails because there are small insects on trails that sometimes become invisible to us on the trails, so always be on the safer side with your small ones. Make sure the boots are fit. If you don’t know how to check if hiking boots are big then check out the guide here-How to Tell if Hiking Boots are too Big ?
Make trip fun by playing games
Playing games is more fun for small ones on hiking trips and also keeps them engaged at the moment. You can play different games with them in between by taking breaks.
Some suggestions – storytelling, eye spy, you can also play guessing games.