Trekking the Trails with Your Tykes
Now that Summer has arrived, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. One activity that parents and kids can enjoy together is hiking. Retykle Ambassador, Denise Ho, shares her experience about hiking while pregnant as well as some tips on taking your baby along and making it fun for everyone!
With Mount Kinabalu, Kilimanjaro, Huashan, Taroko Gorge, Blue Mountains, and Maclehose Trailwalker under our belts, my husband and I were determined to keep the trails in our lives during our first pregnancy. Two children in, I'm proud to say we have been able to do this fairly successfully!
Hiking with children, and especially infants, can be a lot of work but once you reach the peak of the trail with your family, it makes it all worthwhile. Hiking also helps to slow you down and focus on what’s important as well as gives you a sense of adventure, even if it is in an urban area.
We hiked during both of my pregnancies in an effort to maintain a baseline level of fitness and muscle memory. And the views were an added bonus!
However, before hitting the trails, I do suggest that if you are having a difficult pregnancy or you are new to hiking to consult your doctor beforehand. Pregnancy and fitness levels differ for every individual so only do what makes you feel most comfortable.
Towards my third trimester, I found that belly belts really helped to provide extra support, as my ligaments were increasingly feeling the pull of gravity, particularly when going downhill.
Post-pregnancy, we returned to the trails after I felt physically ready to do so. For my son's first hike, we headed over Violet Hill to commemorate his first hundred 100 Days. As for my daughter, we headed out for her first hike a little earlier, when she was just over two months old. We sought refuge from COVID-19 up in the hills of Lung Fu Shan Country Park.
With all that said, hiking with a baby doesn’t need to stress you out! Staying safe on the trails with your babes starts with basics:
1) Bring ample water - particularly now, in the Summer! Remember, you'll need more than usual if you're breastfeeding.
2) Bring sustenance - same as above, you'll need more calories than usual if you're breastfeeding!
3) Wear proper shoes - it's worth investing in a pair of hiking boots or trail running sneakers; regular trainers and fashion sneakers typically do not have enough grip and you don't want to slip with your baby!
4) Make sure your phone is charged, and let someone know where you're going.
5) Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Now, let's add the baby into the equation! I always try to hike light, but there's no way around the fact that you'll need a slightly larger backpack than before to accommodate the extra baby amenities. I never take my baby out on a hike without the following:
Until your baby can properly sit upon his/her own, you'll be using the same type of baby carrier on the hike as you do for your normal walks. Remember to use the infant inserts if needed!
Tuck upper corners of the muslin into the arm straps at the shoulder level and the bottom corners into the waist strap for sun and insect protection.
A hat adds extra sun protection for the baby's face, ears and neck.
I usually wear this across my chest between myself and baby. It also serves as a drool/sweat absorber, and it's always handy to have an additional muslin to have on hand (even if it's sweaty!).
Ready, Set, Hike!
Now where to go when you are ready to hit the trails? I suggest you check out the Agricultural, Fisheries, and Conservations Department’s (AFCD) website as they have a great list of hikes. This will help to get some ideas of where to go. You can filter for 1- or 2-star difficulties, which are the most baby- and postpartum-friendly! I will be back in the subsequent weeks to share in more detail some of my favourite routes.
From short nature trails to steep mountains, Hong Kong’s country parks have something for everyone. It’s helpful that it gives visuals in terms of the distance of the hike, the estimated time it will take to complete, as well as pictures of trail markers to keep you on the right path.
When you're ready - happy hiking! And remember that hitting the trails is not only good for parents (pregnant mommas included) but tykes alike.