Heading outdoors in winter with little kids doesn’t need to be daunting. With some key preparations there’s nothing stopping even the youngest members of your family from enjoying some crisp winter walks. We chat to experienced tramper Sonia from Back to the Wild who offers some tips and tricks she has learnt while back-country hiking with her young daughter.
#1 Layer, layer, layer!
For a baby under 6 months old that’s still on your front, they probably only really need one or two extra layers compared to you. I’d also only use wool, as fleece and other non-natural fibres can’t breathe, so the baby can overheat as they can’t regulate their body temperature well yet.
If it’s windy or raining, just put your raincoat over both of you – a larger size raincoat should be fine for a smaller baby, or invest in a babywearing soft-shell jacket. Because the baby is right up on your chest, you’ll be able to feel how warm they are at all times. Just make sure their breathing area is clear of any obstructions, and don’t forget to keep an eye on fingers and toes.
For kids older than six-months, make sure you have a raincover for your baby carrier pack. And even though I’m a fan of natural fibres, fleece is definitely superior in keeping you warmer on the trails. I tend to use wool thermals on the bottom, with polyprop and fleece on top. And if it’s windy or raining, a raincoat and a pair of waterproof pants.
We also love our daughters fleece onesie. It means no cold hips or backs, and is great for not only sleeping when camping or tramping but for hiking in also.
For kids younger than about two and a half years, gumboots are the perfect footwear, as they are 100 per cent waterproof. Your toddler is unlikely to be walking large distances yet, so comfort doesn’t matter too much at this stage.
Just make sure they’ve got thick wool socks, or two pairs of thin ones. Fleece gumboot liners are also a good idea.
Once they are walking decent distances, proper kids hiking boots really are the way to go.
#3 Keeping the extremities toasty
I also find that bonnets are the best hats, as you just tie them under the neck, and they can’t come off. Buffs are great too as they also don’t come off as easily, and can be worn a million ways!
For keeping fingers warm, wool socks make great gloves for little hands. For older kids you can use ski gloves, and tying them to each other with long string is a great way to not lose a pair!
#4 Toileting while outdoors
If pottying your child, split crotch pants are super handy. They're pretty much a pair of pants with a hole in the crotch area, and a big overlap to keep them decent. It saves taking pants off when potting to keep bums warm, or you can even change nappies through the hole too!
#5 Final notes…
Remember all the normal rules that apply to adults too – no cotton, no denim, etc and very importantly, don’t rely on your toddlers answer when you ask if they’re cold!
Sonia Barrish is a passionate back-country tramper and along with her partner, she has been taking her daughter Bethany on adventures ever since she was only a few weeks old. Sonia also runs Back to the Wild where she sells her range of hand crafted natural, organic and ethical skin products which are ideal for protecting little ones from sun burn and insect bites while tramping.