Before becoming a mother or father, did you love criss-crossing the countryside? Now that you are a parent, do you ever wonder how to share this passion with your descendants? Before taking the leap of going on a hike with your children, you need to be prepared. In order to help you out, we have put together our best tips & tricks for preparing your hike in the best possible way!
1. Adapt the distance to your child’s age, enthusiasm and abilities
Simply put, you may consider that your child is capable of walking a distance equals his age, i.e.:
- 3 years old = 3 km
- 4 years old = 4 km
The distance may go up if you make breaks long enough for the child to recover. Note that the distance MUST be adapted to your child’s real abilities. The above-mentioned rule is THEORETICAL. If your child is not used to walking, choose a shorter route and gradually increase the walking distance. Otherwise, you might just put your child off for life.
2. Prepare your route
Buy a map from the tourist office or just take the one at your disposal in your holiday house. Striking out into the unknown with a child is quite hazardous. You could put your life at stake without realizing it: remain on the signposted paths and don’t walk along main roads. It is very dangerous and far from pleasant for the walkers.
3. Accept your child’s rhythm!
It is sometimes frustrating. You were looking forward to going for a walk and you actually do nothing more than dawdle along. Your 2-year-old child stops walking to check and show you every stone and daisy he finds on the way. So cute, but so long! Or you 4-year-old child does indeed want to go for a walk but the chosen route is so short that getting everybody dressed up took more time than the walk itself. Is there a solution? Not really. You do not want to fight with your child and force him to sit in the pushchair while hearing him cry, do you?Be aware that you are working on a long-term strategy. It is sometimes also great to have a walk where your child wants it to (see 5th piece of advice). Have a look at our tactics to find a playful way to make him walk further!
4. Protect your child from the sun
Hat, scarf, sun visor, long-sleeved shirt (to reduce the use of sun cream), sun cream for unprotected areas… or from the cold: jacket, scarf, gloves, hot socks, raincoat… Do not forget the material to change your child as well as a first-aid kit for probable falls. Download our checklist to take everything you need with you.
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5. Establish a contract even if he is just a few months old
Before starting, explain to your child what is going to happen and present the ‘rules’. Agree on what he may or may not do, when he may walk on his own or when he must hold your hand, when he may/must sit in the push chair or in the backpack.
6. Think about his stomach
Prepare a backpack with a picnic lunch even if the walk only lasts half an hour. A child gets faster dehydrated than an adult. Taking a break and enjoying the landscape while having a bite is part of the activity… and it allows you to respect your child’s rhythm.
7. Have a suitable means of transport
When you are out for a walk, have a push chair, a baby carrier or baby wrap with you, depending on the route practicability. When in doubt, ask the Tourist Office or your holiday cottage owner. Opt for a system that enables your child to switch between walking and recovering. At the end of the walk, you will be thanking yourself for being far-sighted.
What are the essential steps before going out for a walk? Do you have other basic pieces of advice that you would like to share with other parents wishing to discover the beauty of the Ardennes region with their offspring?
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