Dossier: Hiking

Tips on hiking with a baby

How do you make sure both parents and baby enjoy hiking? Paediatrician Kerstin Walter from Bern has the answer.

Text: Clau Isenring

At what age can you take a baby hiking in a pushchair?

Walks and hikes are possible from birth. I recommend increasing the intensity gradually and adjusting the route and distance to the child’s – and parent’s – well-being.

How long can we go hiking for?

As long as the baby is happy and lying comfortably, there are no general restrictions on how long you can spend walking. Make sure you plan sufficient breaks for feeding, picking up your baby, etc.

Does the baby have to lie flat? From what age can you sit the baby upright?

I’m often asked this question at the four-month check-up, because this is when many babies no longer want to lie flat and just look at the sky. In this case, you can raise the head section to an angle of around 30 to 40 degrees when the child is awake. As soon as it falls asleep, you should lay it flat again to ensure the head and neck are always protected. As a basic rule, as long as a child can’t control its head, it should lie flat in the pushchair. The seat position in the stroller is only suitable for when the child can really sit unsupported.

Should the baby face forwards or towards its parents?

Younger children tend to want to keep their mum/dad in view. The older they get, the more interest they show in their surroundings.

How high can I go hiking with my baby?

Healthy children are fine at around 1,500 and 2,000 metres above sea level. Parents of premature babies who needed additional oxygen for a number of weeks have to be careful at very high altitudes.

How dangerous is uneven ground for young children?

On unobstructed routes and in a stroller with good suspension, the ground shouldn’t be a problem even for small babies. It’s always important to ensure their head is well supported.

How can parents ensure their child isn’t exposed to too much sun in the pushchair? 

On hot sunny days, don’t go hiking in the blazing sun – choose shaded routes through a forest. During the summer it’s important to ensure sufficient air circulation so the temperature in the stroller doesn’t get too high. It’s better to use a parasol instead of covering the pushchair completely with a cloth.

Dr Kerstin Walter

Specialist in children’s and young people’s medicine, Bern