Updated: Apr 11
Hiking is such a good way for children to go outdoors and learn about nature. It is also a great activity to burn some of their boundless energy and support their physical development.
So what’s the perfect age to start hiking with kids? The best answer is yesterday while the next best is right now! You don’t have to wait till your child can walk; you can start as early as when he’s a baby, using a baby carrier. Our little one was only in the pulling-to-stand phase when we first brought her hiking! As your child grows, you can gradually increase the difficulty of the trails you tackle.
Read on as we share our hiking stories along with some tips for hiking with kids.
Find an appropriate trail
You might be a seasoned hiker but remember that your little one is new to this game. It is essential to choose one that is appropriate for your child's age and ability level
It is always good to start with a less strenuous trail when you’re bringing your child. Starting with short and easy trails can help build your child's endurance while preventing them from becoming discouraged or wanting to be carried the entire way. If the trail is too challenging for your kids, they might get demotivated and end up refusing to walk or wanting you to carry them. But fret not, as time goes, you will find that sweet spot between pushing them too much and offering enough challenge to keep them going.
Begin with a few short and easy trails to build your child’s endurance, or your stamina if you are going to carry him. Always evaluate your capacity and pick an appropriate trail for your family.
If you are trekking in Kuala Lumpur, Taman Tugu is a great starting point with various trails of different lengths and difficulty levels. The 1.5km trail is perfect for carrying a baby, while the 1km Nursery trail is great for toddlers who can walk on flat surfaces.
Carrying our little one in a carrier, we started off with the 1.5km trail and eventually progressed to the 5km trail. As our toddler can now walk, we occasionally take the easier 1km Nursery trail so that she can walk on the flat part and sometimes challenge herself to climb up and down the staircases along the trail.
If you are up for something more challenging, try the 2km trail at the KL East Park and get rewarded with a scenic view of KL once you reach its peak. We like that there are many benches along the trail for us to take a snack break. Nonetheless, entry to the park must be pre-booked at the official website no more than 3 days in advance. There is a limit of visitors allowed for each slot so good luck in securing a booking especially on the weekend slots!
Bring the right supplies
3 must-haves for us: water, snacks and mosquito repellent.
Homemade oat cookies and bananas are our favourite snacks, providing a quick energy boost. Both offer a quick energy boost highly necessary for a good hike. It’s important to keep everyone hydrated and fed while you’re out on the trail.
Bonus tip: recruit your kids to pack their snacks the night before the hike so that they get excited for it! You will see them eagerly getting ready to leave home for the hike the next morning.
While it might be tempting to speed all the way to the peak for a scenic view, consider slowing down when you’re hiking with kids. Remember your little humans may not be able to catch up with your pace.
Slowing down and making stops also allow them to observe the natural surroundings. This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn and connect with nature while enjoying the simple pleasures of life. They will be intrigued by the trees, leaves, flowers, bugs, rocks or just anything along the trail. You might be surprised that you too will spot something new that interests you as you go with your kids’ pace.
Slowing down also ensures that they can keep up with the pace, preventing them from getting tired or discouraged. We used to finish a 5km hike in under an hour. With a kid now, we take almost double the time but it’s worthwhile! We see our toddler caressing the leaves, arranging the pebbles, observing the ants going on a line. Each time we hike, we are reminded of the beauty of our nature and the simple joys we have in our life. We feel our stresses lifted up and by the end of the hike, we feel physically tired yet mentally rejuvenated.
Keep it fun
We like to make our hike a game. What we have tried include standing beneath a huge piece of leaf and pretending to be sheltered from the imaginary rain; hugging a tree to see if our arms are long enough to wrap around it; challenging each other to make the loudest rustle from stepping on dry leaves. Armed with these little games, we hardly have to cajole our toddler to hike with us.
We also try to hike regularly but not too frequently to the extent that it gets boring. The key is to go on family-friendly hikes which are challenging enough to be fun for both the adults and kids.
Hiking with kids can be a very enjoyable family pastime that helps with bonding. Once you begin, you will realise how easy it is to make it a regular family activity. If you want to make it easier and more fun, hike in a group!
For those in KL, come join our IBU community for a hiking adventure at Broga Hill on 22 April 2023, RSVP for payment details.
For those in Penang, we have monthly trips to the waterfall and we look forward to more joining us. Click here for the next outiing