An article by Ché, Blaze Trails Surrey
There comes a time when your baby is – well – not such a baby any more! There are lots of reasons why you might start to transition from baby carrying to exploring with little legs. Maybe they’re getting antsy in the carrier and wanting to walk, or you’re fed up of carrying such a heavy load, or it’s time for them to pass their slot in the sling on to a new sibling….
As with all transitions, there’s no one way to do this right. Those of us who have been through it have collected some tips which may help you – feel free to try them out and let us know what works for you!
Some of our Blaze Trails groups offer toddler walks, so do keep an eye out for those – sometimes the best encouragement is for our little ones to see lots of other children doing the same thing!
👣 It’s going to be slow. Be prepared for this fact: your normal routes will take much longer! You’ll need frequent stops for snacks and to admire all the things your toddler notices along the way. It’s great to see the world through our children’s eyes and to stop and admire every stone or leaf or tuft of grass, but it can also be cold and frustrating! Make time for your walks together and try not to have a hard deadline that you’re rushing to.
👣 Build up stamina. The same way you’d do for yourself, build up your little one’s stamina by increasing the distance they walk every week or so. So if you’re normally carrying them for a 5k walk, let them walk for 500m to a kilometre themselves to start with, depending on their confidence. Slowly build up the distance, and – as with all milestones! – don’t expect improvement to be linear.
👣 Incentives! We never realised how important these were before having a toddler. Doing a treasure hunt or playing eye spy can be a great way of enjoying the walk together and to incentivise them to get to the next thing. Mine loves trains, so walking to the train station is a great incentive because he knows there’s something exciting at the end. Likewise the park, Grandpa’s house, a favourite hill or bench, even the shops!
👣 Snacks. Once you’ve got to your desired destination it can be trickier to incentivise your little one to get home again. Snacks can play an important role here, a good distraction and a boost of energy. In fact, toddlers use so much energy while they’re walking that they need constant refuelling. If they’re getting fed up and want carrying, sometimes a short break with a banana or half a sandwich will do the trick.
👣 Shoes. Your toddler’s regular shoes are the best thing for them to walk in to start with, as they’ll have been fitted properly and should be nice and comfortable. But in the winter this isn’t always practical and you may opt for wellies instead. Just be aware that not all wellies are particularly comfortable and supportive for walking longer distances. When your little one is a more established walker, you might want to invest in a pair of walking boots.
Good luck and ENJOY!
Katy is Founder of Blaze Trails - the UK's parent and baby hiking network. When not leaping up hills with a baby on her front and a toddler at her side, she's growing the Blaze Trails national community of parent and baby walking groups - run by parents, for parents. Blaze Trails empowers parents to get outdoors with their babies by connecting them to local walking buddies, offering down-to-earth tips on getting out the front door, and inspiring them to begin their own family walking journeys.