We love where we live so much! Being out in nature and exploring with our kids is high on the priority list for our family, and today I’m dishing out my 10 tips for exploring nature with kids.
Recently we visited Bridal Veil Falls along the gorge, and it was so beautiful! From the views of the Columbia River to the towering waterfall to the creek running through. We loved everything about this kid friendly hike. But we just love being outside and exploring together, so almost any place will bring us so much joy and calmness.
Nature is just so good for us. For us adults and for the kids. Since Hunter was little, we’ve been taking him on adventures with us. Whether it’s a walk, a hike or camping, we just have kids tag along and over the years they’ve become used to adventuring with us. We have also learned a lot of lessons while hiking with kids, and today I’m going to share them so you can learn out best 10 tips for exploring nature with kids!
Start them young
Once you can strap a baby in a carrier, start to bring them along with you. Babies LOVE to look at trees and branches moving, and often will just nap as you walk! If you’re looking for ideas on carrier, check out this podcast episode all about baby wearing with specific recommendations in it.
As soon as they can walk, encourage it
That means take them out of the carrier. Maybe not for the entire hike if they’re little legs just started walking, but definitely let them begin to explore nature on their own two feet. They’ll fall, get dirty and pick up whatever they see, but that’s part of the fun!
Make them carry their water and snacks
It may not seem like a big deal to carry one extra little water or one extra little snack, but as kids grow they need more. And if you have more than one kid that’s a lot of water and snacks for you to carry! Get a kid sized backpack for them (we love these fjallraven mini backpacks) and have them carry their water and snacks, along with whatever else they want to bring along.
Bring extra snacks and water
So, your kids have their own water and snacks, but always bring extra. Kids need more rest stops and it is always a better idea to have too much water and snacks than too little. The hike may take longer than anticipate and you’ll be prepared for it!
If you’re looking for snacks ideas, check out these 10 healthy snack ideas for on the go.
If you have a kid in potty training, just put a pull up or diaper on them
I learned this the hard way. When a bathroom isn’t convenient, don’t force the potty training. Having a kid walk back to the car with a mess in their pants is NOT FUN. For anyone. Just trust me.
Slow down and look for bugs
Bugs are the best and in abundance outside! Take some extra time to let them search for creepy, crawly creatures. Maybe they’ll even pick some up!
Learn to identify creatures in your area. Invest in books
Same as bugs, search for little animals. Maybe you’re at a wild life refuge and birds are in abundance. Learn a couple different bird types and see if you can spot any. We love this birds, nests and eggs take along guide + a pair of kid sized binoculars!
If it’s an out and back, turn around earlier than you normally would.
The walk back always takes longer as kids get tired, and if you have any kind of time crunch, allow for that slow walk to happen back, because inevitably they are more tired that second half.
Don’t worry about them getting dirty.
Part of exploring is falling and touching messy things. Embrace the mess. They will love it! Just don’t have them wear white or any special clothes that are meant to stay clean.
Don’t rush the adventure, let them explore
Time in nature, allowing eyes to look around, hands to feel dirt, rocks and leaves, that is what nature is about. Surrounding yourself in trees is calming for all and is a necessary reset. Allow as much time to be out in nature as you can and you will begin to cultivate a love for it.
The antidote to exhaustion isn’t rest. It’s nature.
I truly believe those words and hope that these tips get you excited to bring your littles outdoors with you more!
What are your favorite tips for bringing kids out on hikes with you? Any favorite gear?