Doggone it, I forgot to take my camera. But our family went for a lovely, easy hike today on the Boulder Canyon nature trail in Vestavia Hills, and I wanted to share that this family-friendly trail is suitable for babywearing. We weren’t actually babywearing … our 28-month-old, 35-pound boy handled the trail fine by himself, as did I, his 40-year-old, 33-week pregnant mom. From that information, however, I deduce that most babywearing families could handle this well-kept trail just fine.
When going on a babywearing hike, we choose easy trails, and mostly short ones. Other families are more ambitious. Even for our style of hiking, which is more of a stroll in the woods, there are still a few things to keep in mind for safety and comfort. My rule number one is to wear hiking shoes; they make a difference for me. I’ve done some hikes in running shoes, and they had decent traction, but my toes were not happy with me after a short while. In any event, sturdy shoes are a must, especially if you’re carrying a baby.
My second rule is to protect the baby from the weather. In the Alabama summer, a babywearing hike usually must be done early in the morning. A mesh or gauze carrier can help keep the baby cool; examples include Solarveil or mesh water slings and gauze wraparound slings such as Calin Bleu, Wrapsody Breeze (formerly Gypsy Mama Bali Baby Breeze), or Wrap ‘n Wear — or even a DIY gauze wrap. One trick that can cool a baby down is to carry a spray bottle full of water and mist the sling.
In winter, of course, you must assure that the baby is warm enough, paying particular attention to his head, legs, and arms that are outside the baby carrier and remembering that just because you are warm because of the exercise you’re getting, the baby’s legs, etc., are not necessarily warm. There are all sorts of great baby carrier covers, babywearing coats, and babywearing ponchos (including the no-sew babywearing fleece poncho that you can find instructions for in our Printables — see the green box on the right side of the screen), and many people have success just zipping a jacket over the baby, wearing it backwards for a back carry.
My third rule is to always carry water. Our 7-year-old likes to be our camel, carrying a small backpack with a small bottle of water for each family member, plus a diaper, wipes, and disposal bag for the not-yet-potty-trained one, just in case. It’s a good idea to take along an extra bag for any trash you happened to find along the trail … the Boulder Canyon trail was actually quite clean for an urban trail, but there were a few things that needed to be carried out.
And that’s it for my hiking rules … your family may have other rules and tips, and it’s always a good idea to review the Babywearing Safety page every now and then for some important reminders. Now, back to Boulder Canyon.
Our family entered the trail, hiked up a short but fairly steep incline (taking it slowly), then headed down to the lovely creek at the bottom of the canyon. We then crossed a bridge (finding no trolls anywhere) and followed a great creekside trail to a point beyond which we didn’t care to travel. We grownups took a rest by sitting on some of the boulders in the creek, and the kiddos had a great time skipping rocks, or attempting to, or simply plunking pebbles into the water. Then we walked out. A good time was had by all. The main trails are nice and wide and seem very well travelled; the creekside trail was narrower, but not extremely narrow. It certainly required caution in places, but I still consider it an easy trail.
For more of the Magic City’s family friendly trails, check out this great list of 20 Hikes Within 20 Miles of Birmingham. And don’t forget to join Magic City Slingers and Fresh Air Family August 9 for our guided hike of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve followed by a picnic and general enjoyment of the natural water slide (no babywearing on the slippery rocks though, please).