OutGrown Blog

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Essential Baby Camping Gear
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FRIENDS AT MORRISON OUTDOORS Camping is such an awesome adventure - from long scenic hikes during the day to nights spent under the stars, there are so many reasons to take a camping trip with the whole family!  Whether this is your first camping trip ever or you are a seasoned camper heading out for the first time with baby, it can feel overwhelming to pack for a little one. You want to pack enough and not miss the essentials like diapers and wipes, but you probably don't need every single baby toy in the house to make your trip a success. If you are ready to head out for your first camping adventure with baby and not sure what to bring, we’ve got you covered!  First, grab a copy of this camping checklist. It covers all of the basics of what to bring when camping from shelter to cooking gear and all of the random important things like headlamps and flashlights, plus all of the "kid specific" extras if you’ve got a little one on your trip. Let's go over some tried and true gear and packing hacks to get you out into nature, sourced from our Hike it Baby Community! Large Plastic Storage Bin In terms of packing, try packing items in a large plastic bin with a lid.  It keeps your gear dry in the event of packing or unpacking in the rain, but can also double as a kid bath tub if your little one is old enough to sit up on their own! Pack and Play The most commonly suggested item in our community to bring along for baby is a pack n play.  Throw a bug net over the top, and baby can hang out in there, tucked away in the shade while you set up the tent or even cook a meal. If you don’t have room for a pack and play, a baby carrier can certainly help keep you hands free while cooking or setting up a tent as well, or event a booster high chair that would typically strap to a chair can be placed on the ground with some toys to keep baby contained and safe while you get everything ready. Bedtime The pack and play is a safe sleep space for little ones rolling around in the tent while everyone tries to catch a little shut eye in between adventures.  It's also important to check the weather for the days and the nights during your trip.  Since babies' bodies don't regulate their temperature like grownups do, remember that you may need to accommodate a variety of temperatures for sleeping! It may be warm in the day, but you may need to bundle up in the night as the sun goes down.  If it's chilly at night, be sure to grab warm sleeping bags for the kiddos, and Morrison Outdoors Baby Sleeping Bags for your littlest campers. These sleeping bags keep baby warm through a chilly night and alleviate the concern about having loose blankets near the baby while sleeping. Other Helpful Gear Finally, some other important gear grabs include multi-use burp cloths, sun hats, sunscreen (when your pediatrician gives you the okay to use it), and insect repellent wipes (instead of spray) or permethrin-treated clothing.  We suggest bringing some pre-prepped meals so you can heat them up when it's time to eat.  But meal time is a subject for another blog!   As you can see, our community is resourceful and experienced in packing for camping adventures with little ones in tow! Most of our gear needs to do double duty since babies can require a lot of gear. What did we miss? Do you have any awesome gear suggestions or hacks to add?   OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES: How to Dress Baby for Cold-Weather Camping How to Choose a Baby-Friendly Campsite Tips for Sleeping in a Tent with Baby Favorite Baby Camping Foods   Photos by Deanna Curry     ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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The "Unplugged" Family Challenge
In partnership with our friends at Retrospec What is Earth Day? Earth Day found its start in 1970 as a call for increased protection for our planet. It grew to be a global movement in 1990, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries. Today, this movement has grown tremendously, mobilizing 1 billion individuals for action every Earth Day. This is mainly due to increased digital and social media bringing these conversations and concerns for a cleaner planet to a global audience. However, living in an age of rapidly growing technology can be both a blessing and a curse. While we can now see the scientific evidence and repercussions of a warming planet, we have also become more disconnected from experiencing and enjoying this planet. One of our mottoes here at Hike it Baby is “Together, we are raising a generation to love the outdoors and each other.” We do this by providing opportunities for all families to get out in nature. When we instill a love of the environment into our children from a young age, they are more likely to protect that environment. The ”Unplugged” Challenge It's time we take a lesson from our pint-sized explorers and put down the screens to enjoy what is right in front of us. In order to help our planet, we have to learn to fully appreciate it. From the worms that aerate our soil, to the trees and plants that provide us with oxygen. The best way to accomplish this is by fully experiencing it. Not with a screen, but with our own senses. Enter the “Unplugged” family challenge. We recruited five Hike it Baby Community members (including myself) to get outside, unplugged, with their families for at least an hour. Here are their experiences: Vanessa Wright: "Every month my family goes on a weekend camping trip and each time we try to completely unplug the entire weekend. Instead of being glued to our phones and tablets, we hike, explore outside, read books, play games, tell stories around the fire, snuggle, and have tons of family bonding time! Those unplugged weekends are such a breath of fresh air for our mental health. We get to cut out all the stuff that doesn't matter on social media and instead focus on what's really important, creating memories with our family." Norma Salcedo: “We arrived at the Houston Arboretum and I tell my little one that we are about to go on an adventure. I put my phone on silent and in my backpack and we take the trail at 4:15 p.m. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do at first, I’m so used to taking photos of her that this time around I was just observing her. It felt weird not having my camera but after a while, I forgot it and was able to be fully present with her. She was so excited that I was letting her lead the way, she would point at the arrow and say let’s go this way. I had the opportunity to contemplate as we walked on a windy yet beautiful day. I thought about how being outdoors in the moment is very therapeutic. I loved everything about it. My little one would stop and pick up acorns and cover them with loose sticks saying she was making a home for them. Time seemed to be at a standstill, we started walking back to the entrance to the Playscape that has a sandpit and other things kids can explore. The little one enjoyed playing in the sand. And I just sat and enjoyed the breeze. It was 5:20 when I pulled my phone back out and thought about how relaxing it was to not have it out. I was able to be fully present with my little one and enjoy the moment. Thank you Hike it Baby for this idea and I hope I’m able to do this with my husband and baby as well!" Elicia Giffin: "Leaving our phones at home meant no pictures of a family walk to the neighborhood park for a picnic and play, but made space for (less) distracted conversation and taking turns napping in the sunshine before a quick dash home when it started to rain. Overall, a great choice and something our family is committed to doing more!" Different day, same park, but some swinging joy to share! Georgia Abrahamson: "We went outside for a 3-hour chunk of time and fixed fence for spring pasture for the cattle. Miss 2.5 always loves the outdoors and mostly followed along with a song in her heart once she decided she didn't need help at every step. She even enjoyed plowing through the snow when she fell through toward the end, convincing me we need a few more opportunities to weather some hardships and gain age-appropriate confidence/independence. We were unplugged for about 1.5 hours before I checked my phone, which I carried for safety but had on silent. I noticed I wanted to check it every 45-60 minutes for incoming messages. I would feel vulnerable and unsafe without my phone on me and a toddler with me since the mama cows can be unpredictable and while it's uncommon, hibernating animals can be dangerous and are starting to come out for the spring. I would absolutely do it again and appreciate the refreshment it brings to my personal mental health to unplug, especially from social media and text messages. I slow down better and am more present in the moment when my phone is untouched, and I feel more fulfilled. It was tough to realize I'm checking for messages without actually expecting anything, wanting to interact with people this way even though I recognize that it's an overall drain on my energy. I'd like to be more intentional to put the phone in my pocket and leave it there throughout my day, and especially outside to enjoy living a bit more in the moment with my daughter instead of capturing memories or passing time as she plays. I may not go totally without that helpline in case of emergency though." Rebecca Hosley: "My husband and I decided to unplug during a family hike with our two boys. I am the worst culprit for using my phone on hikes (mostly for taking photos and tracking our route), so I left my phone in the car. We turned his phone off and stuffed it into the bottom of our hiking pack for emergencies. At first, I found myself constantly reaching for my pocket where my phone usually is. After about 20 minutes into the hike, I finally started to really experience our hike. It was like seeing nature through the eyes of a child again. I noticed more around me; the smells, the sounds, the tiny critters and plants I would otherwise have missed, etc. My boys caught on as well, and started saying things like “Mommy, Daddy, look at this!” and “Ooh, let’s explore that log” once they noticed they had our full attention. We bonded more as a family and made some fun memories. While I don’t think we will go completely without technology on our hikes (in case of emergency), this experience convinced me to enjoy nature in the moment rather than through a photo I may look at a handful of times and easily forget." Celebrate our Earth This Earth Day, let’s take the time to actually appreciate our Earth. Not through a lens or a photo, but with our own eyes. Or better yet, with ALL of our senses. Let’s try to emulate the curiosity and wonder that our children experience. Stop to smell the flowers or observe the creatures in a puddle. Close your eyes and listen to all the wonderful sounds in nature. Taste fresh, wild blackberries or feel the moss growing on a nurse log. Take it all in and trust that your memory will capture it better than any photo you take with your phone. Because our kids are only young once and we only have one Earth. It’s time we fully experience and appreciate both.   Now it’s your turn. We challenge you to take the “Unplugged” challenge with your family. Let us know how it goes in the comments below.     ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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How to Choose a Baby-Friendly Campsite
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FRIENDS AT MORRISON OUTDOORS Camping while your kiddos are babies can be an incredible experience, making memories and starting traditions that last for years to come. However, the preparation and execution of a camping trip with a baby in tow can be daunting. Everything from how to dress your baby, what gear to bring, and even what to eat can get overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to help! In this blog series, we will cover various topics and provide tips and advice to make camping with a baby a huge success! In this article, we provide tips and things to look for when choosing a baby-friendly campground and campsite. Tips for Choosing a Baby-Friendly Campground Every campground offers its own unique mix of views, recreation options, amenities, etc. Start by researching what the campground has to offer by checking their website. Not sure where you want to stay yet? Websites such as Recreation and Campendium can help you find a campground with availability in your desired location along with what amenities are offered. Regardless of where you stay, try to book in advance so you find a place to meet your needs (especially with a baby in tow!). Here are some things to consider when searching for a baby-friendly campground: Start Close to Home During the first few camping trips, consider choosing a campground that is fairly close to home (within an hour). This is a great way to work out any kinks (such as forgetting a favorite blanket or leaving the wipes on the counter). If your baby is just not having it, you can pack up and head home, trying again another time. Access to Amenities Choosing a less-rugged campground that offers bathrooms, showers, and even a playground can help tremendously when you have a baby in tow. These luxuries come in handy when dealing with situations such as an unexpected blowout or mud adventure with a limited supply of wipes. Choose a Campground with Recreational Options If possible, choose a “recreation-included” campground to reduce driving time. The first time we camped with my oldest, we chose a site that included a beach and hiking trails within walking distance. This helped reduce the in-and-out of the car seat and finding a parking spot chaos. It also gave us the flexibility to bail on an activity if he needed an extra nap. Proximity to Essentials With the chaos that can come with packing for a camping trip, it’s easy to forget something, whether it’s the hotdogs or the baby wipes (both of which have happened to me). Being close to a grocery store or gas station can make it easy to grab what you forgot (or didn’t realize you needed). Near Desired Activities If you are planning to visit a specific location (such as a National Park, a popular trail, etc.), finding a campground close by takes some of the stress off the commute to and from those areas (nobody like to have to drive an hour back to the campground if they can avoid it!). Tips for Choosing a Baby-Friendly Campsite Now that you have a campground picked out, there are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a campsite to fit the needs of your family. Looking at a campground map with labeled campsites can help you determine which will work best. Here are some things to consider: Proximity to Other Campers Choosing a campsite that is more isolated (or finding a campground where sites are a bit more spread out) can help to reduce noise issues. Some campers like to stay up all night, which can make it hard to settle your baby. Alternatively, if your baby wakes in the night or is having a hard time in their new surroundings, being further from others means you’re less likely to disturb your neighbors. Get to Know your Neighbors It’s not always possible to find a campsite that is a good distance from others. Introducing yourself and chatting with fellow campers in nearby campsites is a great way to show them you have a tiny adventurer in tow. This can result in far more understanding fellow-campers who will hopefully limit the rowdiness or be more accepting if they hear cries in the night. Amount of Sunlight Finding a site that offers some shade in the summer can cut down on the heat in the tent and protect your baby’s sensitive skin from over-exposure to sunlight. Alternatively, sunny spots can help warm up a campsite during the fall and winter, making for a more comfortable trip. Near restrooms and water sources Being close to bathrooms and showers is convenient in case you need to quickly clean off baby after a messy adventure or just want one less thing to stress about when getting up in the middle of the night (finding a bathroom in the dark is not a happy adventure, even without a little one!). Campground Intersections Some campgrounds have various intersections that can get busy and noisy as cars come and go. They can also be dangerous if your baby is a fast crawler. Choosing a site that is a good distance from these intersections reduces noise pollution and helps keep your family safe. Are there amenities you prefer when camping with a baby? Do you have a favorite baby-friendly campground? Let us know in the comments below!   Other Articles in this Series: How to Dress Baby for Cold-Weather Camping Essential Baby Camping Gear Tips for Sleeping in a Tent with Baby Favorite Baby Camping Foods Photos by Deanna Curry   ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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How to Take a Sensory Bike Ride
In partnership with our friends at Burley Going for a bike ride can be a great way to engage your kiddos in nature! Whether you are riding along with your bike trailer and kids in tow, rolling along with a new bike rider on a balance bike, cruising around the neighborhood with your kid on their training wheels, or watching a big kid pedal with ease, riding a bike offers so many benefits. Getting outdoors for a ride is a great way to get the entire family involved, regardless of who is pedaling or just along for the ride.  Did you know that it can help improve gross motor skills, overall endurance and muscle strength, AND provide a sensory experience? It’s true! Your senses of touch, smell, and sight are all stimulated along the way!     Taking a Sensory Bike Ride Grab those helmets and wheels and get going! On this ride, we won’t be breaking any speed records – we will be stimulating our senses.  (As always, be sure to be aware of your surroundings as you go for a ride!). First, take note of what you feel: What do you feel? Do you feel the wind? Try slowing down.  What’s happening with the wind? Now try speeding up to catch some more breeze! Is it a sunny day? Can you feel the sun on your skin? What if you head past some trees? That shade probably feels nice and cool! How does the road beneath you feel? Do you feel some bumps in the road, or is it nice and smooth? Is your path windy and flat, or hilly and straight? Pay attention to the different sensations as you ride along your path!   Next, take in your surroundings by looking at everything around you! What do you see? Are you taking a city ride and watching the cars zoom by, and seeing the sun peek between tall buildings? Are you out in nature? How many different colors can you see in nature? Are you in your neighborhood? Count the houses you ride by!   Download this Biking Sensory Ride to guide your adventure, but remember there are many ways to engage your senses on a bike ride! Try to think of different ways to do so as you enjoy the ride!   ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach
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Water and Wetlands Initiative
 A collaboration for Early Environmental Awareness between Hike it Baby and Joules. Together we can raise the next generation to love and care for our planet. The Earth, as it turns out, is kinda like a giant drop of water floating out in space, and just about everything and everyone inside depends on it to survive. For example, what we eat, how we grow what we eat, the soil in which we grow the things we eat, even our very bodies are made of water! Water moves through all of the places on our planet, bringing life to all it touches. Keeping water systems healthy means we have the water we need to drink and grow our food, but water isn’t just for us, and keeping it healthy affects far beyond what we see in our glass.   Pamela Slaughter, founder of People of Color Outdoors and her niece at Whitaker Ponds.   As water moves through the water cycle, it’s easy to forget what happens at those places in between, not the oceans or the rivers, the rain or clouds, but where water collects, where the land meets the ocean, where the river meets the land, or those amazing inland areas where water pools, covering the ground for most of the year.  With our Water & Wetlands Initiative, we invite you as parents & caregivers to learn and share about the water cycle, wetland areas, wildlife refuges, the incredible plants and animals that call these special places home, and how you and your families can take action to keep our planet’s water healthy. We’ve made it easy and fun with options for kids of different ages, because we believe it’s never too early to start having important conversations. 1. Watch our "Water & Wetlands" video as a family Check it out HERE 2. Follow up by asking these questions to start a conversation For Little Kids Where can you find water outside? Where do you use water in your house? How can you use less water in your house? For Big Kids Where does the water in your house come from? How do we protect water in nature? Why do you think plants and animals need special places like Wetland Refuges to be their homes? Why is your home special to you?   3. Download the "My Water Workbook" here. Complete the activities together, talking all about water as you go.  Our "My Water Workbook" is available in English and Spanish and is full of fun activities for the littles and *BONUS!! is also secretly full of things to learn! From the water cycle to wildlife refuges to wetlands and more, it’s all inside! Because we believe that fostering a love of nature brings with it a desire to protect the natural world and our planet. And as parents and caregivers, we have the chance to build upon our children’s curiosity and to make that initial connection.  4. Interested in learning more with your kids? Check out these books from your local library and read together. Water Rolls, Water Rises / El agua rueda, el agua sube by Pat Mora We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom Agua, Agüita/ Water, Little Water by Jorge Argueta Life in a Wetland by Doris Dumrauf If You Were A Wild Duck, Where Would You Go? by George Mendoza     ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach    
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Babywearing in the Rain
Does the thought of babywearing on rainy days sound like a daunting, seemingly impossible task? You’re not alone. When I was a Hike it Baby Branch Ambassador in the Pacific Northwest, we always saw a steep decline in participation once the rainy season started. However, once we started posting photos of hiking in the rain with a baby strapped to us, we started getting questions about how we do it: How do you keep your baby dry? How do you keep yourself dry? Doesn’t that ruin your carrier? And so on. Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more along with the benefits of hiking in the rain and tips from our amazing Hike it Baby community. Benefits of Babywearing in the Rain To help convince you it’s a good idea to hit the trail or pavement on rainy days, let’s start with some of the awesome benefits of getting your family outside in the rain: Fresh Air Fresh air is good for the body and the soul, rain or shine. It reduces stress, promotes better sleep, and can boost Vitamin D intake (yes, even on rainy days). If you live in an area that has long winters or rainy seasons, time in nature can help prevent and ease seasonal depression. To find out more about the benefits of getting out in nature, check out this article. Clouds and rain can make the temperature more bearable Clouds can have both a cooling and warming effect. On hot summer days, clouds can block the light and heat from the sun, making the temperature cooler. During the colder months, clouds can trap the heat from the sun, making the temperature warmer. Even with the added precipitation, you can enjoy milder outdoor temperatures, which can make a hike more enjoyable. Fewer Crowds Hiking is generally not the first activity that comes to mind on a rainy day for most people. However, fewer people on the trails makes for a more peaceful hike and more parking spots. I have found that a dreary day is the best time to visit the more popular hiking spots! Wildlife Spotting One of my favorite things about hiking in the rain is that you get to see critters you wouldn’t normally spot on a sunny day. Amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, love the rain since their skin is sensitive to moisture. They usually hide or hang out near the water on hot, sunny days, but they come out to play when the rain clouds roll in. In addition, you’ll likely see plenty of slugs and snails, which are fun to watch as they slowly move across the path leaving trails of slime behind. A Lesson in Resilience Even as babies, our children are watching our every move and learning life lessons along the way. Showing them that you are willing to go through the effort to suit up and get out of the house regardless of weather will teach them that there’s no such thing as “bad” weather.  It shows that even though something is “hard” or takes effort and planning, it’s still worth doing. This mindset can help positively influence them as they grow and experience life. It’s Majestic There is something special and unique about hiking on rainy or wet days. The air smells fresh from the rain and soaked earth, the water droplets make the trees sparkle, and the sound of rainfall is soothing. It’s a delight for the senses! My older son would fall asleep in the carrier almost every time we hiked in the rain. Tips for Baby Wearing in the Rain Now that we know the benefits of getting out in rainy weather, let’s look at how it can be done safely, even with very young babies. Keep in mind that you always want to make sure that your baby’s airway is unobstructed, so be sure that any hoods, covers, etc. are not covering their face. Keeping Baby Warm and Dry The most important thing to remember about babywearing in the rain is to make sure your baby is warm enough (but not too warm). While babywearing, you will inevitably transfer some of your heat to baby. This can reduce the number of layers needed for both the baby and the adult wearing them. Check out this article for more information on how to layer when babywearing in chilly weather. Here are some tried and true tips and hacks for keeping your baby warm and dry from our wonderful Hike it Baby community. Invest in a Babywearing Jacket While they do come with a price tag, babywearing jackets allow you to take the guesswork out of keeping both you and baby warm. Many have both front and back carrying options, so it can grow with baby as they get big enough for a back carry. Check out this article on babywearing jacket options we love.  Love your own jacket? They even make zip-in panels that extend the size of your jacket to accommodate babywearing. “A waterproof babywearing jacket is a huge help! We have the Suse’s Kinder Deluxe, which zips apart to fleece and waterproof shell for mild weather, or you can put them together for truly cold weather. It has child panels for front/back/hip carries so it’s truly versatile.” – Gaila, Ames, IA Use a Multifunctional Carrier Cover Various companies make covers for baby carriers that keep baby warm and dry. Just be sure that the cover is listed as waterproof rather than water-resistant (unless you plan to double up on these hacks and use one of the next two options as well). Many of these covers can also be used as blankets, which is a huge bonus when you want to reduce the amount of baby “stuff” you have to lug around. “I wish the Jan and Jul company had their rain cover when my son was a baby because it's absolutely amazing and you can use it more than just with the baby carrier! The moms in our branch use it to change diapers by laying it on the ground then baby on top. You can use it as a waterproof blanket to protect and keep baby warm in their car seat, stroller, wagon, or wherever baby is!” –  Joey, Provo, UT Use Spare Rain Gear to Keep Baby Dry Not ready to invest in more gear? Why not use what you already have? This is one of our favorite hacks because it’s so simple and yet so effective! Many soft-structured baby carriers have straps that unbuckle, so all you have to do is unbuckle the straps, thread them through the arms of a rain jacket, buckle the straps again and you’re set! The rain jacket can also be tucked in around the carrier if the straps don’t unbuckle. Then, simply slip the hood over baby’s head, and voila! Baby stays dry and they can grow into the rain jacket. “Slip the straps of a carrier through a jacket to keep baby protected. It works with any size coat about 3T and up. I've done it with down coats and fleece on cold, dry days and with up to an adult size raincoat on wet days.. also makes for cute babywearing costumes.” – Nicholl, Portsmouth, NH” “Use an adult rain jacket to place over the child's head and the carrier if you are wearing them face first.” – Juliana, Fairbanks, AK Photo Credit Nicholl Summers And if All Else Fails, Bring an Umbrella There is nothing wrong with bringing along a collapsible umbrella in case of rain. This can give you peace of mind in case it starts raining more than predicted or if you are worried that baby will get too wet. They fold up neatly, and you can strap them to your carrier with a carabiner to keep your hands free when not in use. Keeping Yourself Warm and Dry If you’re like me, you tend to put the comfort of your child first and forget all about your own needs. However, coming prepared with the appropriate gear for yourself means you can stay out longer and go farther without dealing with discomfort from soaked shoes or soggy pants. Check out these tips for keeping yourself warm and dry on those rainy hikes. Waterproof Yourself At the bare minimum, make sure that you have a waterproof jacket and waterproof footwear. If it’s still chilly where you are, check out this article on layering for the whole family. If possible, buy some actual rain pants. You would be surprised how wet your pants can get while babywearing in the rain! “Rain pants for the babywearer for sure! And a big umbrella is what I usually do with a younger baby. Older kiddos get their own rain suit and I use a carrier like my Integra Solar that is made of quicker-drying material”. – Karole, Northern VA “I’m from Oregon, I always use rain pants for myself. Otherwise my butt and upper thighs would be soaked from the rain dripping off our rain gear”. – Tiffany, Oregon Borrow Rain Gear in a Larger Size Sometimes the easiest thing to do in a pinch is reach inside the closet of your spouse, father, or friend and borrow a rain jacket in a larger size. Just make sure it’s large enough to zip over yourself and your baby in their carrier but be sure it’s not covering your baby’s airway. “Borrowing my husband's rain jacket!” – Leah, Hampton Roads, VA Protecting Your Carrier The vast majority of baby carriers are machine washable, meaning that they won’t be ruined by getting soaked with rain. However, a wet carrier can get uncomfortable for the wearer along with the child (not to mention if you want to use the carrier again later in the day). Here are some tips for keeping your carrier dry while enjoying a rainy stroll. Purchase a Waterproof Carrier Cover Most carrier companies have waterproof covers that you can slip over the carrier to stay dry. They usually come with a hood to slip over baby’s head and an extra pocket you can slip your hands in to stay dry. You can also find generic brands online that work for most carriers. The Raincoat Hack I realize we already mentioned this hack, but it not only keeps your child dry, but it can also protect your carrier by covering both the body and the straps. “With a soft structure carrier where the straps unbuckle (Onya, Ergo, Kinderpack, etc.) you can slip a toddler size rain jacket over the straps and then you have a rain protected Carrier!” – Rachel, Charleston, SC Photo Credit Rachel Young Using these tips and hacks, “intolerable weather” can turn into yet another family adventure filled with memories and fun.  Do you have extra tips for babywearing in the rain? Let us know in the comments below. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach
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5 Gear Essentials for Hiking in the Rain with Kids
Just because you're outside hiking in the rain doesn’t mean you have to be soaked to the bones. Make sure you are covering yourself and your kiddo from head to toe in waterproof gear. With careful planning and the right accessories to keep you warm and dry, you and your kiddo can enjoy your hikes and play in the rain longer. 1. Go beyond the raincoat When dressing your child, a full rain suit is a great option. There are no gaps in the material for water to sneak in. Oaki makes amazing rain suits and gear!  My daughter has spent hours in the pouring rain and gone swimming in some epic puddles in hers. Afterward, I'm always shocked when I peel it off and she is completely dry underneath. If the suit is a challenge because of potty training or an older child who wants a little more independence, a long rain coat and pants works great. Pro tip:  Size up in rainsuits if your little one will be in a carrier because it tends to pull the legs of the suit up and can leave gaps above their boots. 2. Take care of yourself If your child is warm and dry but you are drenched, the hike is going to be miserable for you. Get yourself a waterproof jacket and pants to keep yourself dry -- especially if you want to join in some puddle splashing too! Also consider how you can stay dry if you will be wearing your kiddo. 3. Don’t forget your feet Rain boots that are tall enough to be covered fully by the pants legs are a must. Make sure they are fully waterproof and insulated if you live where it is cold. Fortunately, most kids love rain boots, and they come in all sorts of happy patterns and colors. You will likely have more trouble getting your kids out of their rain boots than into them. Get yourself some waterproof boots too or minimally consider spraying your old hiking boots with waterproofing spray. 4. Waterproof your gear If you're carrying a pack with all your hiking essentials inside, get a pack cover to waterproof your cargo. And if you have a frame-style carrier like a Deuter, they make great rain pack covers to provide even more protection. If you are out in the rain with a stroller, look into one of the rain covers for the stroller that zip on and keep your kiddo warm and dry inside. 5. Warming layers and post-hike dry clothes Make sure to wear warm, wicking base layers to keep you cozy underneath. Wool clothing (like Luv Mother) is a great option - as it stays warm when wet and wicks away the moisture. Rain coats are often just shells so make sure to have solid layers underneath that you won't sweat in but will hold in the heat. Bring a hat to slip on under a hood and a couple pairs of gloves since those will inevitably get soaked. Pro tip: Have warm, soft, cozy clothes waiting in the car to slip into after the hike if you do end up a little cold and soggy. Having my daughter’s favorite pair of fleece or wool pants waiting in the warm car always works well as a motivator to push to the end of a rainy hike. (Hot cocoa waiting in the car is also a lovely treat!) Bonus tip: Hike it Baby offers discounts to members on many of these brands. Check out our Community Discounts page for current deals! Read more Getting outside - even in the rain What to wear: Hiking in the rain and winter Winter layering options for mothers Kids' Perspective: 5 Things kids like about hiking in the rain and cold What are your go-to gear items or tips for hiking in the rain and cold? Leave a comment below!   ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.  
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Growing Up Outdoors (Part 3)
WELCOME TO THE THIRD AND FINAL POST OF A THREE PART SERIES FROM OUR GUEST BLOGGER, MARY FINLEY! MARY SHARES HER STORY OF RAISING HER KIDS TO BE OUTDOORSY THROUGH ALL OF THE CHALLENGES AND CHANGES THAT LIFE HAS THROWN THEIR WAY.  Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first!   Shortly before my fortieth birthday, after having spent several years raising two kids and recovering from a serious injury, I found myself planning the cross country outdoor trip of a lifetime. My kids and I put up a giant map on the wall of our kitchen, binged pinterest travel pictures, laid out a basic map of our proposed route, and I went to work matching our wish list with our realistic abilities, financial, physical ability, and time and distance wise. We decided to leave Mother’s Day and this became my combined Mother’s Day and birthday gift from our whole family, something that is a blessing I will not forget. Not only for the ability to take the trip, but the understanding from my family and being able to feel seen in finally overcoming my years long struggles with physical injury and the anxiety of returning to something I always loved, but questioned how it would ever be the same. Our trip ended up taking us the southern route from Virginia, through Tennessee down to north Texas then up and across through Guadalupe and Carlsbad Caverns, down to the Sonoran Desert, and across to a friend’s house in Murrieta, CA, then circling back across through Joshua Tree to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, down to Santa Fe and Taos, then backtracking through Guadalupe, back through Texas, Tennessee, and home. In all, we took almost a month. We left Mother’s Day and returned…June 2nd, barely keeping our promise to get back by the third. We were hooked. It was physically exhausting overlanding, camping, and using a pop up camper when the opportunity provided itself, and we were blessed to have friends in Texas and California open their arms and doors to us to pit stop, restock, and visit with old friends. It was also a huge adventure! We had mishaps and missteps, a bout of bronchitis for me that landed us in a three day hotel stint in Santa Fe on doctor’s order (pushing pack our timeline resulting in that hustle to get home by the third and requiring us to make choices about what we wanted to spend our remaining time on), and a hilarious episode in which my then seven year old daughter ate waaaay too much cotton candy at the San Diego Zoo followed by a granola bar for dinner (remember those missteps I mentioned?!) and proceeded to throw up as we were parking in front of our friend’s house in Murrieta! Guess what? That is the thing about a community of parents, in this case strong women, female friends, who know that kids are crazy, unpredictable, and absolutely the best at vomiting at the most hilarious moments. We cleaned and dried our things laid out in the California sun on her driveway and hung out and laughed as our kids got to know each other, acted out, acted crazy, made us laugh, and argued with us and each other. Spent a day in the Pacific Ocean and generally reconnected. Life is exhausting, unpredictable, and sometimes disgusting, but you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.    My son is twenty now, still loves everything outdoors, he has spent time as a conservation science student and is still every bit of that nature loving kid he was at three running up Little Stoney Man. My daughter was never as much an outdoors kid. She was the one, who as a seven-year-old on our trip was more concerned about getting pink cowgirl boots in Santa Fe and a Kylie Jean Cowgirl hat at Meteor Crater than seeing the Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean. However, even she loved it. She only asked to go home once on our trip. On our last night in Tennessee while lying in our tent, rain flap removed counting the stars and our blessings, she also counted a spider on the ceiling of our tent. She screeeeamed! Hid in the corner. Overcome by a complete panic that climbing the side of ridge route in the Guadalupe mountains in high winds, being tossed by surf in the Pacific Ocean, no adventure had prepared her for that spider. You see, we all have our fears, irrational as they may be, and our obsessions, pink, fashion, seeing a Giant Pink Fiberglass Elephant (Tennessee) - hilariously still to this day topping the Grand Canyon as her favorite part of the trip. The trick is to tap into who each of us are, our fears, our joys, our anxieties, and the sometimes the irrational things that we love and keep us coming back for more. For me that is hiking, climbing, camping, kayaking, or just traveling with my kids. Two years later we took a second month long “irrational” trip on the northern US route through Badlands and Yellowstone into California and back through the Bonneville Salt Flats, one of my all-time favorite unexpected stops! With each trip I make I learn, grow, and conquer fears, and my kids do the same along with me. As for that spider? She still remembers it with a shiver down her spine, but luckily for her, mom is a quick spider hunter, and as we settled back into our sleeping bags listening to the night sounds of the warm humid southeast, we counted stars till we fell asleep and after a few weeks in the desert woke to a chorus of birds that sounded like a heavenly rain forest. Given the chance to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing.             ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach
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Kids' Perspective: 5 things kids like about hiking in the rain and cold
Cooler, wet temperatures and shorter days tend to keep families indoors during this time of year. It’s a lot of work to bundle the kids up to go hiking in the rain and cold. And less hours of sunlight makes it harder to find time with busy schedules to intentionally get out and play. But you don’t have to let these obstacles stop you from getting out with your kids … they need the fresh air and big open spaces just as much as they do any other time of year. Some of my kids' best hikes happened when it was raining or snowing. They seem more relaxed; they also whine less too. The elements guide their adventures, test their balance and agility, and spark their curiosity about how things work in nature. Where time stands still and the wetness and cold seeping into their skin gets ignored for more time splashing and tossing snowballs. With the rainy and cooler season here, I asked if they liked hiking better when it’s hot or cold. And hands down, they preferred hiking in the rain and cold for the same reasons I’m sure many kiddos (and those young at heart!) would agree. 1. "We love splashing in puddles!" Water play is definitely a winner when it comes to outdoor fun. Whether it’s the waters gathered in dips in the pavement or a huge puddle creating an obstacle on the trail, kids are drawn by a magnetic force that ushers them to wade into the heart of the puddle and jump. And jump some more … until they are completely drenched with total disregard for how wet they get. For kids, the bigger the splash, the better. (A tip for those wet shoes? Ball up newspaper and shove them into wet shoes and let sit overnight. Then prepare to be amazed at how dry they are the next day. If they’re not completely dry, put more balled-up newspaper in again.) 2. "We like seeing the animals that come out when it rains or in the winter." Kids are naturally curious about the world around them, which makes rainy days an even more unique time to learn about nature. It’s a good opportunity to watch for worms and snails, which come out when the ground is saturated, and learn about their makeup and how they contribute to the ecosystem. In winter, it’s fun to catch glimpses of winter birds, especially against a landscape that resembles a snow globe. Begin a discussion about how winter birds – and other animals – survive the cold. Then make homemade bird feeders to leave in the woods to aid in their survival during the cold months. 3.  "All the red trees are my favorite trees." In areas that see major changes in the four seasons, fall is a great time for hiking to watch the colors transition from green to blazing reds, oranges and yellows … and then a few weeks later, return to see them disappear altogether. Kids love to collect leaves or hear the rustling of fallen, dry leaves underfoot. And it’s always a lot of fun to toss leaves in the air and watch the wind twirl them all around. We also like to play a game where we find the largest leaf and compare it against the size of our face for giggles. 4.  "It’s fun hiking on snow and sledding in the woods." It’s not a secret – kids love snow and everything related to it, like sledding, eating snow, snowball fights, catching flakes on their tongue and making snow angels. Snow play is endless and even when their tiny fingers and toes can’t feel anymore, kids still insist they’re not cold. Hiking in snow also teaches kids about better footing and balance when walking over slick spots or sliding downhill. We also bring sleds on our hikes and stop halfway in the woods on a hill and sled for a little bit. The baby isn’t left out of the fun either; he gets pulled along in his sled during snowy hikes too. 5.  “We like feeling cold and wearing layers.” Hiking on a hot day when you’re sweaty from the heat and humidity and carrying a heavy pack isn’t very fun. But when the weather cools down, it’s easy to wear layers and shed them when your body temperature rises. According to my kids, dressing in layers also feels like you’re snuggling yourself. I never thought of it that way, but yeah – it does! Of course, mom or dad have to deal with the piles of socks, gloves, hats, scarves and coats inside the front door from all the shedding. But the fun that was had and the memories made are so worth it. Do your kids like hiking in the rain and cold? Leave a comment below and let us know what cool things your kids like about hiking at this time of year. Read More: Fall hiking ideas to get you out the door Embracing the puddle ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.  
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We Got Your Back: Madison WI
Hike it Baby recently participated in an open house  with the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, with the help of our Advisory Board member James Edward Mills.  The Nelson Institute event included a screening of the film "Breaking Trail," a film which follows Emily Ford as she becomes the first woman and person of color to embark on a thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail in winter.    In addition to the screening of the film, our Board of Directors member Dineo Dowd led a short, family friendly Wander Walk hike, and along with Advisory Board member Courtney Schultz, supported our We Got Your Back table at the event.  Hike it Baby had the opportunity to hand out a boatload of free resources including activity sheets, layering resources and workbooks PLUS give away a variety of outdoor gear, donated by several generous partners including Turtle Fur, Merrell, Ella's Wool, LLBean, Burley, Retrospec, and Morrison Outdoors! Want to know more about our "We Got Your Back" program? This program is focused on helping families build confidence, have fun, and find a sense of belonging in the outdoors, through physical assets (like all of our gear giveaways from this event!), Family Hikes and Workshops focused on sharing resources and providing a supportive environment for new hikers, and free community resources in local HiB communities, including gear and clothing exchanges.  When we say we want to remove barriers so all families can get outside and experience the benefits of nature, we mean it, but words can only get you so far. With our We Got Your Back program, we are rolling up our sleeves and making it happen. Thank you to all members of the Hike it Baby Madison WI branch who visited us (special shout out to our Branch Ambassador Nicole Kester!), hiked with us, and supported the event!   Keep an eye out for our upcoming We Got Your Back events in San Diego, CA (spring), Elizabeth, NJ (May 7), Atlanta, GA (May 12), and Portland, OR (late spring/early summer). ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach
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Guide to Choosing the Right Boots for Your Family
An all-in-one guide to footwear for your family's winter adventures! In partnership with the awesome team at Merrell We know that time in nature is good for the mind, body, and soul all year round. However, uncomfortable kiddos (and their adults) make for a less-than-enjoyable experience for everyone. While choosing the right clothing layers is extremely important (check out this article on layering), having the wrong type of footwear can cut your outdoor fun short faster than it takes to say, “don’t jump in that slosh puddle, your shoes aren’t waterproof!” Choosing the right boots for your outdoor adventures is important, but purchasing the right footwear for chilly, wet months can be daunting. With so many options to choose from, how do you know which pair (or pairs) will fit the needs of your family? We have put this guide together to help take the guesswork out of the footwear debate, and help you find the boots that work best for your family. In this Article: Types of Boots Main Factors to Consider Key Boot Features Insider Tips for Choosing the Right Boots Rain boots vs. snow boots vs. hiking boots So you say you want a pair of boots. Boots are boots, right? Well, not exactly. Outdoor boots come in many different “flavors” that fit into three main categories: Rain boots, snow boots, and hiking boots. Rain Boots: If your adventure involves puddle splashing, rainy day adventures, look no further than the classic rain boot. You will generally find the most variety of colors, patterns, and styles in a rain boot, and they tend to be lighter weight and less expensive than hiking or snow boots. That being said, they also tend to come with a bit less traction and do not keep feet as warm as other boot types. Snow Boots: Snow boots are built to keep feet toasty warm when romping in snow and slush. They also come with better traction to navigate slippery terrain. Due to the better insulation, they also tend to be heavier and come with a higher price tag. Hiking Boots: These are the most versatile of the boots listed, depending on the features you choose. If your adventures tend to involve trails and you want a less specialized boot that can be worn over multiple seasons, this may be the way to go. They tend to be lighter than snow boots, but usually don’t provide the ankle support or height required for extra snowy adventures. Also, it can be more difficult to find fully waterproof hiking boot options.   Photo: Michelle Craig Main Factors to Consider The two main factors to consider when choosing a boot are the climate you live/play in and the type of activities you plan to participate in. Climate Your ideal boot selection will vary drastically depending on where you live. A snowy, frigid northern winter will require a high-quality snow or hiking boot with a colder temperature rating (see the section on warmth below). If you get a large amount of snowfall, you may also want to consider the height of the boot you choose. A taller boot will be more effective at keeping feet dry in comparison to an ankle-high boot. In contrast, a mild, drizzly southern winter may only require a set of rain boots. If you live in an area that receives very little (or very rare) snowfall, you may be able to get away with rain boots if you pair them with high-quality, warm wool socks (see tips section for budget-friendly hacks on how to make rain boots work in snow). Activity In addition to climate, it’s important to consider your intended outdoor activities when deciding which boot will work for you. If your kiddos will be wearing the boots to school, you may want to investigate flexible, breathable options (sometimes referred to as “sneaker boots”). If tromping through the snow on a winter hike is more your style, you will want to look for a boot with good traction and an appropriate temperature rating. Looking to puddle jump and keep feet dry on splashy afternoons? A tall rain boot may be just what you’re looking for. Key Features to think about: With your climate and outdoor activities in mind, some boot features will be more important than others. Here we have listed some of the key features to consider when choosing the right boots for your family. We highly suggest researching the features of any boots you are considering (either online or through an outdoor recreation store) to determine which of these features they have and which they are lacking. Waterproofing If your kiddos are like mine, they gravitate towards anything wet; puddles, snow, slush, etc. Unless you live in an area that stays fairly dry, I highly recommend purchasing waterproof boots. Even water-resistant options can become very wet and uncomfortable quickly. Fit and Comfort This one seems obvious, but trying to ask a distracted child how a boot “feels” can get you nowhere and lead to future issues. If possible, get yours and your child’s feet sized for BOTH length and width at an outdoor recreation store. I was surprised to discover my kiddo has wide feet, which explained why he often complained about his shoes and preferred to go barefoot. Also, bring the socks you plan to use with the boots when you try on the shoes. Cotton socks will provide a different fit than thick wool socks. Warmth Snow boots (and sometimes hiking boots) usually have a temperature rating that denotes the approximate lowest air temperature at which the boot insulation will keep feet comfortable. Just keep in mind that these ratings are only a guide, and can be affected by conditions such as weather, wearer’s activity level, exposure time, type of sock worn, cold sensitivity, etc. Generally speaking, a wet, snowy northeast winter will require a much different temperature rating compared to a mild, southern climate. Traction Chilly, wet weather often leads to slippery conditions. These conditions can lead to disastrous consequences (such as falls and injuries) when paired with active, excited kiddos or a baby-wearing adult. Choosing a boot with excellent traction (such as Vibram boot soles) can keep your feet on the ground and give you a little extra peace of mind that your family is less likely to slip. Weight Boots have come a long way in the last few decades. Even snow boots have become more lightweight and comfortable thanks to recent innovations in boot design and insulation. Unless your adventure involves long treks in frigid, wet conditions, choosing a boot that is lighter and more flexible without losing the insulation and waterproof properties will ensure that kiddos can have fun in the colder temperatures. Breathability While it’s important to keep moisture out of the boot, it’s also important to let moisture escape. Active families can make for sweaty feet, which can lead to icy toes if that moisture can’t escape. This can also lead to a build-up of odor-causing bacteria in the boot, which can cause boots to smell terrible after only a few adventures. Seek out a boot that is both breathable and contains anti-bacterial properties in the lining to keep feet comfortable and boots smelling fresh. Ease of Use Any caregiver will tell you that getting shoes on an excited toddler can be equivalent to wrangling an octopus. They could be the best boots in the world, but if it takes an hour to get them on your frustrated child, they aren’t worth it. Thankfully, shoe companies have heard our plea and now offer much easier methods to get shoes on little feet. Look for features such as medial zippers and toggle closures when choosing boots for active little feet. Insider Tips for Choosing the Right Boot My family has lived in various climates across the United States, from Colorado to Upstate New York, the Pacific Northwest, and now coastal Virginia. Here are some tips we have picked up along the way, along with tips from our amazing Hike it Baby Community to help you choose the right boots for our family (or make the boots you already have work when purchasing isn’t an option). General Tips Remember that our feet often swell a bit when we're hiking/walking/running, so sizing up can help prevent damage to toenails; especially when hiking downhill. My hiking boots and running shoes are a full size larger than the rest of my everyday shoes. Also, be wary of you or your kids possibly having wide feet. My youngest has wide feet and he swooned when I figured it out and got him Merrell hiking shoes in wide. – Alex Wong, Salt Lake City, UT Spend the extra money on waterPROOF footwear over water-resistant - this distinction has saved me on many, many hikes with wet grass or mud! – Erin, Durham, NC If you're looking to do all-day winter adventures with your little kids, invest in some winter hiking boots. Winter hiking boots will keep feet much warmer than play-quality snow boots. – Valerie, Adirondack Coast The best boot depends on the child, but I have found one thing to be true across the board… If you hike in chilly/cold weather with young children who spend a lot of time in the carrier but also like to hike a bit themselves you need to bring two types of boots. One, a down or similar booty that is strictly for warmth and protection from wind/rain/snow in the air. The other, a waterproof hiking boot that is not too big or too small worn with wool or similar socks. Oftentimes circulation to the feet is slightly inhibited by being in a carrier and heavy boots only make this worse. For families who feel like their child’s feet are always freezing while in the carrier, this will be a game-changer. – Lindsey Weir, Honolulu, Hawai’i (Formerly in Upstate NY and Washington State)   Budget-friendly tips Choose a boot that is versatile and can be worn in various conditions. My son calls his rugged boots “everything but summer” boots because they can be used for most of our outings with just a few tweaks in sock choices. – Becca, Chesapeake, VA It rarely snows where we live, so it doesn't make sense to invest in a lot of winter gear. When it does snow, I put thick wool socks under my son's rain boots. I wouldn't have him hike in difficult terrain that way, but it works well for playing. We also keep extra pairs of adult socks in our bag as backup mittens. They are also good as a way to add an extra layer of warmth to a baby's feet and legs and are hard for small hands to take off. – Carolyn, Greenville, SC I use bread sleeves and rain boots! My big boy’s feet are growing a mile a minute and the “men’s size” price can’t keep up! So, we put feet in wool socks, then bread sleeves, then a rain boot. Works great for hours of play, especially in North Carolina where snow is a once-a-year type of thing. – Kayla, North Carolina For boots that are lacking in traction (either from wear-and-tear or the type of boot), we use Yaktrax or other ice cleats for added stability in icy conditions. They are generally inexpensive and last for years. – Becca, Chesapeake, VA   Try Before You Buy When it comes to finding the right boot, I go to REI and try them on. They have such an amazing return policy that if I am not satisfied with them, I can bring them back. Even if I have hiked or walked in them. I also have done my research on the best boots for flat feet, because I have those and it's not fun. For winter boots I always make sure there is enough room for my feet with regular socks and wool socks and still room for air circulation because that is what helps keep your feet from getting cold. It's the same with my kids honestly. But they usually get second-hand shoes, so it's not always perfect. If it's not a perfect match, I don't feel so bad if they need something else. – Juliana, Alaska When making the selection in the store, bring or wear the socks you’re most likely going to be wearing with that boot/shoe. So often I'm trying on boots in thin cotton socks because that's what I'm wearing at the time but then wearing a thicker sock during the actual activity (like winter hiking) and the shoe/boot doesn't fit as comfortably as it did in the store. – Paige, Milwaukee, WI   Socks Can Be a Game-Changer I think an investment in good wool or synthetic socks would be key for a comfortable hike in any season. These socks will wick moisture off the skin and still insulate when wet. Cotton will soak your skin and keep your feet cold. A shoe with a good tread will add to the ease of hiking in wet, snowy, slippery conditions. And as always, keep a fresh dry pair of socks in the car for the ride home. – Christie, Richmond, VA Make sure you’re matching boots and socks - especially in cold weather, adding an extra pair of socks or thicker socks won’t help if your boots don’t have enough room for the extra volume, so size up if you’ll be adding extra sock volume. Especially important for folks with wide or tall feet that are already prone to being a bit squished if we’re not careful. – Gaila, Ames, IA Use different socks for different adventures but STAY AWAY FROM COTTON! Wool and synthetic socks come with different levels of thickness and cushioning, with thinner socks being great for summer adventures and thicker, more cushioned socks being ideal for colder conditions. – Becca, Chesapeake, VA Do you have extra tips on choosing the right boots to fit your family's needs? Let us know in the comments below!   ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.  
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Keeping Your Family Warm on the Trail this Winter
As we head into winter and have the added challenge of trying to stay warm, one of the most common questions we get is, “How do I dress my family for outdoor adventures in the cold, and what other gear do we need?”  While the answer depends largely on where you live, we have compiled some helpful tips, gear suggestions and links to past blogs so that you have all the information you need for getting the most out of this winter in one convenient spot. "How do I dress my family for cold-weather outdoor adventures?" This is arguably one of the most asked questions throughout the year, and for good reason!  So let’s break it down based on age, because dressing an infant for the cold is very different from dressing a grown adult. Adults No matter the age, layers are key. Base layer: This is the layer closest to your skin. You may have heard the term “cotton is rotten,” which is never more true than picking a base layer for cold days in nature. Wool is generally best, but a synthetic blend of wicking material is a budget-friendly option as well. This layer comes in multiple varieties depending on temperature and activity level (heavyweight is the thickest for the most frigid weather conditions). Mid-layer: This layer goes over your base layer and keeps you warm (think fleece sweatshirt). I prefer a full-zip option to assist with chilly nursing sessions. 3rd layer: This is optional based on outdoor temperatures and your planned activity. When temperatures are very low or wind/snow are a factor, you may consider an extra layer to ensure warmth. Just remember, it is easy to take off a layer if you get warm, but you can’t add a layer you don’t have! Outer layer: Generally you will want a weather-resistant outer layer that can stand up to low temperatures along with possible precipitation and wind. How “weather-resistant” this layer needs to be will depend on the expected conditions. For example, if you are expecting rain or wet snow, you will definitely want a water-proof outer layer. Head, hands and feet: When temperatures are low, our bodies focus on keeping most of our warmth in toward our core to keep us safe. While this is essential, it can certainly get uncomfortable for our extremities! That’s why good-quality hats, gloves/mittens, socks, scarves, etc., are important. As with our body layers, it is best to stick with wicking wool or synthetic materials here as well.  Just remember, wet feet and hands will feel icy in low temperatures! Footwear: Traction and warmth are key, especially if you are babywearing or hiking on wet or icy terrain. If you live in a location that sees snow and rain, you will want waterproofing as well. Other than that, the type of footwear is largely personal preference here. For example, I prefer ankle support so I have traditional waterproof winter hiking boots along with snow boots. In contrast, my husband prefers a more flexible fit, so he sticks with waterproof trail runners unless more extreme conditions force him into his snow boots. Check out these past blog posts for more in-depth information on winter layering, all-weather hiking essentials, and winter gear tips. “Big-Kids” (aka older toddlers and beyond) Children who are good walkers will follow much the same rules as adults with a few tweaks for kiddos who like to get down and dirty in the snow and mud. Full-coverage waterproofing: In order to stay warm, our kiddos need to stay dry. This isn’t always an easy task when snow or cold rain is involved. Consider either a waterproof winter coat and pants or a rain suit that can be used as a thin waterproof outer layer with multiple warm layers underneath. Waterproof boots and mittens/gloves: While adults can usually get away with water-resistant options, kids have a tendency to get as wet and messy as possible, so waterproof options are worth the extra money here. Check out some great options we can recommend here. For more information on dressing the whole family for outdoor winter adventures, check out this article. Infants Dressing an infant for the cold will rely heavily on whether they are going to be in a carrier the majority of the time, crawling in or exploring the snow, or tucked away in a stroller. In general, layers are key. As with adults and big kids, start with a wool or synthetic base layer. Fleece-footed pajamas work well for a mid-layer, and a down or fleece bunting outer layer will help keep them warm and toasty. Add a warm hat that covers the ears and goes under the chin along with adult wool socks over their hands under the bunting to ensure these areas stay warm and dry. Include a waterproof outer layer (such as a rain suit or waterproof bunting) if they will be rolling in the snow.  For stroller walks, add a stroller weather-shield or a thick blanket for added warmth. Since infants are not great at regulating their own temperature, be sure to check for flushed skin, chilly extremities or irritability as signs that they may be too warm or cold. Find more information in these past blog posts on winter layering for infants and winter hiking with babies along with this past gear guide for more ideas on keeping your baby cozy in these colder months. Babywearing to stay warm Wearing a baby (especially with a wrap or a soft-structured carrier) can get HOT. For this reason, you will need to consider how you layer both yourself and baby. For adults, removing the mid-layer (aka the “warm” layer) can help prevent over-heating. If you want more information on cold-weather babywearing, check out these articles on winter layering when babywearing, and layering for all aspects of motherhood (pregnancy on up). What Other Gear do I Need? This will differ based on trail conditions and outdoor activity, but here are some options to consider in order to make your adventure as enjoyable (and comfortable) as possible. Hiking essentials: Whether you are going on a family winter hike for a few hours or a longer snowshoeing adventure, be sure to pack the "10 Essentials" in a good-quality hiking pack. It’s a good idea to include some hand and foot warmers for those extra cold days! Read more about the 10 essentials and what you need for a successful day hike here. Traction cleats or spikes: Cleats or spikes are especially important when babywearing on frozen or snow-covered ground. They are easy to attach to most shoes and boots and help prevent slipping and sliding on the trails. Hiking poles: Hiking poles are another important gear option for added stability on icy or wet trails. Snowshoes: If you live in an area that experiences plenty of snowfall in the winter months, snowshoes are a fun (and at times more practical) option for hiking. They make them in toddler-/kid-size as well!  Check out this Family Snowshoeing 101 article for everything you need to know to get started with snowshoeing for the entire family. Sled or snow tube: Who doesn’t love speeding down a snowy hill? Winter camping gear: Are you ready to take the plunge and camp in the winter with your family?  While it may sound crazy, there are actually various benefits to cold-weather camping, such as less crowding and prime campsite availability. Check out a few of our past blog posts for tips on layering for cold camping and picking the right camping gear to ensure an enjoyable experience for the whole family. What winter gear do you find essential to ensure an enjoyable outdoor experience for your family? Let us know in the comments below! Read more: Winter hiking - How to layer for infants How to layer when babywearing in the cold 5 Comfy and cozy winter carriers for babywearing Photos by Laura Castro and Amy Diebold. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org    EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach