Disclaimer: Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider for specific recommendations based on your baby's age, health, and local weather conditions. They can provide further guidance on how to keep your baby safe and comfortable during hot weather. It's a good idea to also discuss sunscreen to ensure you are taking the appropriate measures to protect your baby's delicate skin from the sun. All affiliate link revenue goes to Kids Who Explore to help get more kids outside. Thank you in advance for your support.
Several factors can come into play when it comes to weather that is too hot for a baby. Humidity can be a huge factor, plus it depends on the age of your baby and if your baby is being worn on your front or in a hiking carrier. As a general guideline, it is recommended to avoid taking a baby outdoors when the temperature reaches or exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). I have been in climates where it has been outrageously warm (up to 37 degrees Celsius in Hawaii and the Okanagan) and I took my baby to the shade and cool valleys along the river. If I had to say a new rule thumb now, I would go with the no hotter than 32 degrees Celsius rule for us. Hiking in the heat can be miserable between the direct sun, bug bites, and hauling the weight of your carrier and baby.
Hiking in the summer heat with a baby requires careful planning and preparation to ensure their safety and comfort. Here's everything you need to know about hiking in the summer heat with a baby:
How to dress baby: Use light-coloured, lightweight, breathable clothing that covers their skin to protect them from the sun. I love using bamboo sleepers or merino wool from either Wee Woollies (Vancouver Island Family-Owned) or Iksplor (A Lovely Sister Duo based in Jackson WY) and you can use "KIDSWHOEXPLORE" to get 15% off you order with them too. I love this set for my baby. Merino wool is great in the summer because of the breathability, UV protection, moisture wicking, quick dry ability, and temperature regulation. Choose a wide brim hat that provides shade for their face, neck, and ears. I would highly recommend a sunshade for your hiking carrier incase your baby loves to remove their hat!
Check for weather warnings: Double check for extreme changes in the weather and if there are any advisories in your area that could be dangerous for you and baby.
Time it Right: Hit the trail in the early morning while it is cooler and avoid warmer parts of the day. I find it boiling between Noon and 4pm in Alberta. I even do sunset hikes with my baby in the summer and just pack along my headlamp. We don't have a strict bed routine in our house in the summer months.
Sun protection: When choosing a sunscreen for your baby, look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. It should be specifically formulated for infants and free of fragrances, dyes, and other potential irritants. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is generally safe to start using sunscreen on infants who are six months or older. I have had to use a tiny amount of sun screen on my babies hands under the age of six months because the weather changed to super sunny and I didn't have anything to cover his hands. It is ideal to follow the AAP recommendations though. Just a reminder too that cloudy summer days can also create sunburns. I love using ThinkBaby sunscreen for my kids.
Breathable carrier: If you can choose a mesh option then that would be ideal for airflow and ventilation. The next thing that is a must is getting a carrier with a built in sunshade or a carrier that you can buy the sunshade accessory. Breathable fabrics help a lot in the summer heat. I love my Ergo Baby Omni Breeze in pearl grey and mesh material.
Hydration station: Keep your baby well-hydrated during the hike. Offer them milk or water frequently. Offer more often than you usually would on a hike. I pack along things like watermelon (now that my baby is eating solids) zucchini, cucumber, and oranges. Do not forget to hydrate yourself along the way! I pack a hydration pack with me always. I always feel dehydrated when nursing too.
Lots of breaks: Stop often and do baby checks along the way and try to only stop in the shaded areas when you do stop.
Watch for signs: Overheating and dehydration can be all too common when hiking in the heat. Things to watch for with your baby is if they're sweating, lethargic, irritable, or red. If there is any signs at all that baby is uncomfortable, opting out of the hike is the way to go. The first priority is to stop entirely in the shade, offer fluids, and create an exit plan.
Shaded trails: Or trails that are along water, into canyons, or with super tall and shady trees. Sun exposed trails are dangerous and should be avoided with baby in the heat of summer unless going early in the morning. You will also be at risk of heatstroke if you are hiking in exposed sun with elevation.
Be prepared for emergencies: Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat-related illnesses and know what steps to take in case of an emergency. I would also pack a mini fan if you can or a spray bottle for additional precautions. In Wilderness First-Aid, I learned that the first few steps are to remove from heat right away, lo0sen tight clothing, poor water over torso (or use spray bottle) and fan skin, or immerse person in cold water in severe cases. BUT! Please read up further on your own First-Aid research. You can also sign up for a Wilderness First- Aid Course in your area too.
Trust your gut: Don't go if you don't think it's a good idea. Just plan a sunset adventure or find a local creek to play in instead. Even if you get to a trailhead or you get on the trail, you can still end the hike at anytime that you're feeling uncomfortable or you baby. Safety first, always.
If you're like me, you want to develop a connection with your baby while hiking on the trail. A huge part of that is listening to their cues and honouring their feelings too. Acknowledge them every step of the way and focus on their needs in the same way that you would at home too. A fun and safe hike should always be the goal. Just know that there will be other days to enjoy the trail together if the one you planned is ruined from a super hot day. Have the best time hiking this summer with your baby.