Getting outside, as I’ve said before, can be difficult. Getting outside in the winter, comes with its own unique set of additional challenges, not the least of which involve clothes for you, clothes for your baby, a diaper bag with even more clothes for your baby, a 4-wheel drive, copious amounts of coffee, and a will to persevere, dammit.
As a family, we’re the snow-loving sort. I have a whole slew of things I envision doing with kiddo when he’s a bit older. I daydream about hot coco in the lodge after a long day of sledding, or the awesome runs we’ll ski. There will be mittens and forts and cross-country skiing and catching snowflakes on our tongues… Of course, our kid is only four months old. He has just mastered the art of rolling over, so the whole skiing and sledding thing is a ways down the road. There is a snow sport that does lend itself to babies, however. It’s decidedly slow-paced, but I find it very approachable with an infant.
You guessed it: Snowshoeing!
So how did my husband and I accomplish this feat? Well. Here’s the list of things we brought with us on our journey up the mountain:
- Warm clothing for us.
- Pack for water bottle, snacks, extra layers, and the contents of the diaper bag.
- Patagonia onesie (with built in mittens) to put over the onesie Little Bear was already wearing, plus a hat.
- Snow shoes.
- Leash and bags for our pup (because he loves a snow day as much as the rest of us).
- Full tank of gas, 4-wheel drive Subaru with tires in good condition.
It’s not as straight forward, of course. There’s always nuance when it comes to wrangling a baby outside the home. Namely, momma, be prepared to breastfeed in the car right before you go for a hike if your babe is still on the boob and you’re not toting around a bottle (formula or otherwise). If you are toting around a bottle, just remember you’re heading into the snowy expanse and things get cold. If you don’t have a fussy eater, you don’t have anything to worry about. If you do… well… perseverance, dammit! As far as myself, I simply fed him in the car before we headed out on our snowshoe.
Now, just so we’re clear, I am not being paid to advertise for Patagonia or Ergo, but, I want to be honest with all you outdoor enthusiast mommas, and tell you the real deal about what I use and why. The Patagonia onesie is awesome and fuzzy and not cheap. Luckily, we got ours as a gift, but I’ll tell you what, I would have bought it, regardless of the cost. It’s perfect for winter weather. Though not waterproof, this fuzzy little encapsulation keeps hands and feet covered as well as offering undeniable insulation. Alright, so, say it’s snowing, or, knowing where we live, say it’s drizzling over the beautiful white landscape. Well! The Ergo is everything. It comes with a little hood, it fully covers the back of the baby, and though tiny feet poke out (at least Little Bear’s tiny paws are always dangling down), it is still a top-notch protector. Plus, the Ergo is great for ease of transportation. Just throw the little one in there and the nice walking motion and warm belly means you’ve got a sleeping baby in next to no time*.
Things to keep in mind? There are elements. As in, you’re on a mountain, in the snow. This is not rocket science. Make sure you have provisions in case the weather turns horrible. Have water for yourself, follow the trail maps and don’t go wandering off the designated path unless you are extremely familiar with the area and brought your compass. I cannot stress this enough. When there’s snow, a lot of landmarks you may be used to in the summer WILL NOT BE VISIBLE. It is extremely easy to get lost in the winter if you head away from the main track. Everything begins to look the same in a snowy forest.
We brought a changing pad, because, my husband informed me that he would have no problem changing Little Bear on a snowy hill, which… you know… go for it; that being said, if you’re us, and you’ve got an infant, the chance of you being on a hike for longer than a couple hours is unlikely. In that time frame a diaper change won’t be necessary… one can hope. Especially, if, like us, you give him a quick change in the car before you begin.
That being said, we still brought the pad and the diapers and the whole new outfit because if there’s one thing you learn as new parents, it’s that you cannot be over prepared. Or, well, maybe you can… because that backpack definitely could have been lighter, but, I mentioned we’re new parents, right?
So, my advice to you? Keep it to two hours maximum, for the sake of your back (if you’re the one with the ergo), feed the kid and change him right before you hit the trail, follow the signs, bring extra layers, and have fun. Seriously, stop worrying about your (hopefully) sleeping infant and start looking around at the gorgeous landscape. And, if you’re us, wake up your sleeping infant so you can take an ungodly number of photos and feel smug when you share it on social media later.
* I only have the one baby and know nothing about other babies so what works for Little Bear may not work for other babies. Sorry if it doesn’t, because you deserve something that works. You’re doing a great job, though! Go get yourself a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate.