Nature Walks With Toddlers

Taking a nature walk with toddlers, or as my young niece likes to say, "Going on an adventure" requires some amount of planning. First, there are meals and naps to consider. You can't head out on and adventure half an hour before nap time. And if its near a meal time, a picnic will be necessary. Even if you think you'll be right back, "in only 20 minutes," it NEVER works out that way. Toddlers are notoriously slow walkers. There are so many bugs, flowers, sand piles, etc, to stop and investigate along the way, after all. And then, of course, the adults may want to pose children for a picture (or ten) along the way.

The key is to keep these points in mind when making your plans. Case in point... our walk through Armstrong Woods on Wednesday. We had to get 12 people (including 4 children) out of the house and to the redwood grove (no small feat I'll tell you!)  Knowing we'd be gone across the lunch hour, we brought sandwiches, fruit, and drinks.

Yet, even with our best planning, we were off by about 30 minutes. Armstrong Woods features a relatively short trail with a picnic area at the end. We had planned to eat lunch there before turning back. Getting all 12 of us to the picnic area, however, took longer than we had anticipated. The result: hungry toddlers who refused to walk the final stretch. Luckily, we have able bodied adults who carried them the remaining distance. Once they refueled, they felt better and were able to play in the natural "caves" in the trees before heading back.

So remember to plan ahead. Even if you don't expect to have a meal while walking, bring plenty of snacks and water. And you may want to bring along a baby carrier or sling, just in case.

What other tips do you have for taking nature walks with young children?

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