Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book Nook: Hike it Baby

When our girls were young, we had already been camping together for several years and decided not to stop just because we had little ones. We camped and hiked with them from the time they were born (well, 8 months old, because we weren't about to try winter camping in Minnesota). The girls both have a strong love for nature and the hikes that we do as a family, on camping trips or near our house.

I had a chance to review a book that aims to help parents hike with their youngest ones. Hike it Baby presents 100 outdoor adventures across the U.S. that you can take with babies and toddlers (really!), along with everything you need to know about exploring the natural world. Sourced from real families using Hike it Baby’s trail-tested system, this book helps moms and dads get out there in their comfort zone, yet feel like hardcore adventurers! Whether you’ve always wanted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail, splash around in gentle Northwest waterfalls, or scramble up rocks in the desert surrounded by Joshua Trees, this book shows you how to plan a truly memorable journey together.

I liked the book. Even though my kids are older, I could definitely appreciate this guide. As a family with older kids, I don't need to worry about nursing stations, but knowing what other family amenities can be found and how difficult the trail is also helps me as a parent. These trails are all across the U.S., so you're bound to find one somewhere near you - or a great new road trip destination. I loved the profiles of the different families and tips, like the family that did the Appalachian trail and shared their story.

I had a chance to do an interview to learn more.

Why did you decide to write this book?
As a new parent and first time parent I found it was hard to find hikes when Mason was a little one. Now that I have a community, I can tap into a whole network across country to find adventures, so it made sense to pull all of our favorites into one book that everyone could enjoy and help them get outside. If I can't find a hike these days it just takes jumping onto a local Hike it Baby community in 300 different cities to find the perfect trail. 

What is one of the most surprising benefits you've discovered of hiking with babies?
I felt healthier and more connected to my baby as soon as we hit the trail. I also found I connected better with other parents in a way that was very different than a coffee shop meet up. Also, I became much more aware of public lands and protecting mother nature when I became a mom and saw how important it was to connect my baby to the natural world. 

Do you have tips to share for continuing to hike when the babies get a little older and more mobile?
Your carrier is key. Don't skimp there and try a few out before deciding on "the one". Know that that can change as your baby grows. Look for a community to help keep you inspired to get out there. Hiking with others who have little walkers will keep your baby moving forward and the tantrums at bay. At least if you have a screaming child on trail, others around you will "get it" if they have littles too!

Shanti Hodges founded Hike it Baby, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families with babies and toddlers find each other in the outdoors. In 2016 she began hosting an annual family camping festival  ( in Oregon. In 2018 she began hosting retreats in Southern Utah (

Prior to hitting the trail as a mom and outdoor movement leader, Shanti was a freelance writer and a consultant helping small businesses with their websites and social media. As a freelancer she wrote for magazines like Outside, Men’s Journal, Marie Claire, Shape, Self, and also wrote a book in 2007 called, "Women Who Run." 
Shanti and her husband Mark split their time between Portland, OR and La Verkin, Utah.  She enjoys watching their son Mason fall in love with nature on their frequent adventures camping, rafting, biking, and of course, hiking in the outdoors.
The book is available for pre-order here: 

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