Staying active outside: 9-12 month old winter babies

If you haven’t already read the last four parts of this series on staying active outside, you can read them here Pregnancy, 0-3 month old winter babies, 3-6 month old spring babies, 6-9 month old summer/fall babies.

9-12 months was an exciting time as little bear went from crawling, to walking! It led to some challenges as not only were we heading into the coldest months of the year, but I had an extra wiggly baby on my hands who wasn’t as content to stay in the Chariot or in a carrier.  That being said,  we did manage to make it work. Here’s how …

Scoping out the latest problem on a walk to the park.

Scoping out the latest problem on a walk to the park.

Activities

Hiking

Late shoulder season is challenging in the best of times to get out in, so I was prepared for a bit of experimentation to find our groove.  Interestingly, the most difficult “problem” was the lack of snow due to a low snow year and icier trails! Here’s a few tips that made snowshoeing hiking easier.

  • Stay closer to home.  Keeping car rides ~40 min made for more relaxing days as we could drive out in the am, and be back by lunch.  Little bear also had a lot less patience for being in her carseat awake, so shorter car rides were more relaxing.
  • Try to time driving (or at least once direction of the trip) with a nap. Ie, morning nap goes with the drive out, or …
  • If you’re planning a longer hike or will be out closer to lunch, consider a hike with a kid-friendly restaurant nearby for lunch.  If we added lunch out, then the drive home would coincide with an afternoon nap.
  • Pack the night before.  If only I’d listen to my own advice! Speaking from experience mornings are really stressful when you’re trying to pack under a (nap) deadline.
  • Here are a few items we found we needed for fall/winter hikes in particular:
    • Microspikes – Kahtoola microspikes are our favourite!
    • Poles
    • Lots of snacks for the car and hike that won’t freeze
    • Extra layers in case it’s warmer/colder at the trailhead

Cross-country skiing

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do a lot of cross-country skiing this winter as many of the beginner trails didn’t have enough snow.  We had never cross-country skied more than once or twice before, so it was definitely a little more challenging to learn a new sport with a baby in tow.  If you’re in the same boat, here are a few things we learned along the way:

  • Downhill skiing is NOT the same as cross-country.  There is no “braking” when you cross-country ski.  Your options are 1) fly down the hill or 2) attempt to snowplow without metal edges.  For this reason, we stuck to mostly flat terrain with the Chariot.
  • Stay close to home.  If you have a sport or activity you’re good at, you can forget how much effort goes into packing and dressing appropriately for a new one.  We loved skiing in the greenspace outside our house after a snow or going to the city golf courses.
  • Go for waxless skis.  It’s one less thing to worry about when you’re a newbie at everything else!
Skiing at Shaganappi Golf Course

Skiing at Shaganappi Golf Course

Walks

Walks still remained a staple as they get everyone outside in the fresh air!  Even when the temperatures dipped well below freezing, it wasn’t a problem.  In particular, as little bear transitioned from two naps to one, it helped to be able to walk her in the Chariot for a nap on days when she was having trouble settling.  When it was above freezing, I’d use the backpack since it’s a good workout and easy to transport.  On colder days, I liked the Chariot as it was much warmer.

Indoor walking practice

Realistically, it’s not always possible to get outside in the winter and being bundled up in several layers isn’t the ideal situation for learning to walk.  We signed up for Gymboree for the winter months and loved having somewhere to go to run around and walk on very cold days.

Gear

Backpack

Warm and snug in her Chariot after a walking in a snowstorm

Warm and snug in her Chariot after a walking in a snowstorm

With little bear got heavier, the backpack was our go-to way to carry her around on walks or hikes in mild weather or on terrain that was unsuitable for the Chariot.  We rarely used it below -2C and found that a sweater, fleece pants, full snowsuit, hat, wool socks and warm Stonz booties did the trick

Chariot

On colder days, the Chariot saved the day.  We took little bear out in most weather as the Chariot does an excellent job of blocking the wind and keeping warmth in.  It’s deceptive how warm it can get in there! For almost anything below -5C, we’d dress her in a sweater, snowsuit, hat, wool socks, Stonz booties and a down blanket.  We’d also lower the sunshield or weather shield depending on the wind.  On really cold days we’d add a warm rice bag wrapped in a blanket under her feet (careful it’s not too hot!!).

Gear for you

The two pieces of gear that I highly recommend when carrying older babies in the winter is microspikes (I have Kahtoola) and poles.  Slippery ground is twice as nerve-wracking with a baby on your back so these were both lifesavers and we never left the house without them.

Gear for baby

Our favourite pieces at this age were:

  • Molehill down suit. Very warm and not as bulky as synthetic suits which make it easier if you have a young walker.
  • Fleece hat that covers the ears.  We got ours at Superstore for cheap, seems many department stores have them too.
  • Stonz boots. Easy to layer underneath and they stay on with toggles.  Best for non-walkers or keeping feet warm while not walking.
  • MyMayu boots.  I only found out about these when little bear was 1 and wish I’d found them earlier! They’re great for walking and come in small sizes. Here’s my review.
  • Patagonia capilene base layer or fleece base layers.  They’re wicking and keep little ones warm!

 

Do you have any tips on getting out in the winter with babies?

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