6 Tips for Nursing on the Trail

      14 Comments on 6 Tips for Nursing on the Trail

Nursing on the Trail - mamanonthetrail.com

I am all for breastfeeding in public, but there was a time when I was nervous about nursing on the trail. I think a large part of it was logistical: not having nursing-friendly hiking attire, not knowing if there would be a bench or other suitable seat, wondering how I could nurse in the carrier inside my coat while it was still cold, etc. But there was definitely part of me that was nervous simply because I hadn’t needed to do it yet and it would be new and Huckleberry would be screaming, and could I figure it all out on the spot?

I am the kind of person who likes to know as much as possible in advance. I am a planner, a researcher, a scope-it-out-before-you-go sort of person. And that’s not the easiest to do with something like nursing on the trail. I knew that it was possible to nurse while babywearing in the Onya Baby Outback, and I live in my Glamour Mom nursing tanks (on and off the trail), so I conceded to just roll with it.

Up until Huckleberry was 3 months old, he tended to sleep for the entire walk or hike regardless of whether he had just eaten or not. And I would make an effort to feed him in the car just before or just after an outing. So nursing on the trail was not a real concern. The day after his 3-month birthday, however, he started wailing ten minutes into a walk and it was too cold to unzip my coat, it was go time! I was wearing him in the Onya Baby carrier, with the straps crossed, it was perfect. I loosened one strap and shifted him to the side, unzipped my sweater, unclipped the nursing tank, and he latched like a champ. Phew! And just like that, I became a Nursing Maman on the Trail!

Since then, I have nursed Huckleberry on a bench, on a boulder, at a picnic table, on the ground, while using a baby carrier as a nursing pillow, and more! I actually prefer to nurse him outside on the trail. We are both much more calm, and he seems to latch better, feed longer and remain a little more alert while feeding, therefore not falling asleep halfway through and needing more shortly after.

Nursing on the Trail - mamanonthetrail.com

Based on my experience of only 4 months of nursing on the trail, here are 6 tips that I can offer you:

1. Wear accessible layers. You may have a nursing bra or tank on, but is the shirt on top of that accessible? If you are planning to nurse Babe in the carrier, you don’t be able to easily pull your shirt up. Wear something that zips halfway down, has a V-neck, or is designed for nursing.

2. Know your carrier. Is it possible to nurse without taking your little one out of the carrier? How is that done? Most carriers offer instructions for nursing while babywearing, and it is a good idea to check those before heading out on the trail. Otherwise, I’m sure you can just wing it. I love nursing in my Onya Baby Outback and there’s even an instructional video for how to do that. And I discovered that the seat in the MiaMily HIPSTER acts as the perfect nursing pillow!

Nursing on the Trail - mamanonthetrail.com

3. Find a seat. Nursing on the trail is a great way to take a little break yourself. Yes, you can nurse and hike at the same time, and that’s not the worst idea when it’s cold out, but it’s more relaxing to sit down. Is there a bench nearby? A boulder? A soft, mossy patch? A tree to lean against?

4. Take your time. And you should plan to be out a little longer when you’re trekking with a little one, anyway. Don’t rush the feeding. Breathe in nature, relax, let your trail baby enjoy his or her al fresco meal. Perhaps even take this opportunity to have a little snack yourself.

5. Bring an accessory. There are a few little things that can make nursing on the trail a little more convenient, and a lot more enjoyable. My Ékolubi nursing & babywearing necklace and NursElet nursing bracelet are small simple lifesavers that can be worn instead of packed for an outdoor adventure.

6. Think safety. Speaking from experience, please don’t nurse and hike on a slippery or rugged trail. Do try to choose a safe location to sit down. Also, after baring your breasts in the backcountry, do check for ticks and other such nuisances that may be hitching a ride. I found a tick crawling around in my bra once, it hadn’t bitten me and luckily hadn’t found its way onto Huckleberry.

Have your nursed your little one on the trails? What has your experience been like? Do you have any tips to add to the list? Please share in the comment section below.

14 thoughts on “6 Tips for Nursing on the Trail

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  4. Ellen Robson

    These seem like excellent tips! I’ve been reluctant to go out hiking with my little one, and this is one of the reasons…so good to know. I have the ergo carrier and haven’t found it to be super easy to nurse while baby is in, but I do know it’s possible. Thanks!

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  5. YVONNE WOODSTOCK

    This is a unique and wonderful breastfeeding article! Our pregnant daughter who is planning to breastfeed her first child that is due in March is exceptionally physically active and adventurous and had just recently got back from traveling ALL over the country to 33 states in 5 months, purposely staying in her jeep and her and her boyfriend are looking forward to sharing their love of adventure with their child so I bet she would like this article.

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  6. Nyssa

    Great tips! We’ve done lots of hiking this summer with our six month old. We hiked 18 km along the Coastal Hiking Trail in Pukaskwa National Park a few weeks ago with our little one and she did great! At first I was a bit nervous about nursing along the trail, but I found a few beautiful spots to nurse her on the waters edge with some pretty stunning views of the lake!

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  7. Hannah Bueckert

    I remember when my first was young going for a hike and I knew he’d need to feed but when we got to the end of the trail he was still asleep. We decided to head back. Sure enough part way back he woke up and wanted food but since he was such a chubby baby everyone I was with told me he could just wait, and I listened… the crying got so painful but with the pressure of others telling me to wait my husband and I ran back to the car and there I sat nicely and fed my baby. Never again will I not take the time to sit and nurse when neeeded and make others wait.

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  8. Bernice

    love the tips , I’m passing it on to a friend that just had a baby , she’s nursing and loves hiking , now maybe she’ll get out there with her baby 🙂

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  9. kathy downey

    Thanks for the great tips and ideas ,i shared on FB for friends who like to get out on the trails with the little ones.

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  10. stephanie

    This is great info! We currently have a 9-year-old but we’re going to TTC starting soon – if all goes according to plan, baby will arrive just in time for hiking season next year! I hadn’t seen those nursing tanks and they’re the perfect answer to many questions so thanks for that recommendation!

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