Huckleberry and I are going on 31 months of nursing – that’s just over 2-and-a-half years of non-stop breastfeeding for those of you that don’t count in months. And we’ve been hiking and camping all the while, so I’m becoming quite the expert on nursing in the wild, but especially on the trail. If you’re looking for some tips for nursing on the trail, then you’ve come to the right place!
Two years ago, when Huckleberry was just 7 months old, I wrote the original “6 Tips for Nursing on the Trail” post. A lot has changed since then, so I figured it was time for an update, with some toddler-friendly tips. I can also feel our breastfeeding journey slowly coming to an end (he’s currently only nursing twice a day most days), and so I wanted to write this post while this is still our reality. And I’m also selfishly rereading and rethinking all of this for Trail Baby #2 who is due in October.
For those with wee trail babies, and those looking for some initial pointers, head back to my original “6 Tips for Nursing on the Trail” for a quick read.
Here’s a brief recap of that post, in point form:
- Wear accessible layers – make it easy for yourself!
- Know your carrier – can it support nursing in some way?
- Find a seat – a bench, a picnic table, a boulder!
- Take your time – especially while you’re new to it!
- Bring an accessory – think distraction noodle.
- Think safety – don’t nurse and hike, check for ticks, be safe!
It’s important to have those tips in your mind as these next 6 build on them to some degree. I mean, I’m not about to reinvent the wheel or blow your mind, just adding another 2 years of experience to the database of tips. So, without further ado…
6 More Tips for Nursing on the Trail
1. Invest in nursing-friendly clothes suited for the trail
This goes beyond simply wearing accessible layers. We hike a lot, and we camp a lot, and your typical run-of-the-mill nursing bras and tanks are NOT designed for trail wear. I honestly cannot and will not live without my Momzelle Chloe nursing & maternity tank! It has been a godsend for nursing on the trail and hiking while pregnant! Also from Momzelle, my other hiking/nursing staples are: seamless nursing bra (perfect for most athletic endeavours), seamless maternity/nursing tank (easily turns your favourite hiking tops into nursing-friendly apparel), and the Gaby nursing hoodie (light and stretchy, fits during pregnancy too)
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2. Know your kid
Beyond knowing how to nurse in your carrier of choice and making sure you have easy access to your breasts on the trail, you need to know what your child needs and prefers. If you don’t typically nurse standing up, your child will probably not enjoy it on the trail. If you know your child isn’t going to make it to the next suitable nursing location, you need to be able to make the decision to nurse trailside, bench or no bench. If your child is older, and can often make it through an entire hike without nursing (that’s where we’re at), you may think about not wearing accessible layers BUT I know that my trail kid settles so much faster after a good tumble if he can nurse, and he trips over his own two feet on flat ground. So when considering what to wear, what to bring, how and where and when you’ll nurse, think about what’s going to work best for your child, as well as yourself.
3. Bring your seat
If there are comfortable benches, picnic tables, or big lovely rocks in scenic locales, then you’re golden. But let me tell you, after camping for a few days I was ready to burn the picnic table in our site as my lower back was killing me from nursing while sitting there. We now BRING suitable nursing, snuggling and relaxing seats with us on most of our adventures. We either bring a backpacking hammock (check out my review of the TBA Eclypse II Backpacking Hammock, or grab a Madera Outdoor Hammock* or a camping chair (our favourite is the TBA Lectica camping chair*). This way I can guarantee that I will have a comfortable way to nurse my ever-growing Trail Kid no matter where we are.
4. Use that time
At first, the time it took to set up, sit down, and feed a hungry child often frustrated me. I was out there to hike, I wanted to keep moving, keep seeing, keep doing. I’ve since learned to use that downtime instead of grumbling about it. I use it to drink some water or have a snack myself. I use it to really take in my surroundings – the sights, the smells, the sounds, etc. I use it to practice mindfulness and pay attention to my breath. I use it to check in – how are we feeling, how are we doing, etc. Sometimes I check the time, let my mom know we’re still alive and well on the trail, or snap a quick picture. Use that time to your advantage, even if it just means soaking in all of those snuggles!
5. Bring extra water and snacks
This was something I was really good at while pregnant the first time around, and I feel like I’m learning it the hard way in this pregnancy, but it’s important no matter whether your body is nourishing a baby on the inside or the outside or at all. YOU need lots of water and YOU need fuel, bring enough so that you can continue to stay hydrated and refuelled yourself while hydrating and refuelling a little one. And as mentioned in the above tip, use the downtime that nursing provides as an opportunity for you to drink and eat.
6. Continue to think safety
Safety on the trail is so important that it’s making its way onto both of my list of Tips for Nursing on the Trail (so really, there are only 5 more, not 6, but whatever!). Don’t nurse while hiking on a rugged or slippery trail – there’s time to find somewhere to sit. Check your surroundings before choosing or setting up a suitable seat. Check for ticks on yourself and your little one, especially if you’ve sat on the ground or near low bushes or tall grasses. And take your time getting out of a hammock or up off a low chair.
I do not have any experience bottle-feeding on the trail, as Huckleberry never did take a bottle. But I’ve rounded up a couple of tips posts from others to help you out if you’re in need of advice.
- Bottle-Feeding on the Trail – Hike it Baby
- 5 Hacks for Preparing Bottles While Camping with your Baby – The Crazy Outdoor Mama
What is your experience with nursing on the trail? Any tips you would add?
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