We've done a couple of treks in our lives (with and without baby/toddler), and I've learnt a few things making the most of the excursion with baby/toddler:
1. Get fit: Mothers always say they stay slim running after/taking care of their kid/s. Sadly, those hair raising moments of chasing your kid and grabbing him before he runs out onto the road is not enough. Doing some cardiovascular exercises regularly is important if you want to have fun on the trek.
If you want to trek but don't exercise enough, then pick an easier walk. The great thing about trekking in Australia is that there are always options. Some come complete with boardwalks so you can wheel the stroller.
Trekking can be very rewarding. I often start out thinking: "How on earth did I get myself into this", especially when the going gets tough. But the view we see along the way and at the top makes it all worth the while^.
2. What to carry: The arsenal of things you carry before you become a parent and after you actually own a wailing kid change. Of course there are the basics like good walking shoes, appropriate clothing, water etc. But there are other things you need to take into consideration when trekking with babies/kids. The trick is to balance between travelling light and carrying the essentials at the same time.
- Clothes: Do you need something warmer for the peak? It's better to layer clothes than bring one bulky item that takes up plenty of space in the bag. How about a rain jacket just in case? (But if it looks like it's going to rain, I'd vote postponing the trek!) Change of clothes is essential in case you get caught in the rain. If driving, you can leave the extra change of clothes in the car.
Finally, you may be toasty warm as you're the one who's doing the actual walking and sweating, but baby/kid may be cold. So wrap them up well if walking in cold weather or when there's strong wind.
Kai stuffed his face with Coco Pops down the moutain
- Food and water: Carry enough water for you AND the kid, as well as plenty of snacks (biscuits, fruits) to entertain the kid. We gave Kai Coco Pops in the Grampians^, and Terence ended up with chocolate stains down his back after the trek.
How about milk? One option is to do a short trek just after a feed to avoid the hassle of carrying the milk, bottle and bottle warmer. Kai is at an age where we can still bribe him with biscuits, but there were occasions when things turned ugly.
Me, the 'essential service'
We learnt it's better to split the load rather than place everything you need in the backpack you use to carry the toddler. So I was the 'essential service' carrying the water, snacks and jackets in my backpack while Terence carried the rest of the warm clothing. And yes, I did bring one diaper in case he does a major poop along the way. One more thing: bring along plastic bags to carry your junk back down. Be a responsible trekker.
3. The carrier: It's the bag for carry the baby/toddler, that is. The simple baby carrier like the Babybjorn works for some folks, but because Kai is older and heavier we use the Macpac Possum. Borrow if you can from friends or rent them. We found a shop in Melbourne which leases the Macpac Possum for a really affordable price, but it was booked. I pestered Terence to buy our very own since we're likely to be trekking during our trips overseas.Make sure the carrier is sturdy, comfortable for both parent and child. I like mine with additional space for carrying other essentials. If you can, try out the carrier WITH the baby/toddler in it before the actual trek. Some kids might take a while to get comfortable with the idea of being strapped in. But Kai loves it as it gives him a bird's eye view of his surrounding.
4. Have fun and don't fall off the cliff: Point out interesting things to your kid along the way. It's not often city dwellers get to enjoy nature, and you'd be surprised at what you can find if you keep a sharp lookout. Even flowers can be interesting as I've been using them to teach Kai the concept of big and small, colours, smell etc.
Finally, please, keep an eagle eye and tight grip of your baby/toddler when you get to the top!