Monique and Owen at Cahills Lookout
Hiking With a Newborn
PhotosMonique and Nick Vincent
My husband Nick and I work full time but are expert life “filler uppers”. We have spent the last 11 years together filling life to the brim with travel, nature and adventure in every little bit of spare time we get. We have been capturing these adventures on and for some time now as “Vinceventuring”.
4 | Bushwalk October 2023
In February 2023 we welcomed our baby boy Owen into our family. As Owen's due date got closer, so many people said to us “that’s the end of all the adventures then” and “you won’t be able to do that sort of thing with a baby.” I know right, how dare we keep doing the things we love and involve our baby!
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to question if we would still be able to get out and do the things we used to, so, we decided to book a trip to the Blue Mountains for when Owen was eight weeks old to go hiking. Yep, two first time parents with no clue what parenting was going to be like thought it was a great idea to book a holiday with a newborn. (Spoiler alert: it was a fantastic idea.)
We decided on the Blue Mountains because it is one of our favourite places in Australia, we have spent a lot of time there over the years and it’s a great spot for a weekend trip. The Blue Mountains isn’t too far from our home in Lake Macquarie, it offers some incredible hikes and outdoor experiences, not to mention the cool, cozy and quirky feel of the place.
There were a few things that I was a little anxious about before going on this trip, as follows:
Will Owen be warm enough?
Will we need to feed/change him on the hike?
What if he gets upset in the carrier half way through a hike?
Will I be physically fit enough to hike so soon after giving birth?
Won’t it be awkward/dangerous not being able to see my feet with the carrier on?
Will he be able to nap on a hike?
What extra things will we need in our hiking backpacks?
Owen and Nick at Sublime Point
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to question if we would still be able to get out and do the things we used to ...
Road, four-wheel drive track, walking track (treed)
Main track, side trip, alternative route
Cliff, major and minor contour line (100m interval)
Lake, river, waterfall or creek
Blue Mountain walks
0 km 1 2 3 4 5 km
Rocket Point Lookout2.4 km return 1 h
Sublime Point Lookout450 m return 20 mins
Fairfax Heritage Walk 2.3 km circuit 1 h
Overcliff Track3.1 km return 2 h
Cahills Lookout300 m return 10 mins
Walls Cave Track1.9 km return 0.75-1 h
Point Pilcher Lookout300 m return 5-8 mins
Wynnes Rocks Lookout90 m return 1-2 mins
6 | Bushwalk October 2023
WarmthOur trip was in late April and the Blue Mountains are well and truly starting to cool down this time of year. With our baby being still so small and new, I worried he wouldn’t be warm enough on our hikes. One thing I hadn’t considered was how my body heat would affect his warmth in the carrier. I actually found myself having to take layers off him rather than put them on. I also found that draping my fleece over the front of the carrier was handy because it was easier to remove this fleece if he got too warm than to take off the carrier completely and have to take layers of clothing off Owen. It doesn’t hurt to throw a jumper, beanie and booties in the hiking pack for peace of mind too.
Feeding and changingThere are no parents' rooms on a hiking trail so feeding and changing seemed like two tricky things to need to do mid hike. I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed and I can definitely recommend practising feeds standing up at home before you go. Knowing I was able to feed well while standing gave me a lot of confidence that this wouldn’t be an issue on the trail. Changing is slightly trickier. We packed a waterproof travel change mat that we didn’t mind getting a little dirty on the ground as well as a travel pack of wipes, a few nappies, hand sanitiser, bags and a spare onesie (in case of a blowout). This set up was light to take with us and worked really well. I will say, where possible, try to feed and change before you head out, this might buy you a few fuss-free hours.
CryingI found myself worrying “what will I do if he gets really upset during a hike?” which in hindsight feels kind of silly. You just do what you would at home! Is he hungry, tired, does he need a change, is he comfortable, is he warm enough? All of those things were easy enough to troubleshoot while out on a walk. Owen is a big fan of the carrier and we did
a lot of practice walks at home, most of the time he falls straight to sleep and doesn’t stir too much. If he was getting restless, a dummy bought us about half an hour more time until we needed to take him out of the carrier.
Postpartum fitnessI was lucky to have a pregnancy without morning sickness but that also meant food tasted better than ever, by the time I had given birth I had gained 24 kilograms! I was starting to feel so unfit and out of breath towards the end of pregnancy, I wondered how long it would take me to be back to having a reasonable level of fitness again. I also had to have an emergency caesarian which made recovery a lot slower than I was expecting. Despite all this, I started to go on short walks the week after giving birth and I was able to go on a short hike with the carrier at six weeks postpartum after getting the all clear at my six week GP check up. I really surprised myself with how well it went. My main advice here is to listen to your body and start small - you’ll probably surprise yourself too!
Walking with a carrierIt was daunting to think about walking with a brand new baby strapped to me and not being able to see my feet on an uneven trail … but, I hadn’t seen my feet for months so I was already one step ahead. I actually felt really safe and confident walking with him in the carrier. Owen seemed much more comfortable with me carrying him as opposed to Nick for what we assume were two reasons: I smell like milk and the milky area acts as a soft pillow. Truth be told though, I love having my baby close by so I didn’t mind the extra weight of carrying him at all.
NapsI will preface this by saying that our baby is not the best sleeper, but, since Owen was born we have been trying to get him to nap anywhere and that has worked well for us. We don’t stick to strict routines with napping and he doesn’t seem to mind falling asleep anywhere and everywhere. He actually seems to prefer naps in the carrier, pram and car rather than naps at home. Most of the time when we are out hiking, he is napping peacefully in the carrier which is a real bonus for us because when we are done walking we have a happy well rested little guy.
I found myself worrying “what will I do if he gets really upset ...
What we packed for bub
Waterproof change mat
Small pack of wipes
Baby SPF and insect repellent (be sure to patch test beforehand)
Hat, beanie, booties, spare set of clothes and a jumper
Hikes and lookouts we visitedRocket Point Lookout via Chester TrailOne of the most iconic views in the Blue Mountains is Wentworth Falls. This grand waterfall is a must-see if you are visiting the area. From Rocket Point Lookout you are treated to not only the full length of the main drop of the falls but also incredible views of the Jamison Valley. Wentworth Falls can be quite busy at times so we decided to take an alternative route to the Historic Rocket Point Lookout via Chester Trail instead. This was a fantastic decision, we did not pass a single other hiker the entire way! To do this walk you park at the end of Chester Road, there you
will see a fire trail which you follow till you reach the sign to Rocket Point Lookout and from there, it is well signposted to the lookout. If you are feeling energetic, there is also the option to extend your hike to one of the many incredible trails in the area. Overall this is short - around 3.5 kilometres return - and easy fire trail walk with a few stairs to the lookout. This is a great one to get your confidence up walking with a carrier.
Sublime Point LookoutYou can’t visit the Blue Mountains without seeing the famous Three Sisters, but, did you know there is a lookout away from the main viewing platform that offers a unique view of the sisters minus the crowds? Sublime Point lookout is, well, sublime! We have never had trouble nabbing a park nearby and a short (mostly) paved walk will lead you to a beautiful view of the Three Sisters to your right. We have had a lot of luck here seeing lyrebirds and black cockatoos. If you have some time up your sleeve, grab a pie from Bakehouse on Wentworth and soak in the views over the valley.
8 | Bushwalk October 2023
Fairfax Heritage Walk (pram accessible)Truth be told, to our knowledge the Blue Mountains doesn’t offer a lot of truly accessible walks so this one is probably unique in that you are able to make it to the lookout with your pram on a paved path the entire way. This walk leaves from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in Blackheath and leads you to George Phillip Lookout and the recently restored Govetts Leap Lookout. This walk is a very easy approximately 3.5 kilometre round trip. Keep your eye out for Waratahs here in spring.
Cahills LookoutIf you are after the best sunset in the Blue Mountains, look no further than Cahills Lookout. It’s a good idea to get here a little early as there is not much parking in this area but don’t let that put you off. This gorgeous
lookout has multiple vantage points to enjoy the views of the Megalong Valley and it offers a great view of the Boars Head rock formation. This lookout is paved but because of stairs isn’t pram accessible. Because we wanted to stay here for a while and watch the sunset we found that bringing the carrier was a good idea.
Overcliff TrackThis extremely scenic walk leaves from Conservation Hut in Wentworth Falls and really allows you to “choose your own adventure” in that there are multiple options to extend or shorten your walk. This is very handy when you are hiking with an unpredictable baby, we had set out to do a very short walk when we visited but Owen was having a great nap so we continued on longer than what we had planned. There are
several vantage points across the Jamison Valley and this area is typically booming with bird life in the early mornings. This walk is slightly trickier terrain than the Rocket Point and Fairfax Walks but is by no means a difficult walk.
Point Pilcher LookoutThe phrase “hidden gem” gets thrown around a lot but trust me when I say that this is really one! If you aren’t afraid of a bit of a bumpy dirt road, make sure you head to Point Pilcher for a picnic at the newly restored picnic area. This lookout offers uninterrupted views of the Grose Valley and peace and quiet too. No need for a carrier or a pram or a picnic rug, this lookout has everything you need.
The Walls CaveThe Walls Cave is one of my absolute favourite walks in the Blue Mountains. Leaving from Blackheath, it is a short but
steep 2 kilometre or so return walk on a well maintained trail that takes you through a beautiful canyon into one of the most spectacularly huge caves I have ever seen. Because this track is all down on the way there and all up on the way back, although the hike is short, it’s a solid workout when you are carrying a baby.
Wynnes Rocks Lookout We weren’t ready to leave the mountains but needed to start heading home so we stopped into Mount Wilson which is quite stunning in autumn because of the many deciduous trees planted in the elaborate gardens in the area. Wynnes Rocks Lookout has views over the entire Blue Mountains which was a perfect spot to say our last goodbyes before making our way home from our trip. It’s a very short walk to the lookout so you might even want to leave the carrier in the car.
The Walls Cave Walk
10 | Bushwalk October 2023
Practice with the carrier at home and on small walks first.
Try feeds standing up so it’s easy on the trail.
Baby will be warmer than you think with your body heat so don’t overdress them.
Get a small changing set up together so it’s light in your bag.
Make sure your change mat is waterproof as the ground might be damp or dirty where you need to change.
Start small and build up your fitness and confidence with hikes.
Listen to your body, don’t overdo it.
Try to get your baby used to napping anywhere and everywhere.
While we are no means expert parents, or expert hikers, I hope that through our experience and tips we leave you feeling more confident and excited about including your little one on your adventures.
The Walls Cave Walk
... I hope that through our experience and tips we leave you feeling more confident and excited ...