Please proceed to the book review below and make sure you continue all the way to the end if you would like to win a copy of this book.
Jennifer's book is full of practical advice, lists, suggestions, and even no-fail camping recipes with the goal of De-mystifying the whole subject of family outdoor adventure and play. Jennifer believes in this way of life with kids so much that she even teaches classes on Babes in the Woods, Babes in the Snow, and Babes on the Water in her native Alaska, a state not generally known for its gentle or mild weather!
The book is divided into four parts: Taking Care of the Basics, Transporting Little Ones on the Trail, Having Adventures, and Connecting with Nature. It then wraps up with a fabulous resource list and section with check lists. The book is worth purchasing for her check lists alone. (yes, I love lists!)
In the first part of the book, Taking Care of Basics, Jennifer tackles the issues that will challenge most new or even seasoned parents:
- How do I dress my children for the elements (be it rain, snow, or blazing sun)?
- What should I bring on the trail for my children to eat?
- How will I keep my children hydrated? Out of the sun? Safe from bugs?
- How should we practice good hygiene from bathing to teeth brushing while camping?
- What do I do with my child who's in the middle of potty training when we're outside?
- Where will my baby nap while we are outside on the go?
- How will we keep the kids warm at night when camping in cold weather?
- Will I need to take a wilderness first aid course or learn any special skills to keep my children safe?
In the second part of the book, Transporting Little Ones on the Trail, Jennifer reviews the various models of child carriers, jogging strollers, bike trailers, trailer bikes, and even child-sized bikes. I wish I would had this knowledge at hand when I was choosing our first child carrier. I didn't even know what an Ergo was when my son was born a few years ago! Everybody I knew either had a Baby Bjorn for infants or a full fledged external framed backpack. In the end we went with the same backpack friends had because we figured if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for us. In hind sight there are probably better ways to choose a child carrier when you hike as much as we did and still do. Thankfully times have changed and there are a lot of great resources out there for active families now. You need not go down to MEC or REI in the dark so to speak about the best products to meet your family's outdoor needs.
We chose the perfect jogging stroller for our family and we've been able to use it for backpacking, cross country skiing, and biking. This doesn't mean though that we knew what we were doing when we bought our Chariot. It was again, just what everybody else had at the time. Jennifer breaks the whole topic down for you with important questions to ask and features to look for (broken down by age of your children). She devotes a whole chapter to biking in case your stroller doesn't come equipped with a bike attachment. The chapter also gives practical advice for parents who want to juggle multiple children on their bike rides from the infant in the bike trailer to the preschooler or school aged child riding behind mom or dad on a trailer bike.
Part three of the book, Having Adventures, was my favourite because preparation, safety, planning, and shopping aside, you are finally ready for the actual adventure. Here is where you'll find out how it's going to actually work to take your kids hiking, camping, backpacking or boating. There's even a chapter devoted to exceptional children and those with special needs. And while I can't say this for certain, I'm pretty sure Jennifer tackled a subject there that has seldom been discussed in guide books before.
For each activity mentioned above, Babes in the Woods gives solid information on planning, safety, required gear, and even suggestions for keeping the trip fun! Jennifer covers a lot of basic information such as:
- The ten essentials to bring on a hiking trip
- Choosing and setting up your campsite
- How to plan and pack for a remote base camping trip in the wilderness
- Choosing a backpack and packing for an overnight trip
- Backpacking when pregnant
- How to carry infants or tote toddlers into the backcountry
- Water safety skills for boating adventures
- How to entertain children on a boat
What really stood out to me in this bookThe author had no agenda when she wrote the book to sell you the most expensive outdoor clothing and gear on the market. She wasn't commissioned by a large outdoor company to push their tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc. Jennifer simply tells it like it is. She outlines the good and the bad with each product on the market and then leaves it up to you to know what your family will most need.
Jennifer really wants to help you save money as you prepare the necessary gear for your chosen family activity or sport. Her book doesn't tell you that you need some fancy bug suit, napping tent, or winter boots for an infant who isn't even walking. Instead, with a little sewing experience, she teaches you how make some of the simplest things from bunting suits to mittens by yourself. She also teaches you how to modify pieces of adult clothing and equipment that you already have! If you have a couple lawn chairs that you can place seat to seat in the shade for example you already have a place for your baby to nap. If you have a pair of adult wool socks, you have a pair of baby mittens.
Babes in the Woods is full of simple advice, mom to mom, dad to dad. In fact, the book is full of advice that Jennifer received from other parents just like you. It's a collaboration of love that Jennifer passes on to you. Parents who have gone before pass on their wealth of information (often obtained the hard way through trial and error) to those about to embark on the same journey with their own family.
How to get your own copy of Babes in the WoodsFor more information about Jennifer Aist's book, visit her website, Wilderness for Kids. The book can be ordered right off the website.
You can also purchase or order a copy of the book from any Chapters or Indigo bookstore.
Finally, I have a second copy that I would love to give away.
To win a copy of Jennifer's book please leave a comment below with your name and a question that you hope Babes in the Woods can answer for you.
The contest is open to all residents of Canada or the United States. The contest will end Sunday October 22nd at midnight, mountain standard time. I will announce the winner's name on Monday morning.