GREENFIELD — The world is a brand new place for Lillian Simpson. At 13 months old, she’s interested in just about everything and watches the world unfold around her while safely snuggled up to her mom, Cassy Simpson.
Chattering, smiling and giving high-fives along the way, little Lillian was one of about 40 children and parents from across central Indiana who gathered at a Greenfield orchard Thursday morning for an event that sought to bring together family, fitness and fun. The moms, dads and babysitters that trekked the grounds at Tuttle Orchards are members of the group Hike it Baby, as the international organization hosted one of its first events in Greenfield.
Hike it Baby aims to get young children outdoors while giving new parents a chance to exercise. On the walks, caregivers strap their little ones to their backs and set off on walking tours that take them all kinds of places, from parks to city streets. The group has strutted through shopping centers in downtown Indianapolis and this week, for this first time, made its way up and down the rows of apple trees at Tuttle Orchards in Greenfield.
Story continues below gallery
Hike it Baby was started in 2013 by a mother in Portland, Oregon, looking for a way to get outdoors and be active with other new moms. Since then, Hike it Baby has grown significantly, with branches operating across the United States and into Australia, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to the organization’s website.
Hike it Baby’s Indianapolis chapter started in July, said Kim Morton, the branch’s leader. Since then, organizers have been working to spread word about the group and its purpose.
The number of parents who attend the central Indiana walks ebb and flow with each event, but their purpose remains consistent with that first Oregon mother’s vision, Morton said: get outside, get active and get to know new people.
Many of the parents who attended Thursday’s walk said they discovered Hike it Baby of Indianapolis through different online parenting organizations. They used the events as a chance to swap everything from stories to recipes to parenting tips, all while burning some calories in the fresh air.
Participants wound their way across more than a mile of the Greenfield farmland. They stopped to snap pictures with their children or point out different crops and creatures.
Tours of the property typically are done using tractors; this was the first event of its kind for the farm, said Tiffany Richard, a farm employee.
Hike it Baby walks are good for all ages and abilities, organizer Martha Latta said. The group uses a special system to rate the terrain to give parents an idea of what to expect before they commit to participating.
Some, like Latta, were avid hikers before their children were born. Others, like Simpson, said they were new to the world of wandering.
“I’d been for walks on pavement before and had camped a few times, but nothing like this,” Simpson said with a laugh.
This week marks International Babywearing Week, sponsored by Babywearing International, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting safe and comfortable carrying tactics. Since caregivers who participate in Hike it Baby events often rely on the baby carrier devices, the walks are great outreach opportunities, said Virginia Ranly, a member of Babywearing International of Central Indiana, who attended Thursday’s hike.
Babywearing offers a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to bond with their children by bringing them up off the ground to the adult’s eye level, Ranly said. From there, youngsters can better interact with the world around them with the guidance of an adult, she said.
The walks are great for organized play dates, organizers said. As the parents form friendships with one another, their children often form bonds.
Walks are held periodically throughout the week and take parents and children throughout central Indiana. Walks are generally shorter than three miles. For more information, see hikeitbaby.com.
The next local Hike it Baby event will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Southeastway Park, 5624 S. Carroll Ave., New Palestine.
For more information or to register for a hike, visit hikeitbaby.com.