THINK OF HIKING in Alaska and steep treks up craggy mountains come to mind, maintaining careful footing on ridges and days-long journeys in untouched backcountry. Whoa - settle down! Alaska's trails aren't all meant for Denali climbers in training. Because sometimes you want to push a stroller in nature, here are five Alaskan hikes to do for the scenery, exercise and fresh air...
1. In Juneau, try the flat-out beautiful Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail.
"A wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Highway. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic, including some bikes and horses, on this zero-elevation-gain hike. The trail features access to fishing holes in Montana Creek, vivid wildflowers including Siberian Irises, and scenic overlooks." (Source)
2. Great scenery outside Anchorage at Thunderbird Falls Trail.
At mile 25 of the Glenn Highway, take the Thunderbird Falls exit to access an easy, 1-mile hike much of which takes place on a boardwalk. "Birch forest on steep hillside overhanging Eklutna Canyon. Views of 200 foot high Thunderbird Falls." (Source)
3. Urban Anchorage's Coastal Trail offers 10+ miles of paved strolling.
For gorgeous views of Knik Arm, Cook Inlet, Westchester Lagoon, Sleeping Lady and guaranteed bird sightings, get on the Coastal Trail with your stroller or bike trailer. All paved, you can hop on this trail from three points - from the South access descend from Kincaid Park to the coast, from the North access start downtown on 2nd Avenue, or start in the Middle at the Point Woronzof overlook where you can spy both gorgeous sunsets and spot low-flying planes. (Source)
4. The Eagle River Nature Trail makes for a great day trip.
At the end of 12-mile Eagle River Road (about 40 miles from Anchorage), you'll come to the log cabin visitor center at the Eagle River Nature Center. A number of trails start behind the building - try the easy 3/4-mile Rodak Nature Trail that leads to a beaver and salmon viewing deck, or opt for a longer stroll on the 3-mile Albert Loop trail if it's not too muddy. (Source)
5. Calypso Orchid Nature Trail near UAF is for botany lovers.
This exotic-sounding loop near UAF campus, Creamer's Field and Georgeson Botanical Gardens gets its name from the orchids that bloom along the trail in spring. Just under a mile, take it slow to read all the interpretive signs. If you want more trail afterward - check out the Vireck Nature trail on the UAF campus. (Source)
Have fun and as always, be Bear Aware!
C'mon, you know you can't help laughing along with a baby! KTD blogger, Steve Sue Wing, shared this video of his youngest son, Atlas, laughing at his brother.
WHEN I FIRST began writing about family travel, I was surprised at the reticence of many parents to go places with their babies and toddlers. “It’s just so much work to travel that far to do things she won’t remember,” said one. “What will a toddler actually do on vacation?” asked another.
People, people; let’s recall a few basic rules about traveling with small children. One, taking a trip with an infant or toddler is not about said infant or toddler. We vacation with small children for a change of venue from our own busy lives, and the babies who accompany us benefit through relaxed, happy mommies and daddies. Two, even the most basic activities provide stimulation and interest for little ones, even if it’s a trip to a local park or museum to watch other people rather than actively participate. Our youngest saw much of the southeast corner of America snuggled in a front pack, missing every plantation and historical highlight from Charleston to Cape Canaveral, snoozing contentedly while the rest of us did our own thing. He survived, and so can you.
Below are a few ideas to help you successfully travel à la bebe:
1. Gear up. I am absolutely thrilled to celebrate the launch of Alaska Baby Rentals, an Anchorage-based, mom-owned company that provides everything from backpacks to jog strollers, making travel with babies or toddlers so much easier. I also like the ability to “try-before-you-buy”, so both you and your baby will be assured a comfortable fit for all sorts of experiences. As a general rule, backpacks/frontpacks are great for museums and hikes and other places where a stroller might prove cumbersome, or even dangerous. Jog strollers with larger, beefier wheels are great for wide, flat pathways, parks and many larger museums or visitor centers. Experiment before you leave on vacation to make sure you have ample room (or a willing volunteer) to carry extras like diapers, snacks, bottles, etc.
2. Allow sensory time. Headed to the beach? Allow your baby the opportunity to feel the squishy, wet sand between his or her tiny fingers and toes. Going hiking in southeast Alaska? Grab hold of a few Douglas Fir cones and let your toddler toss them around. Visiting a museum? Check out the organization’s website ahead of time and see what exhibits they have for smaller children, then plan your time accordingly. More and more facilities in Alaska and beyond are realizing the need to accommodate the entire family, not just the paying ones.
Go slow, allow time for kicking back
3. Take your time. Babies, like the rest of us, get tired after an entire day spent rushing from one activity to another. Make sure you provide time to just “be.” Visit a local playground, spread out a blanket, and allow your baby the chance to watch big kids swinging and sliding. Take time for naps and regular storytime/bedtime routines - everyone will be in a better mood.
4. Communicate with each other. Make sure other family members understand your goal of utter relaxation. Especially in situations of multigenerational travel (cruises are popular ways of gathering an entire clan for vacation), parents of babies and toddlers must be absolutely clear their expectations for a particular activity on a given day. Parents, too, should take time to chat with each other about “dividing and conquering” activities that involve a lot of time, energy and effort, or are appropriate for older kids and adults.
Travel is a testament to family fortitude, and what a wonderful gift to give as kids grow up. It’s never too early, I say.
Follow the Kirkland family’s adventures at AKontheGO.com.
THE IMPORTANCE OF a baby’s earliest years is becoming more well understood with new research – and a handful of outreach efforts across the state aim to get that message out to parents and caregivers.
Learn more about Babies on Track at
KTD! contributor Jessica Cochran reports on some of them, including a new video starring one of this week's show's guests – Donna Galbreath.
1. Dale & Kaerin's Adoption Story: Open adoption is a choice that many who adopt these days choose to consider. It doesn't mean co-parenting, and it may not even include face-to-face visits with a child's birth family - instead it's all about sharing information. Meet Dale, Kaerin and their 8-year old daughter, Mya, a family that values the open adoption experience.
2. Paula, John's Adoption Story: Next, meet an Anchorage couple who have adopted two little girls through Catholic Social Services – both of them Alaska Native. These parents share what they feel is important as they raise their daughters, Olive and Drew.
Both families invited producer Sarah Gonzales into their homes to share their adoption stories.
SOMETIMES THE CONVERSATION is so good that we'll continue recording after the wrap! We get to have a few more questions answered by our terrific guests and then we'll include those extra bits here on the web for you.
Below, check out three web extras from Show 53: Family Sleep Issues.
1. Our guests give their 2 cents on whether or not we, as a busy culture, resist sleep, or even view it as lazy?
2. How much coffee you drink and when you drink it could be signs of sleep deprivation says, Dr. Lada.
3. Sleep deprived parents of infants say that their daily state is akin to being a "little bit drunk all the time" - physiologically what do lack of sleep and excess of alcohol have in common?
(Listen to all 3 clips after the jump - click "read more..." below)
SPEND ANY TIME with new parents and it won’t take more than a few minutes for the topic to turn to sleep. Getting your newborn to sleep – and getting enough sleep for mom and dad – can be all-consuming for a few months.
Contributor Jessica Cochran went to Cuddlers at Providence to speak with some new parents there to find out how much rest they are getting, and Dr. KTD Michelle Laufer comments on what is normal.
Authors: Anne Morris, MD and Karen McBride, RN, October 2011
1. Getting a good night’s sleep is the foundation for physical and mental health, as well as for safety and learning. You can teach your children by your own behavior and example.
2. Strive for a regular sleep schedule with the same wake-up time and bedtime as much as possible every day of the week.
3. Recommended hours of sleep each day (includes naps for the little ones):
4. In the evening hours, limit or avoid television and video or computer games. These lighted devices send the message “be awake” to the brain and will make it difficult to fall asleep when it is bedtime.
5. Turn off and take out of the bedroom electronic devices such as cell phones, televisions, and computers.
6. Create a sleep-friendly space: darkened and quiet bedroom, warm and comfy bedding, and cool room temperature. In the morning, seeing bright lights will make it easier to wake up and give the message “be awake” to the brain.
7. Follow a similar and relaxing bedtime routine every night: light snack if hungry, a warm bath or shower, read comforting books to young children. Teens and adults may enjoy reading or listening to low volume audio books or music.
8. Naps are best taken before late afternoon and kept to an hour or less.
9. Do exercise, but not within two hours of bedtime.
10. Younger children should avoid caffeine in general, and teens and adults should avoid caffeine by late afternoon, if not earlier.
11. Watch for signs of chronic sleep difficulty such as loud snoring, breathing difficulty, unusual nighttime awakenings, behavior problems during the day, and frequent daytime sleepiness. Let your health care provider know if these occur.
12. Check out these Sleep Resources for more information:
Nemours Foundation - a nonprofit organization devoted to children’s health
National Sleep Foundation - a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving sleep health and safety
Cases of severe postpartum depression are just one of the reasons for Infant Safe Haven laws. Alaska’s Safe Haven law was passed in 2008, one of the last enacted in the country. Under the law, parents can leave infants up to 21 days old at a safe location like a fire station or hospital without fear of being prosecuted. When they leave the infant, they may be asked if they are giving up their child willingly, and terminating parental rights. And they may be asked for identifying information but they’re not required to provide it.
According to the state Department of Health and Social Services, no infants in Alaska have been dropped off under the Safe Haven law. That doesn’t surprise former state representative Gabrielle LeDoux (Kodiak) who sponsored the legislation...
Listen to the full story below...
A new baby is a reason to celebrate but the time after birth can bring with it a wealth of conflicting emotions that sometimes go beyond typical "baby blues". What does everyone need to know about recognizing and treating postpartum mood disorders and supporting those who are suffering?
DID YOU KNOW? These are the signs and symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder (including postpartum depression):
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, you can get help by visiting Postpartum.net, or in Alaska, by calling the Crisis Line at: (907) 563-3200
- One woman's story of Sleepless Days - A few years ago when Susan Kushner Resnick was experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression she wanted to read about another woman who'd been through it and made it out okay - but she couldn't find anything. So after she survived PPD, she wrote a memoir, Sleepless Days: One Woman's Journey Through Postpartum Depression, all about her experience and to let others know that it gets better. She spoke with Sarah Gonzales. (Read an excerpt of her book here.)
- A father's perspective on PPD - The partners of those experiencing postpartum depression will not only support their partners during a very hard time, but they will most likely have to take on more household responsibilities while mom gets better. Steve SueWing's family recently weathered PPD, and we asked him to share with our listeners why dads need support, too. (Steve's new blog - "Capitol Letters: Notes from a Juneau Dad" - starts Thursday here at KidsTheseDays.org!)
- Parents talk about self-care - At a recent “parentTalk” meeting held by thread, parents shared their tips for sneaking some “me” time into the day – even if it’s just in 2 or 3 or 5 minute doses. Jessica Cochran spoke with the guest-presenter and some of the participants to share those tips with our listeners. (Thank you to thread and Wells Fargo for supporting this story from our our Early Childhood Desk.)
For more discussion on this topic, check out a recent episode of Line One: Your Health Connection with Dr. Thad Woodard on the topic of Maternal Mental Health.