I read the book Backpacking with Babies and Small ChildrenBackpacking With Babies and Small Children recently. I can't say I learned anything that wasn't common sense, but this would be a gentle place to start if I wanted to hike with my kids and were worried about getting started. The same things that matter for adults also matter for children:
- wear appropriate layers of comfortable clothing
- be prepared for potty needs (and please don't leave dirty diapers out there!)
- be prepared to eat and drink
- have reasonable expectations for distance and time
- be prepared to change your plans with the circumstances
In addition, you do need to think about entertaining children on the trail, and how to carry them (or otherwise take a break) when they say they're tired of walking (that could just mean boredom).
There's historical perspective on what you had to do before REI had several product lines for these needs that should appeal to DIY-ers.
This morning, I had a conversation with the manager in the office next to mine, and he said it is important to go outside with your children. His children have grown up before he blinked, and he realizes that he has raised two indoor children although that was never his intention and not his upbringing. I can see how I would fall into that trap myself (I just want to squeeze in a little more work, since we're swamped), so I thanked him for the reminder to work for a better Big Picture. No excuses! Get outside with the kids!