It’s never too early to get your baby in the great outdoors. Nature has so many benefits for everyone in the family, including your youngest members, so ensuring everyone has quality time outside is essential.
Babies can’t just hike alone or play in the park, so you could be at a loss figuring out what to do. Before you give up, here are four ideas for a safe, rewarding time outdoors that can get everyone in your household involved.
Why should I get my baby outdoors?
Getting your baby outdoors is a vital part of development. The outdoors is home to many exciting sensory stimuli for babies, and as they grow older it could become an important reason they continue to love being outside.
Going outside allows your baby to get sunlight and fresh air, two fundamental building blocks of health. Babies also learn a lot just by watching, and the new stimuli from everything happening outdoors — from leaves falling to observing people and animals — encourages baby’s brain development.
It’s also a valuable bonding time for your family. Whether your baby has siblings or is an only child, everyone, including parents, needs outdoor time. When your baby is part of that, it promotes feelings of safety and belonging.
Heading outdoors with your baby: Four fun ideas
If you aren’t sure how to get your child involved in the great outdoors, here are four easy ideas you can implement today to get everyone out and about.
• Walking — Yes, the unsung hero of health and well-being, merely taking a walk in the mornings or evenings with your baby is a great way to get outdoors. Babies love walks because there is so much to interact with and observe even from the stroller seat.
If your baby is too young to sit upright, you might consider a carrier that allows your child to see just a bit. If not, pull the shade back from the stroller to allow your baby to get a bit of filtered light while outdoors.
If your baby is old enough to sit upright, facing your stroller seat forward is going to transform your child’s day. Bring along snacks if necessary or go when your baby is awake and aware. It could also be an excellent way to handle those witching hour crying sessions right before bedtime.
• Picnics — A picnic doesn’t have to be involved. Bring a blanket to a spot in the park where you have some space and allow your baby to have everyday activities outdoors. Tummy time could be a lot more enjoyable with a fun leaf to play with, for example.
If your baby is sitting upright, you can also bring sensory play into the mix. Allow your baby to explore the boundaries of the blanket or bring fun things to your baby. Be careful to watch that your baby doesn’t put something in his or her mouth, but the tactile exploration in other ways can be really beneficial.
Bringing normal activities outdoors is a great way to get your baby’s attention to learn or to make something your baby doesn’t like less challenging. Ensure you have bug spray or sunscreen if you need it and bring your meals, story time, or tummy time outside for a change.
• Splash around — Outdoor water experiences are often especially interesting for babies. If you have space, you can bring your baby outside into your backyard for a variety of experiences. Invest in a kiddie pool or even just bringing a small pan of water outside for your baby to play in could bring on big smiles.
You could also explore small creeks with your child, allowing the baby to put his or her toes into the water. If you live near the ocean, you can add dipping toes or fingers into the water as part of your evening walk. Water helps children develop sensory awareness and is a frequent baby-pleaser.
• Bring out the bubbles — Bubbles are fun for a variety of ages. Bring them on your park walk or picnic to help entertain your oldest children while allowing the baby to experience them for the first time. Bubbles also work no matter what type of outdoor space you have, from a balcony in the city to a full-sized backyard to a fun hike in an out-of-the-way place.
Bubbles are so adaptable that they can be a staple no matter what you’re doing outside. Ensure your baby doesn’t get bubbles in his or her eyes, but the delight in popping bubbles can entertain your baby and you for a long time.
Getting your baby outside
You don’t have to be a hiking enthusiast or a backcountry camper to experience the outdoors. You can find a little space in the city with some green, bring your bubbles along, and you’ve got a fun, memorable experience.
Incorporating small outdoor activities into your daily life is a great way to help your child develop a love of the outdoors and build critical cognitive skills. A simple evening walk can do wonders for everyone’s well-being, including your smallest family member, so take these ideas and make them your own.
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