Baby Whisperer: Outdoor play
Making use of the outdoors, particularly at this time of year, is wonderful for babies, they love being out in the fresh air and enjoy the amount of sensory stimuli that they get from being outside.
Whether you take your baby out for a walk or for a play, they love the fresh air and mixture of stimuli from the outdoors.
Not only is it great for the parent's wellbeing by giving us a break from the four walls of a home but also it allows babies to absorb the natural environment, enhancing their developmental skills, especially through exploration and discovery.
The more a baby has time outside, being free to explore and tolerate the different smells, wind or breeze and textures, the more they will be encouraged in the future to be explorative and confident in playing with freedom of space.
The Baby Whisperer's tips:
- When your baby is old enough to have playtime, allow them time outside to play (weather permitting), take their play gym or baby bouncer/chair out with you for change from the lounge.
- Have an 'outdoor' play box or basket which you take with you, this will encourage you to use the outdoors more often because there is little effort for you to get organised!
- For smaller babies try tying objects that can reflect or move in the sun and wind onto to tree branches or onto the arms of an umbrella.
- Allow babies where safe to touch and explore the different textures and mediums of the garden. Picking leaves and grass or playing with sticks. *If you are unsure what plants are safe in your garden you are best to research this before allowing your baby to touch as often they stick everything in their mouth to taste!
- In the autumn collect fallen leaves and replace the paddling pool's use for swimming and put the leaves inside. This gives them opportunity to hop in amongst the leaves, feeling and listening to the different textures and sounds.
- Offer toys that they can role-play with i.e. toy gardening tools, pegs for copying you hanging the washing.
- Use a family tent as shade or a game for them to crawl in and out of instead of buying expensive outdoor equipment.
- Plant a child friendly garden for your babies or toddlers, plants that they can taste or that they are free and safe to dig and explore in.
- The best time of day for outside play in the summer months is early morning or late afternoon.
- Use sunscreen, sunhat, sun suits or cool cotton clothing for babies who are moving about to ensure they do not get caught in the sun but read the sunscreen age recommendation, as some are only suitable over 6mths of age.
- Place your mat or blanket under a tree or good quality sunshade, making sure there is no UV light getting through or gaps in the leaves of the tree when baby is without sunscreen.
- Dress according to the weather, babies always need a little more clothing than we do so even if you are feeling hot remember they will need one more layer than you (until they are moving around and using more physical energy).
- Never leave a paddling pool full of water and unattended, babies or toddlers move quickly and can be in the water before you know it. Cover with a secure lid or empty after use or if you are not able to keep an eye on them every minute.
- f using chemical or dangerous poisons in the garden make sure you take this into consideration before you let your baby or toddler play outside. A lot of brought compost can be highly toxic if inhaled or consumed.
Where to go for further info:
Visit the library for books that give activity ideas or look up outdoor play on the web for more interesting facts and studies on the benefits of time in our natural environment for children.
See 'Benefits for children' in the below website home