Summer is just around the corner, the weather is warming up, and you can now enjoy playtime outside with your kids instead of being cooped up in the house all day. Many parents are tempted to just stay indoors all day with their little ones where play is organized and clean. But the outdoors provide some unique experiences for babies and toddlers that they just don’t get inside the house. Here are some fun ways you and your child can enjoy the great outdoors together.
Making sure baby’s outside environment is safe is an important first step to enjoying the outdoors. Here are some ideas:
- Avoid the heat of the day. 10 AM to 2 PM is the hottest time of the day when the sun can do the most damage. Use this time for indoor play or a much-needed nap.
- Dawn and dusk are the time of day when most mosquitoes and other insects come out. Minimize your evening time outdoors if you live in bug country.
- Eliminate standing water. Mosquitoes and flies love to breed in little pools of water. Make sure your have no buckets, flowerpots, stagnant puddles, or ponds around the house.
Keep Baby Cool.
Here are some ways you can keep your little ones cool during hot summer days.
- Shade. Be sure there’s plenty of shade around. The best option is for your child is to alternate between sunshine and shade. Some sunlight is healthy for baby to create vitamin D in his system to grow strong bones.
- Water. Bring water bottles and sippy cups along. Place an ice cube in each so the water stays a little cool. Let baby see you sipping (make it look fun) so he’ll keep drinking too.
- Cool cotton clothes breathe better.
- Hats. Get your baby used to always wearing hats outside. This way you don’t need to put sunscreen on their upper face (which invariably will find it’s way into baby’s eyes).
- Sunscreen. If you will be out for more than a half hour in the direct sun, use an infant-approved sunscreen on baby’s arms, legs, and neck. If cool enough, you can dress baby in light long sleeves and pants so sunscreen isn’t necessary. Don’t put it on baby’s hands, as it will likely find it’s way into baby’s mouth and eyes.
Fun time for infants and toddlers.
Here are some ways to introduce your little one to the fun of the outdoors:
- Show baby all the new textures around her. Let her feel the grass with her hands and feet. Let her feel sand and dirt. Don’t worry about germs. You can always give baby a bath when playtime is over. A bath will also wash away any outdoor allergens that baby picked up.
- Bugs. Show baby little ants, caterpillars, and other safe bugs. Give baby the impression that these are curious and fun, instead of scary. Let baby touch any bugs you feel are safe.
- Naming game. Give a name to every new things you and baby see. “There’s a bird!” “The doggy says woof woof” “See the airplane?” This will expand baby’s vocabulary and interest in the outdoors.
- Ball play. Bring along balls of various sizes so you can have a fun game of catch or kick.
- Bubbles. Blowing bubbles are a toddler favorite to make your outside time more creative.
- Color games. Show baby all the interesting outdoor colors such as the green grass and blue sky.
- Stop and smell the roses. Flowers are a favorite curiosity for toddlers. Teach baby to experience the sense of smell by showing her how to enjoy the fragrance of flowers. These are also great for learning colors.
- Wading pools. Fill up a baby pool in your backyard and introduce your toddler to a splashing good time. Get wet with your baby. Make sure your don’t leave baby unattended, of course. Drain the pool when you are finished.
The kids will soon be home for the summer. How can you take advantage of the long summer days and enjoy some fun outdoor time with your kids?
- Evening walks. Take a walk around the block together several evenings each week. This is a great time to talk about life, and get a little exercise in the process. This will also help your kids make friends with the neighbors.
- Pool time. Make good use of your swimming pool, or make friends with a neighbor who has one. Don’t just send your kids in, get wet with them. A playful afternoon being a “kid” in the pool with your kids really means a lot to them.
- Backyard camping. If a wilderness camping trip isn’t quite your style, surprise your kids with a family-sized tent in the backyard. Make this an overnight tradition every week or two. It will add creativity to your summer.
- Get your kids off the couch, away from the TV and video games, and send them outside to play. Even better, join them yourself. If your kids see you getting excited about outdoor exercise and fun, they’ll make it more of a lifestyle too.