Finding outdoor activities for infants and babies is crucial for development, but it’s not always easy. Your baby seems so vulnerable that your first instinct may be to keep your baby inside to protect them. However, nature play has a multitude of benefits that can help your infant’s development.
Fortunately, infants and babies thrive on simplicity. In fact, the actual activity isn’t so much important as giving your baby new experiences. Whether you’re camping with your baby or just going in your own backyard, the following activities for infants are an easy way to incorporate the outdoors into your routine.
Why Outdoor Activities for Infants and Babies Are Important
For infants and babies, spending time outdoors is an exciting experience. After all, during their first few years of life, their synapses are forming based on the richness of their environment. They are trying to make sense of the world around them and taking it all in.
For this reason, it’s crucial to keep things interesting for your baby, with a variety of smells, sights, and sounds. Being outside provides a much more meaningful experience than being indoors. There’s a stark contrast between lying on a blanket in the house looking up at a blank ceiling and lying in the grass outside, watching the rustling of leaves, hearing the birds chirping, and feeling the breeze and sunshine.
The sensory experiences of the outdoors cannot be matched. And, with that in mind, here are a few outdoor activities for infants and babies that will help you to get outside!
1. Go On a Hike
Almost from the moment your baby is born, a good way to get outside is to take your baby on a hike or walk with you. Whether your baby is in a stroller, a carrier, or cradled in your arms, getting some sun, fresh air, and exercise is important for both you and your baby.
Once your baby starts learning how to walk, bring them outside. Although it may seem safer to keep your infant inside on the carpet or rug, there are actually a lot of sharp angles and narrow corners in your house that are not ideal for your little hiker-in-training. Go outside where there’s more space and softer surfaces.
At the end of the day, your “hike” may not be a long one and you might not get very far, especially if there’s a new discovery found on the ground. Nevertheless, the experience is well worth it.
2. Have a Picnic
Another great way to enjoy the outdoors is to bring indoor activities outside. Grab a blanket, some books, and some toys. Reading and playing outdoors can be a completely different experience in the grass or under a tree.
This is also a good time to try new foods and new ways of eating. In this way, your infant can experience different smells, flavors, and textures, with a lot less cleanup. In other words, no more scrubbing the floor or walls when food goes astray.
Don’t forget to bring something for yourself and everyone involved too. Take a deep breath and enjoy being outside.
3. Engage In Sensory Play
Sensory play is critical for development and there’s no better place for this activity than in nature. The world is filled with things to explore and there’s no better way to stimulate the senses than by going outside.
Let your infant crawl and play in grass, sand, and leaves. Some of the best toys on the planet are rocks and sticks. There’s nothing better for development than simple exploration of the natural world, just be careful to make sure all new discoveries are kept away from your baby’s mouth.
4. Do Some Water play
Whether you’ve taken a trip into the woods and found a stream or are in your backyard, water play is highly beneficial to infants. Not only does it stimulate creativity and imagination, but it’s also one of the best ways for your child to connect with the natural world.
Water is, after all, one of the most important substances on the planet. When your infant plays with water, they are building problem-solving skills, releasing energy, and increasing fine-motor skills. It also helps to introduce them to different textures and temperatures, as well as various hand-eye coordination skills, including splashing, pouring, stirring, and squeezing.
That being said, you don’t have to overcomplicate it. Sure, there are fancy water tables and different toys you can buy, but you can also keep it simple and fill a few cups and bowls up with water.
5. Get dirty!
We’ve said this before but it bears saying again: don’t be afraid to get dirty! Although your natural instinct may be to keep your baby as clean as possible, this is not always the best thing to do. In fact, a little dirt can actually be beneficial.
Going outside is a great way to escape overly-sterile indoor environments. As we already mentioned, some of the best kinds of sensory play involve playing with sticks and dirt. Don’t be afraid to let your baby scoot through the dirt or squish in the mud. Besides, if you're concerned with cleanup, save your water play for after the mud and grime as a quick way to wash the dirt away.
What Are Some of Your Favorite Outdoor Activities for Infants?
No matter what you decide to do, getting outside is a critical part of your baby’s development. Whether you’re going on a hike, camping, or simply spending time in your backyard, don’t let anything stop you from your favorite outdoor activities for infants.