Exploring Nature with your Baby: Part 2

Exploring Nature with your Baby: Part 2Exploring nature with your baby is one of the best activities you can do together. It’s fun for the whole family and boosts your child’s worldliness, sensory experiences and brain development. As we examined yesterday the benefits of exploring nature with your baby range from enhancing her mood and improving social skills, to broadening her sensory experiences and knowledge of all nature has to offer.

Many parents feel that because their baby is not walking, they cannot fully experience nature. This misconception leads to lots of stroller sitting outdoors. Some strollering is fine, but keeping your little one cooped up prevents her from reaping all of the benefits of exploring nature.

Check out these exciting activities for exploring nature with your baby:

Backyard Explorers: You can begin nature play with your baby as a newborn. Start by doing at least one tummy time session a day outdoors, weather permitting. As your baby grows and is able to sit, crawl and eventually walk, your exploration can take on new meaning. Think about all that your baby can see when she’s laying, sitting or crawling in the grass at ground level. Get right down there with her to view the world from her perspective. Encourage touching grass and leaves, pointing to insects and rocks, scratching dirt and sand, smelling flowers, listening to birds, and feeling the breeze. Identify what your baby is experiencing to help her connect words to objects and sensations.

Remember, being barefoot is excellent for young crawlers and walkers. It not only helps with sensory input and balance, your baby can also absorb minerals from the earth by being barefoot. If you’re worried about your baby’s knees getting scraped up by crawling outdoors, buy baby knee pads that will protect her skin.

Experience the Weather: If you think outdoor play is only for beautiful sunny days, think again! Let your little one feel the soft sprinkle of raindrops on her skin or crunch around in thick snow. Go out during a windy day to let the wind whoosh your hair. Take note of cloudiness vs. sunshine, humidity vs. dryness. While these may seem very abstract, your baby can sense these changes in the weather.

Experience the Seasons: When you dress appropriately, you can play outdoors in any season. Celebrate what’s new and exciting about each season. Plant a garden in the spring. Swim in a lake in the summer. Roll around in leaves in the fall. Build with snow in the winter. Mark the changing of seasons indoors as well with calendars, decorations and seasonal traditions.

Collect Nature: You may have noticed that your little one enjoys picking up objects and putting them into a container. This is super helpful when it’s clean-up time (assuming she doesn’t spill them out again) and it can be a fun nature activity. Provide a pail or box and let your little explorer collect objects such as sticks, rocks, leaves and pinecones. When she’s done, pour some water into the pail and let her mix up her nature stew.

Splash and Spray: Water is a huge part of nature and many babies find it delightful. Swimming in lakes, pools or the ocean, is always fun, or simply fill a plastic bin with water and give your little one some cups, spoons and balls to splash around. Spraygrounds are also quite popular in the summer.

Favorites Outside: Sometimes bringing favorite toys such as building blocks, paints, books and puzzles outside can be fun. With nature as your setting, it sheds new inspiration on these favorites.

Take a Walk: Exploring nature with your baby by walking or hiking can be enjoyable and bonding. Try wearing your baby in a carrier that allows her to face out. She can stay close to you and you can experience nature together. Be sure to narrate your walk, point out plant and animal life and take a moment to listen to the sounds of nature. At an enclosed park, let your little one guide the way if she’s walking. You may want to have a stroller or carrier on hand for the way back because she could venture farther than her legs can carry her back.

Sources: The Go-To Mom, Educatall, She Knows and Scholastic

 

Exploring Nature with your Baby: Part 1

Have you ever noticed how being outdoors brightens your baby’s mood. Even when the weather is less-than-desirable, there’s something magnificent about the connection humans have to nature and your baby is keenly aware of it from the get-go. Exploring nature with your baby can be an eye-opening, brain-boosting, calming and scintillating experience for your little one.

Today we’re talking about the benefits of exploring nature with your baby and tomorrow we’ll get into some of the best outdoor activities for your baby.

Exploring Nature with your Baby: Part 1The Benefits of Exploring Nature with your Baby

Babies thrive on sensory and play-based learning. Nature is both of these things to the extreme. In fact at times you may feel your baby is overwhelmed by nature but you can break it down into “baby bites” to help your little one get the most out of it.

Nature connects your baby to the world in a way that nothing else can. Perhaps it is our evolutionary pull that creates this powerful bond. And it has a bunch of fantastic benefits.

Mood Booster: If you’ve ever taken your fussy baby outdoors and she immediately changes her tune, you’ll know the true power of nature. It has the unique ability to turn frowns upside down and elicit cheerful moods. And that’s not only the case for beautiful sunshiny days. Even rainy, windy, cold or snowy days can give your baby a mood adjustment if you play it right.

Sensory Stimulus: Think about all the colors, shapes, textures, sounds, temperatures and elements your baby can feel in nature. Sure, you probably have a ton of toys that offer great sensory experiences too but nothing can compare to the stimulus of nature. Tickly grass under your baby’s feed, soft sand running through her hands, rough bark she can peel from a tree, brightly colored leaves she can crunch, noisy birds she can hear, squishy earthworms she can hold, crisp wind that cools her and hot sun that warms her. These and many others are irreplaceable sensations found in nature.

Exploring Nature with your Baby: Part 1Endless Possibilities: We all want our children to think big and dream big and nature can support these ideals. Nature is vast. The sky’s the limit, and the earth is the depth. Being indoors presents boundaries you cannot avoid but nature allows your child the feeling of true freedom. Especially when you have a safe space to explore, your baby can experience a little independence under your supervision. Exploring nature with your baby near mountains, plains, lakes, waterfalls or beaches creates an even greater sense of endless possibilities.

Animals in Action: Of course one of the greatest wonders in nature is observing animals in action. Your baby is probably really great at noticing animals such as bids in flight, squirrels scampering up trees and insects crawling nearby. She may be fascinated and want to touch, or she may prefer watching from afar. Either way, a baby’s innate sense of curiosity and interest in nature’s creatures is a fantastic way of exploring nature with your baby.

Social and Behavioral Lessons: As your baby grows into a toddler and beyond, outdoor play can help you adjust behavior problems and teach important lessons such as sharing and social responsibility.

Nature’s Classroom: Nature opens the door to many fascinating discussions you can have with your baby. You may feel you’re running out of things to talk about indoors but step outside and you have an entirely new well to research. From weather, planets and rainbows, to how plants grow and the water cycle, you can introduce new words and concepts to your baby. Sure, she may be years away from understanding them but it’s never to early to start the conversation.

Sources: The Go-To Mom, Educatall, She Knows and Scholastic