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Activities for the Outdoor Baby
Guest post by Anne Keisman
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder … he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
– Rachel Carson, biologist (1907-1964)
Spark a life-long love of the outdoors in your little one—explore nature together at each stage of your baby’s first year. Time outside provides fresh air and a change of pace that’s both calming and stimulating for babies—and is sure to boost your mood, too.
When you do go outdoors, make sure you and your baby are well protected from the sun. Be sure to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day, wear protective clothing and use a sunscreen as your pediatrician advises.
Birth-3 months: Lack of sleep, fluctuating hormones, and attending to your baby’s every need can lead to a roller coaster ride of emotions for mom. But it’s also a joyous time, as the bond of love builds between you.
- Make time for short walks with your baby in a stroller or a carrier. Even ten minutes can be beneficial!
- Exercise and fresh air are great for mom’s post-partum health, which often takes a back seat to baby’s needs. A happy mommy equals a happy baby. Why? Your little one can sense when you are tense or upset.
- Babies, especially newborns, are soothed by white noise, which mimics sounds heard in the womb. Luckily, nature is filled with white noise, such as the wind in the trees, a babbling brook, and rain on a rooftop.
3-6 months: Baby starts to smile, coo and babble at this age, and he is able to see things around him more clearly, too. He’s not usually crawling or walking yet, but he’s definitely craning his neck to see the exciting world around him.
- Point out trees, grass, and flowers, saying the words for each object several times. He may not be able to say the words yet, but he’s absorbing everything he hears and sees.
- Enjoy his smiles and watch as his eyes widen with a sense of wonder. So will yours.
7-9 months: Babies are bursting with the desire to get moving, and may even be crawling already. Meanwhile, moms often feel that it’s time to take care of their own health by exercising more often.
- At this stage, your baby usually has head control and can sit up on her own. Shop around for jogging strollers, baby backpacks, or trailers that you can tow on the back of your bike. Make sure your baby is secure and get your heart pumping. She might also take a nap during your workout, which means she’ll be rested for playtime later!
10-12 months: Your baby is beginning to recognize that words refer to specific objects. Also, at this age “object permanence” is fully intact, which means that he now knows that objects still exist even when they are out of sight.
- Spread out a blanket on the lawn or in a park and have a picnic!
- Baby’s eating a variety of solid foods by now, so bring out a few of his favorite treats, along with a pile of books to read together outside.
- Gather some natural objects—a smooth rock, a pinecone, a dandelion—and cover them up with a cloth. Say to your baby, “Where did it go?” Watch as he delights in pulling the cloth and discovering the treasure underneath.
- Bring bubbles to blow — this classic activity never fails to please a baby!