Momkissingbaby_Veer_219x219Guest post by Anne Keisman

Nothing fills a mother-to-be with more excitement than preparing the baby’s room. A nursery provides an oasis of calm for mother and child to get to know each other.

Why not think about creating a similar space outdoors—in a backyard or on a patio? You both will benefit from fresh air—and you’ll be fostering a love of nature and the outdoors early in your child’s life.

Get comfortable

Make sure your outside space is clean, has plenty of shade, and—importantly—a soft place for you and baby to sit. Your baby will love the soft movement of a rocker or a porch swing. And for naptime outside, use a portable crib and place some mosquito netting over the top.

Seek shade

Baby skin is very sensitive to UV rays, so block the sun with a porch roof, shade tree or awning.  Limit the time your baby is in the direct sun, especially when the sun is hottest: between 10am and 2pm. Have baby wear a hat and lightly-colored cotton clothes, and use a gentle sunscreen designed for infant skin even in the shade. If your baby is younger than 6 months, be sure to speak with your pediatrician about sun protection.
Plant a tree: When the baby is born, plant a tree in her honor in your backyard and watch it grow as your child grows. Visit a local nursery and ask for recommendations about what kind would do well.

Create eye candy

Hang a colorful windsock, a basket of flowers or a shiny wind-chime to catch your child’s eye.

Welcome wildlife

Add to your garden plants that are native to your region, feeders and other elements that attract birds, butterflies and other visitors that are sure to delight baby. Visit Garden for Wildlife  or Wildlife Gardening to get tips, and find out how to make your backyard one of more than 128,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats across the country.

Create an outdoor toy box

Stock up on bubbles and some durable waterproof toys that you can store in a plastic tub outside. But really, once your child is able to sit up and play, nature provides its own toys. Don’t be afraid to let your child dig in the dirt or get grass stains on his overalls! Simple household items can be an inexpensive way to provide fun outside, too: spoons and measuring cups, for example.

Build a 5-Senses-Garden

Create a garden that activates all of your child’s senses.

  • Sight: Plant some bold flowers with highly contrasting colors, like sunflowers or daisies.
  • Sound: Hang a bird-feeder to attract songbirds.
  • Touch: Plant lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine), which is soft to the touch.
  • Taste: Grow edible plants: berries, vegetables, or herbs. (Make sure plants are not poisonous)
  • Smell: Go for mint and rosemary plants, and roses (but watch the thorns!)

No patio or backyard?

  • Find nature nearby
    Visit Nature Find, plug in your zip code, and find all the nearest parks, trails and other green spaces near you.
  • Bring nature inside
    Each time you’re at the park, make a mental note to bring home one natural “treasure”: like a pinecone, a unique stone, or an acorn. Create a special space on a windowsill or table to display them to the whole family!