Playing outside with your baby offers many learning opportunities and it's just plain fun. So many options are available that finding one your baby enjoys is easy. Don't worry when the weather is cold -- just dress extra warmly. Mix and match your favorite outdoor activities all year long for the most benefit.
For younger babies, blow bubbles and let them watch as the bubbles float by. Let older babies reach out and pop the bubbles. Take a touching tour. Carry your baby around the yard, neighborhood or park and let him touch grass, sand, leaves, tree bark, fences, flowers, snow, icicles and rain puddles. Set up a small wading pool and sit in it with your baby. Let a younger baby splash around and show an older one how to dump and scoop the water with small plastic containers. Lie on a blanket and watch clouds go by or leaves move in the wind. Go to a pond and watch the ducks swim or sit in the backyard and watch the squirrels or birds move. Talk about what you are seeing and doing while you're outside.
How Much Outdoor Time
You don't have to spend all day outside for your infant to benefit, though you might want to during warmer months. Watch your baby for cues that he is done or is game to keep going. If he turns his head away or gets fussy, he might be overwhelmed and want to be done or move to another outdoor activity. If it's really cold outside, limit your time to five to 10 minutes. If your baby looks tired or is falling asleep or seems hungry, call it quits and head indoors for a snack or a nap.
Going outside to engage your infant offers plenty of benefits. Touching and seeing nature helps build fine motor development and the differences between objects, including texture, weight, size, color and dimensions. For older babies who move around a bit more, playing outside can help build muscle strength as they crawl through the grass or kick their legs in the wading pool. Being outdoors also builds creativity and imagination as your infant gets older.
As with any other type of play, doing so outside poses some risks. Keep babies under 6 months of age in the shade, but apply plenty of sunscreen to older babies if you'll be out in the sunshine. Dress your little one appropriately for the weather. Bundle her into a coat, hat and mittens if it's cold, but stick to short sleeves and lightweight fabrics during warm weather. Stay close to your infant to ensure that bugs don't land on his delicate skin and to prevent him from putting objects into his mouth.
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