We are excited to have a guest blogger writing for us from Mercola today to share with our followers some amazing ideas for outdoor activities to do with your baby. The writer of this helpful article, Elaine Rosales, writes for Mercola.com. She is currently researching tips to raise a healthy, smart, and physically active child. She also reviews safe and child-friendly skincare products, like sunscreen and mosquito repellent, for babies and toddlers. Enjoy!
Being a first-time parent is undoubtedly challenging, and many young mommies and daddies often take great caution when handling their infant. Some are even afraid to take their baby outside, and end up being cooped up inside the house for weeks or even months after giving birth. But there’s no reason to fear going outside. In fact, the fresh air and change of scenery may be great for you and your child.
Why Taking Your Baby Outdoors Is a Great Idea
Babies are naturally curious, and because they are constantly learning – being attentive to noises, colors, movements, and textures – spending time outdoors is a great way to introduce them to the world. By exposing your child to the outdoors at an early age, you can spark an everlasting interest and love for Mother Nature, which may lead to a physically active lifestyle in his later years. This is a definite advantage if you want him to be optimally healthy throughout his life. Children that are physically active have a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, improved immunity and cognitive function, stronger bones, and higher energy levels. Best of all, quality outdoor time is also a fun way to form a special bond with your little one!
Try these five outdoor activities with your baby:
1. Have a mini-picnic in your backyard. Spread a mat in your backyard where you and your baby can sit and play. Let him enjoy looking at the flowers, or read him a story. You can also bring some of his toys to play with. However, make sure to only let him near safe plants and blooms. Poppies, lily of the valley, and nightshade are some dangerous varieties. You should also bug-proof your yard. One great idea is by planting citronella and marigolds, which naturally deter mosquitoes.
2. Take a stroll in the park. A quick stroll around the park is a relaxing experience, and your baby will appreciate the natural sights. If there’s a pond nearby, you can even bring some breadcrumbs to feed the ducks, an activity that many kids, especially toddlers, love doing.
3. Go to the zoo. Seeing different animals will surely excite your baby. Keep a good hold onto him, though, and don’t let him get too close to the cages or enclosures.
4. Bring him to the beach. This is a perfect activity for summer. Your child will love digging in the sand and enjoy having the waves tickle his little feet. Just remember to ALWAYS keep an eye on him and to not let him near the water unsupervised. Slather a safe, child-friendly sunscreen on his skin as well.
5. Invest in a wading pool. This is a great alternative if the beach is too far away. Set up a wading pool in your backyard and let your child have fun splashing around. Never leave him unattended, though, and make sure you only use clean filtered water and a pool that’s free of harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals like polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs), phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA).
Safety First: Tips to Protect Your Baby Outdoors
As long as your baby is healthy – and you are feeling strong enough – you can take him outdoors. Just make sure to take a few precautions, such as avoiding people who are sick and making sure you dress him in comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes.
Here are some more tips to remember:
• Get to know your baby’s temperament. A trip outdoors on a day when your child is having a temper tantrum may not be a good idea. Try timing your travels with periods when he’s content, such as after a feeding and diaper change, or maybe after nap time.
• Check the weather report the day of your outing. Heavy rain or snow can ruin an otherwise relaxing stroll at the park.
• Avoid exposing him to too much sun. It’s true that sunlight is important for you and your baby’s vitamin D production. But since a baby’s skin is thinner and burns more easily, avoid exposing him to harsh sunlight for long periods of time, particularly in the first few months of his life. Once your baby is at least six months old, you can use a safe, chemical-free sunscreen as protection, especially if you plan to spend long hours outside.
• Bundle up your baby in weather-appropriate clothing. Your baby should be dressed in a way that makes it easy for you to keep him at the right temperature. Light, cotton clothes are great for summer, while warm jackets are perfect for winter. According to BabyCentre, one good rule of thumb is to give your baby a layer of clothing more than you need.
• Bring the baby essentials. If you’re going out for more than an hour, bring supplies like extra clothes, breastfeeding accessories, and diapers. A first-aid kit may also come in handy.
• Protect him from bugs and other biting insects. This is especially important if you’re heading to shrubby areas and places with standing water. Dress your child in a long-sleeved shirt, pajamas or pants, socks, closed shoes, and a hat. Using a safe, non-chemical, and DEET-free insect repellent is also a good idea (Note: check the repellent’s label to see that it’s safe for infants).
• Invest in a safe, high-quality baby car seat. Be very careful in choosing a car seat, as many car seat brands contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can endanger your baby.
• Stay away from large crowds and jam-packed areas. Your child may come in contact with people who are sick or immunocompromised.
• Always keep your eyes on your baby. Babies and toddlers are prone to touching or picking things up. If you look away even for just a second, he may end up stuffing something in his mouth. Be vigilant at all times.