During the infant stage, babies are learning at a rapid pace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most important developmental milestones in the first year include establishing clearer vision and developing an ability to explore. This is what makes outdoor activities so valuable during infancy. When you and your baby spend time in the backyard, you are helping grow their thinking and reasoning skills. You will also help them engage in social and emotional bonding. New moms or dads also benefit from the outings. Backyard adventures will give you your daily requirement of vitamin D, as well as plenty of fresh air.
The following ideas are perfect for spending time at home. This list of outdoor activities for infants provides ideas for every time of year, so you can take advantage of engaging play during different types of weather. Once you find a few favorites, you will gain a better appreciation for where you live.
1. Outdoor Tummy Time
When you first visit your pediatrician, they will tell you the importance of tummy time. By placing your baby on their stomach to play, they will strengthen their neck and back muscles. They will also develop motor skills. All of this is essential for learning how to sit up, crawl and walk. Infants will do most of their tummy time on a blanket or pad in their nursery or living room. You can also do the activity outside when you want to enjoy fresh air.
Outdoor tummy time is a perfect activity for warm spring days, mild autumn afternoons and summer mornings in the shade. Bring a comfortable blanket outdoors and put it on the ground in a safe place. The best spots have plenty of thick grass free of bugs and debris. Other ideas include your back patio or deck.
Feel free to take toys with you. This may make things more fun and intriguing for the baby. Just be sure you choose items that can handle moisture, heat and humidity. If it is warm or sunny outside, dress your baby in a hat and protective clothing. If you feel a chill in the air, you can layer a jacket or hoodie over a bodysuit and pants. Our Onesies® Brand bodysuits are the perfect choice for layering during all seasons. Cotton material will keep your little one comfortable and cute all day long.
2. Backyard Lunch
In the first several months of your baby’s life, they will drink only breast milk or formula. Your pediatrician will guide you on when you should introduce solids while your child still nurses or drinks bottles. According to the Mayo Clinic, most infants start solid foods between four and six months of age. The right time to start will depend on your baby’s readiness, as well as your healthcare provider’s recommendations. No matter what feeding phase you are in, you and your child can enjoy a peaceful lunch outside. All you need is a comfortable seat or a high chair.
Newborns and young babies will sit with mom during lunch. Choose an outdoor chair that will support your body if you feed or nurse for a while. No matter what time of year you are having lunch outdoors, make sure you are in the shade. Protecting yourself from the sun with an umbrella or a large tree will prevent sunburn and overheating. Dress your child in layers so that you can add or subtract clothing items if the weather changes. Make sure you also wear comfortable clothing and UV-blocking accessories like a hat or sunglasses.
When the baby is ready for a high chair, feel free to take it outside. Choose a chair that is easy to wipe down afterward so it is clean when it goes back indoors. Some families even have an extra chair for their deck or patio. Bring their lunch in portable containers with matching tops. Airtight vessels will keep snacks fresh while protecting them from bugs. It will also be easier to transport different types of food. Remember to pack something for yourself, too. New parents also need to stay nourished.
3. Nature Naps
If your backyard features a patio or enclosed porch, take advantage of it during the warmer times of year. Taking naps in the sunlight can be relaxing and provide you and your baby with plenty of vitamin D. A portable bassinet or crib is a great choice for this space. Some babies don't sleep when it is too bright. Blackout shades or solar screens can make the environment darker and more comfortable. No matter how you adjust the room, you and baby will still enjoy the change of scenery. Nap nearby on a cot, hammock or futon. You can even sit in a chair and take in the natural scenery.
The quiet sound of birds or a babbling brook can also be soothing to baby. As long as you have an electrical outlet nearby, you can even bring your infant sound machine outdoors. Create a sleep playlist with your smartphone to relax your child anywhere.
4. Swimming and Water Play
If your family has a pool in their backyard, you can start taking baby in the water when they are a few months old. At first, you will need to hold them in a shallow part of the pool. Eventually, you can place them in a special seat or float. Other water play ideas include splashing in a bucket of water or letting baby feel the sensations of a gentle water sprinkler. Some parents like to take a newborn tub outdoors on the grass, sand or another soft foundation. Your baby can play in cool water with their favorite bath toys while you enjoy the weather. Adult supervision is always required when your baby is near the pool to guarantee their safety.
Since your child is unable to regulate their body temperature until their first birthday, it is important to keep them comfortable. Avoid water that is too cold. Dress them in the right baby girl or baby boy swimwear, such as a rashguard set with swim bottoms or trunks. Having a plush towel nearby will also help to keep them cozy as soon as they are done swimming or playing.
5. Short Walks
If you want to stay in the backyard for the afternoon, you can still take a walk. Your baby will love taking in the different sights. Stroll around the perimeter of the yard or explore near the fence. Exciting points of exploration include birds, tree leaves and wind chimes. If you have a garden, show them the different plants. You can also walk the driveway, roam around the exterior of your home or travel the sidewalk in your neighborhood.
While you may only be out for a few moments at a time, it is important to protect your baby’s delicate skin. If they are too young to wear infant sunscreen, dress them in an outfit that will prevent them from getting a sunburn. A lightweight cotton shirt can help to block some sunlight while still keeping the baby comfortable. Bodysuits can be worn with or without pants and are perfect for warmer weather. Hats are a good idea for infants of any age. For parents who like using baby carriers, use a free hand to carry a small umbrella. It is also a good idea to stay under a covered area or in the shade. When it is chilly outside, skip the outdoor walk. Instead, roam around your sunroom or enclosed patio.
6. Exploring with Bubbles
Bubbles are fascinating for infants. While they are exciting enough to watch in the early months of your baby’s life, they will also be fun for them to pop once they start sitting, standing or walking. This outdoor activity will help your baby strengthen their vision. They will also begin to learn more about the world around them.
The best thing about bubbles is they are affordable and can be found at almost any store. Buy a small bottle of bubbles with a matching wand or purchase a large jug and a set of tools. When it is a nice day for playing outdoors, you can take it in the backyard with you. You can also do it in your garage, driveway or on your back deck. First, demonstrate for baby how to blow bubbles with the wand. Watch your child delight in the way they float and disintegrate. The activity can even be stress-relieving for parents.
7. Backyard Story Time
It is always a good time to read a book. Take a few of your favorites outside for backyard story time. You will need only a few more supplies to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing reading session. Pack up a couple of bigger baby blankets, along with a hat and some toys. If your child uses a pacifier, it may also be a good idea to take one with you. Moms should also take a water bottle and hat or pair of sunglasses to keep them comfortable.
When you have everything you need, find a shady spot. Lay a blanket down on a soft patch of grass free of insects or mulch. The other blanket can be used for keeping the baby warm or adding extra padding to your first blanket. Read a couple of short books about animals, nature or the great outdoors. Your child may also have a few favorites from bedtime. Whatever you choose, make the activity vibrant and educational. Finger puppets and toy props can add to the fun. Once you are finished, you may even choose to have a snack or take a short rest.
8. Patio Play
Do you or your baby have another favorite activity? Take it out on the patio! Enclosed patios, sunrooms and porches are the perfect place for relaxing in a rocking chair, stacking blocks or playing with a doll. Other ideas include dancing to music, exploring in a playpen or learning with an activity table.
Since patios have plenty of natural light, they are also an ideal spot for learning to crawl or walk. Just make sure your little one has a carpet or padded area in which to move around. Concrete, wood and tile can be uncomfortable for little knees and feet. Sunrooms can be a good place to play with rattles or learn to use a ball, while their large windows also make for a safe and exciting place to learn more about the world around them.
Teaching Baby the Joy of Outdoor Play
There are so many reasons for you and your baby to play outside. The wellness benefits, like getting plenty of oxygen and vitamin D from sunlight, will be helpful to your child throughout their life. Outdoor play also encourages your little one to move their body and get mobile. While backyard fun enhances your child’s health, it is also essential to their emotional and social development. Tummy time, patio play and swimming are all easy and effective ways to bond with your baby and teach them more about how to interact in their home.
While you do not need to plan like you would for an outing, it is still a good idea to be prepared. Taking a small pouch, purse or backpack outside with you will make it easier for you to carry everything you need to spend some time in the yard. Snacks, a bottle or some water for mom may be all you need to get by. When it is warm outside, you will probably need protective clothing, a larger water bottle or an umbrella. If you choose to go outside in cool weather, make sure to layer your baby’s clothing. Hoods and beanies help to keep an infant’s head warm, while socks with booties or shoes will protect their delicate feet from wind and weather. Blankets are also the perfect supply for keeping everyone warm or providing a safe place to play in the grass.
No matter which activity you choose or the items you take with you, you are sure to create lasting memories. Whenever you feel like it, take your smartphone or camera with you. Snap a few shots of your child or a selfie of the both of you together. They will help you remember how fast your baby grew in their first year. Eventually, they will also be able to see just how much fun you had in their first-ever backyard.