We all know that it’s great to get kids outside and that nature play has a multitude of benefits, but sometimes getting out the door is difficult even if it’s just into your own backyard. If we at least have some idea of what we are going to do once we are outside, then we are one step closer. For infants, the actual activity really isn’t as important as just giving your baby new experiences. These activities for infants are all simple, quick and easy and should be able to easily incorporated into your routine.
Here are some activities for infants to 1-year-olds in the great outdoors:
Hiking or Walking Outside
From just about birth, you can start getting your baby outside to hike or walk with you. Whether they are in the stroller, baby carrier or just in your arms, and whether you are hiking a trail or just walking back and forth in the driveway, getting outside and moving is a beneficial experience for you and your little one.
Tummy time, Reading or Playing Outside
Bring your normal inside activities outside to the fresh air. Grab a blanket and some books or toys and take playtime outside instead of inside. Even just napping or nursing your infant outside can feel like a new experience.
What a better place to start your baby on new foods then outside? Sit them on a blanket and picnic together while they try out new foods and new ways of feeding themselves. Added bonus: cleanup for you doesn’t involve scrubbing floors, walls, windows or high chairs. If they still need support when sitting, try a “bumbo” type seat with a tray or just bring their high chair out with you.
One of the key elements for development in babies is sensory play and the outdoors is filled with new things to explore and stimulate their senses. Let them crawl around in new terrains – grass, dirt, sand, leaves, etc. Let them pick up new materials – rocks, sticks, sand or mud. Just keep a careful eye to make sure their new finds don’t turn into their next picnic.
Don’t be afraid to let them get dirty! Let them squish the mud or scoot through the dirt or roll around in the grass. If you don’t want to rush to the bath tub afterwards, then move right on to one of the next activities below…
You can take them to a pool or body of water and take them in the water with you, or fill a few bowls with water and let them splash around with their hands. Don’t overthink it – babies thrive on simplicity.
During off hours, when there are not many bigger kids around, playgrounds can be perfect places for babies to work on new large motor skills, such as crawling on new surfaces, pulling up and climbing.
Babies love bubbles. They are easy and cheap (if you are ambitious, you can make your own following this recipe) and you are sure to get some giggles!
One of the best toys for little ones are different sized balls for them to push around and watch bounce. Outside is the perfect place because there is nothing to hit and plenty of space. Feel free to experiment with different size balls. This will help with both gross and fine motor control.
Once your little one starts trying to walk, bring them outside where there are less sharp edges and lots of softer surfaces for the inevitable spills. The only downside is that they may become more interested in a new discovery on the ground and may not get very far!
Photo Courtesy of Kirby Crawford and Ashley Scheider
What are your favorite outdoor activities for infants? Share in the comments below. Next month we’ll be back to talk about our favorite outdoor activities with toddlers!
Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers dedicated to raising a generation to love the outdoors. Learn more about Hike it baby membership.
ABOUT HIKE IT BABY
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.