Your Baby in Nature
It is vital that your child establish a loving connection to the planet on which we live. We all need clean, fresh air to breathe, exposure to a healthy amount of sunlight, and unpolluted food and water sources. Learning to care for our Earth begins in early childhood, and for babies, it is all about developing an appreciation for the myriad animals and plants that coexist with humans on our beautiful planet.
Feeling a cool breeze, smelling the spicy-sweet foliage, and crawling or toddling about inspecting grass or bugs is like applying a natural salve to the troubled spirit. If you find yourself in a rut with a fussy baby, try going outside for a change of pace. Often, just being outdoors will calm a crying baby or stop a day full of tantrums in its tracks.
Since we are talking about babies + the great outdoors, make sure to always supervise your little one, making sure that what goes into the mouth is safe. Some common plants are toxic (learn the local ones in your area so you can watch for them) and many natural items have parts that can break off and be choked on. Always explore the wilderness with safety in mind.
Without further ado, here are some fun, easy activities that will help your baby develop a strong relationship with Mother Nature.
1. Feel the wind.
2. Crumble dry leaves near your young baby's ears so he can hear the crinkling sound.
3. Let your older baby pinch, poke, and rip dry leaves.
4. Encourage your younger baby to grasp a short, smooth stick (but it's not for the mouth).
5. Let your older baby watch you gather two sticks and tap them together to make a sound.
6. Splash around in a puddle together. Dip your older baby's toes in if she likes it.
7. Throw dry leaves or small pebbles into a babbling brook together.
8. Let your older baby dig in the soil with a trowel.
9. Hold some soil up for your younger baby to smell.
10. Spend time looking for and observing tiny insects like ants or beetles.
11. Feel the roughness or smoothness of tree bark.
12. Water a plant with a watering can. Let your baby watch you.
13. Take naptime outside in the shade.
14. Read a story outside. Even better if it's a book about some aspect of nature!
15. Pick a small, and very common flower to dissect - like a dandelion, fresh or dry.
16. Listen to the birds chirping. Sprinkle some birdseed to attract them.
17. Pick a few leaves from locally grown herbs and crush them in your hand. Let your baby smell them.
18. Walk barefooted or crawl on short, freshly mowed grass.
19. Gather a few items for a nature treasure basket to bring home (a pinecone, large stone, leaf).
20. A tummytime picnic to strengthen those upper body muscles! Why not?!
21. Learn the names of local flowers, herbs, plants, and trees in your area. Use these names often when out and about with your baby.
22. Find a wiggling worm buried in the earth. Dig it up and then let your baby watch it wriggle back down into the soil.
23. Go out in a light rain and stand under an umbrella. Listen to the patter of the drops overhead. Reach a hand out to feel them.
24. Hang a windchime and visit it daily to listen to the wind making music for you.
25. Turn over large stones to let your baby see what's underneath.
26. Feel some soft moss or lichen with your fingertips. Your baby might enjoy this sensation on her toes.
If you are looking for more ideas for exploring nature with babies, toddlers, or young preschoolers, you might enjoy participating in a new online course just for parents: Pots and Pansies. Click here to learn more.