Being a first time mom, I didn’t realize how the time change would impact our daily routines. Our wake and sleep times have changed, meal times have varied and our time outdoors is limited. Now that it gets dark at five o’clock in the afternoon, it leaves us with over two hours to entertain our son indoors before his bedtime. Yikes! That’s tough for a very inquisitive little boy who loves to go outside AND his parents. Since my son has started walking, he’s fascinated by the outdoors. He would be content outside from the minute he wakes until he goes to bed for the night. When mommy finally gets tired of being outside, going inside is a major point of contention for us. My son always gets upset when it comes time to go in. I understand, being outdoors is so stimulating, relaxing and interactive for him. Watching him play outside got me wondering why being outside is so desirable to him. He inspired me to write this post as I watched him stare at two squirrels playing in awe. I could see his wheels turning as he soaked everything he was seeing in. Then we saw a cat, flowers, pinecones and the ocean, the learning was non-stop, much more so than if we were indoors.
Now that it gets dark early and is cold, it’s easy to make excuses to not go outside. BUT there are great benefits. Here’s why I feel it’s important to make time to get littles outdoors.
*Change of scenery: Seeing the same ole toys and scenery inside gets boring real quick for littles. Bored toddlers get up to no good. Going outside is engaging because the scenery is always changing with new things to see and do. When babies get cranky and grumpy indoors, take them outside and I promise their mood will change for the good.
*Educational: Outside is full of opportunities for exploration, discovery and learning. I can see my son learning without even having to intervene. But when I do intervene and we talk about and manipulate outdoor things, his engagement and learning explodes! Babies learn using their senses and being outdoors puts our senses in motion.
*Sensory Integration: Going outside stimulates all of the senses. It educates the senses by seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and even tasting new things with each outdoor adventure. Every time babies hear a new sound, smell a new smell, feel a new texture or see a new sight they record it in their memory banks, which makes connections to hook new information to.
*Limitless activities: From throwing rocks, picking up sticks, crunching leaves, smelling flowers, walking, running, jumping, going up and down, digging or playing ball there’s unlimited fun things to do with toddlers outdoors. They make their own fun, we just have to follow their lead and watch them like a hawk to keep them safe!
*Bonding: Being outdoors is a great time to give babies your full attention. This creates a special bond between the two of you as you spend time with each other, connect and interact. You will smile, laugh, discover and make memories together.
*Language Development: My favorite! There is tons you can do to stimulate expressive and receptive language development. Talk about everything you see (colors, textures, sizes, objects, actions). Make sound effects. Name things. Encourage baby to say and do. Have baby follow simple directions, play I spy, identify things and listen to new sounds.
*Calming: It never fails that when my baby is upset and I take him outside, life is suddenly all good. Being outdoors, having a change of scenery, appreciating nature and breathing in fresh air is good for the soul. It typically relaxes adults and children. And when children are relaxed they explore, discover and learn. Yes, please!
*Sweet Dreams: After playing hard outdoors and wearing themselves out physically and mentally, babies are sure to sleep soundly. Ahhhh!
We’ve had so much fun outside this week that I couldn’t help but share pics. Taking babies outdoors provides real life learning experiences from engaging within their environment. Experiences that are tactile, integrate all the senses, require problem solving and application of what’s learned, use of imagination and socialization. It helps babies to understand rights from wrongs, dos from don’ts and excitements and disappointments all of which is lacking when looking at a screen. The time and temperature change has made it more difficult to take my baby outside but I know how much he loves it and the great benefits, so we bundle up and go. I challenge you to play with a little outside, it’s good for the both of you!
Tip: Say “outside” and “inside” when you go!
What activities do you do with your littles outdoors? Please share.
Peace & Love,