With the beautiful spring weather finally upon us, you probably can’t wait to get outdoors with family and little ones. Whether it’s bringing your children to the park, sitting out by the pool, or just enjoying a grilled hamburger on your patio, there’s so much more to do when the weather is warmer!
We love being outside, but it’s a lot harder with babies and toddlers around. You have to worry about applying enough sunscreen, making sure they don’t run into the street or put bugs in their mouth, and also keep them from getting hurt. If your baby’s not yet moving or sitting up, you also may be holding them the whole time, which can be exhausting and limit you from doing certain things.
Tips and ideas for outdoor play with your baby
Being outside with your baby can present it’s challenges, but it can also be so exciting. I’ve found a few ways to make it much easier on parents to be outdoors with their little ones. Here are some tips and ideas on how to spend time outside with your baby and still have fun (without all the worry).
born free nisa playard
This piece of baby gear is probably one of my most used gadgets, especially in the summer. The born free nisa playard can be used indoors and outdoors, but I love it particularly for outside play. It’s even big enough to hold a few babies!
A playard is great to have outdoors so you can easily set your baby down on a clean, safe surface. You don’t know what’s crawling in the grass or the cement is probably too hot to put your baby down. We use ours all the time while we are sitting outside, at a BBQ, or at the pool. I can even bring it to the park so I can keep an eye on my toddler running around, while my infant is in a safe, secluded spot close by.
The born free nisa playard folds up so conveniently and is portable enough to bring in and out of the house with you. It’s also super easy to bring it along on your travels or a day at the beach or park. It pops open in seconds with just a quick pull. I just throw a few of my baby’s toys in there with him and he’s happy for awhile (even while practicing tummy time). A playard is great for infants up to when your baby/toddler is literally running around.
The included canopy makes it useful anywhere, even when you can’t find a shady spot for baby. It will keep your baby covered and safe from the sun’s rays while still providing adequate ventilation. However, still always make sure you apply and reapply sunscreen often.
I received a born free nisa playard in exchange for a review blog post. All opinions are my own.
Go for a walk
Walks are great for both parents and babies. You both need the fresh air if you’ve been cooped up in the house this past winter. Pop your baby in a stroller or carrier and take them out to enjoy the sights.
Make sure you point out all the things they will be seeing while outside. From houses and cars to trees and birds, your little one is taking in all of his surroundings. Even though he may not be speaking just yet, he is still understanding a lot more than you may think. The best way for your baby to learn new vocabulary and language is to see the real thing
Here are some ideas for walks you can bring your baby on:
- Go to the farmers market and point out the fruit and vegetables
- Hiking trails and point out the plants and animals
- A park with paths and point out other people, kids, and playgrounds
- Outdoor mall or shopping center and point out people and shopping items
- Walk the boardwalk and point out the ocean, sand, and birds
- Trails around a lake or reservoir and point out the ducks and water
If you don’t have access to a swimming pool, here are some fun ways to keep your baby cool and give them the sensory experience of water play.
Water table: If your baby is already pulling up to stand and can stand upright while holding on, he can use a water table. I love this water table by Step 2 that let’s your baby or toddler hold onto the side wall while splashing in the water. They will have a blast playing with the little toys and objects attached to the table.
Ice Block Treasure Hunt: This is a simple activity from Counting Coconuts that your baby will love. Take some of their small, plastic toys (blocks or little toy animals) and put them in an ice cube tray or bin. Once the ice freezes around the toys, place the toy-filled ice cubes or large ice block onto a baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet/tub and ice outside and let them sit on the ground and have a ball playing with it. They’ll slowly see the ice start to melt as they play while the sun warms it up, revealing the special toys inside! You can speed up the melting process by pouring warm water over it or just letting it sit in the hot sun for awhile.In case these are choking hazards, please observe your child closely.
Baby pool: It’s cheap and easy to get a small baby pool to fill up with water so your baby can enjoy a little pool experience. Sit them in there with some sand/water toys and hopefully they stay in there for awhile!
Bubbles: This isn’t really water play, but it’s a great sensory activity that your baby is bound to love! Just blow bubbles around your baby and watch them swat at them and be in all their glory while watching the bubbles float around in the sky. If you really want to get them excited, get a bubble machine. These things take blowing bubbles to a whole new level!
Take them to an amusement park
Your baby can go on some rides at an amusement park as long as they are sitting up and with an adult. You can hold them on the teacup and rides and merry-go-rounds. They will have a blast with this new experience!
Wear them in a carrier
It can get a bit hot in the summer heat when you’re using a baby carrier. The Lili Baby All Seasons carrier provides a 3D mesh material that keeps you from sweating as much when holding your baby close to you. Keeping your baby in a carrier gives you the freedom to roam about how you please without lugging a stroller everywhere.
Carriers are also beneficial to baby while they are facing outwards. Now they can see, reach, grab, and hear so much going on around them. They’ll love taking in new sights while strapped right to mom or dad.
Always keep a blanket or sheet with you
If you can’t bring a portable playard with you, always remember to have a blanket on hand. Keep it in your car for anytime you end up making a quick stop at a park or friend’s house. This way, if you’re sitting outside, you can put the baby down anywhere and not have to worry about dirt or heat. You can read them a book or have them play with other toys. A large sheet should be a great size for a baby who is crawling around.
Related Post: Fine Motor Play for your 3-6 Month Old Baby
Encourage sensory play
Being outside is probably a totally new experience for your infant, especially if they were born this past winter or fall and haven’t been outside yet. Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dirty! You can lay them on their belly on a blanket or sit them up on a blanket in the grass. Help them to explore their new environment by touching and feeling all the outdoor things:
- smooth rocks
- rough rocks
Just make sure you maintain close supervision so they don’t put these items in their mouth. Also, start building language and vocabulary by talking to your baby about these things that they are seeing, hearing, and feeling. Your baby is learning so much at this age and taking in everything you are telling him. Here are some ideas of ways to talk about the outside to your baby:
What they feel:
- a smooth rock
- blades of grass
- a crunchy or soft leaf
- warm sun on their skin
- the breeze and wind
- the hot ground
What they hear:
- cars and trucks honking and driving by
- birds chirping
- wind from the trees
- dogs barking
- bugs buzzing
What they see:
- blue sky, green grass, yellow flowers
- car, house, ball, bike
- butterfly, birds, bugs
- other animals, people
Take them to a park
Your baby can go on a swing soon after they can sit up independently! They will have a blast on the slides, swings, and just running crawling around a playground.
Eat all the messy foods
Finally a time and place when you can not get so upset about your baby being such a messy eater. Give your baby all the messy foods they want because you don’t really have to worry about cleaning it up! Watermelon, ice cream, popsicles, and applesauce are all great foods that they can practice self-feeding without making a mess inside.
Related Post: 15 Simple Tips to Make Meal Time Less Messy
Be safe in the sun
A baby’s skin is much more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure to always practice safe sun protection.
- Put a wide brimmed hat on your baby
- Safe Sunscreen (ThinkBaby)
- Avoid high noon hours when sun is strongest: 10am-2pm
- Keep all skin and body protected. Wear a rash guard, dress baby cool, and use muslin blankets
- Keep baby in shade or under an umbrella or canopy
Keep them hydrated
It’s so important to keep your baby hydrated on those hot summer days. Always make sure you have a sippy cup of water with them (over 6 months) or plenty of milk/formula. They can’t tell you when they’re thirsty or not feeling well so it’s up to you to keep feeding them liquids.