This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Baby and I both love being outside. But since he can't walk yet* it's easy to feel like there's nothing to do outside. And it's true that he can't ride a bike or fly a kite or play tag or kick the can yet. But here are some things we've come up with to allow our crawling baby to enjoy the great outdoors!
Feed the animals
Scatter birdseed in your yard or a park and point out the animals and birds that come for a nibble. We've had cardinals, robins, pigeons, thrushes, grackles, chipmunks, and squirrels! Baby gets really excited and waves to them, which is adorable and makes me giggle.
Many landmarks, state and national parks, etc have wheelchair accessible trails, which means they are also stroller accessible, plus you can bring a baby carrier pretty much anywhere!
Go on a nature walk in your own neighborhood
To a baby, even manicured lawns, landcaping rocks, and backyard flower and veggie gardens are exciting new examples of nature. Act as baby's tour guide, pointing out the names of natural things in your everyday world. Look for things baby can touch and smell, like rocks, pinecones, and flowers, and supervise closely to make sure your baby doesn't eat anything dangerous.
Use the playground equipment
Baby loves swinging. He's a chewer though so I always bring baby wipes and wipe down the black rubber park swing before I put him in it. They also have cloth covers for baby swings you can buy if you're worried about germs and to add padding if your baby is still pretty little for the swing.
We feel comfortable now letting him "ride" a little dinosaur on what looks like a giant spring (it's only about a foot off the ground). We hold him the whole time even though he hangs on too most of the time.
We have also started using the baby slide, again holding him the whole time. You have to gauge your baby's abilities and the limitations of the playground equipment available to you, but you might be surprised how much you can play at the playground if you're willing to get involved in the playing yourself.
Make a Splash
While you have to be extremely careful, swimming can be a great option for pre-walkers. And there's tons of great gear available to keep baby safe and comfy, from swim diapers to UV protective shirts to floaties. If your baby thinks he's a fish like mine does and never wants bath time to end, swimming is an awesome way to let them enjoy the water more!
These are just a few things we've thought of to do with Baby, but it's by no means an exaustive list of the possibilities for outdoors fun with a pre-walking baby. Be creative and have fun with your little one and the wonders of nature!
*No longer true as of this weekend...I now have a walking baby! Hurray!(I'm very proud)
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Garden Treats — Asha at Mom Costume has once again been bitten by the gardening bug — and this time her baby's tagging along for some fresh air and dirt exploration. (@titbagsandsnoot)
- Outdoor Free Roam — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting follows her daughter's lead whenever they go outside. (@mamapoekie)
- Summer fun in Austin with a toddler — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile is brainstorming ways to beat the heat in Texas. (@tisworthwhile)
- summer fun… — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is looking forward to spending the summer outside with her children the way she used to spend summers with her mother.
- Outdoor Fun for Pre-Walkers — Maman A Droit has figured out ways to let her pre-walker enjoy the outdoors. (@MamanADroit)
- Summer Homeschool Fun at Camp Review — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses how Camp Review motivated and captivated her homeschooling family. (@DebChitwood)
- Digging, Tree Climbing and Puddle Jumping — Laura at Laura's Blog bemoans the loss of her girls' climbing tree but knows they'll find something else just as naturally tempting.
- The Sweet Smells of Summer — Erin at A Beatnik's Beat on Life is looking forward to the many smells of summer she and her daughters enjoy and identify. (@babybeatnik)
- June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor Fun — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker is a confirmed couch potato who can't help but be inspired by the outdoor opportunities Seattle offers her family. (@sybilryan)
- Take a Hike — Michelle at The Parent Vortex connects with her family and the Earth on frequent hikes in their Pacific wilderness. (@TheParentVortex)
- Following Paul — Julie at Simple Life gives her kids unstructured time to dig in the dirt and pick mulberries. (@homemakerjulie)
- Instilling a Love of the Outdoors in Your Baby/Toddler — Tessasdad at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing offers a photo book of tips for helping your little ones enjoy the outdoors. (@tessasdad)
- Camping, baby! — Jen at Grow With Graces has easy tips for tent camping with a little one. (@growwithgraces)
- Think Outside the Easel for Summertime Fun — Acacia at Be Present Mama finds several ways to bring art fun to the outdoors.
- Outdoor Learning in our Urban Environment — Andrea at Ella-Bean & Co. has found ways to get grass between her daughter's toes, even in the city.
- Outdoor Education — Alison at BluebirdMama offers parents tips and resources for making each outdoor excursion a learning experience. (@childbearing)
- Turning Inside Out — Christie of Childhood 101 finds kids get a kick out of taking indoor toys outside. (@Childhood101)
- Watching Peas Sprout — Deb at Science@home combines fun with purpose in this educational outdoor activity. (@ScienceMum)
- How To Create a Pirate Treasure Hunt & Other Easy Outdoor Pirate Activities (June Carnival of Natural Parenting) — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has pirate-themed play ideas for ye scurvy landlubbers. (@CodeNameMama)
- What We Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child has managed to expose her 8-month-old to a wide variety of outdoor fun, even with the notoriously dreary UK weather. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Summer Fun — Darcel at The Mahogany Way finds her family's visits to the beach refreshing in so many ways. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- Playing outside without a backyard — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes doesn't let the lack of a backyard stop her family from enjoying the outdoors. There are plenty of things to do outside of your yard! (@sheryljesin)
- Having Fun Outdoors, Playset Free — Guavalicious at They Are So Cute When They Are Sleeping has resisted a backyard playset in favor of the regular backyard. (@guavalicious)
- Moon Gazing with your Toddler — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries is keeping her toddler up at night, but it's for a good reason: to share the wonders of the night sky! (@babydust)
- the great outdoors — The grumbles at grumbles and grunts wonders whether her urban child can experience the same free-range childhood she enjoyed. (@thegrumbles)
- Let's Take It Outside! — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing is looking for ideas: how can she spend time with her pre-walker outside this summer? (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- A home by the sea: June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun — Lauren at Hobo Mama is living her dream of a home near the beach, and taking full advantage of it. (@Hobo_Mama)
- An Outside Girl — Zoey at Good Goog moved her family to (almost) the middle of nowhere so that her outdoor-loving girl could have more grass and less concrete. (@zoeyspeak)
- Neighborhood Nature — Kelly at Kelly Naturally has learned to connect with the nature she has instead of mourning the nature she misses. (@kellynaturally)
- Building Lovely Memories of Swimming, Spiders and Gravestones — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch and her family are simply outdoorsy people. (@kitchenwitch)
- "Buh-Bye" Season — Danielle at born.in.japan must leave laundry behind and follow her son's call to the outdoors. (@borninjp)
- Backyard Camping — Becoming Mamas took her family camping very close to home! (@becomingmamas)
- The Color of Dreams — Seeking Mother at Woman Seeking Mother makes gardening magical by teaching her son that each flower is a faery. (@seekingmother)