How does being outside help my baby?
Benefits of being outside – There are so many benefits to being outdoors for example, walking outside gives your baby an opportunity to explore the world. Every sight, sound, and smell provides your baby with valuable experiences and learning. The changing colour of the trees, the different flowers and birds that can be seen and heard, even the differences in warmth and coolness that your baby experiences.
Getting out and about with others safely – Restrictions about meeting people outside are changing often, if you do meet a friend or a member of your family in a park maintain the social distance rule of keeping 2 metres apart. Please ensure you check the latest guidance and keep within Government Guidelines.
Meeting people, greeting strangers, smiling at passers-by all of these teach your baby not only speech patterns but also how to interact with other people.
Vitamin D and mood – Early-morning walks provide an excellent source of vitamin D from exposure to the sun, and as few as fifteen minutes a day can make a world of difference to your baby. Mothers find that children who are taken for a walk tend to have fewer tantrums and mood swings. Babies who go for walks often tend to be happier and more cheerful than children who spend a large amount of time indoors.
Better sleep – As with adults, you will find that your baby sleeps much better after a walk, even if you have been doing the walking and the baby was either carried, or pushed in a pram/buggy. Being outdoors and breathing in the fresh air provides a wonderful sense of relaxation and calmness. In fact, if your baby is being fussy before their afternoon nap or sleep time at night, take them for a quick walk around the block to help them settle .
Being outside doesn’t just help your baby – Going for a walk is a good way to exercise, especially if you have been stuck indoors all day. It may help with anxiety and depression, it can help aid weight loss, it could also improve your digestion, and possibly help your sleep.
What about the weather?
Rain, snow, sunshine all have a role to play in your baby’s learning. Being mindful about the clothing your baby is wearing will ensure their comfort, safety and protection from the elements such as sun, wind, cold and rain. While babies do not become ill by being outside on a cold day, for their comfort and wellbeing their heads, hands and feet should be covered. Regularly check the skin on your baby’s head, neck, hands and feet to ensure they have not overheated or are not cold. If so, remove or add a layer of clothing. Walking outdoors also provides an excellent opportunity for the social development of your child.
Make sure you pick a safe area to play.
Babies mouth everything they touch, so be observant and ready to remove unwanted objects. Carefully check where you are going to play with your baby and remove any sharp, small or dangerous objects. Anything smaller than a D-size battery is a choking risk.
Put a blanket on the ground place your baby on their tummy, baby’s exposure to natural daylight can lower the risk of near-sightedness by regulating the rate of eye growth. Moreover, being outdoors naturally strikes a balance between the amount of near focus and long distance focus that the eye has to perform. So it makes sense that Tummy Time should take place outdoors, in a space where daylight naturally filters through, and there are a number of interesting close up and long range objects for a baby to focus and play with.
Chris Hammond, a Professor of Ophthalmology at Kings College, London has written various reports on the increase in Myopia (near-sightedness) in young children and gave this interesting TED Talk about eye development.
Play is important for babies and has a huge the effect on your baby’s brain:
My brain grows better when you play with me. “I need you to soothe me when I am upset, but I also need you to make life interesting for me. Toys are great, but the best toy in the world for me is you! When you stick your tongue out at me I copy you, and connections build in my brain linking together controlling my tongue and communicating. That will help me learn to speak. When you pull faces at me I copy you, and connections in my brain make links between the expression on my face and communicating. That will help me to understand feelings. When you play counting games, or singing games or action games, my brain builds connections that help me to make sense of the world around me and to have fun. As I get older, playing with me and helping me to play on my own or with other children builds connections in my brain that make it possible for me to think and plan, to make sense of the world around me and to develop social skills. And whenever I smile and you smile back at me I feel happy. Happiness fills my body with chemicals that help my brain to grow”.