I am a teacher and a first time mama of one baby boy and am very fortunate to have been born & bred in paradise. The beaches, hills, creeks and waterfalls of Tropical Far North Queensland were my playground before my little man came along. They still are now but I've had to re-frame the way I look at our outdoor time to keep bub safe & happy as well as to keep my sanity!
There certainly are challenges to getting a baby outside but it doesn't have to be complicated. With some small adjustments, baby can accompany you to many beautiful natural places. You'll need to take into account where you'll be going and any potential hazards... anything from snakes, open bodies of water & cliffs to mosquitoes and other people's pets need to be considered. This doesn't mean DON'T GO but instead just be prepared and take necessary precautions or perhaps you'll need to alter your plans slightly to keep everybody safe. Remember to take more than enough for bub to eat/drink. I like to keep a baby backpack full of all the usual baby essentials (as well as outdoor extras like natural mosquito repellent cream, sunscreen and a hat for bub) as well as a beach roundie (that doubles as a pretty cool picnic rug) in my car at all times in case the urge to pull over and enjoy some outdoor time with my son strikes me at random. You might need to keep trips shorter to make them more manageable for juggling feeds and sleep times. You might feel that your old hiking haunts are "too hard" now so you could swap them out for a shorter walk instead. If you're going camping, chat to other friends who have successfully taken their children camping and learn from their advice.
In saying that, big all-day adventures aren't for everyone but babies LOVE being outdoors so even a picnic in the backyard or a play at the park can be an adventure with the right attitude. I honestly don't think I've ever seen my 8 month old upset outside. It is his instant mood-booster and has a very calming impact on him. Something about the sights and sounds of nature lulls him into a very peaceful, happy state.
Nature play for babies can be as simple as:
- lying on a picnic blanket and watching the sunlight shine through the leaves of the trees;
- watching the clouds or birds or stars in the sky;
- putting them in a baby carrier while you carry on with your regular walking/hiking activities which allows bub to feel the fresh air, listen to the birds or see the colours of a sunrise;
- taking baby on a walk through a botannical garden or other communal nature space;
- convincing your mates from Mother's Group or Playgroup to meet outdoors at a local beach or park instead of at the coffee shop;
- bringing baby along to family outings at the beach or creek;
- give baby the opportunity to feel the sand beneath his toes;
- letting baby touch a piece of bark, shake a seed pod or rub a leaf between his hands.
For more ideas like these, check out Nature Play QLD bucket list for babies.
As always, keep close supervision of your child to ensure their safety and remember to have fun!
Mama & Teacher & Blogger