Toddler time outside!
Previously I posted about spending the day with a friend’s twin boys. You can read more about these sweet boys and setting up
a natural toddler play area here. What about outside play at this age?
The essentials of outside play for any child are dirt, rocks, sticks, mud, water, a ball and a wagon!
Add in some containers for scooping and pouring and maybe a brush for water painting and you are all set for a fun day outside!
Many parents shy away from taking their babies and toddlers outside. Concerns range from being afraid they will pick up germs to
worrying about them putting grass/sticks/rocks in their mouth. While you certainly want to look out for choking hazards, research actually
shows that dirt itself is good for us. Please do make sure the dirt is not contaminated with pesticides or animal feces before taste testing!
Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said “Children raised in an ultra-clean environment are not being exposed to
organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.” When we overly sanitize infants’ environments to protect
them from illness, we may instead be depriving them the opportunity to build a strong immune system.
Well that sure is a relief because my kids have always loved dirt! This girl in particular! I was frequently
removing mulch and sticks from her mouth as a baby nature explorer and now at 7 she has moved on
to covering herself in mud. As long as she is loving nature and building that immune system I am happy!
Let your toddler explore the many sights, sounds and textures around them. Allow them the opportunity to feel
the grass on their hands and feet and touch the roughness of the bark on a tree. Let them smell flowers
and touch the petals while teaching them concepts such as “gentle hands.” Spend time looking in the sky at
the birds, airplanes and clouds. Point to what you are observing and talk about them.
I will never forget the first time my oldest son noticed the moon.
I was carrying him from the car to the house when he looked
up and pointed saying “ball, ball,” over and over.
For our day with the twins we first explored flowers.
Next we painted on a wood tree slice with water. This was a lot of fun for the boys.
There were moments of splashing in the water, teething on the paintbrush and some water painting on the tree stump.
I LOVE this version of water painting from No time for flash cards.
Exploring textures and smells outside is a wonderful way to introduce a child to the beauty of nature.
The boys ended up drumming on tree stumps while exploring the texture and roughness of the wood.
Outside I would also include a ball and a classic red wagon– we have such great memories of wagon walks when our
kids were little and 8 years later it is still going strong! We now use it for mud play, water play, nature walks to hold our
treasures and collecting trash around the neighborhood.
8 years ago-
Many ways we currently use our wagon-
Another wonderful way for your baby to explore outside is in an empty baby pool.
One filled with a small amount of water for splashing is always fun, but washable paint
or shaving cream were usually our go-to choices for my little sensory seeker!
A pool also makes an easy sandbox option as seen on Thrifty Little Mom.
I hope you found some inspiration for getting your toddlers out in nature! Feel free to share or
PIN using the links below!
You may also enjoy: Our Favorite Nature Exploring Resources.