Why and How to Spend More Outdoor Time with Your Little One
by Surbhi Bafna Gupta on Mar 20, 2023
Spending more time outdoors with your little one is a must for any parent. By choosing to spend more outdoor time with your newborn, infant, or even toddler, you are opening them up to a world of amazing experiences. The sunshine and fresh air don’t just lift your and your little one’s mood, it also offers a plethora of health benefits.
Why is Outdoor Time so Important?Much Needed Vitamin D from Sunlight
In India, back in the 90s, it used to be a routine for Indian mothers and grandmothers to give infants a sunbath after a massage. With changes in the lifestyles over the past decades, this practice has vanished, especially from the big cities in India. Now, infants and children spend a lot of time indoors. This has inevitably led to the deficiency of vitamin D among infants. A 30 minutes of sunbath with 40% of the body exposed can help achieve adequate vitamin D levels for infants, as per a study conducted by University College of Medicine Sciences, New Delhi. It is not just at the infant stage that exposure to sunlight is required. As a kid grows up, the kids require vitamin D for their bodies to have better calcium absorption, improved bone growth, and prevention from bone deformities such as rickets. For that matter, you require vitamin D at every stage of life.Improved Health and Immunity
More time spent outdoors from a young age positively correlates with having a stronger immune system. This happens because the exposure to a wide variety of microbes stimulates and strengthens your immune system. It is even associated with preventing allergies and auto-immune disorders. By spending more time with your little one outside, you are choosing to raise a healthier kid.Supports Development of Language and Communication Skills
When it comes to the development of language skills, being outdoors presents a perfect opportunity for your baby. By exposing them to new surroundings that excite them, you give them more opportunities to get vocal, helping with their language development. You also get the opportunity to narrate to them about things you see together and react to their sounds and gestures that they make. Infants and babies are more likely to verbalise their outdoor experiences as per a 2014 study. Get them to smell a flower, touch the bark of a tree and talk to them about it. It, in turn, helps your baby learn their first words fast.Improves Motor Skills
A child’s basic motor skills get developed when he or she reaches five years of age. Playing outdoors has a great role to play in developing a child’s motor skills. The outside world challenges a baby more by offering opportunity to move, crawl freely and explore their environment.Encourages Cognitive Development
By exposing babies to new surroundings, you help them in their cognitive development. It is a process of how children think and learn. They get various kinds of simulations outdoors that they don’t get indoors. By taking your baby outdoors, they are able to explore vibrant colours, new scents and exciting sounds. When they look at birds flying, listen to their chirping, smell the flowers, it stimulates their brain and it gathers a lot of information to piece together.Helps Get a Better Good Night Sleep
Taking your baby outdoors during the noon hours not only helps him or her get the adequate dose of vitamin D, but also helps your little munchkin get a good night's sleep. It is because sunlight plays a vital role in how our bodies secrete melatonin, also called “sleep hormone. Babies who are exposed to significantly more light in the early afternoon period sleep well at night as per a 2004 study in the Journal of Sleep Research. For babies who have a hard time sleeping at night can benefit from outdoor time around noon.Helps Develop Love for Mother Nature
It is an absolute bliss to help your child inculcate a sense of appreciation for nature. By spending time outside in nature, your baby might as well grow up to be a nature lover. A little walk in woods, digging up the soil, witnessing animals and birds is all it takes for children to develop an appreciation for the nature and planet that need to preserve tomorrow.
Precautions While Taking Your Baby Outside
There are certain precautions you need to take while taking your baby outside-Avoid taking your baby to crowded places
Certain beaches and markets are often crowded. Taking your baby to such places increases their risk of coming in contact with sick people.Dress Your Baby Appropriately
Babies still have their sweat glands developing. They can’t cool themselves off as effectively as we do. Hence, avoid too much direct sunlight when it is too hot. Cover your baby’s head with a hat or a sun shield. Do not apply sunscreen on them. Dress your baby in a single layer during extreme summers. Avoid prolonged exposure to sun when the temperature is over90° F.
When it is cold, babies need to be dressed in multiple layers. Don’t forget socks for their feet, gloves for their hands while dressing them. You can even carry a blanket to cover them.
Spending time with your baby not only is beneficial for your baby, but also for you- both mentally and physically. To top it off, it also gives you an opportunity to bond with your baby and spend some quality time together. Trying to incorporate a good amount of outdoor time every week with your baby should be one of your top priorities.