10 reasons to bring your baby outside

There’s a Scandinavian saying that “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing,” and while the US is in a subzero polar vortex that definitely qualifies as bad weather, overall I agree. Parents are often surprised that I take babies outside almost every day in all weather, but for me the benefits of nature far outweigh the hassle of trying to get tiny fingers into mittens or applying sunscreen to a squirmy toddler. Here are ten benefits to taking babies outside.


Image: bare baby legs standing in a field of grass and clover.

Image: bare baby legs standing in a field of grass and clover.

1. Sitting, standing, crawling and walking on uneven surfaces requires balance, coordination, and core strength. You could invest in expensive climbing equipment for indoors… or you could just go to the park!

Image: Two babies in snowsuits sitting and crawling in about an inch of fresh snow.

Image: Two babies in snowsuits sitting and crawling in about an inch of fresh snow.

2. Snow, dirt, mud, grass, flowers, sand, rocks and more become sensory materials that sharpen babies’ sense of touch and fine motor skills.

3. If you have access to garden spaces, babies can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables straight from the earth, giving more interest and variety than pre-made purees.

Image: the feet of two babies sleeping outside in a red double stroller.

Image: the feet of two babies sleeping outside in a red double stroller.

4. Fresh air means better sleep. Throughout Europe, babies nap outdoors, even in winter, and I’ve found that getting outside leads to great naps, even for little babies.

5. Early experiences in nature set babies up for a lifetime appreciation of the environment.

Image: a baby in an orange sun hat crawls in the grass and fallen leaves.

Image: a baby in an orange sun hat crawls in the grass and fallen leaves.

6. The variety of sounds outdoors are endless - even in a city, babies can hear trains, helicopters, sirens, and dogs barking as well as more natural sounds. Nature is also the ideal place for babies to exercise their voices and I encourage you to let babies (and older kids) be as loud as they like outside.

7. The great outdoors lends itself to lots of rough and tumble gross motor play that involves the whole body (and bonus, will tire them out for a great nap!).

Image: a view of a blue sky through tree branches and leaves.

Image: a view of a blue sky through tree branches and leaves.

8. Weather is a fascination for babies who are experiencing everything for the first time. We tend to keep babies’ environments perfectly temperature controlled and sterile, but with proper clothing and for short times, babies can take in snow, wind, rain, heat or fog. Even thunderstorms can be watched with fascination from inside.

Image: A baby in a pink sunhat and orange dress sits in the grass and plays with a handful of grass clippings.

Image: A baby in a pink sunhat and orange dress sits in the grass and plays with a handful of grass clippings.

9. The materials found in nature are completely open ended and allow babies to explore and play however they like, developing creativity and independence.

10. Dirt is healthy! Scientific studies show that babies exposed to dirt and animals before age 1 are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. This idea even has a name - the “hygiene hypothesis.”

Image: a baby in winter clothes sits in the dirt and dead grass.

Image: a baby in winter clothes sits in the dirt and dead grass.

As winter turns to spring, bring your babies outside and see them blossom!

play prompt 13

Montessori discovery basket

The Montessori-inspired discovery basket or treasure basket is a play prompt that allows babies to safely explore a variety of everyday items and simple toys. Look for 5-10 objects that provide a variety of sensory experiences - soft and spiky, metal and wood, quiet and loud. This activity is perfect for babies who are sitting up but not very mobile yet.

Materials: