How Young is Too Young for the Outdoors?

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Dear Mountain Mama,

I’m the proud dad of a healthy two-month old baby girl. My wife and I hope to raise her to enjoy the outdoors. How early should we start introducing her to the outdoors?

Thanks,

Outdoorsy Dad

Dear Outdoorsy Dad,

I applaud your desire to raise a child who loves the outdoors! The desire to wonder about the natural world begins as an infant. It’s up to us parents to nurture that connection early and often.

From the first few days of life, when my baby started to fuss, an easy solution was to take him on a walk outside. Something about the cool air in his face and the sound of birds chirping soothed him.

When the weather was warm enough, I’d place him on a blanket. He first learned how to roll outside, off the blanket and onto the grass. Rolling around on the grass led to learning to crawl outside. Crawling outside, in turn, has naturally progressed to learning to walk outside.

It’s true that spending time outside can mean contending with grass burns, bug bites, dirt, sun, rain, and wind. Babies get germs, they get dirty and they can even get hurt. We can’t baby-proof the outdoors.  My little guys has fallen in puddles, scratched himself, eaten a few not-yet-ripe tomatoes, and has gotten bitten by a bug or two along the way.  He’s also become comfortable outside.  He’s learning that nature is something he is meant to explore, along with my kayak!

Outdoorsy Dad, let your babe feel the joy of sunrays on her skin, and to laugh as blades of grass tickle her toes. Encourage your sweet baby girl to relish the cool relief that splashing around in water provides on a hot summer day.  You’ll be helping her develop life-long habits that keep her active in nature.

Yours,

Mountain Mama

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