We know this may sound like a strange concept, but napping outside is a great way for your baby to get hours of fresh air every day. And it generally helps your baby sleep longer and deeper than when they sleep indoors. In case you want to give it a try, here’s how we keep our kids comfortable and safe napping outside.
- When to start – Your baby is ready to nap outside from they’re 2-3 weeks old until they wean off naps.
- Find suitable surroundings – If your home has an enclosed space, like a patio, courtyard, garden, or balcony, you can keep a pram undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be a completely quiet spot, as long as it’s sheltered from direct sunlight, rain or snow. You can use an insect net to protect your baby from direct sunlight. Rain covers should always have an insect-net window to allow air flow to your baby.
- Get a baby alarm – You should always be able to hear or see your baby. If you have things to do outside while they’re asleep, that’s no problem. But you can also crack a window or door open, or put a baby alarm in the pram so you can check on your baby.
- Dress baby for the occasion – Your baby can nap with a duvet or a baby sleeping bag in the pram. Let them wear a warm suit, bonnet, and mittens in winter. A sheep skin makes perfect insulation and can help regulate temperatures. In the summer, make sure the pram has airflow so your baby doesn’t overheat.
- Check the weather – If temperatures hit -10 degrees Celsius (or below), or if it’s excessively wet, damp or windy outside, keep your baby indoors.
- Air out the mattress after naps – After every nap, make sure you remove the duvet or sleeping bag, turn the mattress on its side to let it air out until the next nap.
- Use common sense – Notice how your baby responds to napping outside. If they babble or sing to themselves before falling asleep, that’s fine. If they seem restless, you can establish a napping routine where you sing a song or read a story. Check regularly if the temperature in the pram is okay. In winter, your baby’s cheeks may feel cool, but as long as you make sure their head, ears, feet and hands are warm, the rest of them should be okay, too. In summer, you can gently feel the back of your baby’s neck. If it’s sweaty, remove a layer of duvet/blankets or clothes to let them cool off a little.
Parks and Recreation
Parenthood is not always a walk in the park, but if you live near one, you might as well take advantage of it. Whether your child is in a pushchair or pram or starting to walk on their own, they can enjoy the sounds, smells, lights, shadows, the textures of trees, grass, leaves, and watching birds, dogs, squirrels, and other park life.
If you have access to a forest, river, beach or any other public recreation area on the weekend, that’s a great way to get fresh air for the whole family, too. Toddlers will love to look for pebbles, sticks, rocks, or even snails or seaweed (yay!) and bring them home. That may take a little negotiating skills on your part to work out. Just dress your kid for messy play, and no one gets hurts.
Nature programs for pre-schoolers
Find out if your city or local community centre has a nature program for pre-schoolers (and maybe their parents). Or, if you’re up for it, volunteer to start one. If your child is not old enough to join the scouts, maybe you can find other local activities that lets your kid dig up roots, waddle in puddles, and learn about local animal and plant life.
Vacation in nature
If daily logistics don’t permit much time for nature, go camping, farming, hiking, sailing, skiing, snorkelling, cycling, or swimming when you’re on vacation. Meet a cow somewhere along a country road. Pick up dead jelly fish on the beach. Sleep in a tent. Go crab fishing. Stop your kids from fighting over who gets to take home a badger skull they found in a forest. Build a snowman, or teach your kids your own favourite nature activity. Show them where wheat or chickens come from. It only takes one nice memory to trigger your child’s joy, curiosity, and passion for exploring nature. Well, either that, or they totally hate it, but then at least you’ve given it a chance!
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