The Top 5 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Baby’s Physical and Cognitive Development
Hey there mamas and papas! As a parent, I know that the days can get pretty hectic. Between feedings, diaper changes, and trying to get your little one to sleep, it can be easy to forget about the importance of outdoor play. But let me tell you, taking your baby outside for some fresh air and sunshine can have a huge impact on their physical and cognitive development. From building muscle strength to stimulating the senses, outdoor play is a must for your growing baby.
1. Building muscle strength
Babies are born with very little muscle control and strength, but regular outdoor play can help them to develop these important skills. Climbing on playground equipment, crawling through the grass, and even just lying on a blanket and kicking their legs all help to build strength in their arms, legs, and core. This is essential for later milestones like crawling, walking, and even running.
For example, when your little one is crawling through a tunnel, they’re building strength in their arms and legs. Or when they’re climbing on playground equipment, they’re working those arm and leg muscles. And let’s not forget about resistance bands, mamas and papas! Wrapping a resistance band around your baby’s legs and encouraging them to kick can help to build strength in the legs and core.
Don’t just take my word for it, mamas and papas. A study by the University of Minnesota found that babies who spend time playing outdoors have stronger leg muscles, which in turn can help them to reach important milestones such as crawling and walking more quickly.
2. Improving coordination
In addition to building muscle strength, outdoor play also helps babies to improve their coordination. As they explore their surroundings and learn to move their body in different ways, they’re also learning to coordinate their movements. This can help them to develop important skills like crawling, walking, and even throwing and catching a ball.
For example, when your baby is playing with a ball, they’re learning to coordinate their hand movements to reach for and grasp the ball. And when they’re crawling or walking, they’re coordinating their movements and balance.
3. Stimulating the senses
Outdoor play also provides a wealth of sensory stimulation for babies. From the feel of the grass under their fingers to the sound of birds singing, babies are exposed to a wide range of textures, smells, and sounds when they play outside. This helps to develop their sense of curiosity and exploration, and can also help to reduce the risk of certain developmental delays.
For instance, when your baby is exposed to different textures like sand, leaves, and water, they’re developing their sense of touch. And when they hear different sounds like the birds chirping, leaves rustling, or even a dog barking, they’re developing their sense of hearing.
And again, mamas and papas, don’t just take my word for it. A study by the University of Derby found that babies who spend time playing in natural environments have better visual attention and memory than those who spend more time indoors.
4. Boosting creativity and imagination
Outdoor play provides plenty of opportunities for babies to engage in imaginative and creative play. From building a “nest” out of leaves and sticks to pretending to be a bird and flapping their arms, your little one can let their imagination run wild when they play outside. This is an important aspect of cognitive development and can help to prepare them for later learning and problem-solving.
For example, when your baby is playing with sticks and leaves, they’re using their imagination to create something new, and when they’re pretending to be a bird and flapping their arms, they’re using their imagination to take on a new role and explore different possibilities.
And yet again, mamas and papas, don’t just take my word for it. A study by the University of Cambridge found that children who engage in imaginative play have better language skills and problem-solving abilities than those who don’t.
5. Reducing stress and anxiety
Finally, outdoor play can also have a positive impact on babies’ emotional well-being. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in both children and adults, and babies are no exception. Spending time outside can help to calm a fussy baby, and can also provide a much-needed break for parents who may be feeling overwhelmed.
For example, a walk in the park with your baby can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety for both you and your baby. The fresh air and natural environment can have a calming effect, and the gentle movement of the stroller can help to lull your baby to sleep.
And one more time, mamas and papas, don’t just take my word for it. A study by the University of Illinois found that children who spend more time in nature have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and report feeling happier and more content.
As you can see, mamas and papas, outdoor play provides a wide range of benefits for babies’ physical and cognitive development. So next time your little one is fussy or you’re feeling cooped up inside, consider taking them outside for some fresh air and sunshine. It’s good for both of you! And don’t forget to always keep your baby’s safety in mind and refer to Safe Kids Worldwide for tips on how to keep your child safe while they play outside.
Remember that outdoor play is not just good for your baby’s physical and cognitive development, but also for their emotional well-being, and your own. So make it a priority to spend some time outside every day with your little one and watch them thrive. Happy parenting, mamas and papas!