The worst part of the winter isn’t the cold itself – it’s that you and your toddler have been cooped up inside for months. As warmer weather approaches, getting your toddler or preschooler outside is terrific for lots of reasons, say Circle of Moms members, and the experts agree.
“We hit the library when the weather was bad all winter, ”says Mary W. a May 2008 babies member. “There wasn’t much else to do except go to the grocery store or mall. But outdoor activities are my daughter’s favorite and we’re eager to get outside. “
Here are some great ideas and tips from Circle of Moms members for outdoor adventures with your child. Many of them are manageable even if your schedule is jam-packed.
Grab the stroller and take your two-year-old out for a sensory journey to see and smell the blooms and fresh spring air, says Amy E. You can help your child to notice his natural surroundings. She expains, “Our son is very energetic and loves playing with things that have texture." Taking him on a walk and heading for the park where he can explore the texture of flowers, leaves and even the dirt “lets him have fun.”
So says Renee H. in Circle of Moms toddlers. Getting pushed on swings, seesaws or climbing stairs is good exercise for growing toddler muscles. It helps toddlers learn to trust their bodies and gives them a newfound appreciation of how their bodies move. “My son loves to run up and down hills,” says Renee. “We also create games for him like ‘tickle chase’ where we chase him and then tickle him.”
3. Play with Neighbors
Liza L. suggests scheduling time for your toddler to play with other kids in the neighborhood, under supervision by you and the other parents. “My kids loves to play with other kids in our neighborhood, they just run, laugh, play ball, and play pretend."
4. Dig in and Explore the Dirt
As Samya S. says, “My kids love to play outside with rocks, sand, and water, and to dig in the dirt. Toddlers love to muck around in mud and earth, so keep an eye on them not to eat the mud, but let them explore."
According to Jenna S., "My almost three year-old son loves just running round the backyard doing his own thing, digging in a patch of dirt, playing with worms, drawing with chalk on the concrete or helping weed garden or plant some veggies. He loves simple stuff the most."
6. Meet the Animals
Toddlers especially love seeing the animals from songs and books, and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends visits to the zoo or to a garden as great outdoor experiences for toddlers.
If you manage to get him outdoors when weather permits, you're doing well by your child: A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping young children reach important social, emotional and cognitive milestones. The report, “The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds,”says outdoor play is especially important because it encourages physical fitness, helps toddlers burn off excess energy and sleep better at night.Play helps parents consistently connecting with young children, the report states. And playing with your toddlers outdoors also encouraged life-long environmental advocacy. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports suggest. “We’re too busy,” is no excuse the report states, recommending that parents need to prioritize play time and not leave it to be spontaneous. Make space in your schedule.
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