The warm summer sun is hard to resist, and many young children can’t wait to get outside despite the heat. Luckily, there are many fun activities that kids, and even infants, will enjoy during the summer months. It’s easy to entertain a young child outdoors! With some simple sun safety precautions, families can enjoy a wonderful summer outside.
Not that we need convincing, but there is plenty of research that shows the outdoors contributes to a child’s healthy development. As a mom to three children between the ages of two and seven, I’m always aware of how different my children are when they’ve had time to play outside. Do yourself a favor, get out and play!
Outdoor Activities with Baby
Visit nearby playgrounds and parks: Most neighborhoods have a variety of playgrounds with fun equipment for little ones to explore. My favorite parks are the ones that offer equipment for younger kids, too. Try to beat the heat by arriving to play shortly after breakfast, when the park is usually quieter, and the sun isn’t so hot.
Setting up a picnic under a shady tree: Packing a picnic and sharing a meal under the shade of a big tree is a fun and relaxing activity. For babies who aren’t crawling yet, just being out with all of the action is stimulating for them to watch. Be sure to pack a waterproof outdoor blanket to keep the little ones dry from the damp ground. I love to meet up with another mom and enjoy a relaxing picnic in the shade while our little ones play together.
Splash in the water: With constant adult supervision, young kids can enjoy all kinds of fun and refreshing water play outside. Consider setting up a water table in the backyard, or a small inflatable pool. For kids that are steady on their feet, set up the sprinkler and have them run through it.
Explore messy sensory play: Outdoor sensory play for younger kids keeps the mess outside of the home and is important for cognitive development. It includes any play that involves the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Kids can enjoy playing in a sand table, finger painting outside, blowing bubbles, freezing toys in ice cubes and having them dig them out, and exploring colorful pudding and jello with their hands.
Go on a hike: Hiking is the perfect activity for all ages, and as a mom with three kids at very different stages, I think it’s a great outing for the entire family. Children that aren’t yet walking can use a baby carrier, such as the Contours Journey Carrier. It also has a sunshade with UPF 25 to provide further protection from the harmful rays. Be sure to find a hiking trail that matches your activity level, and enjoy spending time outdoors under the shade of the forest. For older kids that are walking, consider bringing a bucket and allow them to collect sticks and small rocks for nature play at home.
Sun Safety for Younger Children
Infants and toddlers have sensitive and fragile skin, and although the sun is conducive to play, exercising sun safety is extremely important for all children.
The FDA recommends keeping babies under six months out of the sun since their skin is too fragile for sunscreen. Buy sunscreen specifically for babies once your child turns six months, but still exercise plenty of precaution in the sun. Make sure your children always wear a hat that covers both their face and neck. Hydrate! Bring a water bottle for each of your children (and yourself), and drink frequently when playing outdoors.
Dressing your child in light and breathable clothes is a great way to help them stay cool while playing outside. Choosing breathable cotton is better than unbreathable synthetic fibers. For water play, consider buying a full-sleeved rashguard for full coverage. The water reflects the ray and sunscreen wears off when in and out of the water with constant drying off. I always pack layers, so that I’m prepared if the weather changes and my kids suddenly decide they need a light sweater or track pants on a windy summer day.
Watch for Heat Illness
It’s also important to be aware of the signs of overheating and to exercise precautions to ensure you’re enjoying the outdoors safely. For toddlers and young kids, teach them the importance of drinking plenty of fluids, even if they’re not thirsty. And, for those really hot and humid days, schedule your outdoor activities before noon and after 6 pm.
With precaution and planning, even the littlest one in your family enjoy the golden days of summer. Enjoy it while you can, winter comes all too fast!
Related content: Summer Babywearing: Staying Cool in the Heat
Brianna Bell is a contributing writer to Contours and the Kolcraft family of brands.