The sun’s finally shining and summer has belatedly arrived, so there’s no reason for new parents to be stuck indoors.
For the latest Who’s The Daddy, new dad Oli Reed of the brilliant blog The Outdoor Dad shares his top 8 tips for creating memorable outdoor moments with your baby…
1. GET OUT IN THE GARDEN
Let’s start with the simplest of the lot – just open your back door and step outside into your garden. Even if you only have have a small yard or patch of grass, don’t forget that’s still a whole new world of adventure for your baby. Have they even seen grass before? Have they ever smelled a flower? Listened to a screeching swift? Felt a summer breeze on their face? You don’t even need to venture more than two feet from your house for all of your baby’s senses to suddenly be ignited by the smells and sounds of summer. And your heart will melt when you watch their little face light up with the excitement of it all.
2. HEAD TO YOUR LOCAL PARK
Slightly more adventurous than above and perhaps the only option for those without gardens of their own, your local park is like a giant adventure playground for young babies. With grass to roll around on, trees to gawp at, footballs to kick, and laughing children and barking dogs to listen to – and in my lad Sonny’s case, even exciting big swings to play on (don’t tell his mum) – a trip to the park is just as much fun for adults as it is for babies.
3. TREAT THEM TO A PADDLE
Sonny loves baths so much that we didn’t have to think twice about sticking him in his swimming costume and letting him splash about in some cool water in the garden once the temperature snuck above 25 degrees C.
We didn’t even buy a paddling pool, we just carried his baby bath outside and put a small amount of lukewarm water in the bottom, making sure it was shallow enough that he couldn’t slip beneath the surface. He looked a bit shocked at first but soon relaxed enough to let us submerge his entire body, with just his cheeky little grin poking out of the water.
4. GO FOR A WALK IN THE COUNTRY
This doesn’t have to a big walk and you don’t even have to travel to it, in fact it’s probably best if you don’t. Just walk out of your front door with your baby happy and safely in their pram or carrier, load yourself up with all the gear you need to survive a couple of hours in the wild with a young child (click here for tips on what to take), and head for some green space.
I like just walking with Sonny by our local river, or through a nearby woodland, so he can watch the light bouncing off the water or flickering through the trees. It isn’t just good for him, either, because I love these places too and have been walking to them three times a day for the past nine years with our jack russell Mario. The dog comes along too, of course, along with my trusty Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars in case I spot any wildlife!
5. EAT A MEAL OUTSIDE
Either at home in the garden or at a local cafe or pub, eating a meal outside in the summer is a great chance to get away from the claustrophobic and often exhausting routine of trying to sit down to eat at home while your baby whimpers, fidgets and screams through the whole experience.
With so much going on around them – everything from fresh air and birdsong to people on the next table pulling faces at them – babies are far less likely to get bored and may even let you enjoy your lunch or evening meal in peace!
6. BUY A HAMMOCK
No this isn’t a joke! Earlier this summer I purchased a portable Grand Trunk Double Parachute Hammock (review here) and Sonny loves it even more than I do. He’s slept in it by himself while I’ve sat in a chair close by and rocked him, but mostly we lie in it together in the garden on warm evenings, watching clouds and aeroplanes drifting across the sky and competing with each other to see who spots them first (I always win).
7. CLIMB A HILL
You need to pick your hill carefully, because your newborn probably isn’t ready to tackle Everest or Kilimanjaro just yet. In my case this experience was probably more for me than for my son, because I’ve always been a keen hillwalker and have spent a large chunk of my life exploring the UK’s highest and most exciting places on foot. Great Rock in West Yorkshire (about 40 feet high) was probably the first thing of note I ever climbed, so earlier this summer I drove Sonny there and carried him to the top in his sling (read about it here).
He slept through the whole experience but it meant a lot to me to stand up there with him, looking out over those same views that ignited my love for the outdoors when I was a school kid. One day, hopefully, we’ll look back on the pictures from that day together and be able to say the same about him.
8. HIT THE BEACH
Is there anything more magical than your first trip to the beach? Or any trip to the beach, for that matter. Pretty much everyone in the UK loves within a couple of hours of the coast, so when the sun’s shining and the air is warm you’ve really got no excuse.
Sonny was just three months old when he felt the sand of Wells beach between his toes for the first time (read about it here), and he reacted to it the same way he’s reacted to every outdoor adventure I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying him on so far. He smiled a lot, he waved his arms around a lot, he hugged us a lot, and then he fell into a deep happy sleep when we got home. I really love exploring the world with this little dude!