By Hils Robson
Fresh air is good for everyone; it’s impossible not to feel better when you have spent time outside.
These days however, it seems fewer and fewer babies are spending much time outdoors.
It’s a known fact that when little people spend more time outside, they will have healthier hearts, stronger lungs, less chance of obesity and are less likely to develop high blood pressure/cholesterol as adults.
Here are a few extra things your baby will benefit from when they are out in the fresh air..
LESS GERMS: Your baby’s immune system is going to really benefit from time outdoors. Bizarrely, there is more chance of catching a cold when you stay inside the house! While out and about, your baby will be exposed to a variety of ‘germs’ (for want of a better word) and this will help their immune system start protecting the body, meaning they can fight things off more easily.
FREE VITAMINS: Your baby will be taking in loads of vitamin D when they are outside, and this will protect their bones, as it helps their body absorb calcium. There is often a problem with children not having enough vitamin D due to the amount of time spent inside.
SENSES: Imagine all the new sounds, smells, textures, colours and shapes you are going to see and experience. These will help with their cognitive skills.
FREE ENTERTAINMENT: Watching the clouds go by, branches on a tree swaying, buses moving, traffic lights, birds or whatever you have surrounding you – this will all be entertainment for your baby.
LANGUAGE: When you are outside you will be providing your baby with a whole host of new experiences. The leaves rustling on the tree, the noisy buses, the clouds in the sky, there is so much more to see, do and learn about compared to being inside. A 2014 study by European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research was published showing being outdoors promotes early language development. There is such a variety of things for your baby to look at and constant things for you to point out to them and tell them about.
BONDING TIME: A wonderful walk together is a perfect time to ignore everything that needs done in the house and fully focus on each other and the world around you, your baby will revel in the attention, and you will get a break too.
SLEEP: One of the best ways to help your baby sleep is to try and make sure you get outside as much as possible. Our bodies naturally produce a sleep hormone called ‘melatonin’. When you spend time outdoors, especially in the mornings, your baby will establish their circadian rhythm (body clock!) far sooner than otherwise and will be naturally producing lots of melatonin. The more the body produces, the sleepier the body will be at bedtime! Going outdoors will help your baby establish their circadian rhythm, learning the difference between day and night, which benefits their sleep patterns.
The Journal of Sleep Research did a study in 2004 and found babies younger than 13 weeks who slept well at night spent TWICE as much time outside in natural daylight!!!
Our babies loved their outdoor sleeps and would be out in their prams for a few hours every day (although when our youngest was born, it was -16° so he didn’t go out for the first couple of weeks, but in many Scandinavian countries he would have).
TIME FOR YOU: It is highly likely that your baby will fall asleep while you are out on your walk, so why not take some time to have your own thoughts and grab a coffee and watch the world go by. Your mental health will be dramatically improved from time outdoors and your heart rate will lower.
I remember once reading a proverb which stated, “Fresh air impoverishes the doctor”. There may be something in it, who knows!
Enjoy being outside when you can (obviously in appropriate and relevant clothing!) and you will soon reap the benefits all round.
Love Hils xx
Hils Robson founded Best Beginning in 2009 and is an award-winning Infant Massage Instructor, Doula and Mother of 4. During lockdown, she and her husband filmed and produced an online baby massage guide to help parents learn from their homes. This step-by-step guide is emailed immediately after purchase and parents can start learning how to massage their babies within minutes (and has lots of other baby tips throughout the easy-to-follow videos). Hils is passionate about helping parents enjoy life with a baby and being the parent they want to be. For more information visit www.bestbeginning.co.uk, @bestbeginningbabymassage on Facebook or @bestbeginning_ on Instagram.