I’ve started and scrapped this post several times over the past few months – it has been a difficult one to approach. I originally planned to discuss the pros and cons of having infants of various ages in our outdoor play space.
In the last six months I’ve enrolled several new infants into our group and I’ve done a lot of reflecting about the intricacies of outdoor play with very young children. Many of the new parents have voiced concerns about what their babies may do when they are allowed to freely explore the natural spaces in our yard. After all, it is sometimes wet/cold, always messy, and there are so many possible hazards.
I began by trying to decide whether it was more difficult to allow a crawling baby to explore vs. one that is already walking – and climbing. Then I decided that it depended on the season but as I started to compare ‘winter babies’ to ‘summer babies’ I realized that there was another problem. Every time I tried to write a generalized comment I’d immediately remember all the children I’ve encountered who were ‘the exception’.
Up to this point I had been trying to base this post on the child’s age and the conditions in the outdoor environment – but there’s more. The child’s developmental level, temperament, and mood that day are equally – if not more – important factors that will affect their explorations and my response to it.
So, instead of being a single post about taking infants outdoors this is just the introduction. The first in a series of posts about letting babies freely explore and experience the less than perfect world outside. I plan to write more about my experiences with babies with sticks, babies with rocks, babies in gardens, babies in snow and much, much more. Stay tuned, and if there’s something in particular that you’d like me to address then please write a comment below….