How to Play Outside With a Crawling Baby?

By Shannon Bussnick, LSW

You can find Shannon’s blog at Viennalane.com.

It seems like only yesterday you were rocking your newborn to sleep every few hours, trying to fit in a much needed catnap for yourself whenever you could.

Today, you find yourself just trying to keep up with that determined infant of yours—always on the move.

According to the Mayo Clinic, around the time your baby turns nine-months-old, you’ll start to notice rapid changes involving motor functioning, hand-eye coordination, language development, and cognitive skills.

Basically, there’s a lot happening in that little brain right now, and as a result, your baby’s routine and day-to-day activities will also require some changes.

Once you notice your baby mastering tummy-time – pushing up on those tiny arms and eagerly attempting to scoot backwards and forwards – you may want to spend less time with them confined to a bouncer or swing and incorporate more time supervising them on the floor (or other hard surface) to strengthen their new skills.

From this point forward, it’s only a matter of time until your little one is crawling around you in circles, pulling up to stand, and savoring every second of the oh-so-magical game, peek-a-boo.

Weather permitting – try to move play-time outdoors to soak up some good ol’ vitamin D for you and your growing baby as much as you can.

Spending time outside can benefit the entire family, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.

Looking for a few tips on how to play outside with a crawling baby?

Take a look at our useful guide below!

Keep in mind that all babies reach developmental milestones at different speeds.

It’s completely normal if your baby reaches some milestones ahead of schedule (like pulling up or crawling) and lags behind when it comes to others (like clapping or waving).

If you have questions or concerns about your baby’s development, remember to always speak to your Pediatrician.

Prepare for the Conditions

Before you step outdoors with your little one, take a moment to gather the items you’ll need first.

This will save you from having to make multiple trips back inside for a diaper, or extra slather of sunscreen, and will allow you to be present with your baby as they push forward—literally! 

  • Dress your baby appropriately for the weather and use sunscreen (make use of layers and a sunhat).
  • Gather supplies or keep a basket near the door (diaper-changing kit, water cup, snack, easy-to-read books, blanket or mat, burp cloth).
  • Consider their daily schedule (next feeding or nap time).
  • Bring a cell phone (music on the go will definitely come in handy).
  • Create an exploration-safe environment (remove rocks and branches from the area and ensure any electric outlets or sharp corners are covered).

Ways to Facilitate Outdoor Play with a Crawling Baby

There are many great ways to play outside with a crawling baby; while some may require more structure or planning, others are a bit more flexible.

It’s up to you to decide which activities will most benefit you and your crawling baby when it comes to encouraging healthy development and enhancing the parent-child relationship.

As always, having fun is the most important part!

Have a Chat

Around this age your baby will be getting more comfortable with expressing and understanding gestures and styles of communication.

Though your baby may not be using distinct words or phrases yet, it’s important to talk to your baby and promote a shared dialogue.

While your baby is crawling on a safe surface outside, ask your baby questions and allow them time to respond—even if you can’t make out their responses just yet!

Explore and Discover

Being outside is a great opportunity for babies to explore nature and make new discoveries.

Naturally, due to frequent feedings and nap sessions, most babies spend the majority of their time indoors and at home.

Making time to get outdoors to reap the benefits of the fresh air and sunlight will not only have you feeling refreshed as a parent, but your baby’s brain will start to make new connections every time they’re in a new environment.

While outdoors, allow your baby to feel the texture of the grass, the warmth of the sun on their skin, and the breeze run through their tiny strands of air.

Talk about the different sensations together. 

Read a Story

Reading books is one of the simplest, but most important activities you can do to encourage healthy development for your little one. Babies love to hear the sound of their parents’ voice and observe different facial expressions while they listen.

Books that feature pop-ups, different textures, or options to sing-along can be quite the hit at this age.

Remember to bring along a blanket or mat for you and your baby to share while you snuggle up with a few good books.

Press Play

There’s nothing like jamming out alongside your baby on a sunny day—or a cloudy one!

Music can improve cognition, provide comfort, and even be used as an educational tool.  Some babies will love the sound of classical music and others will enjoy musical theatre.

Create your own concert alongside your crawling baby with a playlist of different genres and a few delicious snacks!

For some additional sensory play, add in musical instruments like a harmonica, acoustic guitar, or xylophone.

Watch and enjoy how certain melodies influence how your baby moves about.

Embrace all the Feelings

As your baby starts exploring the world around them and gaining more autonomy, they’re bound to feel frustrated here and there.

While supervising your baby outdoors, you may witness moments of upset when they can’t move as quickly as they’d like or communicate their desires.

During these moments, it’s best for parents to support their child and help them express what they’re feeling.

If you notice your child losing steam, utilize a few sensory items (rattle, crinkly book, or textured stuffed animal) to motivate them to push forward or for them to explore while sitting up.

It’s important to show children that obstacles are temporary and brainstorming solutions is a useful skill to have during all stages of life.

Interested in reading more on the importance of play? Make sure to check out article on different types of play,

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