Right now, my daughter is crawling EVERYWHERE. She’s 10 months old, and she loves to explore! Ever since we started RV living, I’ve needed to get creative on how to spend more time outside with my daughter. So, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about how to play outside with a crawling baby and some ideas for activities!
Believe it or not, playing with your baby outside is a really important part of their development. I had no idea how much it impacts their ability to learn and discover so much about this world.
After your baby is born, it’s incredibly easy to just take them outside to “play”. You can simply lay out a mat and let them do some tummy time since they aren’t mobile yet. But, how do you play outside with a crawling baby?
It’s definitely more complicated. Crawling babies are curious. They want to be independent, but they don’t have the ability to decide what is safe and what is not. Not to mention, this is also the age where babies want to put anything and everything in their mouth!
4 Tips for Playing Outside with a Crawling Baby
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When it comes to playing outside with a crawling baby, you need to consider their mobility first and foremost. They’re in this weird limbo between being an infant and a toddler, which can make things complicated.
Instead of focusing on what they can’t do, stay focused on what they can do. Then, create an environment outside that allows them to practice their skills safely and comfortably!
Tip #1 – Get a TARP
When my daughter started crawling, it was always so frustrating whenever I would lay a blanket out. She would try to pull it up and mess with it. Not to mention, having to wash our blankets because they were muddy or having to wait for the dew to dry before heading outside. This first trick of laying down a tarp has made being outdoors a TON easier!
Having a tarp to lay out for your baby to crawl around on and explore is great because it is not only waterproof, it is also super easy to clean! Talk about a win-win!!
Tip #2 – Have Outside Play Clothes
When you are encouraging your kiddos to play outside, it’s important to have clothes that you don’t mind if they get dirty. As a mama, it can be so easy to get caught up in worrying about small things like stains, especially if it’s a nice outfit. To eliminate this, set aside some older clothes or hand me downs that you don’t mind if they get ruined
For my daughter, I have a pair of overalls that are great for cooler days. In the heat of the summer, I just let her play in her diaper and we do a quick sink bath before bedtime! This helps me to enjoy her playing outside while knowing that it’s okay if it gets dirty and grass-stained.
Tip #3 – Socks on their hands
Does your little one put EVERYTHING in their mouth? This little trick still gives them the ability to crawl around but keeps them from picking things up and trying to eat them.
It may seem a little strange at first, but putting socks on my little one’s hands has really helped me to let her explore without my mama worry taking over. Next time your crawler is outside, just give it a try! I promise you’ll be glad you did!
Tip #4 – Knee pads
Babies have really sensitive skin, and when they’re crawling, their knees are always on the ground. When it’s cold outside, they will always be wearing warmer clothes, like pants, that will add a layer between their knees and the ground.
However, when it’s warm out, your baby’s knees aren’t protected. This could be troublesome while playing outside because of all the little things on the ground, not to mention possible allergies to weeds and grass. So, when it’s hot outside, get knee pads to protect their skin from getting raw and cuts/scrapes.
7 Outdoor Activities for Crawling Babies
Now that we’ve learned some tips for how to play outside with a crawling baby, let’s look at some ways to play. While there are countless options, you’ve got to keep in mind that your crawling baby is still a little more limited. Here are some of my favorite outdoor activities that I do with my little one…
1. Eat Lunch Outside
Whether you eat on a tarp for easy clean up or use a portable, outdoor high chair, there’s just something really fun and relaxing about eating outside with your little one!
2. Roll Ball
Grab your tarp and a little ball, then head outside for a game of roll ball. At this age, babies love to be interactive. This game is great for their hand-eye coordination and also helps them use new skills that they are learning.
There are a couple of ways you can do play with a ball:
- Simply roll the ball back and forth to each other.
- Play Fetch.. roll the ball in the opposite direction so baby can crawl towards it. (They probably won’t bring it back though hahaha)
3. Pool Ball Pit
Maybe you want to go a little more involved than a simple game of roll the ball? Well, you could get a ball pit for your baby to play in! If you’re thinking of a giant ball pit like the ones that used to be at fast food play places, think again. You can easily get a baby pool and buy some ball pit balls, and you have the best outdoor activity!
4. Park Swings + Slide Ride with Mama
One of the best ways to play outside with a crawling baby is to take them to a local park. Just because they can’t do everything independently doesn’t mean they won’t love the experience! Take your little one to the park and just let them swing or go down the slide together. Either way, they are sure to be happy!
Another affordable and fun option is to play in a sandbox with your crawling baby. Sand is a great sensory activity that will activate your baby’s brain and creativity!
6. Sensory Water Container
Speaking of sensory activities, a water container or water table is another great outdoor activity. If a water table is a little too pricey, simply get a storage bucket (or even a giant bowl), fill it with water, and give your baby some tools and toys, and they will be ready to play!
7. Free Crawl in their Outside Clothes
At the end of the day, your crawler will be completely content to free crawl and explore outside! While it can be fun to have some activities every now and then, it’s also important to remember that just being outside is an activity for your crawler.
Is it okay to let your baby crawl outside?
Absolutely! It’s really good for babies to crawl on different surfaces and textures. Each mom is going to have a different opinion, but in general, if you are properly supervising your baby and they are crawling anywhere but a bathroom, you can rest assured that it’s safe.
Of course, this means babies will be exposed to some germs, which in places like the park or an open field are actually really good for them!
How much time should a baby spend outside?
There is no right answer here, but according to Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot, kids should be outside for 3 hours a day.
When I first read this, I was like ‘how in the world will we spend this much time outside?’ But the more we do it, the easier it is to find activities that keep my daughter busy.
Once you know how to play outside with a crawling baby, you will grow more and more confident in your abilities to do so. It can be daunting at first since these little crawlers are so curious, but you’ll get the hang of it! Remember…At the end of the day, you are helping their brains and development by taking them outside and letting them explore and play!
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