To be healthy – children need nature. They need a healthy environment in which to live, eat, and breath.
To reduce the need on acute care services we all need to take responsibility for our own health. The biggest piece to responsibility is preventive medicine. Best preventive medicine comes from nature and the old adage: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Care for the environment in which the apple grows. Care for the water in which the apple is rinsed. Care for the child to whom you hand the apple.
By getting children outdoor as much as possible, you offer the opportunity to improved health through physical movement, fresh air to breath, and opportunity to stretch their eyes past the screens that are over-running our views.
It is never too early to bring children outside to play. It is also rarely too cold, too wet, or too messy. Yes. there will be times where weather is prohibitive. However these are rare occasions.
Another old adage : “It isn’t that the weather is bad, it’s that you’re wearing the wrong clothes.” Make sure children are wearing clothing appropriate for the weather. People have a way of adapting to nature. In the cold – gloves, hats, boots, snow pants, and jackets. In the rain – boots and rain jackets. In the heat – light natural clothing like cotton t-shirts. Use an umbrella to shield the skin from a harsh mid day sun.
Babies and toddlers require outdoor time – nature-based learning – that allows their bodies freedom of movement. Taking the child for a walk in a stroller or pushing the child in a swing is welcome break. However, they even more awake time moving their own bodies. This aids in their healthy development and growth.
In the winter, this can mean laying a blanket or small rug out on the ground for the child to sit or crawl on. Add a few toys you bring out from the house use in play. Add a few large planters weighted down for a new walker to pull himself up and cruise around. Elements of nature – like leaves or large stones can be placed there for sensory experiences. As always, adult supervision is required.
For toddlers in nature in winter, if you have snow, bring the beach toys out to play! No snow? Let then dig in some mud with the same toys. Don’t be afraid to let them pick up a rock to see what is underneath. That is a great science in a minute moment to talk and introduce the child to words you don’t normally use inside: insect, moss, mildew.
Take the kids outside. You will all be healthier for it!