Celebrating Earth Day: 3 Reasons To Get Outdoors with Your Baby

We’re in the month of Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of our planet that brings with it a strong message of conservation and a push to “green” our daily practices and lifestyles.

My personal connection to the Earth is a result of time actually spent in nature. As I make choices in my every day life, I have special moments spent in the outdoors and wilderness to turn to as a reminder to do what’s best for the planet. I live in Banff – Canada’s flagship national park – and this offers me a constant reminder that our wild places depend on us for their survival. They depend on us to stop messing around, and to find a respectful way of engaging with our natural environments.

But it’s not just a matter of keeping our wilderness pristine; as a planet we face a crisis that affects each and every one of us.

So, what does this have to do with making an effort to spend time outdoors with your baby? When the crisis is so global, can a walk through a local trail connecting with Mother Nature really have an impact?

Enjoying a skate on the Bow River in Banff. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

Enjoying a skate on the Bow River in Banff. Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

I believe that, yes, it does.

As new parents it’s easy to lose sight of that connection in those hectic first few months with a new baby. It may even feel impossible to ever step out the door again now that you have a small person to take care of. But if outdoor recreation and adventure is something you care about, or something you want to do more of, I know you’ll find a way to keep pursuing it as a parent. That’s what The Adventures in Parenthood Project is all about, and I hope you’ll enjoy the blog posts, resources and gear reviews throughout this website.

What’s more, outdoor recreation offers us a perfect opportunity to start instilling a love for nature in our children.

3 Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors with Your Baby

1. Connection

This occurs on a variety of levels. Firstly, it’s important for you to spend time outdoors, as you’ll probably go crazy being inside all the time. And if outdoor recreation is a passion of yours, you have all the more reason to get out and fulfill that for yourself. Secondly, the time you spend outdoors recreating with your baby will help the two of you to connect in ways you never imagined. I spent the first few months with my baby hiking the trails of Banff National Park. I loved going back to my favourite spots with her, even though she was not at an age where she could completely appreciate them in the moment. Thirdly, from what I’ve observed, babies go as stir crazy as we do when they are cooped up all day. Being outdoors is a grounding, refreshing experience, and one they deserve to have as much as possible. It’s up to us as parents to help foster that connection!

Bonding on the beach in Huahine, French Polynesia. Photo Meghan J. Ward collection.

Bonding on the beach in Huahine, French Polynesia. Photo Meghan J. Ward collection.

2. Accessibility

A variety of outdoor gear companies are dedicated to helping you get outdoors with your baby and children of all ages, making it easier for you to enjoy outdoor recreation as a family. You wouldn’t believe how innovative some of the gear is nowadays. A few items were absolute lifesavers for me – in particular, my baby carriers. Having a way of carrying your baby hands-free will open the world up to you. A Chariot, or similar stroller, will also provide you the opportunity to do even more sports as the baby gets older, including biking and cross-country skiing. Additionally, outdoor apparel comes in the tiniest of sizes (and it’s both totally adorable and highly functional). Of course, acquiring gear requires an investment on your part, but many items can be found gently used (hey, babies are only babies for so long!). Be especially diligent when choosing a baby carrier (here are some great reasons why).

Hiking is an easy way to experience the fresh air with your baby. Mine often slept along the way (bonus!). Photo taken at Haast Pass Lookout, New Zealand. Meghan J. Ward collection.

Hiking is an easy way to experience the fresh air with your baby. Mine often slept along the way (bonus!). Photo taken at Haast Pass Lookout, New Zealand. Meghan J. Ward collection.

3. Education

Right now my daughter is only one year old, and I cringe at the thought of her going to school and spending most of the day indoors.* Schools are wonderful things, and I can’t speak more highly of how lucky we are in Canada to have a quality system in place. But, they often leave out some really important components: outdoor education and time actually spent in the field. Students can learn about plants and animals in the classroom, and never have the chance to see them in their natural habitats. Sure, your baby isn’t ready for ABCs, but starting them in the outdoor classroom at a young age can be really beneficial. I can already tell that after a year of spending time outdoors, my daughter wants to be out more than in. And soon I can start showing her plants and animals, and letting Mother Nature teach her. I can learn alongside her as we hike with handbooks and guides to the natural world around us.

I hope you’ll find a piece of nature to enjoy this Earth Day, whether it’s in a small group of trees in your local park, on a hiking trail or on the water. Take a moment to appreciate our planet and think about how you can make your life a little bit greener each day.

*Some wonderful schooling alternatives are popping up throughout North America, including Forest Schools, such as this one in Canmore. Some high schools also offer outdoor education programs, but I have encountered very little of that at the elementary school level (apart from short field trips). It’s worth doing a bit of research to see what is available in your area!

More Great Reading:

10 Tips for Camping with a Baby

Hiking with Baby: 12 Items You’ll Need

6 Awesome Things About Travelling Abroad with a Baby

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