We have made it part of our bedtime routine to walk around the lake that is next to our apartment. Since I don’t drive, we made an effort to find a nice, walkable area to live in, and its value has increased since the birth of our son.
We are lucky to live in Florida, where the weather is beautiful a lot. It rains frequently during hurricane season, but carrying an umbrella doesn’t ruin our time.
These walks become particularly useful when baby is having a hard time. Whether it is because he is overtired, overstimulated, or just not interested in sleeping, it is helpful to get outside. Both for him and for me. While I can remain somewhat unruffled for fifteen minutes of crying, and longer if I can remember not to be so gosh darn attached to him falling asleep, I don’t mind admitting that my child’s cry breaks my heart a bit.
No matter the condition he is in when I strap him on and leave the house, within five minutes, he is either calm or sleeping. Sometimes, I don’t make it twenty steps before I look down and I have a sleeping baby.
I started taking him to the park for naps. He even stayed asleep as I transfererd him from the Ergo to the picnic blanket.
I talked to my partner about this and he asked, “What’s the science behind that?”
As it turns out, we aren’t sure exactly why babies sleep outside so well, but they do. Not only do they sleep well outside, but just like adults and children, babies who spend more time outside are healthier. They have colds less often, eat better, and are in better moods.
My suspicion is evolutionary. My initial answer to my partner’s question was, “It’s where we are supposed to be,” and I stick by that being a legitimate answer.
As for sleep, researchers believe it might have something to do with the parent’s non-involvement. Parents are the captain of the ship, and they should not micromanage and oversee the tasks that their mates are responsible for undertaking. One of those tasks, from a very young age, is sleeping. We already know that parents who teach their babies to fall asleep by themselves are, cross-culturally, the parents with babies who sleep best. The baby learns to sleep by themself so doesn’t cry out for help during the end of each sleep cycle.
Kids whose parents did BLW, who were not born prematurely and didn’t have late motor development, have healthier body weights.
Kids who practice self-directed learners engage in reading and other activities with joy much later into life.
Where parents can have a lassize-faire approach to parenting, it should be done. Passing responsibility on is responsible. It creates a healthier, happier baby.
You will get the benefits, too. Grab your laptop, book, smart phone, yoga mat, or whatever else you need and head to the park for a nap. Your baby will perhaps get a nap, or just get the benefits of soaking up those rays. You will not feel that you have to entertain your baby because it comes pretty naturally in this environment. Feed and change or potty them, and let the tree take care of the rest while you get your work done.
The more time you spend outside, the better. This helps our mood improve, it helps baby get his circadian rhythms in line with the rest of the family, and it increases physical activity. It also gives you tons of opportunities to socialize with strangers, which might lead to your child becoming a person who views the world as an essentially safe place, which is a far better way to be.
Pick one day a week or one nap a day to take your child out to the park, and do it!