Why It’s Important to Introduce Your Child to Nature at a Young Age

little girl in nature with flowers

Even though most people spend a lot of time hunched over computer screens indoors, most of us understand the importance of fresh air and spending time in nature. Natural settings are calming for most people and allow us to connect with the world around us.

If you’re a parent, it’s your job to introduce your child to the benefits of nature. Although it might be hard to motivate yourself to get outside when your baby is young (especially with current social distancing measures), it’s still important to introduce your child to the outdoors from the beginning. Here’s why.

Tip for New Parents: Introduce Your Child to Nature’s Soothing Aspects

Kids love screens, and while devices are now completely integrated into our lives, it’s important to ensure that spending time outdoors is not replaced by YouTube videos and phone games. From babyhood, you should introduce your child to the soothing aspects of spending time in nature.

Taking walks together with a carrier or stroller, and later on with them walking by themselves, is a great way to engage with nature and soothe a grumpy, anxious, or fussy child. Furthermore, walks and hikes offer a great opportunity to start kids on a path to good health, building habits like regular physical activity and using outdoor activities to help manage mental health.

Could be a Good Time For Moms to Relax Themselves

In parenting, we often focus only on the child’s needs. Most moms and dads put themselves second once they start a family, but it’s important to remember that parents have needs too. Moms might initially take their babies outdoors to help soothe them, but the effects of being in nature can help parents feel calmer and more centered as well.

Common maternal challenges like postpartum depression, lack of sleep, and anxiety over their child’s development make many moms extremely stressed and overwhelmed. Spending time in nature is relaxing and can help moms regulate their mood and feel better.

Moms practice prenatal care to ensure their own (and baby’s) health before birth. But it’s also important for them to prioritize their own mental and physical health after the baby is born.

Being Out in Nature Promotes Creativity

We often think of interacting with nature from a health lens. We feel better and are healthier when we exercise outdoors and spend time in nature. But there are other benefits for kids as well, including creativity.

Imaginative play is absolutely crucial for a child’s development. When they’re interacting with a structured activity like a game, they’re not usually using their imagination. They don’t have to get creative, solve problems, or be innovative.

Nature, however, inspires imagination and creativity. Whether it’s building mud pies and opening up a “bakery” or creating a whole new world with fantastic creatures, kids use their surroundings for creative play when they’re outdoors.

Nature Can Improve Health, Cognitive Abilities & Academic Success

Studies have shown that spending time in nature isn’t just good for kids’ health and mood, it’s also good for their cognition and can help them succeed as they go through life. Children who are exposed to nature and experience the outdoors from an early age are less likely to be overweight and more likely to perform well in school.

In one study, exposure to natural settings and views every day helped to improve children’s focus. Another study found that outdoor classrooms and nature education improved academic performance. In fact, outdoor science programs were shown to improve test scores in science by 27%.

There are opportunities for learning everywhere you turn in nature. Outside, you can point out all kinds of interesting phenomena and engage them by asking questions. Talk about plants and bugs you see, the shapes you see in the clouds, and the way the wind whistles through the trees. By talking about everything around you, you’ll build both curiosity and a closer bond.