We know we need to get outside more, but bringing kids, especially infants, can make some of us feel overwhelmed and unsure where to get started. Spending time outdoors from infancy is a great way to start a healthy habit as a family. Most locations are free to visit and you don’t need anything special to get outside! The fresh air and sunshine promote better sleep and exposure to microbes in the dirt help build the immune system and can even help prevent allergies and asthma. The variety of textures, sounds and colors outdoors are great for cognitive development and uneven terrain helps build motor skills.

Tips for getting outside with infants

Sunscreen is not recommended for children under 6 months, use sun hats, sunshields on strollers, lightweight clothing and stick to shady spots with baby.
Baby’s don’t regulate their temperature the way we do and can overheat or chill easily. Breathable layers are key and just check regularly to make sure baby is comfortable.
Almost all children are ready to go outside from birth so if the adults feel up for it and there is no extreme weather, feel confident in venturing out.
In very cold or warm weather you can still get outside, just for shorter durations and with proper clothing. The American Academy of Pediatrics states its safe to get outside with newborns when temperatures range from -15F to 90F.

How much time should I spend outside?

This summer make it a goal to get out each day with your kids! For infants up to 12 months 30-60 minutes a couple times a day is a great goal to start, increasing to 90 minutes for toddlers and 3+ hours for elementary age kids. You can add more time by taking your everyday activities outside, eat a meal outdoors, read a book or play a game.

What do I need to bring?

Trust that you don’t need to plan anything or bring a ton of things to the park or to your backyard, snacks and water should be all you really need. Just sitting out on a blanket and letting baby explore the grass and observe is enough! Older kids can find entertainment in simple materials like sticks, rocks and puddles but some might need your help to get started, especially if spending more time outdoors is new for your family. Model building structures with natural materials or get them exploring with a simple scavenger hunt for something in every color of the rainbow. Everything is more fun with friends, ask your HMN chapter to meet you at the park for a playdate or weekly hike!

Need more inspiration to get out this month? Since 1998 the US has celebrated the outdoors in June, starting with a Great Outdoors Week and later changing to Great Outdoors Month. Many national organizations host special events throughout the month including:

National Trails Day June 1st from American Hiking Society

National Get Outdoors Day June 8th & Juneteenth June 19th Fee-Free US Forest Service days

Great Outdoors Day of Service June 14th by The Corps Network

REI Opt Outside – June 15th is a free day of classes and day tours nationwide from REI

Great American Campout all month by the National Wildlife Federation

Every Kid Outdoors – have a rising 5th grader? All 4th graders get free national parks passes from August to August of their 4th grade year!

10 Park Challenge from Outgrown (formerly Hike it Baby)