One of my favorite things about having a newborn or infant around is exploring the world with them. You get to see things you see every day but in a totally different way through their new little eyes. Summer is a great time to introduce new things to your infant because the season opens up a whole new world of sensory instigators. Here are some things I introduced to my little ones during their first summers:
Sand – We took both babies to the beach from an early age. We were born and raised on the beach, and so it was just a given that we would share that with our kids as soon as possible. If you take them to the actual beach, be sure you bring all the necessary tools: sunscreen, a good umbrella (preferably one that blocks UV rays), maybe a little handheld fan in case it gets too hot, etc. We brought Gracie’s seat to the beach with us because she couldn’t sit up on her own yet but we wanted her to be able to see everything. She loved it and cooed all afternoon. Remember that heat can be dangerous for really little babies, so plan accordingly. Mid-morning is a great time to go because you can come home, have lunch, and they’ll take a big nap all afternoon if you’re lucky!
If you don’t have beach access or if you’re not ready to brave a beach trip with an infant yet, try getting a sandbox to play with in your backyard. In Connecticut, we used to buy one small bag of playbox sand from a toy store and just pour that into buckets at home. Bean was so little, he didn’t know any different, and you just need enough to let them put their feet in or to dig their hands through.
Water – If you’ve never experienced water with your infant besides in the bathtub, summer is the perfect time to begin. It doesn’t have to be anything really complicated, either. A $10 inflatable pool on your back deck works just as good as a couple of plastic food storage buckets. Babies aren’t picky. Just give them a place to splash in the water, or to at least dip their hands or feet into it. You could also bring the infant bathtub outside for them to splash around in. However you choose, letting your infant splash around in water for the first time is a joy for them and for you. Babies love water, so let them play!
Grass – Nothing freaked out both of my kids more than grass on their feet! It was the craziest sensation! I remember when Bean was first born, I’d take him outside and lay him down on a blanket under the big tree in our front yard and we’d sit and enjoy the shade and nice breeze. I’d take off his socks and stand him up to let his feet feel the grass, and his little eyes would pop open wide and you could just hear him thinking, “What the…???”
Flowers – Flowers are in full bloom in the late spring and early summer, depending on where you live. Give your baby the chance to hold a flower. They’ll probably squeeze the life out of it or attempt to pull the petals off, but that’s all part of the exploration. Feeling those paper-thin petals and the cool green stems and leaves are all new to an infant. And you’ll be surprised by how much they love this simple treat.
Bubbles – Bubbles are a no-brainer in the summertime. You can get the colored bubbles if your baby has a hard time seeing the clear ones. Bubbles are a simple way to entertain your infant for hours. Both my babies loved bubbles. As infants they just stared and stared at them, and later as toddlers they loved blowing the bubbles themselves.
Popsicles – Popsicles for babies are CRAZY! Most infants haven’t had really cold things to eat before, so the temperature alone makes them squeal. If you’re worried about sugar and preservatives in grocery store popsicles, make your own! You can buy popsicle molds at most dollar stores and you can fill them with anything from milk to formula to orange juice to lemonade to water. Just give them the opportunity to chew and slobber on something good and cold in the summer. (Bonus tip: Use homemade popsicles year-round for teething monsters!)
Summer is great with little babies, so don’t be afraid to let them soak up the season, too! Let them explore and discover all the small wonders they can get their tiny little hands on. You’ll love seeing the world through their eyes!
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