If it’s your baby’s first summer, you may be hesitant to get out and about in the heat. But here are a few of my suggestions for places that – yes! – you can take baby. Veronika is 9 months old for all of the ideas below, but you can adapt them for your child from birth on up.
Head to the Pool:
Ideally, there will be a kiddie area with shallow water where you and your baby can sit together. Worst case scenario, camp out on the shallowest step.
Veronika loved hanging out here, kicking her feet and dipping her hands in the water. Bigger kids brought her a few pool toys, which made fantastic teething rings.
Tips: Make sure to stay in the shade as soon as you’re out of the water and dried off, and come prepared with plastic baggies (for wet bathing suits), swim diapers, regular diapers, a change of clothes, and snacks or milk (depending on age).
If you’re inclined to go deeper, take baby in your arms to swish around; babies love this feeling of weightlessness.
We stopped by a small butterfly garden that’s been in our local area for almost 30 years. The wonder in Veronika’s eyes was immediate as she watched the butterflies swirl and dance above her.
One landed on her shoulder and it was pure magic. She looked over at me after watching this one, as if to make sure I saw it too.
She also loved just touching the plants and bright flowers.
There are so many colors and scents for a baby in this experience! Just make sure you help keep little fingers away from the delicate insects themselves.
Tips: Go early (right at opening is ideal!). Many places like this will host camp groups in the summer, and I wanted her to marvel at the butterflies without lots of kids in the way. We were lucky to share the room with only two other families.
Also, consider leaving the stroller behind. She was much more into it when she was out where she could swivel her head and take in the butterflies from all directions.
Admire New Construction:
Big trucks are fascinating to babies and for good reason! There’s noise, there’s movement, there’s lifting, there’s digging. Veronika and I stopped by a local street that’s been under construction all season. There goes whirly swirly cement truck!
She had no idea what was coming around the corner, but grinned once she saw this bulldozer go by.
Tips: If the noise is too loud for your little one, consider standing far back, or investing in Baby Banz.
There will still be plenty of movement and excitement to observe from far back, without overwhelming the senses. Also, try to go on a day that’s not too hot, or when you can be in the shade, since construction sites tend to be sun-drenched dusty places.
Don’t think your baby will be bored in a place with no toys; as with the butterfly garden, the draw here is for all the senses.
There are bold colors to take in visually; the feel of wind on hair or sunshine on skin or grass on toes; and of course the smell of pretty flowers.
Many botanical gardens can be overwhelmingly large, so either find a small one or stick to a small area.
If allowed, lay down a picnic blanket and spread out a few toys or books to read together and make a little afternoon of it.
Tips: Just because you’re not at a pool or beach, don’t forget a big sunhat and sunscreen. Also make sure to bring along bug spray, especially if garden trails lead through wooded or shady areas.
I don’t take my kids to zoos, but I love exposing Veronika to animals through local sanctuaries. Although we’ve visited such farms in the past, today she was very alert and focused on the animal’s behavior. She loved watching the chickens and roosters.
Their crowing startled her a little, but she was fascinated watching them take dirt baths or roost up high.
She also loved the cows! For each animal we marveled at, I reminded her of their noises. “Moo moo!”
The sheep were enjoying a morning munch on grass, which she seemed to love.
There’s lots of great ways to expose your baby to new vocabulary on a trip like this, too. Barns and tractors come to life, instead of being abstracts in a board book!
Tips: Go in the morning. Animals will be more active before the hottest part of the day, and your baby will notice movements more than sleeping animals.
Where have you taken your baby this summer? Please share in the comments!