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May 16, 2023

Montessori Parenting Tips: Getting Outside with Your Young Toddler

You know I love to be outside with my children as much as we are able. No matter the time of year, we try to be outside at least a bit throughout the day. When my kids are babies, it's so easy just to pop them on a blanket or into a carrier to get outside. It's when they move into toddler territory it's when things start to feel really tricky. Young toddlers - that is 1-year-olds - they are on the move. They climb things, they put things in their mouths, they don't necessarily listen to you right away. Getting outside with your young toddler can feel like a huge task. 

Benefits of Outdoor Play for Young Toddlers

But, let me tell you it's worth it. Young toddlers (just like babies) gain so much from being outdoors. There are opportunities for movement and incredibly rich sensory experiences. The outdoors provide opportunities for risky play, learning balance, and incredible language opportunities. 

"Nature is as essential to our sensory systems as good nutrition is to our health. We need to spend time in nature to make sense of the world around us and to grow a more advanced an capable sensory motor system - the foundation for all academic skills. Therefore, it is critical that we allow our babies to spend time outdoors at an early age." Angela Hanscom, Barefoot and Balanced 

So, how can we get outside with tiny toddlers? And, with a lot of things in Montessori parenting the answer almost alway lies with being prepared.

Tips for Getting Outside with Toddlers

Here are some practical Montessori parenting tips to get you outside with your younger toddlers:
  • Relax Yourself: think about any true dangers in the environment and prepare for those. Often we have been so conditioned to think that the outdoors are dangerous for babies that we don't want to allow any exploration. If you can, remove dangerous plants and animals or other hazards. But worry less about simple bumps, falls, or uneven terrain - that's all part of the amazing outdoor learning
  • Mouthing Will Happen: Accept that mouthing is part of their exploration. Stay close and redirect when necessary but try to not worry about eating natural items like sticks.
  • Dress for the Weather AND Movement: consider how well your child is able to move in the clothes that they are wearing while still staying warm or cold. The more unrestricted they can move, the safer they will be. 

  • You're Not on the Entertainment Committee: If necessary stay physically close, but avoid the trap of feeling like you need to constantly engaging your toddler - that makes it harder for your child to learn to play independently as they get older. Let them find ways to entertain themselves
  • Add a variety of Sensory Experiences - add water, dirt, grass, plants. All of this just adds to their learning outdoors 
  • Show them the Rules: Don't expect toddlers to understand not to pull out your plants. Instead show them how to interact with the environment. Show them where to scoop rocks, how to touch plants, where to stop beside a road. Don't rely on correction alone, make the outdoors about connection.

There are so many rewarding opportunities outside. Use these tips to make it a little easier for you to take your young toddler outside. The more you practice, the easier it becomes! 

Hook Your Toddler to Outdoor Play! Discover the amazing benefits of outdoor play for young toddlers and get them hooked to nature with these incredible Montessori parenting tips.


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