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The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Playing outdoors offers so many wonderful benefits for your little one’s learning, wellbeing and development. Not only do the great outdoors provide them with fun and exciting opportunities for open ended play, it also inspires their imagination and creativity as well as being a great way to build on their self esteem, confidence and risk taking abilities. Even as a newborn, you can take your baby outdoors in their pram – giving them plenty of sensory stimulation and as your little one gets older, they have endless opportunities to explore, play and run around – a way to use up all that energy they have! Taking your little ones outdoors to play also gives them a chance to breathe in some fresh air and have a change of scenery, something that is great for your mental health too Mama.

Below we’re sharing with you, some of the top benefits of outdoor play;

A fun way to learn!

The outdoors gives your little one a sense of freedom – freedom to explore and learn. Using educational toys or resources available to them outdoors (leaves, twigs for example) gives children the chance to learn new information and skills through play. Being outdoors allows children to explore and do new things – exploring boundaries and figuring out what they are capable of doing. They will grow in confidence as they continue to push boundaries, learn, and grow.

Learn to become independent

When children have the freedom to explore in the outdoors, they develop a sense of independence, even though you are still close by. The feeling of freedom as they run around and explore their surroundings gives your little one the feeling of independence and that they can do things for themselves. The confidence they develop when they master new skills like climbing a tree or making up a new game, enables them to experience new positive feelings.

Make new friends

There is nothing better than when you see your little one making new friends when you are out and about. Seeing your child grow in confidence to be able to go up to another child that they don’t know and start playing games and laughing together is something that makes you so proud. By taking your child outdoors and giving them freedom, you are helping give them opportunities to meet other children and develop friendships. You never know who you are going to meet at the park or on a walk and often they’ll meet people who are very different to them, opening their eyes to other cultures. Outdoor play often requires imagination and teamwork, which helps children have positive interactions with each other. They might even learn about turn taking as they fight to use the slide! This helps children develop an awareness of others and learn to consider other’s feelings and emotions.

Care for the environment

It seems really obvious but outdoor play really does help children develop a love of nature. By spending a lot of time outside, children learn to appreciate the environment around them because they are exposed to plants or animals. As children grow up, they will have fond memories of their experiences outdoors, giving them more awareness and compassion for the environment.

Positive impact on the whole family

We’ve all had days where we just need to get out of the house and away from the same 4 walls, we see every day. Taking your little one out for a walk or to play at the park gives them time to explore and learn and it gives you time to breathe in some fresh air and get a change of scenery. Children love being outdoors and playing at the park or having the freedom to run around and scream and shout and seeing their joy and laughter in this is also an instant mood booster for us parents! Taking this time out to go outdoors can help you bond with your little one and is great family time.

Develop motor skills

As well as being a fun activity, outdoor play such as trips to the park, helps children develop their motor skills such as coordination, balance, and agility. Children who play outdoors are more likely to develop reasoning and observational skills, learning how things work as they watch others do things before them. Playing outdoors allows children to engage more of their senses, feeling and experiencing the different weather, touching different natural materials, seeing insects and animals as they explore their habitats. Even younger children and babies engage their senses when outdoors - seeing different sights from their pram or as you wear them on you, smelling fresh air or cut grass and hearing the different sounds of nature.

Encourages a healthy lifestyle

Encouraging children to play outdoors will inevitably encourage children to develop a healthy attitude to an active lifestyle. When children are free to practice their physical abilities, they strengthen their bodies and become more confident in their abilities. Children may develop more interest in outdoor activities and sports or games as they are more likely to see these taking place and have a chance to experience them.

For younger children, activities such as pushing them on a swing can even help develop their muscle strength as they engage their core and balance. As they become stronger, they become more capable and more confident in themselves.

Encourage a healthy sleep routine

Finally, and this is a big one Mama, outdoor play can encourage a healthy sleep routine. Allowing children to run around and play outdoors and get fresh air, can help with both the quantity and quality of sleep. Exercise releases soothing endorphins into the bloodstream and can help with the production of melatonin which makes us feel sleepy. Outdoor play encourages more high energy or bigger movement activities such as running, jumping, climbing, and rolling, which promote muscle fitness. Even for babies, being outdoors can help with promoting sleep as it is thought that the stimulus of light is what helps babies to establish their circadian rhythms, cycles influenced by hormones, light and dark, which set body clocks in humans, sooner.

These are just some of the reasons that outdoor play is important and so beneficial for your little ones. It doesn’t have to be for hours on end or something that requires a lot of energy and effort. A simple walk in the fresh air, looking at the views and sights around you can be as beneficial as can a quick trip to the park where your little one can run around and meet new children.

If you want to do more outdoor play, why not check out our outdoor sessions including Mama Walk & Talk, Nature Tots and Farm Tots. For more information, check out the class page on our website.

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