21 Excuses to Head Outdoors with Your Little Ones This Summer

Step out of the air-conditioning and have some summer fun.

Stroll, Hike or Bike

Mom smiling up at dad with daughter on his shoulders, outside

1. It's time to teach your toddler how to ride her first tricycle. Choose a model with a canopy for extra sun coverage.

2. The forgiving surface of a lush lawn may tempt your baby to try walking. Going barefoot (when it's safe) and wearing less restrictive clothing also helps make summer prime baby-walking time.

3. Outdoor toys give kids good exercise. Go bike riding, jump on the trampoline, and hula hoop.

4. Skip the gym and go take a hike. Make it a family affair and pack a picnic for when your legs get tired and you need a break.

5. When you're not stuck wearing a big coat, using a front carrier is so simple. Sport one of the newer styles or an old classic.

Go Beach Combing

6. Hit the beach and bring your own tents or portable cabanas for comfort and shade when the sun is unbearable.

7. It's fun to go explore the shore with your little one. Be prepared for him get tired out -- pack a carrier.

8. Forget recordings of waves; go hear the real deal.

Take Art & Activities Outside

9. These are the longest days of he year. Take advantage of the late sundown to play outside after dinner -- chase fireflies, then go to sleep tired.

10. Babies love to people watch. So head to the park with a portable playpen and let baby take in the sights.

11. Enjoy less mess when a play date goes alfresco. Park your tots on an easy-to-wash blanket or sheet.

12. Even small parades and street fairs are exciting to children. You may think that the high school band and a few fire trucks don't amount to much, but kids like any kind of hubbub.

13. It's so much nicer to do big art projects in the yard. Make use of that old easel in the garage and let the kids create masterpieces.

14. It's easier to take photographs of your family in natural light. Try late afternoon to early evening, with the sun to your back so it lights up your little subjects.

15. Trees make a natural mobile, so let baby sleep outside in the shade while you read a book under the sun.

16. Send your kids on a treasure hunt. The funny thing about 2- and 3-year-olds is you can hide things -- like a ball -- in plain sight, and they still have fun searching for it.

17. You've got a reason to draw on the driveway. Take out sidewalk chalk and make streets for your children to drive their ride-on-toys, or trace your child's shape and let him decorate it.

Eat (and Treat) Al Fresco

18. The ice cream store is calling you. Especially if you're pregnant, the idea of a walk that just happens to end at the Dairy Queen is always a reason to leave the house.

19. Now's the time to invite friends over for dinner. Think about it: Paper plates, hot dogs on the grill, bags of chips, and some watermelon -- the idea of "entertaining" is so much less stressful in the summertime!

20. No more excuses for staying inside! Stash a mini cooler with snacks under baby's stroller, throw a beach towel in baby's diaper bag, and you'll be ready for any impromptu outing.

21. Sunlight can defeat diaper rash. This is no excuse to let your baby run naked without sunscreen, but five minutes of early-morning rays on a bare tushie can do wonders.


Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the July 2006 issue of American Baby magazine.

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