5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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1. Walk and hike with your baby regularly: We have been doing this since Baby was just a couple of weeks old. The fresh air calms him, and he learns so much about our world just by looking around. We walk or hike in almost all weather conditions. We were even excited to take Baby for a hike in the woods during his first blizzard! Babywearing provides both you and your little one with consistent body heat, so even in very cold weather, walking and hiking can be safe and enjoyable for your baby. We find that the BABYBJÖRN Active Baby Carrier provides excellent support when wearing baby – even on rigorous hikes and while snowshoeing.

2. Nature’s mobiles: I’ve heard that the leaves and branches of trees were the original mobiles for babies, and we’ve carried that philosophy through our son’s babyhood so far. From his earliest days, we would hold Baby up to the window and let him gaze at the natural surroundings. The wind moving through the plants and trees is fascinating to Baby. We are fortunate to live in a very wooded area, so there is no shortage of greenery and animals for Baby to look at, but if this does not describe your outdoor surroundings, there are still easy options to enhance your little one’s window experience like filling window boxes with plants and flowers or positioning bird feeders right outside of your windows.

3. Nature touch and feel: Baby loves touch and feel books these days, but he loves feeling his way through our yard even more. Baby gets so excited when I bring him up to trees, flowers, and plants as he explores them with his hands. He also loves to sit and pull on the grass and roll acorns and pine cones around in his hands. This tactile experience is stimulating and fun for Baby, and he never seems to tire of it.

4. Visit farms and nurseries: We love to take Baby to farms. He really enjoys watching the animals, smelling the news scents, tasting fresh food, and seeing all of the interesting sights. Over time, your little one will begin to understand that this is where his or her food comes from too. If you don’t have farms nearby or if you’re just looking for a quick adventure, you can have just as much fun visiting a local nursery, the greenhouse at Home Depot, your farmers’ market, or your local animal shelter.

5. Take advantage of your local resources: There are so many resources available for little nature lovers. For example,
- To develop a love of the water, search for infant water safety courses. A local club offered a free six week Water Babies class in our area, which Baby adored. There are also many “baby beaches” at ponds, lakes, and swimming holes.
- Local colleges and universities often have greenhouses, botanical gardens, or simply beautiful grounds to explore.
- Your town library may offer passes to aquariums, wildlife refuges, and museums that offer natural world experiences.

You can see many of the above experiences in my Wordless Wednesday features!
Wordless Wednesday: Baby Loves Nature, Weeks 1-10
Wordless Wednesday: Baby Loves Nature, Weeks 11 – 20
Wordless Wednesday: Baby Loves Nature, Months 7-8
Wordless Wednesday: Baby’s 1st Taste of Spring at the Farm

Baby learns about nature

Baby explores his natural world.


***Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama May 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Nature’s Mobiles!!! That is awesome and you are so right. Kids LOVE to look up into trees…lucky that your kids will get to see them covered in snow…

excellent list…Jac is already 5 steps ahead of his age bracket! :)

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2 Amy May 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I love that point about trees being nature’s mobiles! My son has always loved looking at trees and other plants, going on walks outside, and most of all, feeling the wind on his face. Thanks for this post!
Amy recently posted..Outside- With YouMy Profile

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3 Laura May 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm

So agree with #2!! Anytime my baby cries, I head straight to a window or our the door to show her trees and birds to make her happy. Works like a charm every time :)

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4 Erika @NaMammaSte May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I liked the “nature’s mobiles” point too! I loved your post! My baby boy loves being outside too. He finds so much excitement in the things I forget to notice now. It’s fun rediscovering nature with him!
Erika @NaMammaSte recently posted..April Showers Bring May PRODUCEMy Profile

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5 MamaP May 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Baby’s Dada called the acorns “hats” and collected them and counted them at a young age. It was a daily outing activity!

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6 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama May 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I’m sure Dada and Baby will be doing a lot of that here since we have no shortage of acorns on our property ;-) We have the fattest squirrels ever!

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7 Just One Donna May 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Hi Charise. I love your message here. When my sons were babies I would spend as much time as possible outside under the trees. You are so right that the sound and movement of the leaves has a calming effect. I still smile every time I remember the first time my oldest son felt grass on his bare feet. That was 27 years ago and he must have been 5 months old at the time. He didn’t know what to make of it!

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8 Just One Donna May 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Oh, btw, I’m your newest GFC follower.

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9 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama May 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thank you, Donna!

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10 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama May 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

What awesome ideas! I’d love to hear more about your experience with Water Babies – I never saw anything like that where we’re from, but I’ve always been so happy in the water that I would love for Kieran to be comfortable as well. Thanks so much for sharing these tips!
Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted..Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior GardenerMy Profile

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11 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama May 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Dionna, I really can’t say enough about Water Babies! It help Baby conquer his fear of the bath, and it would be a huge understatement to call Baby happy during swim class. It’s more like unbelievably ecstatic. I don’t know if you saw this post a while back, but this sums up our first Water Babies class: http://www.ithoughtiknewmama.com/2011/02/in-this-moment/

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12 Kelly May 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

He is such a cutie! :)

I’ve tried putting Bean on the grass a few times this spring – she does not like it so far lol! But I’ll definitely keep trying – it is so important to me that she has this type of education!

Thanks for the awesome ideas! :)
Kelly recently posted..Sunday Surf on MondayMy Profile

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13 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama May 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I think the reason Baby likes it so much is because the grass is like my hair to him. He yanks handfuls of my hair out all day long, and the grass is like a giant field of my hair that he can pull out :-)

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14 Kelly May 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm

LOL – as soon as she discovers that I’m sure she’ll love it – cause she definitely loves pulling my hair! I know I would be happy to have a substitute… :)

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15 Seonaid May 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

These are wonderful ideas! My son’s first words were when we were out for a hike with him on my back: “What’s that?” (sounded more like “Wha Da?”) “It’s a tree!” (I will admit that after the 40th tree, it started getting monotonous… but we explored bark and leaves and branches as well. :) )
Seonaid recently posted..Growing OutsideMy Profile

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16 Melissa @ The New Mommy Files May 11, 2011 at 2:01 am

What great advice! Your second point gives me so many ideas, too – I know you weren’t talking about actually making mobiles, but how fun would it be to bring some of nature inside for tiny ones in the form of homemade mobiles?
Melissa @ The New Mommy Files recently posted..Garden DayMy Profile

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17 Mamapoekie May 11, 2011 at 4:56 am

Such a great post! Very original! Love how you transplant common consumerist baby things to nature!
Mamapoekie recently posted..Connecting To NatureMy Profile

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18 Brenna @ Almost All The Truth May 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm

All wonderful ideas! I love that being outdoors can be so calming, so stimulating, and so educational depending on what and where you are. So perfect for little ones to grow their developing minds.
Brenna @ Almost All The Truth recently posted..Why we make this organic garden grow…My Profile

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19 Lauren@Hobo Mama May 12, 2011 at 3:08 am

So that’s how you get so many beautiful outdoor pictures with your baby!

I’m finding this list very inspiring as I look forward to having another baby. The idea of trees as nature’s mobile is especially appealing! Thanks so much for this post.
Lauren@Hobo Mama recently posted..Wordless Wednesday- Prenatal renovationMy Profile

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20 Dave Higgs-Vis May 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

You’ve totally inspired me to head out into the woods this weekend with my little girl.

Thanks!!
Dave Higgs-Vis recently posted..Losing Sleep- How to Avoid Burn-Out with a New BabyMy Profile

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21 sunnymama April 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

These are all great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them with our Spring Carnival. :)
sunnymama recently posted..Paper-mache dinosaur egg and Easter celebrationsMy Profile

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22 Hannah April 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Great ideas. I start from alllmost day one taking them out with me in the wrap. I followed you here from All Year Round SPRING Blog Carnival. My latest spring post is here: http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2012/04/wonderfull-full-of-wonder-wednesday_18.html
Hannah recently posted..Wonderfull (Full of Wonder) WednesdayMy Profile

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23 Adam@agricultural tires May 4, 2012 at 4:37 am

Very nice ideas. I totally agree. Nature has always had an important role in the life of myself and of course my children.

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24 Erica @ ChildOrganics June 25, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Thank you for sharing this with the NPN blog hop. I really enjoyed your article, your point #2 reminded me of one of my favorite books “Trees Make the Best Mobiles”
Erica @ ChildOrganics recently posted..A Day in the LifeMy Profile

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