Parents are the main people in a baby’s life because they are the ones who help him learn all the things about the world and the ones who make sure he feels loved and safe.
Despite such a great responsibility, parents don’t need to stay within the limits of their own power. In some cases, turning to nature powers for help may be beneficial. For example, scheduling an outdoor nap for their little one is a surprisingly uncommon practice among young parents, even though it has a lot of health benefits.
This article will show you the five main advantages of outdoor napping for babies so that you may eventually consider including it in your little one’s daily schedule.
#1 Outside Napping Supports Immunity
When a baby sleeps outside, his immune system meets a lot of different germs and learns to produce antibodies.
If the word ‘germs’ sounds scary to you, don’t worry:
Actually, we have a higher possibility of catching a cold or flu when we’re staying indoors in winter, especially if the air inside is dry.
So, take a stroller and go to the park or just walk down the street while your baby is snoozing, and you will make a significant contribution to his overall health in the long term.
Still, you need to make sure your baby has proper clothes that will keep him warm yet not sweaty. Sweating may lead to hypothermia, which, in turn, makes your little one an easy target for viruses. Use natural materials that wick away moisture, such as wool or cotton.
#2 Napping Outside Can Boost Cognitive and Physical Development
When your baby is outside, his nervous system receives numerous sensory stimuli — sounds, lights, smells, sensations of wind, and the warmth of the sun. A baby’s brain processes all these signals and creates new neuronal pathways, which directly impacts intelligence.
Early sensory stimulation is beneficial for the development of motor, language, and cognitive skills. That’s why if you want to grow a brainiac, spend more time in the fresh air with your little one.
Interesting fact: According to a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research, even infants, who cannot physically play with other kids yet, are able to watch other children, which is the first step in social development.
#3 Outdoor Naps Are a Great Self-Soothing Technique
The abundance of sensory stimuli teaches the baby to self-soothe. For example, while you are sitting on a bench in the park, reading a book, your baby is checking the surroundings. Hearing tree leaves rustling and seeing clouds flowing in the sky may have a similar effect to those soothing toys you hang over your baby’s crib to lull your little one to sleep.
Self-soothing is great because it makes your baby more independent, allowing you to get some sleep yourself, which certainly is a plus.
#4 Sleeping in a Stroller Contributes to Deeper Sleep Overall
Napping outside may also be beneficial for your little one’s nighttime sleep. It’s a fact that the circadian rhythms of your baby aren’t developed during his first months of life, so he just wakes up when he feels hungry and falls back asleep once he’s full.
However, after reaching the age of three months, it’s a good idea to encourage the development of healthy sleep patterns in your little one by exposing him to natural sunlight during daytime walks. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Sleep and Research found that babies who got sunlight exposure in the early afternoon slept better during the night hours.
Plainly speaking, outdoor naps and exposure to the sunlight allow your baby to develop healthy circadian rhythms sooner, compared to babies who spend more time indoors.
Another benefit of outdoor naps is tied to lower air temperature outdoors. Lower temperature promotes melatonin production in the baby’s body and thus makes his sleep deeper and more restorative.
Also, babies who sleep outdoors get used to background noises, which may allow them to fall asleep literally anywhere as they get older.
#5 Outdoor Naps Promote Healthy Family Relationships
Outdoor naps can work as a great bonding time between babies and their parents. In some cases, they may even contribute to combating postpartum depression or help you cope with a stressful day.
A slow-pace walk with a stroller can be considered as moderate physical activity, especially if your stroller is bulky. Physical activity boosts endorphin levels and helps you get rid of disturbing thoughts.
Also, spending time outside the house may help you get to know other mommies in the neighborhood and make new friends, which, in turn, may contribute to relieving your blues.
Overall, spending more time outdoors with your baby is a good habit, which they may inherit from you as they get older.